Navigation, Phone, And Voice Recognition
Subaru leverages Navteq / Nokia maps for the Legacy's navigation system, and we didn't run into any issues finding the locations we plugged in. The visuals are very dated, though. In fact, we'd call them just as ugly as what we saw from Toyota's Display Audio 6.1 with Navigation and Entune, found in the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE. The navigation system only offers 2D maps; it lacks the 3D buildings that systems like SYNC with MyFord Touch include. We’re also not fans of the mint green colors.
The Subaru Navigation system has XM NavTraffic support, which offers the option to take alternate routes when congestion is reported along your route. We fell for the traffic warnings once and let the system take us through an alternative route to Seattle that diverted us away from Interstate 5 (the principal route to Seattle) and through surface streets. It was a very unpleasant trip through stop-and-go traffic. To make matters worse, we caught a glimpse of I-5 during our detour, only to see traffic flowing freely. Once again, SiriusXM's traffic avoidance solution is deemed worthless, hardly deserving of the prices SiriusXM charges.
Overall, the system works, though it's severely behind the alternatives from direct competitors Chevrolet and Ford. In case you're curious about map updates, you'll be happy to know that they're released every six months. Each one runs $160 though, which is fairly pricey if you plan to stay as current as possible. Maps are stored on a removable SD card at least, making swaps convenient.
Subaru's 2013 Legacy supports standard Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming capabilities. Calls made through the hands-free system are clear and devoid of road noise. The user interface isn’t particularly attractive, but it handles the basics.
Part of handling the basics well means that pairing devices is a simple matter. As with most Bluetooth-based matches, the system asks if you'd like to add a phone when you enter the Phone menu.
Bluetooth messaging access profile (MAP) is supported too, though device compatibility is still sketchy. The system wouldn't work with our rooted and flashed Galaxy Nexus (AOKP ROM), and we were unable to test the feature with Android. Bluetooth MAP did work with our iPhone 4S running iOS6, though. Just make sure Show Notifications is enabled in the Bluetooth device setup.
Nuance's popular speech engine drives the Subaru Navigation system's voice recognition feature. Unlike SYNC with MyFord Touch or Kia UVO, which boast more natural voice input, Subaru's solution relies on sub-commands that are very inelegant. At the end of the day, it was easier to pull over to punch in navigation instructions on the touchscreen. We rarely used voice commands during our time with the Legacy, except for making occasional phone calls.
Very good to see manufacturers installing driving aids such as collision detection and adaptive cruise control now. These are the precursors to completely autonomous cars and the more advanced these systems get, the closer we may get to fully autonomous cars in the near future.
My question is; when are manufacturers going to give us the option of installing a 3rd party tablet such as an Ipad or a Nexus 7/10 in the dashboard rather than putting up with their pathetic built in "infotainment" systems. I would definitely choose a car with just a blank space in the dashboard (plus charging port) for a tablet rather than buying one with a built in system. Heck I might even pay more for it. All we need is a standardized connection to interface speaker systems and steering wheel controls to the tablet.
Seriously, though, within the past 5-10 years I've found many mid-sized cars these days to be small from a height standpoint in the back seat. If you're over 5'9" and sit in the back, you have to bend your neck to fit. If populations are trending toward taller people, why are car companies making back seats for shorter people?
If you want to have a vehicle where adults can sit in the back these days, they almost force you into full-size or CUV/SUV options. As a result, this seems to discourage carpooling. Maybe this is how they can push to sell more cars?
I love Tom's reviews. Your not going to find a better review site in the world.