2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Best Navigation System in the Class?
February 7, 2013
I'm not sure where a factory navigation system falls in the order of priorities for real-life economy sedan buyers, but the system in our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye is excellent.
The interface is a large, high-resolution, 7-inch touchscreen, and it integrates various different functions, including navigation, audio, phone, climate and myriad settings. As James mentioned, the integration of the climate controls is a little clumsy (especially since it's just single-zone, manual A/C), but the nav and phone features work really well.
To start, this screen has large on-screen buttons and they exhibit appropriate sensitivity to human touch, unlike the interfaces in our Ford Focus ST and Subaru Impreza.
Processing speed is lightning-quick for a nav system in a budget car. Keying in addresses takes very little time, and then the system is quick to calculate a route to your destination. I'm averaging about 30 seconds from address entry to the start of voice guidance, which feels quicker than every other nav-equipped car in our fleet (hey, there's a story idea: I should put a stopwatch on myself as I enter the same address in every long-term car with a nav system). It really helps that the system defaults to a QWERTY keyboard and that numbers (for entering a zip code instead of a city, or a street name with numbers in it) are on the same screen so you don't have to toggle back and forth.
Once you're en route to your destination, the Dart's nav zooms in when it's logical to do so, showing you which lane you need to be in, where to turn, etc. Plenty of other systems auto-zoom when providing guidance, but oftentimes, especially in this price range, their behavior is inconsistent. More importantly, when you deviate from the selected route, the Dodge's system is quick to recalculate and doesn't keep insisting that you make a U-turn.
The map graphics are obviously by Garmin and slightly cartoony as a result, but this doesn't bother me in a $25,000 vehicle, especially since the maps are otherwise clear, colorful, well labeled and easy to read.
For me, the only other factory navigation system in this class that comes close for screen size, resolution and overall functionality is the one in the Hyundai Elantra. Perhaps it's time for a cabin electronics comparison test.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,330 miles