With Google Maps, Who Needs Factory Navigation? - 2012 Jeep Wrangler Long-Term Road Test

2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport: With Google Maps, Who Needs Factory Navigation?

January 29, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport

One of the things our 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport doesn't have is a factory navigation system. Heck, it didn't even come with Bluetooth, a matter we quickly rectified by installing a factory-developed U-Connect Mopar accessory.

But that didn't address navigation. Fortunately, the recent dust-up between Apple and Google has resulted in a very cheap and effective solution, an alternative to the factory nav system and the aftermarket Tom Toms of the world that make the purchase of either one unnecessary.

Apple got cocky and ditched the native Google Maps app that had always come pre-installed on their phones. The in-house Apple iOS map replacement was (and still is) a disaster, and within a matter of weeks Google came out with a fresh Google maps app that anyone could download from the iTunes store.

For free.

Thing is, Google Maps, the App is light years better than the old native Google Maps button that came on the iPhone before the infighting started. The new one reroutes, it issues turn-by-turn instructions with or without voice (through the car's speakers), it offers the choice of perspective view, the graphics are better, you can see traffic red zones along a planned route (the blue route line no longer obscures them), it displays and recalculates ETA as you go along and much more. It's better in almost every possible way, in fact.

And it's free.

This new Google Maps iOS app is especially effective in our 2012 Jeep Wrangler because an iPhone will perch comfortably atop the flat-topped steering column without obscuring the gauges. A non-skid rubber phone case helps greatly to keep it there, of course.

There are two drawbacks, however.

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport

One, all of the search data comes in over the air, from the cloud, as they say. Nothing is in permanent memory in the car. So you must have a decent 3G or 4G connection to search and establish the route. Google's search database is immense, and it's quite clever at figuring out what you really want even if you don't have a full address, but you have to have a data connection to get at it. Once you begin guidance you can drive out of 3G territory and it'll still know where you are.

Second, the new Google Maps app is a battery hog. The phone has to be plugged in to the cigarette lighter or the USB socket to keep up. In our 2012 Honda CR-V, even this wasn't quite enough on an 8-hour trip. The battery level still dropped slowly (I was listening to music on the iPhone, too) until I realized that I could pause navigation until I got closer to where I needed it. After all, I was on highway 101 for 6 straight hours. I didn't need navigation to tell me where to go for that.

But hey, it's free. If you have an iPhone or an Android smartphone, that is.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 26,311 miles


  • yaymx5_ yaymx5_ Posts:

    6 hours in a Wrangler on 101? ...fun?

  • jpnpower jpnpower Posts:

    EXACTLY!!! Also, the aging tech will really become an annoyance later. It's why I skipped on the nav for my trusty XLE Camry, and stuck with the 6 disk changing big button easy to use entertainment system. It's also not outrageously bright when I don't need it. This is one reason why I hate the new "standard touch screen" trend. Hell, I hate "standard equip" trend in general. "I don't give a damn about Bluetooth or phone link, blindspot, ultra high tech backup cam, leather dash, etc bundled into standard packages! Give me back my choices and a cheaper car!!!"

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @jpnpower: I'm with you. Most in-car technology is far from cutting edge when its released, let alone a couple of years down the road into your ownership. I only need climate and radio controls. I have a phone for calls and a TomTom that works like a char

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    ^^That's right - properly adjusted mirrors do wonders. You just have to trust that the paint remains on your doors without you looking at them while driving...

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Actualsize, you forgot drawback #3 - this one is for other drivers who have to watch out for Google Map/smartphone users lunging over 2 lanes scrabbling for their smartphones that were just pulled from their "secure" dashboard perches onto the floor of the car by their charging cords, when the owner snagged it while reaching for his cup of coffee.

  • schen72 schen72 Posts:

    The Android version of Google Maps allows you to store an offline geographic area. I've cached the entire bay area, so I don't need any cellular data connection to use navigation.

  • autoboy1 autoboy1 Posts:

    I use a pad of velcro to attach my phone to my dashboard. I hate all this new car tech. Why do I need a crappy outdated nav system when my phone can do it already. Give me buttons and bluetooth audio streaming and I'm good to go.

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    Haven't we been telling you guys this for years?

  • @schen72 That's actually not quite accurate. The offline maps in Gmaps for Android doesn't actually download the routing data soooo yeah you still need an internet connection in the end. At best, you reduce the data consumption needed over the air. The

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