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Infotainment Systems: A Comparison

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author photo by Autotrader May 2017

Every car brand touts lots of tech features and distinctive infotainment systems -- some may sound similar or even identical -- but quite often, not all are created equal. In fact, not every car model within a brand is offered with the same tech features and interface. So let's take a look at each of the mainstream brands to see what each offers.

You can assume that everything discussed includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, at least one USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and some ability to control your smartphone's music/media selections with the car's interface. Satellite radio and an integrated navigation system are also almost always available as well.

Chevrolet

Chevrolet

Interface name: MyLink

Interface type: Touchscreen (two versions, each with a different screen size of 7- or 8 inches)

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, internet radio control apps (Pandora and Stitcher), customizable menu layout, talk-to-text, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, remote vehicle controls (via OnStar), wireless smartphone charging, teen driver settings

Differences between models: Every Chevrolet touchscreen is dubbed MyLink, but not all are created equal. Most models come standard with a smaller screen with fewer features and less visually appealing graphics, but most can be equipped (via option or higher trim level) with the full-featured system most recognizable as "MyLink," which features an 8-in touchscreen. Besides its larger size, this upgraded system can be identified by its more streamlined appearance in newer models like the Volt, Malibu and Equinox. Most models have more than one USB port, while larger vehicles like the Silverado, Suburban and 2018 Traverse can have as many as five.

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Chrysler/ FIAT/ Jeep/ Dodge

Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/FIAT

Interface name: Uconnect

Interface type: Touchscreen with redundant dash-mounted knob control (a standard version is available in 4.3- or 5-in sizes, or there's an optional 8.4-in upgrade)

Noteworthy available features: 3G Wi-Fi, voice controls, talk-to-text, remote vehicle controls, wireless smartphone charging (Jeep Cherokee only), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (2017 Jeep Compass, Chrysler 300 and Dodge's Challenger and Charger only)

Differences between models: Every FIAT-Chrysler vehicle has something called "Uconnect" in its dash -- be it a simple radio faceplate or a touchscreen. However, for the sake of this comparison, let's talk about the latter. Most vehicles come standard with a smaller touchscreen (4.3 inches on older models like the Journey, 5 inches on most others) that pretty much handles radio functions only. Most others are at least optional with the user-friendly 8.4-in system that controls many more functions, and although graphics can differ slightly from car to car, their basic functionality remains consistent. All also include a handy dash-mounted knob controller that makes it easier to scan through on-screen lists like playlists or phone-book entries.

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Ford

Ford

Interface name: SYNC 3

Interface type: Touchscreen (size can vary by model)

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, remote vehicle controls, internet radio control apps (Pandora, Spotify, iHeartAuto), voice-control integration for smartphones and media players, automatic post-collision 911 calling (via your phone), teen driver settings, 4G LTE Wi-Fi (2017 Escape, all other models for 2018)

Differences between models: SYNC 3 is the name of Ford's latest touchscreen interface, available on every vehicle it sells. The size of the screen can differ between models, but the graphics and menu layout are the same. Note that Ford's standard tech interface, known as "SYNC with MyFord," consists of a substantially smaller display with accompanying buttons. Only the usual selection of tech features like satellite radio, Bluetooth and a media-player interface are included with this.

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GMC

GMC

Interface name: IntelliLink

Interface type: Touchscreen (two versions, each with a different screen size of 7- or 8 inches)

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, internet radio control apps (Pandora and Stitcher), customizable menu layout, talk-to-text, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, emergency communications and remote vehicle controls (via OnStar), wireless smartphone charging, teen driver settings

Differences between models: IntelliLink is virtually identical in terms of hardware and feature content to Chevrolet's MyLink -- they just differ in name and color scheme. As such, every GMC interface may be dubbed IntelliLink, but not all are created equal. Most models come standard with a smaller screen with fewer features and more rudimentary graphics, but most can be equipped (via option or higher trim level) with the full-featured system, which features an 8-in touchscreen. This is the interface most would associate with the name IntelliLink. Most models come standard with two USB ports and can be upgraded with as many as five.

