2001 Honda Odyssey instrument panelEnlarge Photo
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might find the in-dash system flawlessly integrated and worth it, while on others it could seem obstinate and already outdated in design.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 TouchEnlarge Photo
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.