Navigation Tech Checklist for Car Shoppers

Navigation Tech Checklist for Car Shoppers

GPS Navigation Features To Look for When Buying a New Car



Review the vehicle owner's manual.

Starting Out: General GPS Navigation Features

Is the screen large enough to read easily? Even in bright sunlight?

Does the interface include:
A touchscreen?
Knobs and buttons?
A combination of both?
Is the interface easy and intuitive to use?

Does the system respond quickly to inputs?

Does the system provide:
      Voice activation?
      Geo fencing?
      Weather reports?
      Restaurant ratings?
      Topographical maps?
      Traffic info?
      Notification of traffic incidents
      Fuel finder
      Off-road routing?

Mapping Software and Graphics:

Where does mapping software reside?
Hard disk
SD card

Mapping software can be updated. Cost to update $ _____

Are map graphics realistic and detailed?

Does the map provide a:
3-D view?
Aerial view? If so, is the angle adjustable?
Does the system have color-coded maps showing parks, shopping malls, etc.?

Destination and POI Input

Can you input destinations by:
Phone number?
Point on map?

Does the system include an address book?

Does the system have a "Home" button for quick routing?

Does the system provide info and routing to emergency services?

Does the system allow inputting multiple destinations and waypoints for stops along a route?

Number of Points of Interest (POIs) ____


Do you have a choice of routes to a destination?

Can you avoid freeways/toll roads/ferries/etc.?

Is it easy to cancel a route?

Does the system quickly and easily reroute you if you miss a turn?

Can you preview a chosen route? If so, in what level of detail?

Are the turn-by-turn directions clear via:
Map graphics on the display?
Voice guidance through the audio system?

Does the system provide:
A split screen at turns showing your upcoming maneuver on one side and a routing screen on other side?
Lane guidance for negotiating complex freeway exits?

See the related articles in the Car Technology 101 series.

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  • lou_121 lou_121 Posts:

    One item missing from all your In-Dash Navigation articles is the ability to find or enter Point of Interests while the car is moving. There is a wide variety of capabilities in the few navigation systems I've seen from no ability at all to partial functionality (several predefined menus/sub-menus - but no screen scrolling on a Nissan Altima) to full capability once a setting is set (on a Garmin). To me (and apparently many others based on the blogs I've read) this is becoming a deal breaker on a vehicle purchase. I know there are legal concerns, but why does capability vary so widely from manufacturer to manufacturer? Also at a minimum, the ability for the driver to voice enter a POI request should be available on all systems. Also why can't the pressure sensor on the passenger seat be used to override any POI request lock out so that the passenger can have full access to POI requests. Finally, solving these issues along with much easier to read Nav systems (mostly through much larger screen sizes with much better anti-glare coating or full sunlight displays and better layouts) would go a long way to achieve less distracted driving without severely limiting capability.

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