This commercial for the Chevy Cruze touts real-time updates from Facebook using the OnStar system … as you're driving down the road.
"Good evening, what would you like to do?" "Facebook news feed." "First post, Jennifer French. Best first date ever."
OnStar is just one of the ways manufacturers are helping you stay in touch.
With Audi's new Audi Connect system, you can check weather reports and gas prices even when driving.
Ford's Sync System can read text messages to you like this one, "Incoming text message. I am free today. Want to meet for lunch?"
Tom Mutchler with Consumer Reports says, "More and more cars allow you to stay connected. But that's a problem if it leads to more driver distraction."
Another source of distraction -complicated controls. For example, on this B-M-W, Consumer Reports found tuning in a radio station is a six-step process.
Tom explains, "You push the controller knob to the left. Then you rotate the knob up to FM. Push the knob down to confirm. Rotate the knob up to manual. Push the knob down to confirm. That gives you the tuning screen. Turn the knob until you get to the station you want."
Even in a parked car, this task takes a full 10 seconds.
Voice controls can help.
Tom says, "Listen to text."
… and it's easier to use the vehicle controls rather than the small buttons and screens on your iPod or cell phone.
Tom says, "Still, it's no excuse for manufacturers to make otherwise simple controls over-complicated."
You want your focus to be on the road, where it belongs.
Consumer Reports says more connected cars are coming. Toyota's new Entune system -which will begin showing up this fall - allows drivers to search the Web. And in some Ford vehicles you can even receive Twitter updates.