I found this article in the New York Times that highlights the detrimental effect of bad user interfaces on the user experience and as a consequence on the rating of Ford.
• In the J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Study, automakers continue to make gains in vehicle quality, but the black art of telematics design (= car infotainment UI – GPS, telephony, radio, CD, etc.) poses a growing liability, especially for Ford.
• Ford dropped from fifth place in 2010 to 23rd in 2011, largely on complaints from owners who found the telematics to be unintuitive and complex. This year, Ford fell to 27th.
• Industrywide, initial quality improved to an industry average of 102 problems per 100 vehicles, up 5 percent over last year’s average of 107 problems per 100 vehicles. And though there were year-over-year improvements in most areas measured by the study, a glaring exception is the category of audio/entertainment/navigation. Problems there increased 8 percent since 2011 and 45 percent since 2006.
While Ford has overworked the infotainment system and believes that the problems have been mitigated, this issue was completely avoidable and the cost for a good design is almost negligible compared to the value you get with a good J.D. Power ranking.