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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So, first let me put some context on this. I've been a Volvo owner for about 20 years, from V40 through to V70s. I loved the V70 and was so disappointed that they've discontinued them. The V90 feels and drives very much like a barge. So, reluctantly I went for a V60 Inscription with all the toys. First impressions were "this is OK" with a few nice welcome features. But I still missed the smooth ride of the V70.

Ok, I'll now get to the main point.

Sensus. It's pretty shocking in comparison to previous Volvo human interface systems.

Some of the basic commands, using voice control are fine, but what if you don't want to "talk to a computer" ?

Then some of the commands and voice control are just flipping annoying.

But let's move away from voice control and consider the main issues at hand. In previous Volvo's you could navigate the screen display using the up/down/select iPod-like controls from the steering wheel controls. All the time having your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes mostly on the road, concentrating on the key function at hand. Even selecting the address for the satnav was far simpler and safer in the old systems.

With the Sensus system, you have to reach across with your fingers on the touch screen, this requires you to take your eyes off the road and concentrate on the screen tasks. This is bonkers. Then there's the 'next screen' 'previous screen nonsense' within the menu structure. And then to make it even more laughable you've got a "swipe" function left and right to take you to different screen menus. This is just plain silly and downright dangerous. I'm still surprised people like this feature on the Volvo. It's certainly putting me off another purchase.

Then we come to some of the advanced features like "Park In" and "Park Out". The Park In feature has yet to work for me automatically, I've had to swipe and select on the touch screen to select it whilst cruising the street slowly to find a parking space. Dangerous. When it works it's very good, I just wish it wasn't such a flipping faff. The weird thing is that if I've managed to use the auto park feature to get into a tight spot, which is very impressive, and then I come to leave the same parking spot the auto "Park Out" feature will bluntly inform me that the space is too tight to navigate out of the spot its' just parked me in. What the heck?

This sounds like a bit of a rant. I was driving home from London yesterday along a wonderful stretch of tarmac called the M40 when I was asked to make a detour. I had to interrupt our planned route and enter a new waypoint near Oxford. I gave up with the voice assistant as it didn't understand the name of the road we needed. Therefore I had to use the touch screen and navigate my fingers across the screen and, after tapping a few selections, then due to a slight interruption selected the wrong address from the list and had to go back to redo the whole process. All the while I'm trying to avoid taking my eyes off there road etc. Thank heavens we're in a pandemic and the road isn't too busy.

So, please someone tell me, the Sensus system is better than the old tactile systems in previous Volvos. Or is it worse? I mean I can't even change the temperature without touching a screen and interacting with it. Please, don't suggest the voice command system as it's simply rubbish and embarrassing; When you've got a car full of people all talking and you want to change the temperature, it often picks up the voice of a passenger and then fails to carry out their instruction. It would be laughable if weren't so expensive.

I'm probably in a minority but I can't seem to put these points across to Volvo.

My worry is that this is "the future". Volvo have made some ambitious claims that their cars will be the safest on the road and will not be the cause of any accidents (or something along those lines). I struggle to comprehend how this will be achieved.

Rant suit off....
 

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So, first let me put some context on this. I've been a Volvo owner for about 20 years, from V40 through to V70s. I loved the V70 and was so disappointed that they've discontinued them. The V90 feels and drives very much like a barge. So, reluctantly I went for a V60 Inscription with all the toys. First impressions were "this is OK" with a few nice welcome features. But I still missed the smooth ride of the V70.

Ok, I'll now get to the main point.

Sensus. It's pretty shocking in comparison to previous Volvo human interface systems.

Some of the basic commands, using voice control are fine, but what if you don't want to "talk to a computer" ?

Then some of the commands and voice control are just flipping annoying.

But let's move away from voice control and consider the main issues at hand. In previous Volvo's you could navigate the screen display using the up/down/select iPod-like controls from the steering wheel controls. All the time having your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes mostly on the road, concentrating on the key function at hand. Even selecting the address for the satnav was far simpler and safer in the old systems.

With the Sensus system, you have to reach across with your fingers on the touch screen, this requires you to take your eyes off the road and concentrate on the screen tasks. This is bonkers. Then there's the 'next screen' 'previous screen nonsense' within the menu structure. And then to make it even more laughable you've got a "swipe" function left and right to take you to different screen menus. This is just plain silly and downright dangerous. I'm still surprised people like this feature on the Volvo. It's certainly putting me off another purchase.

Then we come to some of the advanced features like "Park In" and "Park Out". The Park In feature has yet to work for me automatically, I've had to swipe and select on the touch screen to select it whilst cruising the street slowly to find a parking space. Dangerous. When it works it's very good, I just wish it wasn't such a flipping faff. The weird thing is that if I've managed to use the auto park feature to get into a tight spot, which is very impressive, and then I come to leave the same parking spot the auto "Park Out" feature will bluntly inform me that the space is too tight to navigate out of the spot its' just parked me in. What the heck?

