The Ford Digital Experience infotainment screen and dashboard in a 2025 Ford Explorer ST.

Will the New Ford Digital Experience Raise the Infotainment Bar?

In today’s increasingly connected world, our cars, trucks, and SUVs aren’t just a way to get around; they also serve as mobile offices, entertainment centers, and even personal assistants. This is largely accomplished through a vehicle’s infotainment system, which leverages the latest and greatest in mobile tech to fuse our vehicles with the apps, features, and connectivity that are the hallmark of our digital age.

Drivers browsing their local Ford dealer will soon have the chance to get up close and personal with one of the industry’s newest infotainment offerings: the Ford Digital Experience. The new infotainment system will soon replace the current Sync 4 system found on many of the brand’s models, though Sync 4 will continue to be supported and patched for the foreseeable future.

The Ford Digital Experience will make its debut on the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus (where it’ll be called the Lincoln Digital Experience) and soon be expanded to the 2025 Ford Explorer and 2025 Lincoln Aviator. The new, Google-based infotainment platform represents a notable improvement over the previous Sync 4 offering: it’s five times faster when it comes to main processing and 14 times faster in terms of graphics processing while featuring four times the memory and eight times the storage.

This faster system should provide a more seamless, customizable, and user-friendly experience for drivers and passengers alike, allowing them to access turn-by-turn directions, navigate menus, and call up their favorite content with minimal lag time. The Ford Digital Experience is also designed to evolve with over-the-air updates that should keep you on the cutting edge of current infotainment technology. So, does the Ford Digital Experience live up to the hype? We’ll answer that question as we take a closer look at GM’s next-gen infotainment system.

Two women driving in a 2025 Ford Explorer with the Ford Digital Experience infotainment system.

Customization Is King

Infotainment displays and digital gauge clusters have quickly become the auto industry’s newest arms race. The “bigger is better” ethos certainly applies here, with automakers racing to outdo one another in sheer size. Never one to be left behind, GM is coming out swinging with a massive 48-inch, 4k panoramic screen for the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. While this mammoth display won’t be included on all GM models featuring the Ford Digital Experience, it does provide a helpful look into some of the system’s unique capabilities.

This high-resolution display allows all the relevant driving information to be surveyed in a quick glance, an approach that offers some serious benefits when it comes to road safety. The information that’s most relevant to the driver—including vehicle speed, navigation, fuel level, and information related to the BlueCruise hands-free driving system is directly behind the steering wheel, while secondary features such as fuel efficiency, tire pressure, and weather are relegated to the side. Don’t like the factory-applied setup? Changing the display is as easy as reorganizing the widgets through the settings menu. For those who prefer a less cluttered driving experience, “Mindful Mode” will reduce the display to the bare essentials by displaying only the current speed and driver controls.

The panoramic screen and central touchscreen can be customized to the specifications of five different drivers, who will each be greeted by their own unique display every time they sit behind the wheel. From climate and app settings to seating position, wallpaper, and even a personalized digital avatar, these custom profiles offer a level of personalization that few of GM’s competitors have been able to match up until this point. GM has also teamed up with Epic Games to give the Ford Digital Experience some of the most cutting-edge graphics in the industry. Epic’s Unreal Engine will be used to render many of the system’s 3D graphics, delivering gaming-level quality for the mobile user.

The 2024 Nautilus’ massive four-foot panoramic screen might grab all the headlines, but the SUV’s infotainment offerings can also be accessed through an 11.1-inch infotainment touchscreen. This smaller display is your one-stop shop for climate, audio, and interior lighting controls and can be used to configure the panoramic screen itself. It’s also where drivers can access one of the Lincoln Nautilus’ most outside-the-box features: digital scent settings. This allows you to freshen up the cabin with a spritz of scents like Mystic Forest (cedar, patchouli, and yuzu), Ozonic Azure (patchouli, freesia, and spice), or Violet Cashmere (violet, grapefruit, and citrus).

A similar 13.2-inch touchscreen will be used as the primary infotainment display on some other forthcoming GM offerings, such as the 2025 Ford Explorer and 2025 Lincoln Aviator, which are supplemented by 12.3- and 12.4-inch digital instrument panels. The displays also boast a dynamic dimming feature that will adjust the brightness based on changing lighting conditions.

