Ford SYNC 3 Review: It Doesn’t Suck Any More

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There may not have been a more despised automotive infotainment system in history than MyFord Touch (MFT).

Complex, slow and full of bugs, MFT suffered a flawed existence. Operating a vehicle’s controls through an Etch-a-Sketch may have been more user friendly.

Ford, well aware of these complaints, began work on a new system about three years ago and now, the culmination of the manufacturer’s work has to come to fruition in the form of a new infotainment system — SYNC 3.

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SYNC 3 – It’s Not MyFordTouch 2.0

SYNC 3 is an entirely new, ground-up redesign that is, thankfully, not at all based on MyFord Touch. Both the hardware and the software are all new, utilizing the Blackberry-developed QNX platform that will soon take over a lot of vehicle infotainment systems.

As is the case with most new infotainment systems, Ford claims that SYNC3 will have instantaneous response from its new capacitive screen. A capacitive screen uses the mild electrical charge from your finger tips to navigate through menus. It’s the same technology used in most smartphones and, like smartphones, the screen on SYNC 3 allows users to pinch and zoom, pan the map, swipe and more.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

As soon as SYNC 3 fires up, it’s obvious just how different the system is. Gone is the four-square setup that divided important information into quadrants on the screen. Now the menu screens consist of two rows of large icons surrounded by boxes that Ford calls tile screens. All menu screens follow this format for increased simplicity and usability.

All audio screens are made to look similar no matter what media is being played for familiarity and easier usability. Basically, everything is larger, clearer and simpler to see now. Some may call the design basic or dated looking, but it’s all about functionality and, more importantly, it actually works.

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And For Added Ease of Use

Regardless of which function is currently being used, six simple icons remain on the bottom of the screen for quick access to key features. This is similar to the setup used in Chrysler’s Uconnect system – a favorite around the AutoGuide.com offices. On top, there is a status bar that lists items like time, outdoor temperature, climate settings, etc.

Ford-SYNC-3-01SEE ALSO: Ford to Offer Apple CarPlay, Android Auto with Sync 3

When in a menu tile screen that has multiple pages of icons, the next page of icons can be seen slightly to the right so the user knows to swipe over to the next page. And best of all, SYNC 3 comes with state retention, which means when the car is turned off, the audio channel, playlist, song, etc will resume where it left off.

Even if SYNC 3 is all new, where it is housed in various vehicles stays the same. The same hard buttons from the MyFordTouch days carry over and there are no plans to change theses buttons until the vehicle’s next refresh. It’s unfortunate, because despite the new system’s improved touchscreen operation, the hard button integration could be better.

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Enhanced Voice Command

Ford is really pushing the enhanced voice recognition with SYNC 3 and it works well, but isn’t perfect. It still requires going through structured menus, like stating navigation or audio first before giving a command. It’s also possible to include these instructions all in one command though, like “navigation, find a pizza place” instead of saying “navigation” and then afterwards “find a pizza place.”

The biggest issue is that it’s still necessary to wait for system to finish talking before saying a command. It’s possible to push the talk button on the steering wheel and interrupt the system to say a command sooner, but this requires an extra step and that hesitation can be annoying.

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Familiar Navigation

The SYNC 3 navigation maps will look familiar to anyone who owns a current Ford. But the menu and address entry screens have been redesigned to reflect those of popular third-party GPS manufacturers like Garmin and Tom Tom, which makes sense, because these companies have perfected the interface.

In the address screen, an address, city and state can all be entered in one step. And as long as the address is within Canada or the United States, the user is no longer required to manually change between countries. Typing on the address screen is much faster now as well, with minimal delay between tapping a letter and having it appear on the address bar.

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Apps and WiFi

Like virtually every modern infotainment system, SYNC 3 can have additional app support like Spotify and Glympse. As more apps become available for SYNC 3, they will be labelled as such in the App Store.

Ford-SYNC-3-05SEE ALSO: Ford Sync 3 Arrives This Summer in 2016 Fiesta, Escape

Like any piece of new technology, SYNC 3 will become stale and out of date in no time at all. To keep it relevant, Ford has equipped vehicles with SYNC 3 with WiFi. Although it doesn’t have the capability of turning the car into a WiFi hotspot, SYNC 3 is one of the first in-vehicle systems to allow over-the-air updates.

Initially, the 2016 Ford Escape and the Fiesta will be the first vehicles to get SYNC 3. Lincoln will receive a slightly different system in the MKC that should receive minimal changes, mostly in its color scheme.

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The Verdict: Ford SYNC 3 Review

With MyFord Touch as a predecessor, any new system Ford would put on the market was most likely going to be better. With SYNC 3 though, the manufacturer has gone from making one of the worst vehicle infotainment systems to one of the best.

Discuss this story on our Ford Forum

  • Chris Daigle

    I understand the older vehicles will not be able swap over to the newest Sync system.
    But never mind, I frankly am happy with my older Sync system.

  • Bug S Bunny

    I have Sync 2 with navigation and I am quite happy with it. I think those who have trouble with it are just technically inept.

  • craigcole

    MyFord Touch has never given me a lick of trouble. I even found it easy to use.

  • Mike Popovic

    I have MFT2 and not a single problem with it…I remember first MFT and frozen screens and bunch of various issues, but really can’t think of any other affordable infotainment system in the car market that is as good as this one is…Now saying that according to the rumours Toyota is approaching Ford to share access to Livio’s systems is telling me something…Speaking of ‘perfection’, it doesn’t exist even in luxury brands, so expecting that from company like Ford is too harsh on them in my view…And to develop a good system it takes making mistakes, Ford is leading this infotainment push and I have to give them credit for that, especially being a Japanese brands fan for over 25yrs…

  • Mschmal

    MFT is dated. Its still buggy. It uses outdated processors and outdated screen tech. If you use Sync3 you are immediately impressed by how much it is like using a modern smartphone. Oh and it has app integration.

