MyGIG: Chrysler Puts a Hard Drive in the 2007 Sebring21
Chrysler launches an all-new Sebring this fall and among the new options is a hard-drive navigation system. Other all-new cars with similar systems this fall include Mitsubishi Outlander (see image) and Lexus LS460/460L. Using a hard-drive navigation system, versus DVD or the old CD systems, gets faster navigation recalculation and better graphics and interfaces. But these systems bring an even more fun feature: The ability to store and play audio files from the hard drive. It’s like having a permanent iPod in your car; being a relative newcomer to the iPod world, I’m still enamored of almost all things iPod. All three vehicles arrive in dealers in October and November 2006. MyGIG gets a late introduction, but Chrysler expects availability by the end of 2006.
On behalf of VehicleVoice and AutoPacific, I was among the journalists and analysts with the opportunity to participate in a backgrounder and first-drive opportunity for Sebring (more later this month on the driving impressions). MyGIG first goes in Sebring, followed by Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Nitro. Availability will spread to other Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models as they are updated and this is the future of Chrysler’s navigation/audio systems.
The beauty of MyGIG is its integration of features offered independently on other models. MyGIG integrates Sirius radio, UConnect Bluetooth capability, the navigation system, the 20GB hard drive, a USB 2.0 port, and an auxiliary jack for MP3 players. Operation is by voice controls or touch screen. It offers real-time traffic information and can re-route a destination based on that information, depending on preferences set by the driver. Chrysler is not first on the scene with these features, but MyGIG integration takes a significant step forward in performance and affordability. It also pulls Chrysler out of the also-rans into the lead in this department, as their prior GPS navigation was weak at best.
MyGIG: Central Command
MyGIG has been developed for the Chrysler Group by harmon/kardon. The heart of the MyGIG system is its hard drive, but its brain is the head unit that integrates previously independent functions. The various components are refined and integrated for faster, seamless operation. From the head unit, control of all audio sources (in-dash CD/DVD player, Sirius radio, audio from hard drive, or external MP3 player), UConnect voice and hands-free phone operation, and navigation and map control. The head unit is also home to the USB port and auxiliary jack; MyGIG will play DVDs if the car is in park and can control the optional rear-seat entertainment system, too.
We haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the real-time traffic function, but the navigation graphics are crisp and clear. A 3D view, similar to Nissan’s bird’s-eye view, is available as well as 2D. The Sirius radio includes two tuners, one dedicated to getting real-time traffic information broadcast by Sirius. The navigation system uses that data for adjusting routes when necessary.
20GB for Music, Maps, and Pictures
Like most hard-drive navigation systems, the bulk of MyGIG’s available memory goes to navigation. There is about 6.5GB dedicated to storing audio and picture files. Chrysler expects you can get about 1600 songs onto MyGIG. Eight photos can be posted and used as screen savers and background images. Photos are downloaded to the system through the USB port; MyGIG automatically scales them to the right size.
Music is loaded through the CD slot or the USB port. The CD slot plays CD or DVD audio, or MP3 files, and CD/DVD audio files can be saved to the hard drive. The USB port allows for downloading MP3s and photos, though it is a one-way street because of copyright infringement concerns. iPod and MP3 players can be plugged into the standard auxiliary jack, but music cannot be transferred from iPod to the car.
MyGIG uses the Gracenotes database to identify and tag music, once it is downloaded. Then you have the same kinds of choices as on an iPod. You can play from playlists (created in the system), by genre, by album, and by artist. MyGIG also has a Jukebox function. The Jukebox function allows you to pull up to twelve of your downloaded albums into one area and play that group in particular, mimicking the behavior of a twelve-CD changer. The Jukebox list can be changed easily.
Chrysler was not specific about how the issue would be managed, but the Gracenotes database does need to be manually updated from time to time, as will the maps used by the navigation system. Unlike your desktop computer, where systems like Gracenotes, iTunes, and MapQuest access internet-housed databases that are always updated, MyGIG cannot connect to the internet.
And Here it Is…The Price
MyGIG gets a price tag of about $1700. This is terrific for the options it bundles and a low-to-average price for navigation systems in general. Sirius can be ordered without MyGIG for $195, as can UConnect ($360 on the base model, $275 on Limited), but the MyGIG bundle is the only way to get navigation. The outgoing Sebring demanded $1725 for a lesser navigation system, and you still had to pony up $195 for Sirius and $275 for UConnect.
MyGIG gets more functionality (upgraded navigation, voice and touch-screen controls, the hard-drive audio storage) and includes more features for $500 less than ordering navigation, Sirius, and UConnect last year. Outside Chrysler, Honda asks about $2000 for navigation- and XM-equipped Accords and Toyota a whopping $2200 for navigation, $299 for Bluetooth, and $449 for Sirius on Camry. Honda’s and Toyota’s navigation screens and graphics are better, but the MyGIG system is good quality by any measure.
This is rare, when it is easy to see that combining equipment and streamlining systems has resulted in cost savings passed on to the consumer. For $1700 you get a feature-packed, easy-to-use navigation/audio hard drive system. Ordering MyGIG is like getting an iPod Nano hooked to your car for free.