It takes a lot to make a good infotainment system. You need intuitive menus, simple controls and everything within easy reach of your driving position. Sadly, not every carmaker has found a way to seamlessly integrate these requirements into their dashboards.
So to find out which automakers had failed in the most spectacular fashion at this task, we turned to you. Yesterday, we asked for your picks for the worst infotainment systems of all time. Here are some of the worst offenders you came back with.
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“Low hanging fruit, but Tesla. It’s not just that switching between basic controls involves shuffling through menus - the bigger crime is how they set this awful trend of covering the cabin in screens and tying all controls to one (not entirely reliable) interface.
“It’s complicated, often illogical, and it ruins any potential for inviting cabin design. Modern car interiors look so cold and sterile because they’re all covered in flat, featureless surfaces.
“I get that this probably sounds like “old man yells at cloud” but I’m only 34 and I know I can’t be the only one who feels that this is truly flawed design.”
Sure, having all your controls in one handy-to-reach touch screen sounds like a great idea. But, if you have to shuffle through countless menus while driving that’s not going to be a fun experience.
Suggested by: Aldairion
3 / 20
“Journey needs a shoutout for terrible placement. Your eyes have to go so far from the road, it looks like they put it as low as they could get it.”
A well-designed system that’s let down by its integration with the car is another recipe for disaster.
Suggested by: jordanmielke
4 / 20
A Hodgepodge of Hondas
A Hodgepodge of Hondas
“We have two 2020 Hondas, a Ridgeline and an Odyssey. The system in both (which is similar but not identical) is slow, clunky and updating the built in nav is a process. In this age of ‘perfect cars’ where little things matter more, these infotainment systems are awful, detract from the vehicles enjoyment and are a black mark for me on two otherwise very good vehicles.
“This is why we lease, I couldn’t imagine dealing with this for more than three years. (First world problems I know).
“And it’s not like my youth where removing and replacing a head unit was, in most vehicles, something that could be done with the little skill that I have.”
A poorly-designed infotainment system is the definition of first world problem. But, it’s a problem anyone reading this can probably relate to. So, Andrew, don’t feel ashamed of your hatred for Honda.
Suggested by: Andrew Luptak (Facebook)
5 / 20
“The first-gen of Sync wasn’t bad if you consider the technology back then. It was MyFord Touch that caused a ton of headaches. It either worked perfectly or it would crash spectacularly. There was no middle ground.”
“Anything that looks like it should be a touch screen, but uses a console-mounted joystick.
“When people express a preference for physical buttons and switches, this is not what they mean.
“I don’t need or necessarily want a touch screen in my car, but if it looks like one, it oughta be one.”
If it looks like a touch screen, acts like a touchscreen and does everything you expect a touch screen to do, it should probably be a touch screen! One such offender is the current Mazda3, where the screen was moved away from the driver so you don’t keep thinking it’s touchable.
Suggested by: smalleyxb122
7 / 20
“UConnect with its voice prompts is way up there for crappy infotainment system.
“Takes forever to even connect to phone Bluetooth because it’s all voice control (no menu options). And then who the heck decided it has to announce EVERY command? I don’t need to know that the “phone call is complete” in full volume when the baby is sleeping in the damn minivan! Hate that thing!
“Also Ford Sync works exactly the way I want it to, and I love it. Bite me.”
UConnect is the system used by Stellantis products such as Jeep, Fiat and Chrysler. But if you have any form of accent, a voice prompt is always going to be a recipe for disaster.
Suggested by: Saranathan Varadarajan (Facebook)
8 / 20
No Apple Car Play
No Apple Car Play
“I’d say any current generation infotainment system that refuses to support Carplay or Android Auto and forces the owner to use the most minimum viable solution the car company was forced to produce.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for AA I would’ve chucked my 2020 Tacoma’s head unit.”
This poster argues that integration with Apple’s Carplay software or Android Auto can save even the worst offender. Which is a good thing for the Toyota Tacoma, which also received a few nods of its own for worst infotainment system.
Suggested by: weeks151
9 / 20
“Lots of general belly-aching in here so far, so I’ll provide an example.
“Mazda. They are my vote for the best of many things, but they also get my vote for the worst infotainment.
“I went from a 2008 TSX – which had a terrible infotainment – to a 2014 Mazda6, and it was worse. It had TomTom gps, which was nice, but everything else was awkward to use. You were told that it would read mp3s off a thumb drive, but you weren’t told that it had to reindex the entire drive each time you started the car. Then would always start at the same spot. So you use Bluetooth! Except the profile was so old I had to get a specific app for iPhone that did shuffling in app instead of over Bluetooth so that it would actually shuffle. Otherwise it would start at the same spot. It was laggy, and the dial to operate it was a PITA. This system was used in Mazdas for years - my wife’s car has the same thing in a car that’s three years newer. Really new Mazdas have insisted on no touch controls, and a similar interface. At least they get android auto and Apple CarPlay.”
You never want to hear about a car company taking a step back, but that’s exactly what it sounds like Mazda did with the system it installed in the 6 sedan. Sounds like it just struggled to live up to all its promises.
Suggested by: dolsh
10 / 20
Alfa Romeo 166
Alfa Romeo 166
“Likely the Sat Nav system in the Alfa Romeo 166.
