Since 2007, Ford's SYNC infotainment system has changed significantly. Though SYNC is now standard, that hasn’t always been the case.
When Ford first unveiled this technology, many different options and upgrades were available. At one point, you could order the same Ford model with three different versions of SYNC. This can make figuring out which version you have challenging.
This guide makes it easy to tell which version of SYNC you have based on its looks and features.
Identify Your SYNC Version by Display
One of the easiest ways to tell what version of SYNC you have is to look at your center console. Click on the SYNC setup below that looks closest to what’s in your vehicle to see the included features. Or, just keep scrolling for a full run-down.
SYNC and SYNC with MyFord
The basic SYNC system is standard in Ford vehicles today but has been available since 2007. The MyFord upgrade kept identical features but added a larger color display.
You can control SYNC using buttons on your steering wheel, or through voice commands.
With a two-line horizontal display, the basic SYNC looks a lot like a standard stereo system. If you switch to the aux input you’ll see the SYNC logo though. This center console display shows helpful information like caller ID or song titles.
SYNC with MyFord has a 4.2” color display. Otherwise, it’s an identical system.
Since MyFord is no longer an option, new SYNC systems also have a 4.2” display, which is a touchscreen.
The basic SYNC system includes:
- Hands-Free Calling
- Wireless Contact Transfer
- Advanced Calling Features (Caller ID, Call Waiting, Conference Calling, and Caller Log)
- Audio Streaming
- Audible Text Messages
- 911 Assist (2008 and Newer Models)
- SYNC AppLink
SYNC with Voice-Activated Navigation
In some vehicles, you could opt to get SYNC with Voice-Activated Navigation as a premium upgrade. It obviously added navigation, but also included some less obvious features.
This premium SYNC option features a large color screen with maps and turn-by-turn directions.
All the basic SYNC features (except AppLink), plus:
- Voice-Activated Navigation
- Voice-Activated Radio Tuning
- HD Radio
- SiriusXM Radio
- DVD Player
SYNC with MyFord Touch
The second version of SYNC, sometimes referred to as SYNC 2 or SYNC Gen 2, was sold alongside the first SYNC as a premium upgrade. However, its complex design led to generally negative reviews.
Two customizable 4.2” screens in the gauge cluster and one central 6” or 8” color touchscreen. Also has two USB ports, an SD card reader, and audio/video jacks.
All the standard features from the basic SYNC system (except AppLink), plus:
- Traffic Alerts
- SD Card-based Navigation
- Internet Connectivity
- Keyboard Support
- RSS Feed Aggregator
- AV Input
SYNC 3 replaced MyFord Touch as the premium infotainment option in 2016. SYNC 3 offers a more streamlined user interface compared to MyFord Touch.
SYNC 3 makes the process of switching between your phone and infotainment system simpler. By integrating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Ford drivers can use a more familiar interface if they want to.
SYNC 3’s screen also allows for pinch and swipe motions that most smartphone users are already familiar with.
SYNC 3 systems have a 6.5” or 8” color screen. LIke the MyFord Touch systems, they’re both touchscreens. But while MyFord Touch relied on a resistive screen, SYNC 3 has a capacitive screen, more like a phone’s.
Includes all the features of SYNC, plus:
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Capacitive Screen (Responds to Electrical Charge Rather than Pressure)
- Automatic Wi-Fi Updates
- Ford + Alexa
SYNC 4 and SYNC 4A
SYNC 4 came out in 2021 on select vehicles. There are a lot of differences between SYNC 3 and SYNC 4. One of the biggest is Natural Voice Control. That means you no longer have to memorize the voice-activated commands from earlier SYNC versions, since it can decipher what you mean.
Ford's newest SYNC system comes in two unique variations. SYNC 4 has an 8" or 12" horizontal screen embedded in the dashboard.
SYNC 4A has a 12" or 15.5" screen in a vertical alignment that floats in front of the dash (similar to the Tesla Model Y). SYNC 4A also features Adaptive Dash Cards that change based on the apps and functions you use the most.
All of the basic SYNC features, and:
- Natural Voice Control
- Cloud-Based Navigation
- Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- Over-the-Air Updates
How To Check Your SYNC Software Version
If you have a Ford Owner account, you can go to the Vehicle Dashboard to see if your car has the latest version of SYNC software installed.
For SYNC 3 and SYNC 4, you can use Wi-Fi or over-the-air updates (SYNC 4 only) to keep your software updated automatically. You can also check your SYNC 4 settings to see if your system is up-to-date by going to Settings > System Updates > Update Details.
For all other versions of SYNC, here's a foolproof way to check your software version using Ford's help center.
- Go to Ford’s SYNC update page.
- Enter your vehicle’s VIN number in the indicated field.
- Click on the "Check for updates" button.
- Read the message below your VIN number. It will tell you if your system is up-to-date or if it needs an update.
What About SYNC Connect?
Two services that get confused with SYNC are SYNC Connect and FordPass. SYNC Connect, sometimes called FordPass Connect, is only available in 2017 or newer vehicles. Unlike SYNC, SYNC Connect is a subscription service that activates a modem in your vehicle, turning it into a Wi-Fi hotspot. FordPass is an app you can download to your smartphone.
FordPass can communicate with your vehicle via SYNC Connect so you can remotely start it up, or lock and unlock the doors. It can also tell you which SYNC software version you’re running. So while these services work in harmony with the SYNC system, they're not referring to the same thing.
Using Your SYNC System
No matter what version of SYNC you have, some features are standard on every system. SYNC makes it safe to call people from the road and stream your favorite audio without diverting your attention from driving. With long commutes, it’s great to not have to put your life on hold every time you’re behind the wheel.
To help you get the most out of your SYNC system, we've put together in-depth guides for each Ford SYNC generation. Check out the guide for your version!
Ultimate Guides for Every Ford SYNC Generation