Suzuki Vehicles Get Garmin Infotainment System
Smartphone-integration features demonstrate the democratization of car technology.
Call it the democratization of car technology. Where, in years past, you had to spend big bucks on a luxury vehicle to get all the bells and whistles, now some of the latest and most useful tech is available even on some of the lowest-priced cars.
Case in point: Garmin announced today that it will provide a factory-installed infotainment system for most 2013 Suzuki vehicles, the highest priced of which is the Grand Vitara crossover with a sticker that starts at $19,499.
No word yet on the pricing and availability of the Garmin system, but we do know that it will include an AM/FM/CD radio head unit with 6.1-inch touch-screen display, portable device integration, Bluetooth hands-free for phoning, Pandora Internet radio, backup camera support and, of course, Garmin navigation. The system also includes voice recognition so that drivers can control the radio, CD player, Pandora and even enter a full address at once -- what Garmin calls “one-shot entry” -- via voice commands.
To top it off, the Suzuki system even gets a form of smartphone integration to deliver information such as real-time traffic and parking availability to the driver.
Connections for portable media include a USB port, Bluetooth wireless music streaming, an SD card slot and auxiliary-in jack. With Pandora’s application on a connected smartphone and the smartphone connected to the head unit, users can browse and select stations, skip tracks and give a song a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
In addition to voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, the navigation portion of the new Suzuki system offers lane guidance with Garmin's PhotoReal Junction View, optional traffic info, speed limit and current speed displays and millions of points of interest. It also has a customizable data menu that lets you choose what to display on the map: elevation, direction of travel, estimated time of arrival, distance to destination, estimated time to destination and other options. Map updates can be downloaded to an SD card from a Garmin Web portal.
Using Garmin’s Smartphone Link app, drivers can get real-time information on traffic, available parking, weather and fuel prices. The app, which works only with Android phones, syncs to Suzuki’s Garmin system via Bluetooth and uses the driver’s existing data plan.
Garmin already provides the navigation part of Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system and has supplied portable navigation units to Suzuki and Nissan. This new infotainment unit, however, is the company’s first full-fledged in-dash system. We plan to get a hands-on demo of the system at the New York Auto Show this week and report our impressions.
I'm not suprised Suzuki will be the first to include this fully integrated garmin technology. Suzuki does a great job at delivering great bang for the buck, so I suspect this new integrated unit will be loaded with great features and work well with Suzuki's "alot for a litte" pricing theme.
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