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Has Any Car Infotainment System Aged Well?

As the wheel of technological progress continues ever onward, so do car infotainment systems. Every year, manufacturers put out newer and more impressive systems that wow and amaze us until the next system inevitably comes along. Unfortunately, this makes older systems feel obsolete and outdated very soon after launch, which can be really annoying.

Which begs the question: Is there any infotainment system that doesn’t feel out-of-date after a few years?

For example, I drive a 2013 Volkswagen GTI, and my wife drives a 2016 Volkswagen Jetta Sport. The infotainment system in my wife’s car makes the one in my car look like it might as well be running on vacuum tubes. The system in my car has a smaller screen, the user interface isn’t as sleek, and the navigation system feels dated — because it is. The Jetta, on the other hand — which is only three years newer — feels like it’s actually from this century.

I understand why this is the case. Every other piece of technology in our life is constantly updating itself to match refined user interface tastes and standards, while the infotainment systems in our cars are installed and never touched again, aside from occasional map refreshes for navigation.

Furthermore, car development and manufacturing operates on a completely different timeline from everything else in our lives, where it’s not uncommon to see updates and refreshes occur every three to five years, as opposed to every two. This means that when manufacturers do update infotainment, it feels like a much more sudden and drastic change than everything else. This will also probably continue to be the case until manufacturers start pushing updates to systems, like you see with Tesla.

It’s honestly not that bad in my GTI; the system may feel and look fairly outdated, but it doesn’t try to do much. The simplicity means it works. However, what about today’s more complex systems? Will the system in my wife’s Jetta feel as old as my system currently does in another 3 years? I bet it will. Find a used car for sale

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  1. 2012 Tesla still feels very fresh.  It was a very well-designed UI to start with, and it gets updates over wifi every couple of months so it may not be fair to compare it with legacy manufacturers that don’t bother to update their products.

  2. As much as the automotive press likes to slam MyFord Touch, it’s held up well.  It just works.  It’s intuitive.  Voice recognition is on par with modern systems.  The screen works with regular gloves.

    Yep, it’s sluggish. Still very competitive otherwise.
  3. That’s what I love most about my old M3, no screens, no distractions. Just a dash mount for the phone and a Grom BT adapter, that’s all the infotainment I want.

  4. I know what you mean Will. I have a 2015 Passat, so we likely have the same system. The refreshed infotainment came out in 2016. My only real frustration is the lack of a USB port for Audio, since many cars have had them since 2010 era. I’ve never used the navigation because I find Waze to be more reliable, but otherwise I enjoy the simplicity and feel it might actually last longer and be more usable in 5-8 years compared to what’s in your wife’s Jetta. If you plan to own a car 8-10 years, the longevity of the infotainment could be a real wildcard. 

  5. My wife has a 2011 MB GL450 with 125k miles.  While test driving new cars, she drove one with CarPlay and really liked it.  She decided to keep her car for another 25k miles and replace the factory infotainment system with a CarPlay-compatible aftermarket unit that will integrate with the rearview camera, Sirius and steering wheel controls.  Seemed like a good solution as the GL is still in great shape, cosmetically and mechanically.

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