UX IRL: Ford Fusion Interface Issues

Hayley Smith
3 min readDec 7, 2020
White 2018 Ford Fusion
2018 Ford Fusion

I was driving with my husband to go pick up an item we purchased for Black Friday. We replaced his car with a Ford Fusion a few months ago but, due to Covid, we haven’t been driving much.

We finally used the GPS partly because we forgot where the store is and partially because we wanted to try it out. After exclusively using Apple Maps or Google Maps on our phones for years this was a big change! And, no surprise here, I have some thoughts.

Honestly, WT heck is up with this system?

Is everyone’s car GPS like this? I’m imagining that this is a Ford-specific OS and design, that other car companies are different, but omg it is bad. Now, honestly, there might be some cognitive load or “learning curve” that we aren’t over yet, but with our early use experiences, it seems pretty flawed.

The full navigation process- 9 steps from turning navigation on to cancelling the route
The full navigation flow- its a lot

Here is the biggest flaw that I will never get over.

Q: How do I cancel the route? How do I cancel it QUICKLY?

A: On the navigation screen- you can’t! I think you can via voice controls but there are still multiple touchpoints with that.

Q: When is the worst time to be frustrated with a product or have to look at a screen for more than 5 seconds?


Y’all….. Cough, cough, *Ford*…. This is bad. How did this get safety approval? How was this tested? It’s unethical to put someone behind the wheel and cause them to crash, but obviously, a driving simulation while using this didn’t solve the problem.

Quick brainstorm for how I would approach this problem:

Utilize voice controls over screen images

  1. Has anyone seen the Buick “Alexa” commercials? A really interesting concept that they are marrying to a vehicle. I’m excited to see reviews and performance on the vehicles.

Minimize the number of controls on the screen

  1. Too much is happening on the screen to be utilized by a driver
  2. If it takes a driver’s eyes off the road for more than a few seconds it needs to change
  3. No more than one click for simple actions

Heighten other security features when the screen is being utilized by driving

  1. Inspo: Waze app recognizes when there is movement and recommends pulling over
  2. Can the motion sensors get stronger/ more sensitive when screen action is detected while driving? Can the bumper feature turn on to keep the car in the lanes? More “self-driving” car features here for increased safety to counterbalance.

Mandatory system training when the car purchase occurs

  1. If your system has this many buttons, controls, or features… this should be a no-brainer
  2. Potentially an accessibility issue here as well.

Changes in testing methods (AKA take some responsibility)

  1. More rigorous testing/ more realistic testing methods
  2. Does anyone know the story of the Ford Pinto? Consumers deserve much better. Negligence and greed will never be more prestigious or important than consumer safety and human life.

Bottom line:

Build for your users and have empathy for them. No one wants to be more frustrated when they’re trying to use the nav system on a long road trip. No one wants to be in a safety incident because they had to look at the screen in their car for too long. This is where UX has the potential to become a life or death situation. Products should be safe and effective and not “safe enough” or “effective enough.”