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Honda

Honda

Interface name: None

Interface type: Touchscreen (7 inches)

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Pandora internet radio control, voice controls, talk-to-text, HondaLink app content (streaming navigation app, Aha and iHeart radio, maintenance reminders, online owner's manual)

Differences between models: Every Honda, with the exception of the 2017 Odyssey, can be had with a 7-in touchscreen interface that doesn't have a catchy name. All come with the same feature content, but the version in the 2017 CR-V differs from the rest by featuring a much-needed volume knob and extra menu shortcuts that alleviate some of the functionality issues inherent to all other versions. The Honda Accord has a second, redundant display above the touchscreen. The base interface is a traditional setup of radio buttons and knobs with a small display. Note that the term "HondaLink" refers to a handful of smartphone-run apps like Aha internet radio and a streaming navigation system.

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Hyundai

Hyundai

Interface name: None

Interface type: Touchscreen (5-in standard version or optional upgrade available in 7- or 8-in sizes)

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, emergency communications and remote vehicle controls (via Blue Link Connected Car Telematics), wireless smartphone charging, Amazon Echo integration (via Blue Link)

Differences between models: Most Hyundais come standard with a 5-in touchscreen that essentially handles the audio system. Upper trim levels can be equipped with an upgraded "display audio" touchscreen (7-in in cars, 8-in in SUVs), which brings with it Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and additional non-audio-related functions. A navigation system is sometimes tied with this touchscreen. Hyundai's Blue Link system of remote services is comparable to GM's OnStar.

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Kia

Kia

Interface name: None

Interface type: Touchscreen (a standard version available in 4.3- or 5-in sizes, a 7-in upgrade and a further 8-in upgrade). The K900 has a touchscreen/knob controller combination.

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, UVO eServices (includes voice-control integration for smartphones and media players, automatic post-collision 911 calling via your phone, car finder smartphone app), available all-digital gauge cluster

Differences between models: The Optima, Niro and Cadenza stand out by coming standard with a 7-in touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On other Kias, like the Sorento, Soul and Forte, those features are optional or included on an upper trim level. An upgraded 8-in touchscreen is available on most models as well, but it's tied to an integrated navigation system. Those models that don't come standard with the bigger touchscreen come with either a traditional radio faceplate or a small touchscreen (4.3- or 5 inches) that just handles the audio system. Kia's UVO eServices is comparable to Ford's SYNC suite of voice-activated and smartphone-connecting features. The Sorento and Cadenza are available with an all-digital gauge cluster. That's also available on the K900, which comes standard with the combination of a 9.2-in touchscreen and a redundant knob-button controller on the center console.

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Mazda

Mazda

Interface name: Mazda Connect

Interface type: Knob and button "Commander" controls on center console, with a 7-in dash-top display that can be touch-operated when vehicle is stopped.

Noteworthy available features: Internet radio control (Pandora, Aha, Stitcher), talk-to-text, automatic post-collision 911 calling via your phone

Differences between models: Every Mazda but the MX-5 Miata comes standard with Mazda Connect, which is one of the more distinctive infotainment systems. Comparable to Audi's MMI interface, it features a multipurpose knob and accompanying buttons on the center console dubbed the "Commander" controls, which operate functions on a 7-in screen mounted atop the dash. This screen can be touch-operated, but (frustratingly) only when stopped. Feature content, such as the availability of satellite radio or a navigation system, can differ, but the layout and look remain consistent. The base-model Miata comes with a traditional radio faceplate where the display would otherwise be.

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MINI

MINI

Interface name: MINI Connected

Interface type: Knob and button controls on center console with a 6.5-in in-dash display. Upgraded touch-sensitive knob controller and 8.8-in screen (touchscreen on certain models).

Noteworthy available features: Pandora internet radio controls, additional Internet radio apps (Spotify, iHeartRadio, Audible, Rhapsody, TuneIn), car-finding app, GoPro app, wireless smartphone charging (Countryman)

Differences between models: Every model comes standard with the same MINI Connected system consisting of a 6.5-in in-dash display controlled by a knob and surrounding menu buttons located on the center console. With the Technology package, this setup is upgraded to the MINI Connected XL system, which features an 8.8-in screen and a larger knob controller that is touch-sensitive, allowing you to enter hand-written letters and numbers into the included navigation system. This system in the Countryman is further enhanced by a touchscreen display.

