We're back from a private media preview of Toyota's innovative Entune multimedia system, and to put it quite simply, Ford and SYNC had better look out.
Entune utilizes a driver’s mobile device to run wirelessly downloadable (and upgradeable) applications. Once a user installs the free application on their phone and then connects to the car via Bluetooth, they’re up and running.
Entune offers a variety of navigation and entertainment options. Say you’re driving home but want to surprise your significant other with a dinner date. Just click over to the Opentable.com menu and reserve a spot. Same goes for movies; Movietickets.com can pop up with times and availability. Toyota also teamed up with Microsoft’s Bing for searches, real time traffic, weather, stocks, and news.
One feature we took a liking to was the Bing function. Wondering where something is? Just punch it into Bing and once it pops up, you can call it, or better yet, navigate directly to it with turn-by-turn directions. Toyota is trying to eliminate the limited search function of current navigation systems with this new feature, said Brian Inouye, Toyota’s national manager of technology and engineering.
On the audio side of things, Entune includes iheartradio.com (a first ever in a car), Pandora, XM, HD Radio, and USB device connectivity. Of course, CD and regular terrestrial audio is available, too.
Entune can be controlled via what Toyota calls conversational voice controls, so no more standard bland and easily forgettable commands here. During our demo, the system proved very easy to navigate, was pleasing to the eyes and in essence, felt thoroughly thought out.
Inouye mentioned that it is too early to say what specific 2012 Toyota (and likely Lexus) models Entune will make it in, but it will appear on dealer lots starting later this year. He also said it is pricing is currently being decided on, but if Japan’s biggest carmaker wants to attract potential SYNC buyers away from Ford, we don’t expect Entune to hurt the bank account too much.