Lexus Navigation and Smartphone Integration
Lexus' navigation system benefits from an easy-to-use interface. There aren’t many submenus to cycle through as you enter directions or search for points of interest. However, the maps are lacking compared to the company's German competition. They're good-looking and punctuated by clear colors, but 2D is something you'd expect from a more affordable vehicle. Stepping up to a car with a base price around $72,000, I want to see 3D maps with building details. Shoot, Audi goes even further and includes Google Earth overlays. That's available across the company's line-up, starting with the A3.
If you like the ability to search for directions while the vehicle is moving, you're going to be disappointed. Lexus' navigation system employs a movement lock-out that keeps you from entering destination while the LS600h is in motion.
Fortunately, the voice controls work well and are quite accurate, even if it's somewhat arduous to navigate menu screens that way. Lexus does have a better alternative for customers subscribing to Enform in its 24-hour concierge service.
Destination Assist connects you to a live operator that will search for any location or address on your behalf. This operator has the power of Google at their fingertips, and we found them to be very friendly. In my experience, Destination Assist is easier and faster than trying to navigate menus via voice command. And because the Lexus has telematics services, the operator simply sends the address to your car and you're on your way.
Bluetooth phone integration through the Lexus navigation system is fairly typical. Android and iOS are officially supported with familiar hands-free functionality, contact list transfer, and call history. Text messaging is enabled on phones with Bluetooth MAP (message access profile) support. The system won't display messages while the LS600h is moving, but it does facilitate text-to-speech. And you can select a quick reply while you're driving. Replies are pre-programmed, though you can create your own presets as well, so long as the car is stopped.
Drivers who use Siri on a daily basis will be happy to learn that Lexus' navigation system supports Eyes Free. This opens up access to instant messaging, e-mail, random question searches, and turn-by-turn navigation with Apple Maps. I'm not sure why anyone would use Apple Maps instead of the integrated navigation system, but those other Eyes Free capabilities are quite nice. Simply hold down the off-hook phone button, wait for a beep, state your Siri request, and it plays through the vehicle speakers.
There was some audio popping that happened when we tested through Siri Eyes Free. However, those same issues plagued the Chevy Sonic as well, suggesting the issue might be with iOS. Everything else came through clearly.