Remember in the old days the survival kit in a car was “air, steering, glass and lock”? Now that has changed. The aforementioned equipment (air conditioning, power steering and electric locks and windows) are still mandatory, but they have gained a companion as indispensable as they are: the multimedia center – along with USB ports and wireless chargers, to keep your smartphone’s battery up to date. .
In times of music streaming, messaging apps and social networks that take us to the smartphone practically all day, these centers have evolved to ensure that the driver can do almost everything through them. In addition to interactivity and connectivity, they often also control most of the car’s functions.
But what does it take for a media center to be good? First, the system needs to be fast. Imagine a smartphone that is “thinking, thinking and thinking”, like an old computer? Can’t, right?
In addition, intuitive operation is key. You can’t keep trying to figure out the functions while behind the wheel, right? Even so, the fewer touches, the better. And being touch sensitive is key. Even better is being able to control everything, or almost everything, through the multifunctional steering wheel.
And what are the best multimedia centers on the market? We could cite many in the luxury segment, such as BMW, with its intuitive operation and voice command with artificial intelligence. Or maybe Volvo’s, which doesn’t even require a smartphone to access digital players: just log in to your Google account in the car’s multimedia system.
However, luxury models are also niche. And, here, the objective is to show which are the best multimedia centers for high-volume cars. I will list the three best among the models I have tested in the last few months. And also the one I consider the worst.
1 – Jeep/Fiat
Hard to beat the multimedia center that was launched on the 2021 lines of the Jeep Compass and Fiat Toro, and is currently also on models like Renegade, from the American brand, and Pulse and Fastback, from the Italian brand. The system has onboard Wi-Fi, used for native map interaction with traffic information.
The GPS, with a pincer function to enlarge and warning about radars, is one of the great differentials of this central. With the arrival of systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, less and less brands (even some luxury ones) are concerned about offering a native browser.
Wi-Fi, upon payment of a monthly plan, is also a router for driver and passenger smartphones. Another highlight is the possibility to choose the information in evidence in several configurable screens. It is an operation very similar to that of a smartphone.
The control unit is very intuitive and 100% touch-sensitive, in addition to having remote control of the functions on the multifunctional steering wheel. Settings for car assistance systems are made on the device itself. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have a wireless connection.
Also, the presentation is nice and clean, with all the inputs and icons right in the driver’s eyes. The downside is a certain slow loading of the native map and the assistance systems settings page.
2 – Chevrolet
The system MyLink was the first to bring Wi-Fi on board. Very similar with the two above, it’s intuitive to use, it’s fast and it brings Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
But it lacks the native map, which dispenses with the smartphone. Also, the presentation leaves something to be desired. O MyLink it is too polluted. It’s hard to find them, especially when we’re driving.
not imported Boltthe presentation of MyLink is much better, with large, well-spaced icons – the screen is much larger. This shows that the system used in Onix and tracker, among others, has the potential to improve. And this is expected to happen soon, in the new Montana (to be released in early 2023).
3 – Volkswagen
Launched on Nivus in 2020, the VW Play is now on models like T-Cross and Taos. As in the Jeep/Fiat central, it has several screens, some of them customizable. Touch-sensitive, fast and easy to navigate, it highlights native apps.
No smartphone mirroring is required to access Waze, Estapar and even apps with videos for kids. Just log in to the apps once, and the next time, log in by tapping the icon.
And why is the VW Play not number one? The main reason is the absence of Wi-Fi on board. To use the apps, you need to use your smartphone’s router. In other words: the portable device is not expendable.
Also, in my most recent test, I had issues with Android Auto that would frequently disconnect from the wired connection. It happened when passing through a very uneven floor, and even because of the turbulence caused by a large truck coming in the opposite direction, in a single lane.
The worst: Honda and Toyota
The Honda HR-V has evolved in some aspects in the new generation, and the main ones were the technological ones. The exception is the multimedia center (also used in the City line), which is still bad. Starting with the screen, integrated into the dashboard through a solution that is very reminiscent of a tube TV.
The media center has some bad looking buttons and the screen presentation is ugly and polluted. In these new models (City and HR-V), it was a little faster, but it still doesn’t stand out in that aspect.
My main fight was with Android Auto. In two cars I tested, City and HR-V, I couldn’t get wireless. Also, I was not successful with the wired connection.
Often, the system would disconnect by itself. This in the two cars tested. I had to stop the car a few times to reconnect and reprogram Waze. But the problem recurred. Finally, give up using what should be an ease.
Toyota’s multimedia center shares most of Honda’s system problems, especially in the Corolla line – sedan and SUV Cross. Aesthetically, it has an ugly presentation.
Too simple, it also doesn’t compare to the best when it comes to speed in usability. At least it’s intuitive.
Want to read more about the automotive world and talk to us about it? Join our Facebook group! A place for discussion, information and exchange of experiences among car lovers. You can also follow our coverage on Instagram of UOL Cars.