Mercedes-Benz has turned to Garmin as its new source for in-car navigation systems. The deal will involve rolling out Garmin-based systems over the next four years, globally, on Mercedes vehicles.
Garmin’s navigation will be fully integrated into Benz’s COMAND infotainment system, which also controls the radio, climate control, and Internet connectivity. According to Garmin, its system will operate much like current Mercedes navigation systems do, either with the COMAND rotary knob or by voice command. The navigation and map visuals will still be displayed on the infotainment screen and secondary commands will still pop up in the instrument panel.
Our experiences with Benz’s COMAND system have been mixed. For starters, we appreciate the interface's clean, integrated appearance in models like the Mercedes-benz C63 AMG coupe. But during a drive of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 we felt that the COMAND system felt "unnecessarily complicated compared with newer systems from other makers."
Hopefully this new deal with Garmin is the start of better days for Benz’s infotainment system. Chrysler turned to Garmin for its navigation system a few years ago and the move appears to have been a smart one. The 2011 Dodge Charger was the first vehicle to receive a Garmin-sourced navigation unit and the move resulted in favorable rankings in a J.D. Power and Associates survey regarding factory-installed navigation systems. The Chrysler 300 also scored well. We should note, however, that the Dodge and Chrysler system is heavily touch-screen-based, while the Benz will depend mostly on the aforementioned COMAND rotary knob. That said, we’ll find out how much this move benefits Benz once we get behind the wheel of a car with a new Garmin system.