The 5 Ugliest Infotainment Screens of the 2019 Chicago Auto Show
Behold: crimes against automotive interior design.
For better or worse, infotainment that aggregates most center console functions into a single touchscreen has become commonplace. As the trend is relatively new to the industry, not every automaker gets it right. Some bury it too deep into the dashboard, some don't know how to mount it, and many think they can do without the volume knob, despite AAA concluding that touchscreen-only infotainment is causing crashes.
There's also the question of how responsive many of these screens are, but the focus of this list is solely on the worst integration of infotainment, not on the quality of the systems themselves (some of the systems below may look nightmarish, but work well). There are a couple automakers that barely dodged finding themselves listed here, such as Hyundai, many of whose current infotainment screens are atrocious, but are redeemed by a promising design direction as established by the Ioniq and Palisade. Below are what The Drive considers to be the five ugliest infotainment setups of the 2019 Chicago Auto Show.
Ford Transit Connect
Most modern Ford products have respectable integration of their infotainment systems, but the Transit isn't among them. Looking like an early-2000s CD player with a Kindle jammed in its disc tray, the Transit's center console more closely resembles a bedroom that hasn't been cleaned since 2001 than it does the rest of the Ford lineup. But unlike other automakers on this list, Ford has the excuse that the Transit is a commercial vehicle, built to haul the red carpet around, not drop someone off to walk it.
Aston Martin DB11 Volante
It's trickier to make interiors work for models sold in both left- and right-hand drive, but it's not impossible. Aston Martin has mostly managed, but has strangely opted to dock a LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition kids' educational tablet in its dash. It's a design that dates from a time when tablets were still status symbols, but it's 2019, and we've moved on to AirPods.
What's even going on here? Why are there two screens, on two tiers, when other automakers (or even other Acura products) make do with one? It's an infotainment system, not a wedding cake. It admittedly does make some sense from a functional standpoint, allowing the driver to keep the navigation screen up while the passenger turns up the treble, but it's still an odd departure from the rest of the industry.
Lincoln did a good job with the Navigator's interior, laying down dark wood everywhere, and not abusing metal trim or an imitation thereof like so many companies did last decade. It's one of the reasons why Lincoln's having trouble keeping up with demand for the model.
Unfortunately, there's a first-gen iPad lookalike wedged in the middle of the dashboard, making the front row look like the world's most luxurious drive-in movie theater. It doesn't end there; two more can be found on the backs of the front-row seats, giving second-row passengers that authentic airline experience.
Nothing says "I'm paying off my lease with ride-sharing" quite like these Audi's infotainment systems, which look Lyft Lux-ready from the factory. It's a strange design decision from a company that concurrently has one of the best-integrated infotainment systems in the industry, in its A6 (below). Yes, the A6 was redesigned more recently, but the A5 and Q5 were updated for 2016, which wasn't a time before Uber.
If all this negativity has you down, check out our five favorite pickup truck tailgates of the Chicago Auto Show. Some are neat to look at, others boast functions you probably haven't imagined seeing in a tailgate. Give it a look and forget the above travesties of design.