This week, the Ford Motor Company announced multiple technology changes for the 2017 model year, and these improvements will certainly please Ford shoppers. The key update involves the full rollout of the company’s much anticipated Sync 3 voice-activated communications and entertainment system along with popular smartphone integrations. For 2017, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is available across the entire product line.
Full integration of Sync 3, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means Ford car shoppers will no longer find differing levels of integrated technology available from vehicle to vehicle. This means models as divergent as the Ford F-150 pickup truck, the subcompact Fiesta and the hybrid C-Max will present uniform offerings.
Sync 3: Third-Generation Connectivity System
Sync 3 represents the third generation of Ford’s connectivity system. Introduced with the 2008 Ford Focus, Sync immediately gave the automaker an edge over the competition. But that edge didn’t last long and when it came to subsequent updates and generational changes, the Ford system confused some users and the company was forced to search for a better way.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Integration
Ford has integrated Google’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to work with certain Sync features.
To use Apple CarPlay, you must own an Apple iPhone 5 or later. Here, drivers need only plug their phone into the USB port for the CarPlay interface to appear on the color display. Immediately, drivers have access to various hands-free features, including Siri.
In similar fashion, Android Auto access is compatible with Android 5.0 and higher. Popular Google features such as voice search, maps and music are instantly accessible by means of the built-in color display.
Improved Ford Sync AppLink Suite
Ford also improved its Sync AppLink suite to include such apps as AAA member services, Spotify, Pandora and AccuWeather. Here, you can use voice commands or the steering wheel-mounted buttons to control your apps.
Customers can also choose Sync 3 with the optional navigation system. The system’s touch screen now offers a new swipe and pinch to zoom feature, similar to how a smartphone or tablet works. Along the bottom of the screen is a redesigned feature bar for ease of use. When the bar retracts below the screen, simply touch the “controls” button on the bottom left of the screen to retrieve the bar. There is no need to fumble with knobs, buttons or switches on either side of the interface.
Sync 3 voice access allows for easier and faster transition between commands. Activate the talk button on the steering wheel and your voice controls the system. The benefit here is that you can keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel while remaining connected.
Not Yet Announced: Prices, Packages and Plans
Ford hasn’t announced complete pricing yet for Sync 3 packages, or what trim levels of each model will offer the technology. Four 2017 models are already out — Escape, Fusion, Mustang and Explorer — and are available with the Sync 3.
For example, the 2017 Escape is available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels. A basic Sync-enhanced voice recognition communication and entertainment system is included. Once the free and downloadable FordPass app is installed on your smartphone, you can track your vehicle’s location and start, lock or unlock the SUV. You can also obtain fuel level and mileage information.
At the Escape SE level, Sync 3 becomes available and is standard in the Titanium. Ford currently includes Sync as part of the Escape SE’s 201A Equipment Group, which is a $1,395 upgrade that also brings in a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, as well as upgraded headlamps and other tech and safety enhancements. Ford hasn’t said whether Sync 3 will be offered as standalone options or only as a full package upgrade.