This sounds like a bit of a rant. I was driving home from London yesterday along a wonderful stretch of tarmac called the M40 when I was asked to make a detour. I had to interrupt our planned route and enter a new waypoint near Oxford. I gave up with the voice assistant as it didn't understand the name of the road we needed. Therefore I had to use the touch screen and navigate my fingers across the screen and, after tapping a few selections, then due to a slight interruption selected the wrong address from the list and had to go back to redo the whole process. All the while I'm trying to avoid taking my eyes off there road etc. Thank heavens we're in a pandemic and the road isn't too busy.

So, please someone tell me, the Sensus system is better than the old tactile systems in previous Volvos. Or is it worse? I mean I can't even change the temperature without touching a screen and interacting with it. Please, don't suggest the voice command system as it's simply rubbish and embarrassing; When you've got a car full of people all talking and you want to change the temperature, it often picks up the voice of a passenger and then fails to carry out their instruction. It would be laughable if weren't so expensive.

I'm probably in a minority but I can't seem to put these points across to Volvo.

My worry is that this is "the future". Volvo have made some ambitious claims that their cars will be the safest on the road and will not be the cause of any accidents (or something along those lines). I struggle to comprehend how this will be achieved.

Rant suit off....
At face value, the Sensus is backwards from Volvo's focus on safety. However, after driving Audi's new system, I realized how easy Sensus is. Audi's is complete sensory overload and is insanely distracting when driving. The buttons are everywhere and I have no idea how to use half of them, especially on the steering wheel. Volvo kind of "got with the times" and made the touch screen the center of controls. For my wife and I, with two XC90's, it has become second nature.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

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So, first let me put some context on this. I've been a Volvo owner for about 20 years, from V40 through to V70s. I loved the V70 and was so disappointed that they've discontinued them. The V90 feels and drives very much like a barge. So, reluctantly I went for a V60 Inscription with all the toys. First impressions were "this is OK" with a few nice welcome features. But I still missed the smooth ride of the V70.

Ok, I'll now get to the main point.

Sensus. It's pretty shocking in comparison to previous Volvo human interface systems.

Some of the basic commands, using voice control are fine, but what if you don't want to "talk to a computer" ?

Then some of the commands and voice control are just flipping annoying.

But let's move away from voice control and consider the main issues at hand. In previous Volvo's you could navigate the screen display using the up/down/select iPod-like controls from the steering wheel controls. All the time having your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes mostly on the road, concentrating on the key function at hand. Even selecting the address for the satnav was far simpler and safer in the old systems.

With the Sensus system, you have to reach across with your fingers on the touch screen, this requires you to take your eyes off the road and concentrate on the screen tasks. This is bonkers. Then there's the 'next screen' 'previous screen nonsense' within the menu structure. And then to make it even more laughable you've got a "swipe" function left and right to take you to different screen menus. This is just plain silly and downright dangerous. I'm still surprised people like this feature on the Volvo. It's certainly putting me off another purchase.

Then we come to some of the advanced features like "Park In" and "Park Out". The Park In feature has yet to work for me automatically, I've had to swipe and select on the touch screen to select it whilst cruising the street slowly to find a parking space. Dangerous. When it works it's very good, I just wish it wasn't such a flipping faff. The weird thing is that if I've managed to use the auto park feature to get into a tight spot, which is very impressive, and then I come to leave the same parking spot the auto "Park Out" feature will bluntly inform me that the space is too tight to navigate out of the spot its' just parked me in. What the heck?

This sounds like a bit of a rant. I was driving home from London yesterday along a wonderful stretch of tarmac called the M40 when I was asked to make a detour. I had to interrupt our planned route and enter a new waypoint near Oxford. I gave up with the voice assistant as it didn't understand the name of the road we needed. Therefore I had to use the touch screen and navigate my fingers across the screen and, after tapping a few selections, then due to a slight interruption selected the wrong address from the list and had to go back to redo the whole process. All the while I'm trying to avoid taking my eyes off there road etc. Thank heavens we're in a pandemic and the road isn't too busy.

So, please someone tell me, the Sensus system is better than the old tactile systems in previous Volvos. Or is it worse? I mean I can't even change the temperature without touching a screen and interacting with it. Please, don't suggest the voice command system as it's simply rubbish and embarrassing; When you've got a car full of people all talking and you want to change the temperature, it often picks up the voice of a passenger and then fails to carry out their instruction. It would be laughable if weren't so expensive.

I'm probably in a minority but I can't seem to put these points across to Volvo.

