I’ve decided that the best navigation system for your car, isn’t in your car.
Which way do I go?
It’s probably in your pocket.
Over the last few months I’ve sampled all kinds of the latest navigation systems that cars have to offer. Audi probably had the coolest one because it connected wirelessly with Google maps. Some were touch screens, some had a dial to help you input your destination. They all offered some form of voice command.
My favorite navigation system
The problem is that none of them are as good as my phone. I have your standard droid based smart phone with the generic navigation program. I hit the icon, tap on the “speak your destination” button and then I simply give the address of where I want to go. Sometimes I don’t even give it that much. I’ll just say “Walgreens” or “Target” and a moment later, I’m getting voice commands telling me which way to turn.
Last week I was test driving a car that does nearly everything very well. I decided that I wanted to get to my destination using only the voice prompts. I actually traveled five miles (mostly freeway) before I finally had the destination locked in. I did make one mistake in the middle, which caused me to have to back up the process. Since I can’t guarantee that I’ll always say the address right the first time, that’s kind of annoying. Fortunately, my destination was more than five miles away and I actually knew where I was going, otherwise I would have been frustrated waiting for the command telling me which way to go.
Not what you paid for (DC.Streetsblog.org)
Apparently I’m not alone with my frustration. Last November, J.D. Power and Associates reported that owners of cars with navigation systems had 3.5 problems apiece. In other words, for every 100 car owners, there were 350 problems! The most common issues:
Address/street/city not found (33 per 100)
Difficulty inputting destination (32 per 100)
Route provided was not direct (24 per 100)
Difficulty using voice recognition controls (23 per 100)
Map doesn?t show enough street names (21 per 100)
Couldn?t find desired menu/screen (19 per 100)
Map or point of interest search was missing points of interest (16 per 100)
Inability to view screen due to glare (14 per 100)
So if you’re about to pay extra money for the manufacturer’s slick new state of the art navigation system, I’d think twice. Chances are you’re heading for frustration.
Bio: Rick DeBruhl is a gearhead since birth. Growing up he had car wallpaper in his room. In high school he spent way too much time in auto shop. After working his way through college at Sears Automotive, he turned to journalism, working as a reporter for more than three decades at KPNX-TV. Of course, he couldn't leave cars behind completely. In the mid-80s he started covering auto racing for ESPN. These days he covers IndyCar for ABC, NASCAR Nationwide for ESPN, and the Barrett Jackson collector car auctions for SPEED. His day job is working as the Chief Communications Officer for the State Bar of Arizona.