2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG: Ancient Nav
September 18, 2014
The navigation system in our long-term 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG is nearly 10 years old. If you count the development time, it's probably even older. In technology terms, this is ancient history.
To put this in perspective, here's some of the tech from a decade ago. In 2005 Windows XP was going strong on PC, iPod video was all the rage, and I was proudly sporting a matte black Motorola RAZR phone.
So it wasn't a surprise to me to see how outdated the CL65's navigation system has become, but it is interesting to see how tech has changed over the years.
For starters, the maps in our car are outdated. I can probably find a DVD with current map data, but it really isn't worth it given how slow and terrible the interface is. The screen itself is positioned really low in the center stack. You can't see any street names unless you are zoomed in to the closest view. It takes forever to input an address with the directional pad. I was impressed however, that the navigation directions appear in the instrument cluster. This is common now, but pretty rare back in 2005.
Rather than deal with all this, I used my iPhone for navigation. I used Siri to navigate to a friend's house, with all the directions programmed before I set foot in the car. The CL65's cupholder sits high enough that it was actually easier to see the phone than the car's nav screen.
Despite seeing how obsolete old nav systems can get, I'm still a big proponent of factory- installed navigation, rather than smartphone-based nav. I like the integration in the car and the better quality of the signal (satellite vs. cell towers). And of course, using in-car nav is far less distracting. Most people don't buy mounts for their phones, so they often have to glance down to the cupholder to take a look at the map.
The exception to my preference will be when we start seeing cars equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These have the potential to bring us the best of both worlds and ensure that navigation data and hardware never go out of date. The first few cars with Apple CarPlay will hit dealerships before the end of the year. Time will tell if they live up to the hype.
Where do you stand on this? Factory navigation or smartphone?
Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 68,592 miles