Five OEM navigation systems that are worth your bucks

Navigation can be one of the most expensive options on your new car. So which ones are definitely worth the dough?

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
3 min read
Josh Miller

While just about any navigation system on the market will get you where you're going, not all of them are created equally. This is especially true in the world of OEM in-car navigation systems where screen size, interface design, feature sets, and (most importantly) price vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some automakers offer cutting-edge GPS navigators with innovative features that you'll wonder how you ever got along without. Others will make you wish you'd skipped the pricey navigation package and just packed a smartphone.

We've taken a look back on the most recent OEM navigation systems to have graced the Car Tech garage and picked out a few manufacturers, in no particular order, that consistently knock it out of the park when it comes offering the best in-dash technology for getting from where you are to wherever you want to be.

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Audi MMI Navigation plus with Audi connect

Audi's decision to roll an always-on cellular data connection into its MMI navigation is what makes this navigation system stand out from the pack. In addition to features like traffic data and weather forecasts, this Web connection enables advanced functions such as Google Maps satellite imagery overlays and web-connected destination search. Check out the full review of the 2012 Audi A6 Premium Quattro for a more detailed look at this system.

Josh Miller/CNET

BMW Navigation with iDrive
BMW's iDrive-based navigation system features 3D building data for its maps and traffic data updates that notify you even if there's no destination input. Additionally, the automaker doesn't lock the driver out of altering the route while moving. When paired with an iPhone, the BMW Connect option allows drivers to automatically share their destination and ETA with friends and family via popular social networking sites. Check out the review of the 2012 BMW 328i for more details.

Josh Miller/CNET

Lexus Enform Navigation
Your first thought when looking at Lexus' new navigation system in the 2013 Lexus GS 350 may be the same as mine was: "Good grief, that's a big ol' screen!"

The GS' big 12.3-inch LCD gives the user plenty of real estate for viewing a map split-screen with route details split-screen again with audio source info. Or you could just devote the whole display to the map. Connect a smartphone to unlock the Enform system's integration with Bing and Yelp destination search, MovieTickets.com showtimes, and OpenTable reservations.


Chrysler UConnect powered by Garmin
The interface of your average Garmin Nuvi is simple, but it's also user friendly. Garmin's been building portable GPS devices since before most automakers even thought about offering navigation options. Which is why Chrysler wholesale imported the Garmin interface into its latest generation of 8.3-inch UConnect infotainment systems. Garmin's system also touts a fantastic voice-activated address input system that you can see in action in the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 and 2012 Dodge Charger R/T.

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Hyundai navigation with BlueLink
Hyundai's navigation system makes the list not because it boasts nifty Web-connected features or fancy 3D maps. No, this solid-state-memory-based system (one of the first on the OEM market, by the way) makes our list because it's simple, fast, and inexpensive. It has everything you need to get from point A to B and not much that you don't. That's not to say the system is bare bones: SiriusXM traffic and weather and Hyundai's BlueLink telematics service bolster its tech cred. Check out the newest version of this system in the 2012 Hyundai Veloster.