Once considered a real luxury, in-dash equipment GPS tracker navigation systems are fast becoming standard equipment when buying a car. So, who’s truly got the best equipment GPS tracker technology money can buy? We put equipment GPS tracker to the test.
So, what makes a top navigation system?
Voice commands are the most important factor. Voice activation is fast becoming industry standard on almost all technologies so turn-by-turn voice commands are truly the best barometer.
Next is graphics. We like to see a system that not only provides a good map, but other super useful features like how much time and how many miles it will take to get to your destination.
Thirdly comes ease of use. We prefer systems with on-screen push buttons. Ease of use is important to. So, it’s got to take just mere minutes to punch in an address and get your destination guide up and running.
Toyota/Lexus is hands down our top pick for today’s best in-dash, voice-activated equipment GPS tracker navigation system. The best example of this is in its energy-saving Prius, which we recently ranked as No. 1 in our Top Five Hybrid Cars article. Toyota’s platform, which can also be found on all Lexus vehicles, is certainly top notch in all categories above. The turn-by-turn voice commands are excellent and the graphics are superior to all others. However, it was Toyota’s easy-to-use navigation system that truly propelled Toyota to the top of this list. Over the past eight months or so, we’ve tried dozens of equipment GPS tracker systems and the Toyota platform is super intuitive, taking only a minute or so to get driving to your next destination.
Jaguar/Land Rover may have the best chance at top in-dash, voice-activated GPS navigation system in the near future. In fact, its newly redesigned 2007 Jaguar XK has the most killer on-screen graphics we’ve ever seen with trendy colors like Japanese eggplant, sage green and Dijon mustard. The system used in all other Jaguar, Range Rover and Land Rover models are equally solid with less Bond-like graphics than the Jaguar XK. However, as in all of the futuristic Bond films, Britain has a way of showing us the face of things to come. With a bit more strength in its voice commands (like announcing the turn direction and then the street name), Jaguar’s pimped out XK system would have been our No. 1 pick over Toyota. We won’t be surprised to find Jaguar/Land Rover at the top of our annual GPS navigation list.
GM takes a top spot on the list as the best American-made navigation system. Yes, American-born GM has everything it takes for a world-class in-dash, voice-activated GPS navigation system, which we found recently on its Cadillac STS and Escalade. GM’s push button screen for both entertainment and navigation is certainly intuitive and easy to use. However, this system does lag a bit behind Toyota and Jaguar in voice command and graphics. But GM also goes one step further. We found GM’s OnStar technology recently inside its Buick Lucerne. With one push of the OnStar button, you are connected to a real person who gives you turn-by-turn directions. We find it a bit clumsy, however, to either write down the directions or record them for future use. But it is certainly nice to know there’s a live person ready to help rather than a computer.
Mercedes Benz has quite the eclectic GPS system. We were forewarned by some relatives who brought a brand new Benz a couple of years back and couldn’t figure out the system even after taking classes. So, we were a bit taken aback by the German dial system, which seems prehistoric compared to the push-button system most computer-savvy people welcome with open arms. This big, barbaric button makes the controls clumsy at best. However, this system also leans heavy on a variety of features such as POI and other custom applications.
If you can afford it, though, the Mercedez Benz COMAND system may be the most amazing way to navigate to date. We recently tried this out an the S550 (about $90,000). “The controls in the new S-Class cabin are the result of extensive ergonomic and psychological studies conducted with Mercedes customers all over the world by behavioral scientists and psychologists,” says Mercedes.
That sounds like quite a lot of research and the results certainly show up well on the COMAND system, which is only available on in S-class vehicles. First off, the eight-inch screen is positioned high in the center console, giving the driver the perfect view while driving. (Want some more Bond action? The screen rotates side to side for the best view for either driver, navigator or both!) The on-screen graphics perhaps rival Toyota and Jaguar for most clear screen and sheer number of features.
The COMAND system’s mouse-like silver control may be its best feature. The ball-like control sits rather snugly in your right hand, giving the driver (or the navigator for that matter) a very easy way to control audio, phone, navigation and some car features. The rolling ball. combined with the COMAND’s systems highly intuitive technology and great graphics make this system a top pick. Unfortunately, COMAND is only available to the very rich. We are hoping Mercedes brings COMAND soon to its entire line of luxury vehicles.
Some car companies didn’t make our list. Here are some honorable mentions: Hyundai (good graphics and voice activation), Honda (great voice activation, but very poor graphics), Saab (good graphics, but poor ease of use),
Don’t want to buy a new car to get turn-by-turn navigation? The hand-held Palm Treo 700p now comes with tom tom Navigation, which can be installed in your current car in minutes. See what happens when this high-tech PDA device meets Dodge’s new pimped out Caliber in our next article.