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Car Tech Spotlight: Accurate voice commands in the 2013 Ram 1500

Many new cars offer voice recognition, but few systems consistently work as well as those in Chrysler Group vehicles.

By Douglas Newcomb May 3, 2013 7:51AM

Uconnect voice command feature. Image courtesy of Chrysler.The best way to control infotainment features, particularly while driving, is through voice recognition. Press the button, say a command, and your wish -- whether to call someone from your connected Bluetooth phone or navigate to an address -- is granted.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Although voice recognition is getting better, I’ve found the technology often doesn’t recognize simple commands such as changing a radio station. My standard voice-recognition test is to pick a difficult name from the contacts on my phone, say it and see whether the system can understand it and dial the number.

If that works, I progress to an even tougher test: inputting an address into the navigation system using only voice. I’ve noticed over the years that Chrysler vehicles with the company's Uconnect system consistently have one of the best voice-command systems available.

It was the same on a 2013 Ram 1500 Laramie that I tested recently. And in this truck as well as other Chrysler vehicles, voice command has gotten even better.

That’s because Uconnect Access has what’s known as “one-shot” destination entry for the navigation system. This means you don’t have to speak an address in bits and pieces -- state, then city, street and house number -- like in most cars. Instead, you say it all at once, just like you'd read it to a real human being. You can see how it worked in the Ram in the video below.

While the system flubbed the address on the first try, the second time worked, and it quickly calculated the route. When I dictated the same address in a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, while driving and without taking my eyes off the road or hands off the wheel, it worked the first time.

The new Ram has an impressive list of technology, from a self-leveling suspension to make the truck more aerodynamic to in-dash applications and in-cabin Wi-Fi. But I found that the truck's accurate voice-command system is one of the most useful and safest features.

May 3, 2013 10:24AM
Nice article.  It is refreshing to see more in the automotive world giving Chrysler credit in more areas where they are really due.  The entire Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram lineup is much better than people give them credit for.
May 3, 2013 1:41PM
May 5, 2013 7:23PM
Mar 22, 2014 9:05AM
My $23K 2013 Dodge Journey's phone dialing voice entry takes it in one shot, while my 2013 BMW 5 series needs multiple steps to do the same.
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