As we've seen with the MyFord Touch system, sometimes vehicular infotainment systems can look all kinds of useful on paper but end up being a real pain in the posterior in the little place we call real life. In order to prevent any problems with its own in-vehicle technologies, Lexus has introduced the Enform Emulator app, which lets potential customers try its infotainment system without even going to a dealership.

The latest version of the Lexus Enform system, available on 2013 models, gives drivers a one-stop interface for navigation, push-button customer service access, and wireless connectivity to the Internet by way of mobile phone. The system supports a suite of compatible apps like Bing, Pandora and

To ensure prospective buyers appreciate how the system operates, the free Enform Emulator app provides training and demonstration on your iPad. The app shows you how to connect your smartphone to Enform, lets you navigate through available mobile apps, and demonstrates other features. Once you've tried it, you can go into your test drive and vehicle purchase confident that the Enform system works (or doesn't work) for you.

Last fall, Ford announced an update to its MyFord Touch system prompted by consumer complaints about a complicated interface and slow loading. While the MyFord Touch system is an advanced infotainment system with a slew of features, many drivers have found it difficult to operate. In fact, the infotainment system was among the reasons that Ford took the biggest nosedive in Consumer Reports' 2011 Annual Reliability Survey.

The Lexus Enform app appears to be Lexus' way of avoiding such consumer relations problems, familiarizing its buyers with the latest technology before they even pick out their exterior paint color. It is available for iPads with iOS 5.0 and above.

Around the same time it launched the Enform Emulator late last month, Lexus announced another consumer service update related to technology. The automaker designated a new Vehicle Technology Specialist position. The VTS will serve as the local dealership point of contact for questions and problems pertaining to vehicle technology. So, if you have a question about the Enform system after purchasing a Lexus, you can talk to a local representative trained specifically to help.

Given that many customers have limited or no experience with modern in-vehicle technologies, Lexus' new app and VTS program seem like smart, proactive customer service.

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