When it comes to vehicle technology, consumers now favor cameras over other gadgets and gizmos.

J.D. Power’s 2020 “U.S. Tech Experience Study” has found that drivers overwhelmingly prefer having cameras in their cars. On the other end of the scale, they don’t appreciate novelties like gesture activated controls.

Using a 1,000-point scale, the survey examined how well technologies are executed and adopted. Execution is measured by how well owners like the technology, along with any problems it may cause.

According to the study, owners love the “extra set of eyes” provided by an array of cameras positioned in and around their vehicles. Rear-view cameras scored highest for execution among luxury vehicle owners, followed by ground-view cameras. Respondents also appreciated trailer view cameras.

Owners responding to the survey said cameras are a “must-have” for their next purchase. Almost three-quarters (73%) said they “definitely will” want cameras in their next vehicle. While the extra eyes are appreciated, owners were also annoyed by many other technical advances aimed at improving their driving experience.

Technology that allows hand gestures (rather than touching knobs or switches) to control some functions rated dead last in the survey. According to the study, gesture controls accounted for 36 problems per 100 vehicles. That was more than twice the rate of the next closest technology. Owners are waving off the technology. A strong 61% said they use it “less than half the time” they drive.

The study also revealed that automated active driving assistance is widely disliked. That technology is designed to assist with functions like acceleration, braking, and steering. In theory, it should prevent collisions and other accidents that result from slower human reaction time. However, J.D. Power’s survey reveals that many drivers find these features “distracting.”

Notable Winners

For its Advanced Technology Awards, the study looked at 34 technologies classified as “advanced.” Then they divided them into four categories: Convenience, emerging automation, energy and sustainability, and infotainment and connectivity.

The winners included:

  • Convenience: Cadillac CT5 (luxury) for rear seat reminders and Subaru Ascent (mass market) for rear-view camera technology.
  • Emerging Automation: Cadillac Escalade and Genesis G70 (tied in luxury) and Chevrolet Camaro (mass market) for rear cross traffic warning technology.
  • Infotainment and Connectivity: Cadillac XT5 (luxury) and Kia Sportage (mass market) for navigation and live traffic technology.

This year’s study was based on responses from 82,527 owners of  2020 model year vehicles after 90 days of ownership. The survey was conducted from February through May. Overall, Volvo, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes, and Genesis were the top five performing brands. At the other end of the scale, Acura, Honda, Jeep, Porsche, and MINI were the bottom five when it comes to tech experience.


Devon is a writer, editor, and veteran of the online publishing world. He has a particular love for classic muscle cars.