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Frugal Shopper: Want To Save Thousands? Skip The Nav System Page 3

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2001 Honda Odyssey instrument panel

2001 Honda Odyssey instrument panel

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Also over time, navigation systems become burdensome pieces of dashboard real estate, either malfunctioning, difficult to upgrade, or glaring showpieces of old tech. Screens fade with sun exposure, and with computers advancing so quickly, they can look obsolete and outdated much faster than the vehicle itself.

If you’re unsure, ask to see a vehicle at the dealership that does have the nav-system option, test it out, and then go to a store and test out aftermarket units. On some vehicles you might find the in-dash system flawlessly integrated and worth it, while on others it could seem obstinate and already outdated in design.

Smartphones are already replacing in-car nav systems

The future of nav systems appears to be through our phones anyway. According to the telematics market intelligence firm iSuppli, the number of smartphone-based OEM and aftermarket nav solutions will rise from eight million in 2009 to 81 million this year and 297 million by 2014.

In fact, the industry is betting that in just a few years, we might have screens in our vehicles, but they’ll be more monitors than computers. Our smartphones will hold both the navigation applications and the communications and location-based services capabilities.

MyFord Touch

MyFord Touch

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We’re already seeing that with Ford’s new MyFord Touch system, offered in the 2010 Lincoln MKX and Ford Edge, with other models on the way. It allows smartphone apps to be controlled remotely via a sophisticated touch-screen system.

The concept makes sense, as we update our handset apps constantly and get better handsets every couple of years or so, while vehicle interiors are difficult to configure for vehicles, which take several years to design and have a lifespan of ten years or more.

So choose carefully. If you frequently travel new routes and want a well-integrated system, or simply need to impress clients with a nav system that’s stylish and perfectly fits the car, go with the factory system. But for everyone else, you’ve got options, and you could save thousands.

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