As I’ve noted in the past, our Highlander is an XLE. This means, among other things, that we have the built-in Toyota navigation system. Given that we’ve never had a built-in NAV system, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The short version is that we went in with high hopes, but were somewhat underwhelmed. In the past, we’ve always relied on our trusty, standalone Garmin GPS unit, and it’s never let us down.
I’m also a big fan of Waze, though I do admit that most smartphone apps are only as good as the quality of your data connection. Thus, it’s easy to get left in the lurch when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.
Given our experiences with (and the prices of) standalone GPS units, we’ve never seen the point of a built-in NAV system. Are they good enough to justify their premium, as well as the costly map updates?
I have to admit that I’ve always been skeptical. But…
The XLE offered a number of other features that we wanted, so we took the plunge and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, as noted above, we’ve been somewhat underwhelmed due to limitations in several areas.
What follows is a rundown of our biggest disappointments when it comes to the Toyota Highlander’s GPS navigation system.
Inaccessible in motion
First and foremost, I hate (HATE!) being locked out of most of the touchscreen controls when the Highlander is in motion. I understand that this is a safety thing, but… Really?
Am I really supposed to believe that Toyota can’t add a sensor to unlock the controls when the passenger seat is occupied? This problem is made worse by the poor voice recognition, which means that I either have to stop the car or struggle to get the system to understand me.
Or, secret option #3… I could install an override to get around the problem. I’m starting to think that might be my best option though, in the short term, I’ve mostly avoided the problem by using my iPhone for navigation.
I’ve also noticed that the GPS tends to lag at least a bit behind reality. And no, I’m not alone. Several readers have reported the exact same thing.
The problem is most apparent when passing through an intersection. When I do so, my eyes tell me that I’ve cleared the intersection, while the GPS system often shows that I’m still approaching, about 100 ft behind reality.
This seems like a minor thing, but it can be a major annoyance when we’re driving through a complicated intersection or in areas with multiple roads intersecting within a short distance.
Whenever you stray off course, pretty much any GPS system will recalculate to get you back on track. But Toyota’s system is frustratingly stubborn in that it keeps trying to get you to turn around and pick up the route where you left off, even if that’s not the best available option.
While many older GPS units shared this behavior, most modern devices are smarter. Sure, in some cases your best option will be to backtrack. But in most cases, the system calculates a new route that either (eventually) intersects with the original route, or it takes you a different way entirely.
Last, but certainly not least (and, to be perfectly honest, this probably isn’t my last complaint)… I’ve been annoyed by the inability of the Toyota NAV system to find certain addresses.
There have been (at least) two or three cases in recent months where I’ve tried to program in an address, but wasn’t able to do so. The system uses a predictive text interface that restricts the available keyboard entries to make typing easier. Sounds great, but…
I’ve had instances where, for example, I needed to enter a four digit address and the system only allowed me to enter three digits. It’s as if the NAV maps didn’t include the full range of addresses along the road in question.
Given that I’ve never had trouble finding addresses with my Garmin GPS, Waze, Google Maps, etc., this struck me as really weird. Are the Toyota maps really that incomplete? It appears so.
Okay, dear readers. Now it’s your turn. What do you think of the Toyota navigation system? Are you happy with it? Or do you have some complaints? If so, what are they? Please leave a comment, below.