“The screen was set so low down the dashboard that the only way to view it was either to ask the borrowers for help, or to compress your spine down to a point where the whole thing fused into a single piece of bone. That and the buttons surrounding the screen were only designed to be used by svelte Italian fingers, so anyone outside of Turin who tried to input their destination ended up changing the radio station, sending out an SOS and setting the heaters to a temperature last seen by residents of Pompeii all in one press.”
“The worst infotainment system I have ever used is the one in my wife’s old 2010 Lexus HS250h. That awful thing locked you out of EVERY FUNCTION as soon as the car got rolling over 15mph. I burned an MP3 CD once, with several albums each in its own folder and discovered that when I was driving, it was impossible to navigate to these folders to play the next album.
“Meanwhile, my 2011 Acura TSX the infotainment allows me to do anything while moving that I can do while stopped.”
Sounds like two polar opposite experiences in this household.
Suggested by: SerolfDivad
12 / 20
BMW iDrive Version 1
BMW iDrive Version 1
“Everybody seems to like it now — I didn’t hate it on a leased 2018 my wife had — but I have never, and I mean NEVER, heard anyone complain about piece of automotive equipment more in my life than the first-gen BMW iDrive. Every single reviewer talked about how counter-intuitive it was, how awful it was to use, and some publications specifically warned customers against buying BMWs because of iDrive.
“Maybe it was just that in that 2001-2005 period it was too far ahead of its time, but man oh man did literally EVERYONE hate this.
“Renault’s R-Link or whatever they call it in the Arkana. What an unintuitive mess!”
You’re right, they do call it the R-Link. If this software is a hot mess, maybe it’s a good thing we don’t get any Renault cars stateside these days.
Suggested by: Piotr E. Prusiewicz (Facebook)
14 / 20
“I don’t know if this the ‘worst’ but it gives me adequate reason to yell at the rain about the Sync in my Mustang.
“All of the radio stations are grouped in preset banks and you have to hit the source button to move to the next group. Otherwise you are trapped cycling through the same 6 stations with the seek function, all of which are on one band.
“Contrast this with my dad’s Silverado which just has all 40 or so of your presets in a row, and will let you save FM, AM, and XM stations all right next to each other, and the seek function has no problem jumping between them.
“It’s literally the only reason why I just don’t bother with the radio and use Carplay 99% of the time.”
If you want to yell at the rain, Mosko13, you can yell at the rain. And it sounds like your Mustang is giving you plenty of reasons to shout these days.
Suggested by: mosko13
15 / 20
“Subaru. Tap on something then wait 10-45 seconds for a response. Then it yells at you to keep your eyes on the road while you wait for it to do something.”
Slow, unresponsive systems aren’t fun for anyone. It’s always stressful trying to guess if you should hit a button again, or if the car will catch up with you soon. Do better please, Subaru.
Suggested by: Justin Ingman (Facebook)
16 / 20
“Driven quite an assortment of rentals and nothing ever consistently infuriated me as much as Cadillac’s infotainment system. What the hell is wrong with the touch sensitivity? Pretty much have to punch the screen in the face to get a response.”
Unresponsive screens should be a thing of the past, or reserved for aging ATM machines, and not commonplace in the height of American luxury.
Suggested by: elgordo47
17 / 20
“The original Reatta was a warning on why not to use touchscreens for all your controls.”
Released in the 1980s, the Buick Reatta was a sleek sports car with a not-so-sleek touch screen interface. With touch screens dominating every car now, maybe the old Buick was just ahead of its time?
Suggested by: thisismyid2
18 / 20
“Aston Martin DB9 and DBS. The screen popped up in a tilt and it was no bigger than a cell phone. And good luck trying to look into it during the daytime was just completely useless.”
There are first world problems, then there are first world problems. But I guess if you’ve spent more than $100,000 on a slice of British luxury you want something a little better than this.
Suggested by: Dalton Lamar (Facebook)
19 / 20
“The dual screen Acura infotainment, that they’ve now replaced (thank god). It’s bad in every single way. My experience with this system has made me a vehement detractor of touchscreen climate controls, and I vocally forbid any family members I can from buying a car with them.
“We had a 2007 mdx, and to replace it, I suggested to my parents that we get the next gen MDX, which at the time (fall 2016) just got the new nine-speed transmission. A few days later, they randomly went and bought one without having me or my sisters try it out. If I saw the infotainment system beforehand, I would have dragged my parents out of the dealership.
“Simple stuff out of the way, the climate controls are in the lower touchscreen. The screen is slow to respond, laggy, and dims randomly. It takes close to 15-20 seconds for the screen to start working after the car starts. Every function within the screen opens a window, that then needs to be closed if you want to do anything else, like control Bluetooth or the radio. For some reason, those can’t be controlled with the upper screen and click wheel. The temperature is controlled with switches but they are super slow and changing the temperature takes several seconds. This system was designed by raccoons.
“Then there’s the rest of the infotainment system. It’s also bad. The navigation is ass, and the click wheel is a horribly slow way to control the map. The bluetooth is unreliable, and takes super long to connect. God forbid you try to do that on the go. Not only does the system lock you out when you’re moving, but it stops the process and forces you to restart, something is does with many other functions. The clock, the ONLY clock in the car, is in the upper screen. If you turn the upper screen off, your clock is gone. The font is classic Honda and the graphics all suck. Absolute garbage all around.”