My worry is that this is "the future". Volvo have made some ambitious claims that their cars will be the safest on the road and will not be the cause of any accidents (or something along those lines). I struggle to comprehend how this will be achieved.

Rant suit off....

I am 100% with you on this!

I actually refrained from buying a newer Volvo last year mainly because of the whole touch screen Sensus. I got my wife a 16 XC60 3.0 T6 Platinum instead of the newer ones. I had to find her something with low mileage, still under warranty, and has all the fun buttons, so she does not feel disappointed that I did not get her the newer XC60. She is happy with it for now :)

I am a software designer and im specialized in UX-Usability. Although I love Volvo design's simplicity, I am not a fan of the new Sensus. I wish Volvo had something similar to Mercedes. Have a nice touch screen but give me a flexible design that allows me to control my car in different ways (more ways). Meaning, do NOT make touching the screen the only way to control most of the options. Instead, Mercedes added the wheel knob at the center console (next to the seat) which allows u to navigate and control the options on the touch screen, which is similar to Volvos wheel that was on the steering. I dont understand how Volvo would miss something this important, especially as a safety concern. I hope they do better in next generation. Will wait till then!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
At face value, the Sensus is backwards from Volvo's focus on safety. However, after driving Audi's new system, I realized how easy Sensus is. Audi's is complete sensory overload and is insanely distracting when driving. The buttons are everywhere and I have no idea how to use half of them, especially on the steering wheel. Volvo kind of "got with the times" and made the touch screen the center of controls. For my wife and I, with two XC90's, it has become second nature.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
I agree with you on the comparison to Audi, I’ve always felt that their touch wheel system was a fancy distraction that just added to a clumsy user interface. However my point was that Volvos user interface used to be very logical and intuitive. It’s as if the Sensus team kicked the old team out along with the baby and stamped their authority in the future, and the future is “you must use my touch screen”.
it’s not the worst experience, I’m simply comparing it to previous safer driver experience. On that metric it’s definitely a step backwards in safety terms: it’s not tactile, you HAVE to look at the screen, take your eyes OFF the road and ergo are now distracted and compromising the safety of you and your passengers. Still surprised that Volvo don’t see this as a negative.
The more I think of it the more it annoys me to the point of getting rid of it. It’s frustrating as the rest of the car is great and I love the Volvo designs and driving experience.
 

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I have the original Sensus (pre-touch-screen) on our 2013 and 2015 Volvos. I have done UX-design, and appreciate the safety concepts on our cars. There are instant response buttons and knobs at the driver's disposal. The thumbwheel on the steering wheel is a clever approach to attention-management. The 7" (18cm) diag. display on the raised dash perch is positioned for rapid horizontal saccades. (We don't use the voice-input).

Without trying it, I already don't like the touch-screen, and think it's a retreat from safety -- too demanding of driver attention. I much prefer switches and knobs that each have just a few functions.
 

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To each their own, certainly not telling anyone they're not allowed their opinions about not liking the system.

But I'm a believer in it. Interacting with the Sensus system is to familiar with the ubiquity of touch-screened smartphones, the theoretical complexity doesn't shine through in real life use. One example and a comparison is with the lane keeping assist. (Not full Pilot assist, mind you.) In my 2015 Genesis the LKA button is on the dashboard, in a block of 8 buttons (4 top, 4 bottom, which includes other actions including the fuel door release, trunk open/close, BLIS, rear sunshade, dash illumination up/down, etc) which you can't see behind the wheel without leaning over toward the window. This is a function that I only use on the highway, and thus, I need to push said button while zooming down the highway. Quick to get to, but not easy to recognize, and execute. But the LKA on the XC90 is in Sensus. Sure it's 2 steps, but you glance down to swipe, then look back a the road while the functions screen comes up, then you glance back down, without needing to move your head, find the LKA button and tap it. While it's 2 steps instead of one, it's still much easier/safer to use on the road.

The only item that bothers me in Sensus is the seat heat/ventilation buttons. Seems like the icons, once you've tapped to bring up the controls, are too small, hard to tap and require too many repeated taps to use. I typically use setting 3 to get warm, and then want to turn the heat off, and this is the only vehicle that a hold of a button (or tap and hold on Sensus) doesn't turn them straight off, forcing you to stab repeatedly at the same virtual button while potentially bouncing down the road.

I personally think a bigger screen would be better, so more items could remain on the same display, and always be in the same spot, at the ready for use, as well as maybe each item having a larger virtual button to make it easier to tap. (Haven't used the Ram's huge display, but the 17" Tesla Model S display is fantastic to use, even reaching way down to the bottom to access HVAC items.

