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Chrysler slips out its new UConnect interface

CNET Car Tech finds a display on the floor of the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show with Chrysler's new UConnect interface.

In the Chrysler exhibit area at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, we found this disembodied dashboard, a display seemingly designed to show off the next generation of Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system. In recent Chrysler company cars with UConnect, we've complained about the poorly designed interface. This new version looks like a huge improvement.</p><p> <a href="http://reviews.cnet.com/la-auto-show/">Back to 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.</a>
Wayne Cunningham/CNET
Now playing: Watch this: Chrysler's next-generation uConnect system

LOS ANGELES--Wandering the floor of the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, we happened across a dashboard display in the Chrysler area. Attached to a wall, it lacked an actual car, but its touch-screen head unit showed off the next generation interface for Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system.

Unlike Chrysler's current system, there were no buttons on the sides of the touch screen. A row of icons ran across the bottom of the screen, allowing access to navigation, audio, climate control, and the phone system. These icons were attractively designed and easily readable.

On current UConnect systems, we've complained about the haphazard button layout and childish-looking graphic design. This new interface looks much cleaner and better organized.

The unit appeared fully operational, too, not just a demo video. When we touched the phone button, it advised us that no phone was currently connected to the system.

Intriguingly, touching the navigation icon brought up an interface we know well, having seen it in many Garmin GPS devices. The familiar icons were identical to those used in Garmin units, which we've praised for being easy to use.

A Chrysler spokesperson advised us that the integrated Garmin navigation represented a mid-tier unit, with no integrated traffic information. We assume this means that Chrysler's current navigation system will continue to be available, either as an option or standard in top trim cars.

Chrysler offered no information on when we might see this new UConnect interface in its cars.