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The 10 Best And 10 Worst Automotive Technologies

VW RNS 315 Navigation

I love Audi MMI Touch with handwriting recognition. But sister company VW doesn’t have access to that phenomenal infotainment system. Instead, a majority of its line-up (including the Jetta, Beetle, Tiguan, and lower-trim CC) employs the dated RNS 315 navigation system, which I consider to be one of the worst available. It might be passable on, say, a Mitsubishi Mirage. But on a vehicle selling for more than $20,000, it's weak.

The platform employs a tiny five-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 400x240, or slightly less than a Super Nintendo. You get a nice array of buttons and a control knob to access the various features. However, the screen is just distractingly small set into VW's custom form factor. The graphics are plain, and colors appear washed-out.

There is an SD card slot for adding your own music, as well as support for a proprietary MDI cable (enabling iPod or USB connectivity). Expect to pay about $35 for VW's own USB MDI cable or $10 for a third-party one. Most RNS 315 equipped vehicles come with a 30-pin dock connector support. It's not expensive to change the MDI cable to USB, but it shouldn't be necessary. Manufacturers from Kia to Chrysler offer seven-inch or larger displays with 800x480 resolutions and USB. VW should at least be following suit.

If ever an infotainment system was designed to satisfy a check-box on a spec sheet, VW's RNS 315 is it. 

  • jacobdrj
    Does MyLink work with Windows Phone?
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    How could Land Rover's 19 speaker sound system not get a mention? I test drove one while looking for a new car for my dad and the sound system completely blew me away. I just wanted to sit in the car and listen to music on my phone all day. :lol:
    Reply
  • tuanies
    The Jag / Land Rover Meridian system is actually quite good. Very balanced and neutral, but every time I had a Land Rover or Jaguar, there was a rattle in the passenger door panel. Which annoyed me to hell. The Krell is just better than it by a little bit.
    Reply
  • Mike Honcho
    I would like to add the BMW auto stop/start feature to the worst list. Not only does this feature do the exact opposite of what is intended (it actually uses more gas than saves), it adds extra wear and tear on the engine. The biggest annoyance is I have to turn it off every time I start my car.
    Reply
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    Should the Tesla Model S or the Model X get a special mention as best tech for "the entire car"? I mean, the whole thing is car tech...
    Reply
  • tuanies
    13170420 said:
    I would like to add the BMW auto stop/start feature to the worst list. Not only does this feature do the exact opposite of what is intended (it actually uses more gas than saves), it adds extra wear and tear on the engine. The biggest annoyance is I have to turn it off every time I start my car.

    At least BMW disables it automatically when the car is in Sport mode. The Jaguar you have to disable every time. But yes I agree its obnoxious unless its completely transparent, which most of the time it isn't. Seems harsh most of the time which is not something I'd tolerate in a luxury vehicle.

    13170614 said:
    Should the Tesla Model S or the Model X get a special mention as best tech for "the entire car"? I mean, the whole thing is car tech...

    We've yet to spend seat time in a Tesla. The times I've seen them, I wouldn't say its the best. The interior just overwhelms you with touch screen LCDs, and overwhelming you doesn't make it the best. The drivetrain is impressive though.
    Reply
  • spookyman
    What I hate is ESC on cars now. Electronic Stability Control on some cars does not work that great.
    Reply
  • JQB45
    93°C - OUCH!!! (checkout the image 9 / 23)
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Touchscreen interface instead of knobs, buttons, and dials.
    Reply
  • danwat1234
    @Mike Honcho, how does BMW's auto start/stop use more gas than when it is disabled?? With fuel injection if the engine is off for more than 10 seconds you are saving gas. Too bad it isn't smooth operation in the BMW (from what you said). Auto start/stop should be standard in all new cars in a few years once the EPA puts it on their tests.
    Reply