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Frugal Shopper: Want To Save Thousands? Skip The Nav System Page 2

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CoPilot Live USA

CoPilot Live USA

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CoPilot Live USA

CoPilot Live USA

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ALK says that street-level maps are stored locally on the iPhone, so there's no need to have constant access to the mobile network for navigation. Just like OEM systems, CoPilot Live includes Lane Assist arrows to prompt you for proper lane positioning, and you can select between 2D and 3D maps or do multi-stop trips.

Map updates are provided monthly and downloaded automatically, though the price doesn't include spoken street names, real-time traffic, or fuel prices. But you can get all that for a modest additional fee.

Meanwhile, over the past several weeks, AT&T has begun offering its comparable ‘Navigator for iPhone’ service for just $6.99 per month.

Got an Android handset or just about any other smartphone? There are plenty of other inexpensive mapping or navigation apps that also might fit the bill.

Avoid the ‘Sell Up’ and save thousands

If you’re keeping the vehicle more than a few years, you should be aware that navigation systems won’t add much value to a used vehicle. You sure wouldn’t think that in the new-car lot, though, where salespeople will be especially eager to get you to consider nav. That’s because many automakers have positioned it so that you have to step up to more expensive options to even consider it.

For example, take a best-seller like the 2010 Honda Accord. The Accord LX, with an automatic transmission, costs just $22,605, including destination. But if you want the so-called Satellite Linked Navigation with voice recognition, you’ll have to move all the way up to the top EX-L model and pay $29,580. Of course, that model includes a vastly upgraded interior, with leather seats (heated in front), upgraded trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power mirrors, Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio, and a 270-watt premium sound system. But if you just want the nav system, not all those other items, you’re out nearly $7,000—or paying more than 30 percent more on the vehicle.

And on the 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan, if you really must have the nav system, you’ll need to skip the $24,095 SE model as well as the $25,795 Hero; it’s offered on the $27,995 SXT, though, as part of a $1,675 Media Center option package.

On luxury cars, the hit isn’t nearly as bad. If you want a nav system on a 2010 Lexus ES 350, for instance, it’s just a $2,085 standalone option, on top of a total that’s already $36,050 before options.

Some vehicles really are better without it

Besides, the navigation systems in some vehicles are obstinate and difficult to use; the interface, quality, and user-friendliness varies widely, even within models from the same automaker.

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