DETROIT – Despite recent criticism by Consumers Report magazine of its “My Ford Touch” information center, Ford Motor Co. surveys indicate buyers opting for the technology “love it,” says Kenneth Czubay, vice president-U.S. sales and marketing.

CR recently warned the voice-activated option, priced just under $2,000, can distract drivers, raising safety concerns.

Consumers Report certainly is entitled to its opinion, and we want to learn” how the editors came to that conclusion, Czuby tells Ward’s during an interview at the North American International Auto Show here.

“But we believe it is the right thing to do. What’s more simple than using a phone or setting the temperature and radio controls with your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road using voice commands?”

Czubay says he doesn’t even know his wife’s cell phone number but can always reach her simply by saying “Phone, Call, Buzz (her nickname).”

The center, incorporating Ford’s Sync technology, also features a voice-activated navigation system that provides drivers with audible directions sans a map.

On another topic, Czubay says Ford’s decision to drop the Mercury brand makes sense because its niche increasingly has been taken over by the Ford brand.

“It really was incremental anymore” and costly to maintain, he says of Mercury. “(The brands) were on top of each other. We believe two-thirds of our Mercury buyers will buy Ford products.”

Ford had 213 standalone LincolnMercury dealerships when the decision to jettison Mercury was made. Some have exited the business and others have doubled up with Ford.

“We’re rebuilding Lincoln,” Czubay says. “We have seven new or radically changed models, so we plan to grow from there.”