So much of what we do at Tom's Hardware centers on benchmark results. As such, we've developed a test suite that covers some of the tasks and processes that are important to a driver using his car's technology package. The tasks we measure include: boot-up time, time to connect to a paired phone, the time it takes to start music playback after booting the infotainment system, and lastly, how long it takes to actually add a phone to the system. We chose these measurements because they affect everyday use.
We perform the tests by recording video of each action and reviewing the footage in an editor to establish the exact point the system was turned on, and when the tasks are completed. The result is accurate; these aren't stop watch-timed tests. Our results from previous car reviews are included as well.
The Subaru Navigation system is the first we've reviewed without an operating system from QNX or Microsoft, so we were eager to find what that meant for performance. We were pleasantly surprised to see the ITRON-based configuration start up in just eight seconds, registering the fastest boot time we've measured.
Moving onto our music playback start-up test, Subaru's Navigation system falls to third place behind the Toyota Display Audio with Navigation & Entune system and the Hyundai Navigation system, but manages to slightly outpace Infiniti's Hard Drive Navigation system. It's quite a bit quicker than the Microsoft-based systems.
Things continue to get interesting as we test phone pairing. The Subaru Navigation system places second behind Infiniti's Hard Drive Navigation system, which is insanely fast. The Chrysler 430N navigation system with its external UConnect Bluetooth module gets very close to Subaru's solution, though it's not quite as fast. Most important, Subaru's ITRON-based system beats out the Microsoft-powered duo by five seconds and the QNX-based setups by 12-15 seconds.
Subaru's Navigation system falls second-to-last when it comes to calculating navigation routes. We aren't surprised, since this is perhaps the most intensive workload we apply, and we know that the infotainment platform employs an older Renesas SoC.
The time it takes for the back-up camera to initialize is fairly comparable to competing systems. It’s neither the fastest nor the slowest.
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?
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