I don’t think I’m in the minority of people who prefer to use a phone app rather than a car’s native navigation system to direct myself from one place to another. That’s part of what make Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so great. You can use them to project your trusted method navigation to your car’s multimedia interface. There are a few exceptions, though. My wife’s Hyundai Palisade does a fine job of steering us away from interstate traffic snarls. Cars using the Android Automotive Operating System use the familiar Google maps to get around. I also tend to use the onboard navigation system in Autoblog’s long-term BMW 330e, but that’s mostly because of its terrific integration with the car’s stellar head-up display.
In the 330e, the HUD is an option, as part of the $1,900 Premium package. The HUD is full-color, displaying crisply a comfortable distance ahead of you. It’s easily adjusted in an infotainment menu, so you can place it where you want in your field of vision, so it’s not obscuring your view of traffic or getting cut off if your seating position is too high or low. You can rotate it, or even make the display box smaller to take up less visual real estate. You can manually adjust brightness, but it also automatically adjusts to light conditions as day turns into night for continued visibility without interfering with your view of the road.
It provides a lot of useful information, and you can select what it includes. Of course, there’s your speed, which you can check against the displayed posted speed limit. It can show you the status of your driver assist systems. It’ll also give you some information about road conditions, even when not using navigation. Shortly after a road I frequent had speed bumps installed, the BMW was giving me a “Rough road ahead” warning right there in the HUD. Over the winter, it would warn me about the “uneven surface” that U.S. 23 had turned into, though it couldn’t help me to avoid the staggeringly ubiquitous and violently deep craters splattered across that stretch of highway.
But back to that navigation. When using the BMW nav service, it gives you turn-by-turn guidance to your destination, which is nothing new. What impresses me is how it tells you what lane to be in, while knowing what lane you’re in. It’ll indicate that you need to shift over a slot or two. And it’s accurate. The only time I saw it get tripped up about my current lane was in a construction zone. It is also very precise about distances. When it says your turn is 200 feet away, it’s 200 feet away.
If you still want to use your own app, CarPlay will integrate your directions into the HUD, just without those extra, helpful details provided by BMW’s native navigation.
Of course, if you don’t want to use the HUD, you can turn it off completely. But when it’s this good, why would you?