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Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi

Interface name: Smartphone Link Display Audio

Interface type: Touchscreen (Standard 6.1-in or a 7-in upgrade)

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, internet radio apps (Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify)

Differences between models: A 6.1-in touchscreen comes standard on the base Outlander ES, all Lancers, and on the Outlander Sport's upper trim levels. An upgraded touchscreen, dubbed Smartphone Link Display Audio, includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and various other apps. Upper Outlander trim levels come standard with a 7-in version of Mitsubishi's system, while a 6.5-in version is an option on the Outlander Sport, Mirage and Lancer.

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Nissan

Nissan

Interface name: NissanConnect

Interface type: Touchscreen (5-, 5.8-, 7- or 8-inches)

Noteworthy available features: Internet radio apps (Pandora and iHeartRadio), NissanConnect Services emergency communications and remote vehicle controls, Apple CarPlay (Murano and Maxima), Android Auto (future availability)

Differences between models: Most Nissans start off with either a rudimentary radio faceplate or 5-in touchscreen that only handles the audio system. A 5.8-in touchscreen upgrade is available on entry models like the Versa, Sentra and Juke. A 7-in touchscreen is available as an upgrade on models like the Altima, Rogue and Titan, and as standard equipment on the Murano. An 8-in upgrade is available on the Murano and standard on the Pathfinder, Maxima and Armada. Apple CarPlay is only available on the Murano and Maxima at the time of this writing but will roll out to additional models in the future.

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Subaru

Subaru

Interface name: Starlink Multimedia

Interface type: Touchscreen (6.2- and 7-in upgrade sizes. Impreza has an 8-in upgrade instead)

Noteworthy available features: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, internet radio controls (Pandora, Aha, iHeartRadio, Stitcher), remote vehicle controls, Magellan streaming navigation app,

Differences between models: At this point, only the 2017 Impreza is available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's also the only one that can be specified with the latest Starlink Multimedia touchscreen -- it's bigger, quicker to respond and features sharper graphics with large, easily pressed icons. It also has an additional USB port. Expect this system to trickle down to other models in future years. In the meantime, all other Subarus feature a standard 6.2-in touchscreen or a 7-in upgrade, which feature similar content, such as the above-listed internet radio apps. These touchscreens are functionally similar to the user-friendly models offered by Toyota.

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Toyota

Toyota

Interface name: Entune

Interface type: Touchscreen (6.1- or 7-in upgrade. The Highlander, Prius Prime and Land Cruiser have larger upgrades.)

Noteworthy available features: Entune App Suite (Pandora, iHeartRadio, Open Table, Yelp, MovieTickets.com), talk-to-text, Scout GPS streaming navigation app, wireless smartphone charging, Safety Connect emergency communications

Differences between models: With the rare exception, most Toyotas come standard with a 6.1-in touchscreen that mostly handles the audio controls. Most of those models can then be equipped with a larger 7-in touchscreen that includes the above-listed Entune App Suite. It can be upgraded with an integrated navigation system. Exceptions include the Highlander, which has an upgraded 8-in screen that's also more glare-resistant and touch-sensitive. The Prius Prime comes standard with the 7-in screen and can be further upgraded with a unique 11.6-in vertically oriented screen. The Land Cruiser comes standard with a 9-in touchscreen. Finally, the Toyota Yaris iA is in fact made by Mazda -- see that brand's entry for information on its interface.

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Volkswagen

Volkswagen

Interface name: None

Interface type: Touchscreen (Most models have a 5- or upgraded 6.3-in screen. The Atlas has 6.5- or 8-in screens. The Touareg has a unique 8-in screen.)

Noteworthy available features: VW Car-Net App-Connect (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Audible, Stitcher, TuneIn), VW Car-Net Security & Service emergency communications and remote vehicle controls

Differences between models: Every Volkswagen now comes standard with some type of touchscreen, and all but the Touareg can be outfitted with the full gamut of tech features listed above. Among those is a larger touchscreen (6.3 inches on most models) tied to VW Car-Net App-Connect and therefore Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The new Atlas and 2018 Tiguan have larger touchscreen sizes and can be equipped with the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, a 12.3-inch gauge cluster display that shows a variety of enhanced information beyond the usual instruments and trip computer. Note that the Touareg has a totally different 8-in screen standard and cannot be had with Car-Net App-Connect.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Infotainment Systems: A Comparison - Autotrader