A huge help that I've done on my profile is to rearrange the functions menu as others on this forum have mentioned. Put heavily used icons in 2-3 lines (so 6-9 buttons) at the top of the display, then leave a blank line to delineate the lesser used items below. Nobody needs the HUD and HUD Adjust buttons right at the top, you can scroll to get to those. I put things in places that made sense to my brain, so when you swipe to that screen, it's more natural to know where something you're looking for is located, and avoid reading every single button until you find the one you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To each their own, certainly not telling anyone they're not allowed their opinions about not liking the system.

But I'm a believer in it. Interacting with the Sensus system is to familiar with the ubiquity of touch-screened smartphones, the theoretical complexity doesn't shine through in real life use.
I think the challenge really is simply this: Is the former solution safer than the current touch screen interface? I know that some people like the touch screen interface, I was an early adopter of the iPhone in 2007 so I'm absolutely nailed on that point. The issue comes with the user interaction with the tasks at hand; ie does it distract from the key function of driving the car safely? I do not have any evidence other than my own experiences that suggest that the Sensus system is a considerable distraction to the driver to conduct simple tasks.

It would be good to hear of the official Volvo argument and discussions on this subject as any direct discussions fall on deaf ears. Conversations with showroom staff has often left them quizzing the wisdom and sales pitch of the Sensus. I really am struggling to find my next car, as I really want it to be Volvo but I've yet to hear of any major developments or safety improvements on the UI.
 

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I think the challenge really is simply this: Is the former solution safer than the current touch screen interface? I know that some people like the touch screen interface, I was an early adopter of the iPhone in 2007 so I'm absolutely nailed on that point. The issue comes with the user interaction with the tasks at hand; ie does it distract from the key function of driving the car safely? I do not have any evidence other than my own experiences that suggest that the Sensus system is a considerable distraction to the driver to conduct simple tasks.

It would be good to hear of the official Volvo argument and discussions on this subject as any direct discussions fall on deaf ears. Conversations with showroom staff has often left them quizzing the wisdom and sales pitch of the Sensus. I really am struggling to find my next car, as I really want it to be Volvo but I've yet to hear of any major developments or safety improvements on the UI.
Supposedly the switch to Android Automotive (e.g. Polestar 2 and XC40 P8) is going to make things a little better. You'll have higher performance, and as more automakers adopt it, the menu structure will make more sense across difference cars in different corporate portfolios. Plus in-built natural voice recognition of Google Assistant should make voice actions (when you're alone, I assume is the only time people actually use that) very succinct and easy to quickly activate.
 

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I’m surprised to find defenders of the old Sensus. I had it in two cars and never warmed up to it. The thumb wheel was fiddly and I always had to look at the screen, which for my eyes was too small, to tell which item in a list was selected. I had some reservations about the new Sensus, and still wish for at least a few more physical controls for climate and seat/steering wheel heaters, but I’m getting used to it. I don’t think that entering nav waypoints in a moving car is ever going to be safe. Some things that require too much attention should wait until I can stop. I used to know a guy who literally spread out the newspaper on the steering wheel and read it on the highway though, so I’m sure some will disagree.
 

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I have Sensus in my most recent three Volvos. I do not find the current version to be distracting. I have my radio preset and use the steering wheel for the radio controls. My temperature control is set to auto so I generally never touch the screen for that. The only time that I fiddle with the screen while driving is if I need to change a destination in the Nav system, turn on the heated seats/steering wheel, or maybe respond to a critical alert/warning. Otherwise the system set and forget it Wit(the steering wheel controls for everything else. My Chevrolet Suburban has a similar touch screen, and I operate it the same way.
 

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A little late to the party, but the reality is that even with a very good voice assistant, it's all just degrees of unsafe, whether it's old or new Sensus or Android Automotive. The safest route - no pun intended - is to pull over, enter your waypoint, and then begin driving again. Unless you already know the way, in which case entering in the waypoint is completely unnecessary.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A little late to the party, but the reality is that even with a very good voice assistant, it's all just degrees of unsafe, whether it's old or new Sensus or Android Automotive. The safest route - no pun intended - is to pull over, enter your waypoint, and then begin driving again. Unless you already know the way, in which case entering in the waypoint is completely unnecessary.
True, I agree with your valid points. My over riding impression however is that the NEW Sensus, (and Android/IOS variants too) demands that you LOOK at the screen for MOST of the functions you wish to access, whether this is for complex tasks like Sat Nav or indeed like simple tasks; heating, ventilation, etc. To use your comparison of degrees of safety, I would then suggest that the NEW is LESS safe when in fact, if we are to assume that we should be creating safer cars/interfaces (continuous improvement), then it should be an improvement on the previous versions. But it's not.

I was trying to emphasise the flaws in the Volvo mantra.
 

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Very distracting and unsafe. I don’t even use any of its features only the radio. The navigation is ancient. I have the old Sensus from 2016
 
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