  • mls

    Will ford have an update for the previous systems? I have the 2013 and 2015 style and spent a lot of money on something worthless. I hope Ford takes care of their valuable customers.

  • J J

    Ford sync is the worst, multiple freezes, unresponsive and many other issues!! I am very technical and this is not a issue of being tech savvy. This is a flawed product and should be replaced/recalled especially after spending $70K on a vehicle. Ford are you reading this?

  • Chris Daigle

    I don’t deny you might have had trouble, but I, like Craigcole have never had any trouble with my Sync system. Not even once.

  • sanfordandsons

    I sure am not going to purchase a new vehicle to see if Sync 3 is worth it. I just purchased a 15 Navigator and I rarely use Sync. I hate the menu’s, the GPS guidance system, half the time my phone doesn’t connect and still you can’t charge anything larger than a phone, no iPad’s no Android tablets. I noticed that Ford removed Microsoft from the sign. That is one good thing that Ford has done and is most likely the reason why Sync has always sucked. Apple has made a system that works with the BMW, Ford needs to at least try using it.

  • sanfordandsons

    My Ford Touch is not the same as Ford Sync. Sync includes Navigation and supposedly messaging services, Sirius Travel link and weather services, gas prices, etc. They are two different systems.

  • Robert

    I bought an early 2012 Focus Titanium. The MFT was horrific! It was really giving me buyers remorse it was so bad. After a few software updates it now operates at an acceptable level. I have the original Sync system in my 2010 Fusion and was happy with the way it operated. That made it seem worse having an older version that worked better than MFT. MFT cost Ford a lot of standing in the quality reports. Hopefully they learned their lesson and have put this new system through the mill with testing.

  • Twowheeledwonder

    No there is no update. This is the same way it works with everyone. Otherwise people would still be using the first gen Ipad, or android device.

  • Twowheeledwonder

    Actually the real reason it sucked is because they used Flash.

  • Twowheeledwonder

    You got that backwards there bud.

    MFT is what has all the nav, etc. Sync has no touchscreen and is a very basic system with no touchscreen.

  • Twowheeledwonder

    Some of you seem to not understand what system is what.

    Sync is the systems name. There is MyFord and MyFord Touch.

    MyFord was what most dealers and people referred to as just “sync”, as it was just a very basic system that showed you information on a small scree. MyFord Touch has the touchscreen, which typically includes navigation, and all the other controls.

    If you currently have a vehicle with MyFord Touch, you will not be getting an upgrade to 3. That is just how it works. Everything is different about 3, and it is made by QNX, where the last MFT was Microsoft based.

    Sadly if Ford would have not put dated hardware in the vehicles MFT1 and 2 would have been amazing, though MFT2 is really not that bad, and just requires a reboot every now and then, but they all do. It is software based after all.

  • Adam Noyes

    I’ve got MFT in my 15 Focus ST. It works great. The touch response is still a little laggy, but it all works. The updates and patches have worked out most of the bugs. There are still some areas of the menu system that should be more intuitive, but all in all I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not getting S3.

  • BobbyBarker

    Yes, but there’s just a little difference in spending a few hundred for the latest and greatest phone OS and having to buy a whole new car.

  • Same here. I have been with MFT almost from the beginning so to speak (’12 Focus SEL here) and yes, at the beginning it sucked, but the hate is really unwarranted now. Basically, post updates, it is a really solid system. Easily better than most out there. I have a *2015* Chrysler Town and Country, and let me tell you, the version of UConnect on that vehicle is garbage.

  • yeah, I know it can be viewed as somewhat cheap, but Ford was really ambitious and I don’t think people give them enough credit for that. They essentially were the forerunners of affordable and high-tech infotainment systems in all their vehicles. Everyone else since then has been a follower.

    Yeah, at launch it was buggy and pretty terrible, but they worked on it continuously, learned lessons about updating software and eventually got it to being one of the best affordable systems on the market. After test-driving many systems (and eventually buying one) on later models of cars from other manufacturers that are much, much worse than MFT, I personally think that is impressive.

  • Adam Noyes

    Yep. I’ve had all of these versions in rentals. Funny that just as they start to get it right they abandon the platform.

    My 2nd vehicle is also a Chrysler product with the 1st gen U-Connect. 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan with Sirius XM. Has Bluetooth hands free phone, but no streaming BT audio or Nav. Not a great system, I agree.

  • sanfordandsons

    I did not know that. That explains it then.

  • sanfordandsons

    They are both called Sync, the newer edition with the small screen is called My Ford Touch. Navigation is an animal all by itself and has the larger screen with Sync, otherwise known as Microsoft Sync. Which, it appears, has been dropped from the title.

  • B Brad

    Gah, the nav still looks like a navigation from a decade ago. Maemo mapper in 2005 looked better. Does it support android auto so we can get a decent navigation interface with real time traffic updates?

  • djelaw

    I am one of the fortunate Ford owners who own a very well behaved SYNC/MFT system. I have a 2012 Ford Edge Limited EcoBoost. My MFT has always been stable and has never failed. Over the years the updates from Ford have made it solid and dependable. It is clunky to use and the voice recognition is primitive, but it does the job. The navigation system is SD card based and my one major beef is the ridiculous cost of map updates. $150.00 for an update SD card that actually updates little or nothing is obscene. I paid nearly 1000.00 for the package that included this nav system and I have to pay for map updates?? If SYNC 3 has the same SD based system, I am done with them. I hope SYNC 3 allows use of the smart phone navigation on the main screen and is not a proprietary built in system.

  • Adriel Garcia

    so it doesnt have in car wifi? good thing i went chevy.