I love the idea of modern infotainment systems, but seldom the execution. The MyFord Touch is a poster child for overly complex, fussy systems, but it actually doesn’t stand out that much. German cars tend to have units with tiny buttons that serve arcane purposes, plus single-knob controls that can take five inputs to change the radio station.
I never make peace with voice controls, no matter how "improved" they are. I ask them for water, they give me gasoline. I ask for the Rolling Stones and I get the Stone Roses.
Even worse, the “haptics” are all wrong. I visited Audi some years ago and toured the haptics lab, where they figure out the touch feel of their switches, knobs and other gear. There should be a satisfying “click,” not some vague, slow response that takes your eyes off the road. I’m talking about you, Chevy Volt, but there are many offenders.
This column is in praise of the NissanConnect system in my test car, a pre-production 2014 Versa Note SV (above). It’s intuitive, and it just works. It has a 5.8-inch touch screen, a tuning knob, and a volume control that are where your hands reach for them. Buttons take you easily between modes. The navigation system is exceptionally easy to program, with useful auto-complete features.
Hit the camera button and you can toggle between multiple views from several cameras. Plug in a USB stick or iPod and it plays without any drama through the Aux port.
I’m not saying this is the best sound quality in the world. Maybe there aren’t 300 speakers, and tweeters in the headliner. All I’m sayin’ here is that this is a basic infotainment system that works.
My Note has an MSRP of $15,990, and was $19,280 as equipped with that system, among other extra amenities. Here's my tour of the system on video:
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