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Photograph by Stephen Wilkes

A Look at the Next Generation of Ford Sync

The instrument panel for the 2011 Ford Edge, featuring the next iteration of Sync.

1. Not Invented Here -- for Good Reason

The five-way "smart" button design did not originate with Ford. It mimics the iPod, bringing the gold-standard consumer-electronics interface into the car.

2. Speak to Me

Sync features voice-recognition technology from Burlington, Massachusetts -- based Nuance Communications. The next upgrade comes with a big one from Nuance too, doing away with layered menus and responding quickly and accurately to 10,000 normal-speech commands.

3. Climate Change

MyFord Touch lets you modify the instrument cluster, swapping out the navigation display, say, for climate control or even Pandora.

4. Color Coordinated

Quick visual cues are better (and safer) than text-based ones, so Ford color-coded the basic functions on your dashboard -- orange for phone, for example, and green for navigation.

5. A Big, Bright Touch

Tired of a display that "looked like it came from 1960," VP Derrick Kuzak and his team made the touch-screen larger -- and pretty. You can even watch video -- when the car's in park.

6. Pre-Amp Your iPhone

Phones and MP3 players are transformed by Ford's 390-watt, Sony-built, Dolby-certified, 12-speaker 5.1 surround system.

7. Adaptive Intelligence

Stores two sets of personalized settings for two different drivers. Or a driver can carry his preferences between two MyFord Touch -- enabled vehicles on a USB thumb drive.

Photograph by Stephen Wilkes

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