Tips, Tricks & Trends

Extra Features You Need From Your Car’s GPS

When it comes to using our car’s GPS, they aren’t always intuitive. As technology becomes more available and more affordable, we expect more from our vehicles, and that includes one of our infotainment system’s most essential features: navigation. Our car’s navigation can be useful for more than just long road trips, and with these features, it might even be worth it to set your location on your daily route.

The obvious choices

There are a few features that we’ve come to expect from our GPS that we don’t always get. The first is that our GPS will provide us with up-to-date traffic reports. The last thing we want is to get stuck in a traffic jam on our way home from work, so having a GPS that can detect potential delays and give us the time to select alternate routes can save us a ton of time and frustration.

Car GPS
Car GPS | ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

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This next feature is something I didn’t appreciate until I was in my mom’s older Mercedes-Benz SL55, which didn’t have it: the option to pick between different routes. There are always different major roads you can take when traveling between cities or destinations, and the ability to chose between the routes we prefer is a seemingly underrated privilege that we get from our phone’s navigation and most modern onboard GPS systems.

And the not so obvious

What if our GPS could give us more than directions? The free app Google Maps provides us with the ability to not just search for a specific address but also to look for a type of business or stop. Want the nearest gas station? You got it. Are you looking for a new pizza place? It can show you options nearby. Thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a lot of cars have the option too, and you don’t have to rely on your phone alone.

Luxury navigation system
Luxury navigation system | STR/AFP/Getty Images

My favorite feature that I’ve recently discovered — but haven’t quite figured out how to use correctly — is the detour feature that a handful of GPS systems have. It means I can search for a location, like a nearby gas station, and have the navigation unit adjust to add it into my current route without having to exit out and re-enter the destination. This is incredibly helpful for infotainment systems that aren’t intuitive and take too much time to input an address in the first place.

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While most of the additional options aren’t necessities, they can improve our travel time overall, or make our trip just a little bit more convenient. There are even some apps that integrate these features so well, like the traffic feature, that it’s worth clicking on your navigation even on your daily route.