Nav System Not the Greatest, But I Use It a Lot - 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 Long-Term Road Test

2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 Long-Term Road Test

2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Nav System Not the Greatest, But I Use It a Lot

September 02, 2010



The "navigation system lite" in our long-term 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 has some notable disadvantages which have been variously pointed out by Ed and our technology expert, Doug Newcomb. Small screen, limited control functionality, limited POI database, the requirement to have SD-card-based updates mailed to you -- yes, we've told you all that.

Yet, I find myself using the darn thing a lot. I don't use it to search for POIs. I'm just plugging in simple street addresses, all in the greater Los Angeles area.

The main thing I like about it is that entering an address is really quick, largely because the Mazdaspeed 3's navigation control toggler (on the right-hand steering wheel spoke) works a lot like the track ball on another beloved anachronistic device in my life -- my BlackBerry -- so I'm pretty fast with it (someday I'll make a video of that). Obviously, though, the Mazda's toggler doesn't have side-to-side capability so you have to use the rather cumbersome left/right directional buttons.

Of course, I could do all this with the Google Maps app on my BB 8900, but I like getting the audio prompts through the Mazda's speakers and I like having the map embedded and visible in the dash. Oftentimes, what I'll do is look up the POI on my BlackBerry, grab the address and then enter it in the Mazda's navigation system.

Obviously, an easily upgradeable aftermarket plug-and-play navigation system would fit the bill here and eliminate the need for either the BlackBerry or the Mazda nav system. I sure hope Denso, the manufacturer of the MS3's nav system, realizes this. If you want to get an annual update for this nav system now, you have to send off for a $199 SD card. Meanwhile, manufacturers like Garmin let you download updates for their nav units for less than half that.

Make no mistake, I like the mostly seamless intergration of factory-installed nav units, but I don't like them so much that I'd be willing to pay this kind of mark-up on my own Mazdaspeed 3.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 18,006 miles

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