Up Close: Hyundai's New Navigation System
Hyundai readily admits it's late to the navigation game. As recently as 2007, top-of-the-line models like the Veracruz and Azera didn't have any system, while competitors offered it all the way down to their compact cars. That's changed: The Veracruz, Santa Fe and Azera offer navigation for 2008, while the restyled Sonata features an even more advanced system for 2009.
The Sonata's system is the real deal. At the Chicago Auto Show yesterday, I spoke with Patrick Newland, the engineer who designed it, and he said it's a proprietary system that will make its way across Hyundai's lineup in several years. Strictly speaking, the LG systems in other Hyundai models are a stopgap measure, Newland said. (The Genesis' high-end system, meanwhile, is yet another, separate unit dedicated just to that car.)
I checked out Newland's brainchild. It sits high in the Sonata's dash on a 6.5-inch screen -- not as big as the 8-inch screen in the Accord, but competitive with most others. The graphics are first-rate, with clear labels for streets and landmarks, though individual buildings aren't outlined, as they are on Toyota's navigation system. Newland says Hyundai put a premium on usability, and it shows: There's a POI button on the main map to bring up points of interest, and under the Setup display there's a full help menu with descriptions of each button. Should you need to find an intersection, the system allows you to input the city it's in. That's helpful. I've used systems without a city input, and if you can't remember the exact name of each street (boulevard, lane or avenue?) you can get stuck with every 3rd and Main from here to Cleveland.
The system uses a touch-screen, and it's pretty adept at figuring out what you're trying to do. I wish Hyundai had placed a few more shortcut buttons along the side, though. Honda is a champion of this, as most of its navigation systems employ a joystick to scroll the map. The Sonata's system works like most others, so you have to hold your finger on the map to move around. Sigh.
On the audio menus, the radio presets display their stations, so instead of 1 through 6 you have 93.1, 104.3, etc. That's nice, especially if you forget your presets like I do. On satellite radio, you can punch in exactly which station you want with a number pad instead of having to browse a list of 100-plus channels. (If you prefer, you can do that, too.)
Unfortunately, Hyundai doesn't break out the radio presets onto hard buttons above or below the screen, so setting a station requires holding your finger down on the on-screen button. Other systems that do this prove especially vexing - if you're driving and hit a bump, you're back to whatever old station was there.
All told, this isn't a bad start. I'm looking forward to seeing how well the system routes us around Chicago. Some of my favorite ones have become hopelessly befuddled with foul weather or tricky one-way roads -- and if the system can't get you where you need to go, all those tidy graphics start to look a lot less friendly.
2009 Hyundai Sonata's New Touch-Screen Display Enhances XM Radio Listening ExperienceCHICAGO, Feb. 6 -- XM, the nation's leading provider of satellite radio, announced today that 2009 Hyundai Sonata buyers will experience an enhanced XM radio listening experience through the vehicles available color, touch-screen navigation display. The Sonata's navigation display, unveiled today at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, will make for a richer XM listening experience.
The brand-new display on the 2009 Hyundai Sonata allows listeners can use the high-resolution touch-screen display to easily scan through XM's more than 170 channels of entertainment. The display will feature sophisticated graphics, making it easy to glance at the XM channel name, song title, artist name, and category to select music, sports, talk, news, comedy or traffic and weather.
"XM fans will truly appreciate the enhanced user experience through the Hyundai Sonata's new touch-screen display. Now, listening to XM Radio in the vehicle is richer and easier than ever before," said Joe Verbrugge, senior vice president, automotive partnerships and international operations, XM Satellite Radio.
XM has been standard on all Sonata models since 2007. Every Hyundai equipped with XM Satellite Radio also comes with a three-month complimentary subscription.
This is the first time a navigation system has been incorporated into the Sonata.
The 2009 Hyundai Sonata will be on display throughout the 2008 Chicago Auto Show.
XM is America's number one satellite radio. Broadcasting live daily from studios in Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, Nashville, Toronto and Montreal, XM's 2008 lineup includes more than 170 digital channels of choice from coast to coast: commercial-free music, premier sports, news, talk radio, comedy, children's and entertainment programming; and the most advanced traffic and weather information.
XM, the leader in satellite-delivered entertainment and data services for the automobile market through partnerships with General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Porsche, Ferrari, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota, is available in 140 different vehicle models for 2008. XM's industry-leading products are available at consumer electronics retailers nationwide. For more information about XM hardware, programming and partnerships, please visit www.xmradio.com.
Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements in this press release include demand for XM Satellite Radio's service, the Company's dependence on technology and third party vendors, its potential need for additional financing, as well as other risks described in XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.'s Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 3-1-07. Copies of the filing are available upon request from XM Radio's Investor Relations Department. Programming is subject to change.