Modern cars are full of exciting new features: some save fuel, some keep us safe and some are literally a computer inside. In-car entertainment systems, also known as infotainment systems, are as common today as cigarette lighters once were. If you’ve gone car shopping in the past few years, you would have seen these in-car technologies presented as standard features.
Technology advancement is great and all, but surprise-surprise, not all infotainment systems are created equal. While some systems can improve your driving experience – personalizing elements of the commute and assisting you in getting to your destination – others are last-minute add-ons, unfinished technology and a waste of space.
An infotainment system does not define a car. There are many high-end vehicles, such as the Audi A3, that have a notoriously poor system, and other less revered vehicles are equipped with superior ones. Bad design and unresponsiveness on top of complicated usability make these frustrating systems a pain to have. Even if the overall car is a charm, a crappy infotainment system will make eight-track tape decks seem preferable.
In this article we will help you steer clear of those glitchy options by looking at the top seven infotainment systems currently available.
Available in Chrysler, Dodge, Maserati and Jeep
Uconnect first appeared on the market in 2013, and as far as infotainment systems go, it is second to none. When it comes to infotainment systems, it doesn’t matter how flashy the graphics are, usability is number one, and Uconnect delivers on that in spades. It takes one click to access the radio, turn up the seat heater, call a friend, request navigation assistance and access whatever app is installed. It’s a perfect example of how to do an infotainment system the right way.
Available in BMW
Highly intuitive and full of features, the iDrive is the cherry on top of many new BMWs. With a five-button control system, drivers can select different settings: Media/Radio on the left, Telephone/Navigation on the right, Menu in the middle, a Back button and an Option button, which will let you choose and recall a function. One downside of the iDrive is its menu for music, especially when connected to Apple’s iPhone. Simply put, it needs a bit more work. Still, the iDrive is one of the finest, if not the best rotary infotainment interface systems at the moment.
Available in Mercedes-Benz
No need to even touch the screen, the COMAND system can be operated with a highly intuitive voice control. While there is still much to be desired in regard to the cloud connection speed, COMAND does have a well-structured interface that makes locating certain features quick and easy. If you are not in a rush, this slick infotainment system is a terrific choice.
Available in Audi
The simple and improved infotainment system, MMI for Audi, is an elegant tool that will entertain the passengers and help navigate. Touted as the nerve centre of the vehicle, the MMI can be operated with both a touch pad and voice control. However, the touch pad lacks the responsiveness that Audi is known for. Built for the modern driver, the MMI is a sharp-looking piece of hardware.
Available in Chevrolet, Buick and GMC
Dependable yet basic, MyLink has all the essential features, including media, navigation and hands-free communication. The MyLink system is far from fancy and oftentimes feels slow in response. Nevertheless, the infotainment system is incredibly helpful in navigating, alerting the driver of traffic congestion and tolls.
Available in Infiniti
The two-touchscreen InTouch infotainment system makes the Infiniti brand a little more opulent. The sleek design and defined usability is not a game changer in any sense, but it’s definitely a nice adjustment from the more conventional systems on the market. InTouch is a nice garnish that’s for sure.
Available in Mazda
The Connect infotainment system to some degree poses a challenge to the more luxurious models due to its countless capabilities, but it’s also often a little too complicated to use. In spite of that, Connect has a touchscreen that is easy to access, and the overall performance is more than reasonable. It’s definitely worth checking out.
When it comes to technology there is always room for growth and same goes for infotainment systems. Like air conditioning, airbags and back-up cameras, these in-car computers are now seen as fixtures for automobiles. While these are the top seven picks at the moment, I am excited to see what new features and designs are in store for infotainment systems.