Today’s infotainment systems can perform a long list of convenient functions. But while the advanced touchscreen technology appeals mainly to younger, tech-savvy car shoppers, the systems are often included in vehicles with near-luxury price tags. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up a list of seven great cars that offer infotainment for under $30,000, allowing buyers on a budget to experience the futuristic convenience provided by some of today’s most exciting in-car technology.
Chevrolet Malibu Eco
The recently redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu comes standard with the automaker’s MyLink infotainment system in its hybrid Eco trim level, which starts around $26,000 after destination. In addition to common infotainment equipment like a touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity and SiriusXM satellite radio, MyLink provides buyers with several other high-tech features like Pandora Internet Radio and an enhanced voice control system designed to improve communication. The system also touts its unique Gracenote technology, which allows users to add cover art and artist nicknames to their musical selections. For shoppers who would prefer an SUV, MyLink also comes standard in the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox, which offers a starting price of less than $25,000 including destination.
Ford’s new-and-improved MyFord Touch infotainment system is available on its handsome Focus SEL for just $1,170 above the model’s $21,300 base price with destination. In addition to typical equipment like an SD card slot, a USB port, an auxiliary jack for audio or video input and SiriusXM satellite radio, MyFord Touch provides drivers with several other unique features. Among them are a “911 Assist” function that puts occupants in touch with an emergency operator in the event of a collision, an Internet media app with Pandora Internet Radio and a Vehicle Health Report that displays vehicle diagnostics, recall information and upcoming required maintenance. The system even provides full Wi-Fi capability, allowing nearby devices to share its Internet connection. Also included with MyFord Touch is the automaker’s SYNC system, which allows users to control several in-car functions using voice commands and even hear text messages read through the vehicle’s speakers.
Although we love Hyundai’s sporty Veloster for its exciting styling and eye-grabbing color palette, one of the unconventional hatchback’s best features is its Blue Link infotainment system. Offered as standard equipment on even the base-level Veloster, which starts around $18,000, Blue Link includes a long list of futuristic features. While several items – like SiriusXM satellite radio, weather reports and maintenance reminders – are certainly useful, we’re more impressed by Blue Link’s unique selling points. Such equipment includes gas station pricing and location information, audio answers to frequently asked questions found in the owner’s manual and even a location sharing function that can post a Veloster’s coordinates on social media sites like Facebook. The system also boasts several parent-friendly functions including “Curfew Alert,” “Speed Alert,” and “Geo Fence,” which can send text messages if a driver stays out past a certain hour, exceeds a specified speed or goes beyond a pre-determined area.
Although Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system isn’t as advanced as some of its counterparts, we like its large touchscreen, high-resolution display and easy-to-use screenflow. We also like that the system is available for under $500 on all versions of Jeep’s compact Compass SUV – even the base-level Compass Sport, which starts around $20,000. And while the system doesn’t offer some of its rivals’ unique features, it does offer an advanced navigation system, voice control, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth. UConnect also provides available Wi-Fi through the automaker’s aftermarket Mopar division and even lets drivers respond to text messages without removing their hands from the steering wheel.
The subcompact Kia Rio makes it easy for buyers to get their hands on the automaker’s technologically advanced UVO entertainment system. That’s because the system is available for just $1,000 on the mid-level Rio EX, which starts just over $17,000, and comes standard on the upscale Rio SX, which starts under $19,000 after destination. Short for “Your Voice,” UVO includes a 4.3-inch touch screen and a standard rearview camera along with several other exciting features like Bluetooth and HD Radio. The system also offers an advanced voice control system which allows drivers to create their own speech profiles to help UVO better understand the way they speak.
Available for an extra $1,250 on new Mini Cooper models, Mini Connected provides an in-car interface for Mini-driving iPhone users. Buyers who specify the option and download the Apple Store’s free Mini Connected app can access the system, which is operated through a controller mounted on the Mini’s center console. In addition to offering drivers the ability to listen to Internet radio, Mini Connected provides occupants with the ability to conduct Google searches for businesses and even taps into social media networks to display news feeds. Best of all, the system is even available on the base-level Mini Cooper, which starts just over $20,000. That means buyers don’t need to upgrade their Mini to improve their connectivity.
Toyota Prius C
Toyota’s recently released subcompact Prius C is among the automaker’s least expensive cars to feature the brand’s new Entune infotainment system. Offered as standard equipment on the affordable Prius C Three, which starts at just over $22,000 after destination, Entune includes a long list of technologically advanced convenience features. Such items include Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity, a USB port for music, and SiriusXM satellite radio. The system also gives occupants access to mobile apps from a variety of sources including Microsoft’s Bing search engine, restaurant reservation firm OpenTable, movietickets.com and Internet radio provider Pandora. Lastly, Entune provides a host of helpful information for drivers on the go including navigation, weather reports, traffic information, stock quotes, news, and local fuel prices by location.
What it means to you: Today’s latest infotainment technology is available on many new cars with very reasonable price tags.