Those in-dash car navigation systems -- which cost about six times as much as a portable unit -- are supposed to make it easy to get where you're going but a report from J.D. Power Associates and complaints to ConsumerAffairs.com find they're often just another source of frustration and expense.
The J.D. Power study finds six factors that contribute to overall satisfaction -- or dissatisfaction -- with factory-installed navigation systems.
In order of importance, they are:
- ease of use;
- navigation display screen;
- speed of system;
- voice directions; and
- voice recognition.
“Routing — the primary function of a navigation system — is obviously an issue and will continue to be,” said Andy Bernhard, director at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, for nearly 10 years, the importance of ease of use has been emphasized by owners, and the continued high level of problems in this area begs the question: is the industry listening to how owners want to interact with their system?”
The study finds that system usability is one of the biggest contributors to problem incidence, with nearly one-third of reported problems related to ease of use of the navigation system.
Furthermore, the trend toward integrating the controls of different systems in the vehicle, including audio, climate control and phone, only adds to the ease-of-use issues that owners experience with their navigation system.
The J.D. Power survey found the Garmin system fitted to the Dodge Charger ranks highest in owner satisfaction with factory-installed navigation systems and performs particularly well in the navigation display screen, ease of use and speed of system factors.
The Hyundai-Mobis navigation system supplied to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe follows in the rankings, and the Garmin system supplied to the Chrysler 300 series ranks third.
The study also identified common problems reported by consumers. The eight most frequent are:
- Address/street/city not found;
- Difficulty inputting destination;
- Route provided was not direct;
- Difficulty using voice recognition controls;
- Map doesn’t show enough street names;
- Couldn’t find desired menu/screen;
- Map or point of interest search was missing points of interest; and
- Inability to view screen due to glare.
Perhaps the most vexing complaint we're received at ConsumerAffairs.com about auto navigation systems comes from Mohamed of New Cairo, Egypt. He bought a new Mercedes-Benz C180k and spent an extra $2,500 for the "command package," which includes a GPS system.
"I was shocked upon receiving the car to find out that Egypt map is not available for this system and accordingly the GPS is not functional!" Mohamed said. The only consolation offered was that the system might work in other countries.
Hassan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had a similar problem. He bought a Nissan Maxima in September and discovered the car had an outdated map.
"Here is the catch -- when I called the service center I was told that the new software is available only I have to pay [about US$1,089] to get it and when I told them that my car is new and should have the latest version they said that my car came from the manufacturer with this version!" Hassan said.