Testing for the 2019 Wards 10 Best User Experience awards is under way and we thought this year we’d give our readers a sneak peek into our evaluations by posting some our judges’ comments from scoresheets.
Scoresheets for the Wards 10 Best UX competition assess a vehicle’s user friendliness, with each model rated on its connectivity, intuitive design and controls, displays, navigation and maps, ADAS functionality, infotainment, overall value and elements that surprise and delight.
Testing for 10 Best UX wraps up in late August, winners will be announced in September and trophies will be presented Oct. 1 at our Wards 10 Best User Experience conference at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI.
For the introductory installment of our judges’ log, here are some hot takes from Wards editors on three 2019 nominees: the BMW 330i, Nissan Kicks and Volkswagen Arteon.
James Amend: I’ll never tire of gesture control.
Jim Irwin: Gesture and voice controls worked fine, but old-school knobs and buttons were a welcome sight.
Tom Murphy: Gesture control is cool, but I get a bit miffed each time the volume changes or goes silent because of an inadvertent movement of my right hand.
Bob Gritzinger: I find gesture control useful, but not critical until it controls more functions. Still kind of a parlor trick – used to impress friends but not the go-to way to manage volume.
Christie Schweinsberg: I used gesture a lot to control volume. It was the easiest way to do so for me during my test. It seemed like a gimmick at first, but it works well, especially when you can just keep your elbow on the armrest and not reach out and fumble for the knob or steering-wheel buttons.
Amend: The 7-in. touchscreen at this price point ($23,000) is pretty impressive.
Dave Zoia: Decent screen and gauge package for this price point.
Gritzinger: Touchscreen angle really highlights fingerprints.
Murphy: At first it seems odd to have two types of gauges: a digital tachometer and analog speedometer. But drill into the menu and the design strategy becomes clear. To save money, Nissan went with a smaller TFT screen on the left side of the cluster (pictured below) to incorporate the tach and the menu to the right of it. That menu on the left side is easy to navigate and vast in its reach, allowing the driver to dial up chassis settings, driving aids, fuel economy, trip computer, maintenance schedules and so much more. And the menu can be easily customized while waiting at a stop light. It’s an ideal arrangement that makes the Kicks a terrific value.
Volkswagen Arteon R-Line
Amend: The R-Line logo as introductory greeting on touchscreen nicely differentiates this trim from others in the Arteon lineup. And Car-Net puts Volkswagen squarely in the connectivity game with the ability to run some apps from your phone directly to the infotainment system. Not only does it integrate a smartphone, it will connect to Apple Watch.
Gritzinger: No voice function for climate control, but you have to appreciate a system that verbally informs you that it can’t perform that function. I really like the proximity-sensing touchscreen that illuminates controls as your hand approaches the screen. It keeps screen and center stack clutter to a minimum but allows instant access to controls when you need them.
Zoia: Not great confidence with the (adaptive cruise control). Also didn’t like the 1-way bump to the distance (follow) setting. If you are on position 3 and you want to go to 4 (farther distance), you have to click through 2 and 1 to get to 4. So you get closer to the car in front of you before you get farther away.