Collaboration on the Go

Web-based video conferencing technology has changed the face of the modern workplace over the last few years by giving remote and in-office workers a new way to collaborate across long distances. Once limited to laptops, desktops, and smartphones, that same video and audio conferencing technology is now available in a wide range of Ford and Lincoln models thanks to the Webex app by Cisco. Available as a downloadable add-on for the Ford Digital Experience infotainment system, Webex allows drivers to enjoy one of the industry’s foremost collaboration platforms no matter where the road might take them.

Have a full day of sales calls ahead of you? With Webex, you can join audio-only conference calls as you zip between appointments. When the vehicle is parked, users can access full video conferencing and view shared content and participants’ lists without ever stepping foot inside the office. This sort of on-the-go collaboration holds a lot of potential, but it can also present some unique challenges. Ambient noise—especially from nearby traffic—can threaten to disrupt a presentation or conference call, but Webex’s unique AI background noise removal can easily scrub these unwanted audio intrusions from the call.

Your Ford or Lincoln model might lack some of the perks of the typical office—mainly the lack of cake on a coworker’s birthday—but when you factor in the available 5G wireless technology, Wi-Fi hotspot, and new Webex app, it’s definitely a more stylish alternative to the standard gray cubicle.

A close-up of the Ford Digital Experience infotainment screen in a 2025 Ford Explorer at a Ford dealer.

Apps for Everyone

The Webex app might be one of the most innovative additions to GM’s new infotainment system, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Those seeking to distract unruly backseat passengers will appreciate the inclusion of the Wi-Fi hotspot, which can be used to connect to 10 devices at once. The fast 5G connection is perfect for streaming their favorite content and playing games on their tablets or phones, which should go a long way in fostering a little inter-sibling harmony on longer road trips.

That said, the real fun starts when the vehicle is in park. In an effort to improve safety and prevent driving distractions, GM has designed the Ford Digital Experience system so that a number of features can only be used when the vehicle is stationary. These include popular streaming services like Prime Video, YouTube, PBS Kids, and more, which can all be accessed through the dashboard display.

The system also supports the Vivaldi web browser app, though the more familiar Google Chrome is said to be joining the mix in the near future. If surfing the web through a touchscreen display sounds a little tedious, GM is way ahead of you. Bluetooth connectivity means that the browsers can be navigated through a connected keyboard, making it easy to check out your favorite sites while you’re killing time in the school pickup line.

If you’re looking for a slightly more engaging distraction, the full Google Play store is at your disposal. While popular apps like Spotify and Audible make a valuable addition to the home screen, the Ford Digital Experience’s gaming potential really sets it apart from other infotainment systems. Drivers and passengers can download and play a wide selection of mobile games, including an exclusive version of the Asphalt Nitro 2 racing game designed exclusively for Ford vehicles. Again, Bluetooth comes in the clutch, giving players the chance to connect to a wireless control and post a new high score.

As far as controlling all these apps is concerned, the Ford Digital Experience is certainly not short on options. Classic touchscreen controls might provide the most straightforward approach, but those who prefer to keep their hands firmly at 10 and 2 will appreciate the inclusion of voice-activated systems like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (or Siri through the use of Apple CarPlay). These digital voice assistants can be used to control nearly every function of the vehicle.

That includes sending texts, scheduling meetings, and more. The Ford Digital Experience system can even be used to manipulate connected home devices—an important feature in a world where the average driver owns 16 such gadgets. Physical controls vary by model, but the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus showcases new, gaming-inspired controls mounted directly onto the steering wheel. Touchpads on either side of the wheel can be used to navigate a menu that’ll appear directly in the driver’s line of sight on the panoramic display, while audio controls make it easy to adjust the cruise control, skip a song, or switch between your favorite radio stations.

The Future of Vehicle Infotainment and Connectivity Is Here

While a digital clock and a cassette tape deck once represented the height of in-vehicle tech, we’ve come a long way over the last few decades. A new generation of tech-savvy drivers has inspired automakers to step up their game when it comes to today’s infotainment systems, and the Ford Digital Experience is just the latest example. Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment system was a good start, but the Ford Digital Experience improves on the previous offering in every way.

From streaming, videoconferencing, and an advanced graphics engine to endless connectivity options, the Ford Digital Experience system is a well-rounded contribution to the modern infotainment lineup. In an era where customization is key, the Ford Digital Experience does an admirable job of allowing each driver to feel like they’re stepping into their very own vehicle, no matter how many people might share a copy of the key. Ford’s new approach looks to elevate the infotainment system from a feature to a true experience, and it looks like it might succeed in doing just that.