Car Buying

A Navigation System: Cheaper Than You Think

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2016

In years past, getting a navigation system in a new car meant spending big bucks -- sometimes well in excess of $2,000 -- just for a little electronic map that shows you where you were going. Although many car shoppers still think they are highly expensive, that's no longer the case, as many automakers have cut the cost of such systems to make them more affordable to car shoppers. To help you see what we mean, we're showing you how navigation systems are cheaper than you think.

Why Navigation?

In today's age of cell phones and portable units, you might wonder why you'd want an in-car navigation system. After all, don't most smartphones offer handy, up-to-date navigation systems with voice guidance and traffic information?

We can think of a few reasons: For instance, an in-car navigation system often touts a more reliable signal than a portable one or a cell phone, it can't be easily stolen, it usually isn't as distracting as a handheld or portable unit and it looks better than a stuck-on aftermarket system that's saddled with wires and suction cup mounts. Then there's the fact that some drivers like to have an electronic map within their line of sight in order to see where they're going, what roads are coming up and what potential shortcuts they can take.

Examples

There are many examples on the market today that prove that navigation systems aren't out of reach for typical car shoppers. Take, for instance, the Jeep Renegade, which offers a navigation system in all but its base-level model for just $1,245 -- a figure that also includes a 6.5-inch center screen and the brand's excellent Uconnect infotainment system.

Do you want a midsize Ford Fusion sedan with a navigation system? All you need to do is step up to the mid-level Fusion SE, which starts at a reasonable $24,800 with shipping, and opt for the $1,990 navigation package. While that figure may seem steep, consider this: In addition to navigation, you'll get an 8-in touchscreen with Ford's useful MyFord Touch and SYNC systems, dual-zone automatic climate control, parking sensors and a full-color gauge cluster. To us, all those features almost make the navigation seem like a free bonus.

And it isn't just the cost of navigation systems that proves they're cheaper than you think. Now, they're also widely available. A decade ago, getting a navigation system meant getting a high-end luxury car -- but today, you can get one in a compact Kia Forte for around $27,000, a subcompact Honda Fit for around $22,000 or a tiny FIAT 500 for less than $20,000 with shipping. In other words: Not only are navigation systems cheap on midsize or larger cars, they're widely available on a lot of less expensive models, too.

Other Alternatives

If you still aren't interested in paying extra for an automaker's navigation system, you'll be happy to know that there are even cheaper alternatives for in-car navigation without the premium price tag. Two of these alternatives are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which let drivers connect their phones and use apps for navigation, rather than a built-in manufacturer system. These features are now standard in many models, including the midsize Hyundai Sonata. Several other automakers offer similar systems -- including Toyota, who offers a Connected Navigation app as part of its Entune infotainment system for just $775 extra on the base-level, $24,000 Camry LE.

Given the situation we've described above (lower costs, more widespread availability and even navigation apps that replace traditional systems), it's easy to see how the navigation system has become cheaper than you might think.

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.
A Navigation System: Cheaper Than You Think - Autotrader