We previously blogged about Ford's partnership with Gracenote to get album cover art for its in-dash music server, but that's just part of this new navigation and entertainment center. Sirius Travel Link provides a range of data services integrated with the navigation system for traffic, weather, and other useful information. Ford will roll out this new navigation system initially on the Ford F-150 and the Lincoln MKS.
The new navigation system has much better looking maps, in both 2D and 3D. We particularly like that the 3D map even shows wispy clouds on a blue sky, although this probably doesn't reflect the actual weather. Because the navigation data is stored on a hard drive, system response should be fast.
As part of Sirius Travel Link, traffic data is integrated with the navigation system. The maps show traffic flow information for major roads, plus icons indicated incidents. This traffic incident screen gives more detailed information, and includes a button to make the navigation system avoid the incident area.
Touching the fuel prices button brings up this screen, which shows the nearest gas stations with their per gallon prices, when available. We noticed plenty of gaps in the data, but it still looks like a very useful service.
Another weather option is forecasts, letting you see what's expected for up to five days ahead in any location around the country. This service is useful for road trips. Ski info is also available through the weather service.
The infotainment system's in-dash hard drive lets you store music. The system can rip CDs you put in the drive, and will automatically assign tagging information and cover art from the Gracenote database.
We saw what the production version of Travel Link will look like in the new Ford F-150, on display at the auto show. The interface is more stylized than what is shown on the wall-mounted demonstration unit we looked at. Ford plans on customizing the look for its three brands, with different appearances for Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury.