Are Car-Based Navigation Systems Useless?

When shopping for new cars, one thing we like to do, besides the test drive, is to play with all of the tech features the car has. There are some features that we’ve become accustomed to having, like BlueTooth connectivity, and sometimes even cell phone integration like Apple CarPlay. Some functions of the infotainment system, like maps and navigation, are something that we usually check for, check out, and enjoy for the first few weeks of owning the car. After a while, using the infotainment screen for navigation because less of a habit, and there are some pretty obvious reasons why.

Car navigation is sometimes less intuitive

When it comes to plugging in our destination, doing a quick search of local restaurants, or keeping track of our frequent stops, a lot of us find ourselves reaching for our cell phones rather than our car’s infotainment system. For many people using the on-board navigation system is more of a hassle than anything else, and unless we really need it, chances are we are going to be using something else.

Tesla Model 3 compact full electric car interior | Sjoerd van der Wal

For a lot of cars, including my new-to-me Porsche Cayenne, the navigation system is very unintuitive. It takes several minutes to plug in a simple home address, and there aren’t many capabilities for me to search for much else on the screen — like trying to find a local car dealership to take my car in for service. Cars with touch screens provide a much smoother experience, but it can still be rather time-consuming to input an address for the navigation.

Navigation can get out of date

If you don’t own a Tesla, chances are you aren’t getting updates to your car without having to visit the dealership. Main roads and neighborhoods typically stay the same over the years, but they can change slightly, and that isn’t always reflected in on-screen navigation. Cars that have connectivity to show traffic can be more reliable, but chances are those cars are using your phone or a subscription-type service to stay online.

Polestar 2 all-electric 5-door fastback car interior | Sjoerd van der Wal

What are Some of the Best Car Infotainment Systems?

Car manufacturers haven’t exactly figured out ways to make on-board navigation more efficient and streamline, so instead they’ve found other ways to make your infotainment system useful. Cars that have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity rely on your car’s navigation instead, and this can help resolve almost all of the issues many people have with their car’s factory navigation.