First Look: Ford SmartGauge Instument Panel

That newly unveiled 2010 Ford Fusion looks pretty slick and all, but today we got a chance to sit down in the Fusion Hybrid — complete with black and white jelly bean camouflage — and play around with the new twin-LCD SmartGauge display. We'll let Ford Researcher Jeff Greenberg, a Senior Technical Leader at Ford walk you through the features in the video above, but after spending a couple of minutes with it, what do we think? How about a quicky review on this new fangled tech to go along with a new-fangled Fusion?The user interface is smooth and polished, with no lag in between screens and the interface proved far easier to use than we expected. The twin 4.3" TFT LCD screens that flank the center, traditional speedometer run at 800x480 pixels, which is basically high definition resolution, and are incredibly easy on the eyes. The screens are manipulated using steering wheel mounted buttons and the myriad options are easy to navigate. The gauges are completely reconfigurable, but you can pick predefined packs of gauges ranging from super simple fuel and temp all the way up to NORAD command central level, graphing fuel economy in real time and reporting specs on your last trip, power draw from accessories, and output from the gas engine and hybrid engine independently. Based on our limited time with the thing we were impressed. This system will compliment the hybrid tech on the Fusion quite nicely and give customers that "surprise and delight" designers are always after.Yeah, LCD instrument panel, Michael Knight, eat your heart out.



Great, another damned electronic screen where none is needed. Added content is crap, people. This is another component that is easily shopped out to an overseas fabricator.

Maybe it saves weight - great, but how much? Versus how much added complexity? When these electronics break down, can you crack them open and fix them? No. You hog them out, and stick in a whole new one. FAIL.

How long before some enterprising anarchist, with time on his hands and a way to hack into your wireless-equipped electronic instrument panel, manages to upload a virus that somehow completely fubars your display? Can't do that to my rides without a screwdriver, and anybody getting close to my cars with a tool is either me, or has me chasing his ass down.

I'm a strong believer in things that can be repaired when they break down. As a former curmudgeonly coworker used to say, "maintenance-free" just means that when it stops working, it can't be fixed. I tend to agree.