Car owners frustrated with onboard GPS

Satisfaction with integrated auto navigation systems is down, according to a new J.D. Power study.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Irritated by your car's built-in GPS? You're not alone.

More car owners are less happy with their factory-installed navigation systems than in the past, says a report out today from J.P. Power and Associates.

A survey of drivers conducted late last year found satisfaction with their navigation systems down 13 points from the prior year. The level of satisfaction was down in all of the six factors measured, but ease of use was the biggest complaint, dropping in score by 25 points.

The other five factors included in the study were routing, navigation display screen, the speed of the system, voice directions, and voice activation. Overall, car owners were frustrated by the complexity of the menu systems, the voice control commands, and the methods for entering destinations.

Turned off by their on-board systems, more people are relying on smartphones to help them on their way. In the new study, 47 percent of those polled said they had downloaded a navigation app onto their phones, compared with 37 percent in 2011.

A full 46 percent said they "definitely would not" or "probably would not" buy a factory-installed navigation system if their smartphones could display the directions on a central screen in their car.

"Manufacturers of navigation systems face a serious challenge as smartphone navigation usage continues to rise and gains preference among vehicle owners," Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement. "Free apps, up-to-date maps, and a familiar interface allow for quicker routing and improved interaction, including better voice recognition. Manufacturers have a window of opportunity to either improve upon the current navigation system platforms or focus on new ways to integrate smartphones."

A couple of systems that fared well in the survey were the Garmin-supplied Chrysler 300 Series and Dodge Charger and the Harman-supplied Porsche Cayenne.

The Garmin navigation systems scored high grades in all factors, notably ease of use. The Harman system also did well across the board but was especially adept at voice activation.

J.D. Power's "2012 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study" was based on feedback from 20,704 people who recently bought or leased a 2012 model vehicle with a factory-installed navigation system. The survey was conducted in October and November.