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Car Tech Spotlight: Yelp in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Uconnect Access system has Internet-connected search, but is buggy and slow.

By Douglas Newcomb Nov 11, 2013 10:33AM

Uconnect Access Yelp featureMore automakers are adding an onboard cellular modem to vehicles to give drivers the connection and convenience they’re used to on portable devices such as smartphones and tablets.

An example is the Uconnect Access system in some Chrysler vehicles, including a top-of-the-line 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit edition I recently tested.

Like other automotive infotainment systems that include an embedded broadband modem, Uconnect Access in the Jeep Grand Cherokee has an Internet-connected search feature that uses Yelp. This means that in addition to searching for points of interests (POIs) using the navigation system’s static -- and outdated -- database, a driver can get fresh info and much more.

And like other automotive infotainment systems that have this feature, Uconnect Access can be buggy and slow.

As you can see in the video below, when using the Yelp feature in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the system takes a while to initialize. And this was within minutes of using it several times earlier to do the exact same search. In addition, some of the buttons on the touch screen were unresponsive. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn't.

Unfortunately, this lag isn't uncommon in vehicles with the latest Internet-connected infotainment systems, especially the ones that use an embedded modem. I’ve experienced similar issues with mbrace2 system in a Mercedes-Benz GL350 and with the ConnectedDrive system in a BMW 335i.

This makes systems like Uconnect Access with embedded cellular connectivity less attractive since the car owner usually has to pay a subscription for the service after a free trial period -- when they likely already have a data plan and similar services and apps on their smartphone. And a similar search on a smartphone is usually faster, if not safer, than just pushing a steering-wheel button.

Nov 11, 2013 11:46AM
For as much as these connectivity products cost you would think they should work very well, however I've yet to see any GPS that works as well and fast as my Garmin or connectivity apps that work as good as a recent smart phone. Buyers need to just say no until they can get the bugs out and hopefully standardize the entire format.
Nov 12, 2013 12:24PM
Hey Jeep, how about trying to improve the quality of your cars before adding more gizmos that will break? Aside from the chassis and the suspension (which Chrysler got from MB during their collaboration years), the Grand Cherokee is at best mediocre at everything else. The powertrain isn't particularly powerful or fuel efficient, the towing capacity is decedent but not stellar for its weight class. And let's not even get started on all the reliability issues that the current Grand Cherokee is already having, a mere 3 years after its introduction. For a regular SUV that could cost well over $60,000 when new (that's in the same price range of BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne), it needs a lot of improvement to prove that it's worth the money.
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