In less than 10 years, vehicles have gone from being primarily simple forms of transportation to rolling computers. Infotainment systems today are in charge of much more than just your music, as we detail below in this look at three of the best examples on the market right now.
Slowly refined since the launch of the original iDrive concept back in 2001, the technology has just entered its seventh generation, and found in models like the 2019 BMW X5. A gorgeous high definition 12.3-inch tablet display acts as the hub, controlled via touch, voice, the rotary knob on the centre console or even gesture.
New is the addition of cloud connectivity. Personalized settings, for example custom menu layouts created by the driver, can follow him or her to other BMW vehicles. An optional subscription-based Connected Package Professional — free for the first four years — adds services like real-time traffic and parking information.
The latest version of Mazda Connect debuted on the redesigned 2019 Mazda3. The revised system comes complete with an 8.8-inch widescreen monitor, eight-speaker stereo and, finally, standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The Japanese automaker is big on ergonomics, paying close attention to small but important details like placing the screen in a position where a driver’s eyes doesn’t have to be taken too far off the road, and creating a Commander Control knob that can be operated entirely through feel.
Starting in the 2020 model year, most VW products like the Golf, Jetta and Passat will be equipped with Car-Net 2.0 boasting a long long list of features. One of those is a complementary mobile app allowing remote engine start/stop, door lock/unlock and a status update of last parked location, fuel level, mileage and more.
A unique Family Guardian mode that lets the owner set a limit on maximum speed, specific travel boundaries, curfew, and so on. Any contravention triggers an alert to be sent in the form of a text message, email or smartphone notification. And there’s also a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot giving Internet access to up to four mobile device simultaneously after setting up a monthly $20 plan.