As Garmin has long demonstrated, car navigation evolves continuously, with each year bringing new innovations to make it easier, and sometimes more entertaining, to get from Point A to Point B. Now, the company proves the evolutionary maxim again with its latest built-in navigator for Chrysler and Dodge models.
As part of the Uconnect infotainment system (version 8.4N), Garmin is rolling out several new features for the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Dart, Charger, and Journey. Most notably, the display adds 3D landmark and terrain rendering, predictive intelligence for routing, and expanded reality view coverage.
By adding graphic representations of landmarks, the system can help travelers to orient to their surroundings and more readily find popular tourist attractions, while the 3D topography mapping can help drivers better understand how routes pass through changing terrain, such as mountains and valleys.
The routes promise to be crafted with more intelligence, with Garmin providing choices for the driver to select from, based on time and distance. In addition, the system learns the driver's habits and can predict the desired destination based on day, time, and heading.
Known as "junction view" in Garmin parlance, reality view depicts major intersections, graphically representing the roadway and signage. For 2013, Uconnect offers 60,000 such intersections, marking a 25-times increase in coverage over previous versions. Basic guidance, including signage, is repeated in a small display within the instrument cluster, offer a simple at-glance-instruction, without needing to interpret the larger, busier screen in the center stack.
These improvements sound akin to features in the Garmin 3.0 software used in the company's latest, uplevel portable devices. We just finished testing the newest Garmin portable navigators, and they scored well. They operate with a smart-phone-like feel that differs from past Garmins; it may be more-intuitive to first-time users, however our testers found there was a minor learning curve.
Garmin cites that the updated navigation software for Uconnect is colored to better integrate with the given model. And that is a good thing, as we generally like the attractive and effective Chrysler interface. We just published our 2012 Chrysler 300 road test, and we found that the center touch screen to be well laid out and easy to use—a notable contrast to the MyFord Touch system.
It is good to see the level of progress considered routine in portable devices occurring in some cars, as this is not always the case.