Test Driving a Car Navigation System

February 27th, 2013 by

Mazda TomtomThat new car smell can be quite intoxicating, so it’s easy to forget about all the tiny details when it’s time to test drive a new vehicle. Here at Cox Mazda in Bradenton, we suggest having a simple strategy mapped out beforehand — try to think about the aspects of a new car that are most important to you before you arrive at the dealership.

One item that smart buyers can accidentally overlook is the built-in navigation system that many models now have as a standard feature. Here are some simple questions to remember when you slip behind the wheel that will help you decide what is the best option for you when it comes to navigation systems.

The Basics

Before you even pull off of the showroom lot, take a moment to observe all of the features in the cabin, including the mapping system. Once you’re adrenaline rush has subsided slightly, switch on the ignition to provide battery power to the electrical systems and have a look at the navigation system. Some traits to take notice of are:

  • Does the screen seem large enough to view easily?
  • Is it a touchscreen setup? Or does it utilize knobs or buttons or a combination of these elements?
  • Is there a voice-activation feature?
  • Does the interface seem intuitive or easy-to-use?

Graphics and Mapping Software

It’s worth the time to think about the visual aspects the navigation system will present to you.

  • Are the graphics realistic, color-coded, and easy to discern?
  • Is there a 3-D view or a bird’s-eye view?
  • Can the perspective be adjusted for any special angles?

In addition, it’s important to think about the technical aspects of the system. For instance:

  • Where does the mapping software live: hard disk, DVD, or SD card?
  • What’s the process for obtaining software updates?
  • More importantly, how much will map updates cost?

Going for a Spin

An easy way to test the built-in navigation system is to have 2 or 3 pre-planned points or addresses in mind. Make sure you pick 1 destination that will get you out on the highway and another that will allow some stop-and-go areas, too. This will help you to gauge how directly the nav system will guide you, while allowing you to experience some of the performance aspects of the car as well.

Make sure to ask for a quick tutorial from your dealer so it’s easy to input driving destinations. This is also the perfect time to try out voice activation commands. Other items to consider include:

  • How many ways can you input a locale: point of interest, intersection, address, phone number, etc.?
  • Does it have an address book function?
  • Can it route you to emergency services easily?
  • Also, notice if the screen is easy to see in bright sunlight.

Taking the time to think about these and other details will help you to determine if a specific car’s navigation system is right for you. To test drive a new Mazda with a built-in navigation system, visit Cox Mazda at 3101 Cortez Road West.

Posted in Mazda Features