I love my car. It’s a 1998 Volkswagon Golf in “Jazz Blue” and it’s been with me for a long time. It had a few owners before me, and honestly, despite my love for it, it’s beginning to show its age. It’s pushing 300,000 km, and the AC only works for 10 minutes before crapping out. It has cool features like power windows, but most of them don’t work. So, when I recently got invited to go to the Okanagan to do some research for my cooking blog, I was worried about taking my car up the Coquihalla.
Seeing as I’m going to be looking for a new car in the next year or so, I was curious about how modern cars are integrating technology into the design. I’d heard Ford had one of the best systems out there, and the kind folks at Ford graciously agreed to loan me a 2014 Ford Fiesta for my trip, so I could test it out.
First off, I just want to say that I really enjoyed driving this car. I don’t need a big car. It’s just me and the Sprout most of the time, and our transport needs don’t ever get too much bigger than a trip to Costco, so a sub-compact suits me fine. I like to be able to park in small spaces, and I ‘d prefer not to spend my son’s entire college tuition on gas (before he even gets to college).
I found the Ford Fiesta really comfortable to drive. The seat and the back gave me lots of support for the long hours I spent in the car. My only beef was with the steering wheel–I tend to hold it at 6 o’clock, and there is a post there, which made it impossible to do so.
It was peppy–I often would look down at the speedometer (on the Coq the speed limit is 120) and go “oops!” to find out I’d be pushing closer to 130 without realizing it. I found it a bit slow with shifting to lower gears on the highway, but that’s an observation I’d probably make with most automatic transmissions (from the perspective of a gal who’s used to driving a standard).
Technology is integrated into the car in a few different ways. First off, it has the ability to set the internal temperature of the car, like the thermostat in your home. I liked this “set it and forget it” approach. Secondly, it had two built-in USB ports in the arm rest. You can use these to charge your phone, or as a line in. I had my iPod plugged into one, and my phone (for charging) into the other. There is also a line in. Thirdly, Ford has a large touch-screen which incorporates entertainment, navigation, and your mobile phone. This centre can be controlled both manually, by the touch screen, or by using Ford’s voice-activated SYNC system. Voice activation takes place by using a control pad on the left-hand of the steering wheel. This command centre allows you to start the SYNC system, raise or lower the volume, skip to the next track, and make phone calls, hands-free.
Here’s a demonstration of how it works.
Hooking your phone up to the system via bluetooth was seamless and easy. Learning how to use the system and understanding how all the command prompts worked took me a little time to master, but once I did, the system worked pretty well.
They system is not quite as smart as Siri. You can’t say to it “find me the nearest Starbucks.” You can use it to find the nearest Starbucks, you just have to go through a series of command prompts, which takes a few minutes.
Overall, the system was pretty impressive, for both navigation, and interacting with my phone–making calls, and listening to music. I understand there is a way to have it read you your texts as well, using the system, and do voice-to-text, but I didn’t have enough time to try that out.
When the time comes to bid goodbye to my current car, the Ford Fiesta will definitely be one of the top cars on my list to consider.