Tech

Lexus to Move Back to Touchscreen Infotainment Interface

Lexus GX Interior

Lexus is looking to return to touchscreens for vehicle infotainment, replacing their much maligned Remote Touch controllers — from a recent Carbuzz interview with Lexus USA general manager David Christ:

When asked what Lexus’ consumer research says about consumer preferences in infotainment, Christ said “both our research and the industry research indicates that people want to touch the screen. It’s intuitive and it’s easy, so that’s something we are taking a strong look at.”

“The more you can make functionality similar to what people are used to seeing here,” Christ said while pointing at a smartphone, “the better you are.”

“We have had feedback that there are some things that functionally, you have to dig down through menus to get to. The consumers don’t like that, both with us and competitors. So that kind of ease of use is a key driving force of what we want our infotainment system to be. We acknowledge that we need a great system out there because the current system is not well-rated by consumers. So we want to improve upon that.”

As a concept, Remote Touch seemed like a homerun — when the first iteration debuted in the 2010 RX, everyone was still using a mouse with their computer or a trackpad with their laptop.

The reality is both a mouse and trackpad require focused attention, which is not ideal for navigating infotainment settings while driving. This has become even more pronounced with the rise and ongoing dominance of touchscreen devices. Lexus is right to be looking at alternatives.

Comments
  • Joe
    Joe
  • April 25, 2019
TroyHoward
What sucks for me (my personal gripe)... I was planning to buy a used LS500 in 2020 after my RAV4 lease matured in March. But now, knowing that the touchscreen interface is coming back to the Lexus brand, I will absolutely wait to purchase my LS500 just because of that. I like many don't care for the mouse pad but I was willing to deal with it since there was no other option. That appears to be no longer the case, which is great.

If I'm fortunate, Android Auto will be available as well since I'm an Android user solely. That wasn't a deal breaker but it would be a bonus.
Android Auto and Apple Car Play are normally planned for all models in the future. Introduction will depend on model year change and region.

But if you want to wait for a second hand LS with touchscreen functionalities, I am afraid that you will have to be very patient... In the best case, they will provide this in the LS at the next face-lift stage, which surely still is 2 or 3 years away... But then again, this would also require a solid change in the dashboard design, as the screen would need to move closer to the seating position. In the RX this is quite easy to perform, because the screen is a stand alone design. In the LS the big screen is completely integrated in the dash structure and makes an integrated part of the horizontal linear design. So moving the screen more forward would require a much bigger design change than a traditional face-lift.
R
  • R
    RAL
  • April 25, 2019
I have never used remote touch to type in an address. Always use voice command which proves to be very easy.
RAL
I have never used remote touch to type in an address. I always use voice command which proves to be very easy. I've found it even works when street name pronunciation is "iffy".
That's funny because I've never used the voice command for address input. It did such a terrible job trying to make a phone call that I just stopped using it for everything. I might have to give it another chance with an address and see what happens.
corradoMR2
Almost 10 months now owning the Stinger with the touchscreen interface and no way would I trade that for the current RTI/screen setup Lexus offers.

I don't like the smudges and the screen although closer requires my head to turn more to the right taking my eyes/peripheral vision a little further away from the road. Journalists (mainly) complain about the RTI stating it's distracting but fail to point out that the Lexus screen is further back and more in the line of sight of the driver than a closer touchscreen can ever be. The few journalists that have actually had a Lexus for a longer period of time ended up warming up to the interface more.

Now, having experienced both the "mouse" and touchpad RTIs on my Lexus vehicles over the years, I do prefer the touchpad. Set to the lowest force feedback setting, the control is accurate and simple with the swipe and tap of a finger. On the other hand, the mouse requires more physical control and movement which can get more easily perturbed over rough roads overshooting the selection (and the main source of journalists' "complaints").

If Lexus pursues a touchscreen, I would hope it's to have the touchpad as touchscreen and to leave the 10-12" screen (or larger in the future) in its current ergonomically correct and safer place. It also looks cool and unique making it different than the mainstream closer touchscreen that the vast majority of cars are designed with.

i think they should pick one option and stick with it, simply because touchpad does require a lot of storage space that could be better used for your phone, etc.

But at the same time, you are correct that just adding touch to current screens wont help that much as they might be a bit far away... so maybe they will wait until redesigns? I don't think new Highlander screen looks bad for instance or out of line of sight.

As you noted, for whatever reason, Lexus sets their factory sensitivity to high... at low, it works very well but i would guess most people and especially journalists never try that.

Another thing is that they desperately need to keep increasing graphics quality, it is better now in Lexus, still not great in Toyota... it needs to keep improving on yearly basis.
  • Joe
    Joe
  • April 26, 2019
The Lexus ES got shortlisted in the Belgian election for 'Lease car of the Year' in the 'Executive category' by Alphabet Lease. Unfortunately, we lost the battle to Audi A6 and BMW X5 in this category due to the lack of user friendliness of the infotainment system. The ES lost this battle to Audi A6 as n°1 and BMW X5 as n°2 despite of its superior comfort, interesting fiscal position and low TCO. The jury consisted of journalists, fleet managers and leasing experts.

