- Many vehicles are now equipped with GPS navigation systems that use digital maps, rendered in infotainment screens.
- Recently, I tested a $US52,000 CadillacXT4 crossover SUV that lacked this feature. Instead, it had an older system, called “Turn-by-Turn.”
- I’ve always been a fan if Turn-by-Turn, and on the XT4, I found that I preferred it over the more familiar systems.
We’ve gotten so used to GPS navigation system on smartphones and in vehicles that at Business Insider, when we encounter a car that doesn’t have a mapping setup, it can be sort of disorienting (pardon the pun).
Every so often, this happens on a mass-market vehicle. It almost never happens with a luxury car. And even when we think we might not have GPS mapping, we’ve been known to push buttons and dig around in an infotainment system in the vain hope that we might find some colourful digital coordinates.
That quest was familiar when I recently sampled the all-new 2019 Cadillac XT4, a compact/subcompact crossover SUV from the luxury brand. My test car, which priced at about $US52,000, did not include a $US1,500 optional technology package that would have added mapping (along with some other features).
The XT4 was rather superb, but in at least one respect it was a throwback for me: instead of mapped directions, with that familiar coloured line to follow on a route, it showcased turn-by-turn navigation accessed through General Motors’ good old OnStar system.
How did turn-by-turn compare with the more “modern” systems? Read on to find out.
GPS mapping has become quite sophisticated in the digital age. Here we have Audi’s MMI with Virtual Cockpit, a Google Maps-powered system that can render landscapes and destinations in great detail.
And of course, everyone is familiar with GPS mapping software and displays from smartphones.
The Cadillac XT4 is a new crossover from the luxury brand.
The mapping software available for Caddy’s is among the best in the business. Here we have the system on a CT6 sedan that, using the brand’s Super Cruise technology, can drive itself hands-free on highways.
My XT4 test car lacked that option package. But it did have navigation, delivered through a “Turn-by-Turn” system.
As with a digitally mapped route, the driver can ask for the point A-to-B by pushing the blue OnStar button and requesting navigation from a human operator, who will send the directions to the vehicle.
In my XT4, the directions are then displayed “turn by turn” in two places: on the central touchscreen and via the head-up display that can be projected in front on the driver. Directions are also “spoken” by the vehicles voice system.
And if none of this is to your liking, you can always access Apple CarPlay and use the mapping software on an iPhone or Android phone.
So what’s the verdict?
I put a few more miles than usual on the XT4, taking it into the wilds of a journey to Queens, NY, near LaGuardia airport, as well as up and down the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey a few times.
Turn-by-Turn didn’t simply perform flawlessly, acting as a digital co-pilot – it outdid the GPS mapping systems we’re more accustomed to, from my perspective as a driver.
Of course, the directions are still GPS-derived. There’s just no visual map to follow on the central, eight-inch touchscreen.
Or be distracted by. Simplifying a route to visual indicators of which way to turn, while continuing to receive voice prompts similar to what you’d get with a more full-blown GPS nav system, was frankly better, in my opinion.
I’ve got nothing against state-of-the-art GPS navigation. It’s nice to never get lost, and on complicated routes, having a visual guideline onscreen can be quite useful. But it does compel a driver to take his or her eyes off the road.
Turn-by-Turn makes you use your ears and, should you need a visual, projects it via the head-up display.
Ultimately, that was good enough for me.
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