Having an in-dash navigation system installed in your vehicle can improve your driving experience in two ways. Primarily, these navigation systems help guide you to millions of North American destinations, finding the most efficient route and helping you avoid traffic. They also double as your in-car entertainment hub, connecting with your smartphone or other media devices so you can listen to music while you drive or play a movie for your little ones to watch during a road trip. The best GPS navigation system for your needs and budget will have the right combination of accessories, ports and customizable features.
All of the in-dash navigation systems we’ve featured here can guide you to your destination efficiently and keep you and your passengers entertained during the journey. Many of them can even integrate with your smartphone for further hands-free functionality. Depending on your specific needs, you can easily spend multiple thousands of dollars on an in-dash system, but there are many units – like most of those we reviewed – that are under $500 and still include premium features.
Despite being developed in the early 1990s, the first hands-free Bluetooth car kit didn’t hit the market until 2001. Even then, the technology didn’t become a staple feature in car stereos until the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Distracted drivers kill nine people and leave 1,060 others injured every day in the United States. The main offenders are people who can’t resist the lure of their phones. Distracted driving is so dangerous that many states have adopted laws against using your cell phone while driving without a hands-free device.
However, many professionals spend a significant amount of time both on the road and on the phone for work, and ignoring calls and messages while driving is impractical. Bluetooth car kits allow you to stay connected to your smartphone without taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.
Bluetooth car kits don’t replicate the car audio experience. Your car probably has at least two speakers that are at minimum around 5.25 inches in diameter, though most cars have four speakers that range in sizes between 4 inches and 6 x 9 inches. On the other hand, visor kits usually only have one speaker that’s 1 inch in diameter, so you should only purchase one if you’re sole concern is hands-free calling. That said, some feature an FM transmitter, so you can stream audio to the Bluetooth kit, and it will convert the sound into an FM signal you can pick up on your car’s radio.