(On the other hand, there was a very nice victory for Toyota: the new Corolla hatchback hybrid was elected as best in the business compact class, beating the Ford Focus and Mercedes-Benz A-class)
Why not going for touch screen with some shortcut buttons like Toyota?

The other day was testing the new Corolla Hybrid and their system was very easy to use! A crappy resolution and a bit slow to respond but very easy to use.
Will1991
Why not going for touch screen with some shortcut buttons like Toyota?

The other day was testing the new Corolla Hybrid and their system was very easy to use! A crappy resolution and a bit slow to respond but very easy to use.
to do touchscreen only, they have to redesign complete dashboard first... in most vehicles, screen is now too far away.

But I would really take Highlander as example of how it will likely look in many future Lexus's as well.

Joe
The other issue is the number of functions that are hidden in the central menu without direct button access. This is mainly the case with LS and LC. It is simply too complex to get to the extended seat controls and climate controls (even if the Climate Concierge is doing a great job).
I can't speak to the LC, but the LS500 has a button on the center console that goes directly to the extended seat control screen.
spwolf
to do touchscreen only, they have to redesign complete dashboard first... in most vehicles, screen is now too far away.

But I would really take Highlander as example of how it will likely look in many future Lexus's as well.

Do they really expect people to be able to reach the far right side of that screen? My wife is 5’2”. I doubt she could comfortably use that touch screen. It’s mounted too high.
Here's what the ChDM Corolla/Levin infotainment looks like. They still have physical AC control!

This is the Levin 'Tech' trim, which oddly has more advanced infotainment than the top trim. It's has the new 12.1 inch ChDM infotainment screen plus a 10.8 inch HUD. a 7.0 inch digital dash, and a digital rear view mirror. This thing has more screens than any Lexus except the JDM ES (with digital side mirrors).

View attachment 3246
ssun30
Here's what the ChDM Corolla/Levin infotainment looks like. They still have physical AC control!

This is the Levin 'Tech' trim, which oddly has more advanced infotainment than the top trim. It's has the new 12.1 inch ChDM infotainment screen plus a 10.8 inch HUD. a 7.0 inch digital dash, and a digital rear view mirror. This thing has more screens than any Lexus except the JDM ES (with digital side mirrors).

View attachment 3246
What's the difference between the top trim and the 'Tech' trim?

It's definitely a very fitting name for this trim level, IMO it looks ridiculous in a good way.
corradoMR2
Almost 10 months now owning the Stinger with the touchscreen interface and no way would I trade that for the current RTI/screen setup Lexus offers.

I don't like the smudges and the screen although closer requires my head to turn more to the right taking my eyes/peripheral vision a little further away from the road. Journalists (mainly) complain about the RTI stating it's distracting but fail to point out that the Lexus screen is further back and more in the line of sight of the driver than a closer touchscreen can ever be. The few journalists that have actually had a Lexus for a longer period of time ended up warming up to the interface more.

Now, having experienced both the "mouse" and touchpad RTIs on my Lexus vehicles over the years, I do prefer the touchpad. Set to the lowest force feedback setting, the control is accurate and simple with the swipe and tap of a finger. On the other hand, the mouse requires more physical control and movement which can get more easily perturbed over rough roads overshooting the selection (and the main source of journalists' "complaints").

If Lexus pursues a touchscreen, I would hope it's to have the touchpad as touchscreen and to leave the 10-12" screen (or larger in the future) in its current ergonomically correct and safer place. It also looks cool and unique making it different than the mainstream closer touchscreen that the vast majority of cars are designed with.
I quite like my mouse. Like you though have set it on minimum feedback. It just feels smoother to use (if I had it my way i'd have zero feedback) but I guess i'm use to accurate mouse movements with all those years of starcrafting…

Journos don't live with the cars they review. It took me 1 day to get use to the RTI system simply because it is positioned so far away I can just glance at it without really looking away from what is ahead. I cant imagine using "gesture" control like a lunatic in my car just to change songs. I like to sit there relaxed without needing to reach forward in my car or even lift my arm away from the steering wheel. They see how the new and fancy thing the germans are doing and immediately think that they are the best thing since sliced bread.

And best of all...no fingerprints!
Maybe voice command will do the trick haha?

I think I am part of the minority that don't care much about the infotainment system except for its positioning because I will mainly use it for navigation purposes.
  • Joe
    Joe
  • April 27, 2019
Ian Schmidt
I can't speak to the LC, but the LS500 has a button on the center console that goes directly to the extended seat control screen.
I know, Ian, but even then it is rather complicated to adjust... but like everything, you get used to it ;)
corradoMR2
Almost 10 months now owning the Stinger with the touchscreen interface and no way would I trade that for the current RTI/screen setup Lexus offers.
I've said it before: I drove a rental Tucson a few years ago and I was very impressed with Hyundai's touchscreen. It was fast and responsive and all the other things the pre-2006 Lexus touchscreens weren't. It's one of the things that almost gets me over the hump of hating Genesis' exteriors.

I
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