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Who’s Best for Dashboard Tech?

Who’s Best for Dashboard Tech?

Dashboard technology has become a hot selling point for carmakers, and not just with premium vehicles. Manufacturers know that even the bargain car shopper likely has a smartphone, and expectations are growing that their car should have the same bag of tricks as the phone in their pocket.

The Wall Street Journal took a look at the in-car infotainment landscape in a very practical application; the writer needed a car, and the dashboard tech capabilities were going to play a big part in the decision. Voice activation, entertainment, and navigation were the main criteria. Here are the findings:


Ford vehicles use SYNC technology, in partnership with Microsoft. Features include:

  • Voice-activated dialing
  • Contact synchronization
  • MP3-player integration
  • Bluetooth audio streaming
  • Turn-by-turn audio directions
  • USB port
  • Auxiliary jack


You can also upgrade to voice activated navigation to gain a 4.2 inch in-dash display as well as satellite radio.

Up the ante further with the SYNC MyFord Touch and get:

  • Two screens, one of them a touch screen
  • Video player
  • SD card slot
  • Internet connectivity, including a personal WiFi hotspot



  • Easy to use
  • Customization features
  • Speak an entire address at once, rather than broken up into separate commands for street, town, etc.
  • One of the most advanced and responsive systems



  • Bare-bones interface
  • Robotic voice prompts

General Motors

GM uses the OnStar RemoteLink system on many models. Features include:

  • Smartphone apps to run car diagnostics, contact roadside assistance unlock the car and more.
  • Bluetooth wireless calling.
  • Backup camera integrated into rearview mirror


Some Cadillac models utilize the new CUE system, including:

  • Tablet computer-style interface with multi-touch gestures
  • Touch-sensitive haptic technology (simulates the sensation of pressing a button)



  • Innovative and fun to use



  • CUE system on available on select Cadillac models for now.



MINI is all-in on the iPhone, and their MINI Connected technology requires you have one to take full advantage. If you do, you’ll get:

  • Bluetooth hands-free dialing
  • Web radio
  • Send Google maps destinations from your phone to the navigation system
  • A variety of social media goodies like tweeting your location, pre-defined Facebook status updates, displaying news



  • Fun and likely the future of in-car tech.



  • Interface a bit sluggish
  • Voice activation finicky



The C350 considered by the author featured the Multimedia Package with the Comand navigation system. Befitting M-B, it is feature-rich, including:

  • Large 7-inch screen
  • Rear-view parking assist camera
  • DVD player
  • SD card slots
  • Sirius XM traffic and weather
  • 3D mapping
  • Zagat Survey ratings


In addition, Mercedes-Benz offers mbrace2, which brings an entire suite of internet-connected functions to your smartphone and car, such as internet radio, driver monitoring, concierge services and more.


  • Looks and sounds elegant
  • Vast potential



  • Menu system too computer-like



In the end, the Audi proved to be the winner. Their slick MMI Navigation package had similar specs to the others, but it was the ease of use that made the difference. Also included is Audi Connect, their in-car connectivity package. Some of the features:

  • 3D voice-activated navigation
  • Rear-view parking assist
  • Google Earth navigation
  • Restaurant reviews, weather and gas prices
  • In-car WiFi hot spot



  • Ease of use
  • Voice activation training system that teaches the car how you speak



  • Well...none. He bought the Audi!


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