Lincoln Brings Back Buttons and Knobs, Ditching Capacitive Touch

The upcoming Lincoln MKC marks the return of proper buttons and knobs to the dashboards of Lincolns, which since 2011 have been afflicted with a touch-sensitive panel about as responsive as an Apple Newton. In a statement released tonight, the company confirmed that in response to customer feedback, it is “re-introducing” volume and tuning knobs as it updates its vehicle line and introduces new models. Notably, this does not mean the end of the term “MyLincoln Touch,” a moniker that refers not only to the dreadful capacitive touch panels, but also to the perfectly fine touch-screen navigation and infotainment display. The touch screen stays, so MyLincoln Touch also stays. But heating, air conditioning, the radio, and where appropriate, heated and cooled seats can once again be activated by actually moving a piece of the car, be it a rotary knob, on/off button, or rocker switch.

A bit of trivia for those so inclined: We had even seen Lincoln MKC prototypes traveling around with a different, fully touch-sensitive dashboard during the past few years. The decision to make a switch couldn’t have been that long ago.

Instrumented Test: 2014 Lincoln MKZ 2.0T AWD
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Although Lincoln’s statement doesn’t go all the way to saying so, a major motivating factor in the Return of the Buttons has to be the impact they’ve had on quality surveys like J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Along with Ford, which also uses the capacitive touch controls in some models, Lincoln’s “quality” ranking has plummeted, as “quality” in many of these surveys is determined not only by a vehicle’s mechanical reliability, but also the frustration resulting from touch-screen electronics. (Editor-in-Chief-emeritus Csaba Csere deconstructs the whole system here.)

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