Following in the footsteps of BMW, Mercedes-Benz announced it will offer HD radio in some of its 2009 models. HD radio is a digital broadcast that offers CD-quality sound for FM stations. BMW has been offering it on its models for the past year, and now Mercedes-Benz will include it as an option on the 2009 E-, M-, R-, GL-, and G-class, all but the E-class being SUVs.
Most radio stations in major cities have an HD broadcast now. There are approximately 40 stations in San Francisco alone. Because the format requires less bandwidth, many stations have multiple HD channels.
In our testing of various BMWs with HD radio, the sound is very clear, although it is still limited by the receiver's distance from the transmitting antenna. While we were listening to an HD radio station, we found that as the broadcasting distance increased, the HD would drop out and we would get the analog signal for a brief time before we lost the signal completely.
More importantly, the announcement by Mercedes-Benz also mentions that the 2009 E-class and its SUVs will get the same updated navigation and entertainment system we saw on the. That's a welcome change.