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Suzuki Adds Standard Garmin Navigation to SX

One of the highest demanded in-car technology features these days is a navigation system. Originally, these were in-car hard-wired systems that were somewhat clumsy to use and required expensive annual updates to keep them current. Recently, portable hand-held units from Garmin, TomTom, Magellan and others have given consumers the option of having a navigation system that is much less expensive than the hard-wired system, and still can be used out of the vehicle or with other vehicles.
Over the past couple of years, these portable systems have been making in-roads on the fixed systems found in many cars. Where a typical in-car system would cost $1,995 (as the new Ford SIRIUS-SYNC-NAV system does), capable portable NAV unit can be had for under $500.

Suzuki Garmin VehicleVoice.jpg

Suzuki, rightly in our mind, has adopted a strategy that has the best of both worlds and approaches the holy grail we have been seeking for the past decade… more on that later. Anyway, Suzuki will have a Garmin NAV system standard in its 2009 SX4 sedan. This is a first in the compact class of cars. And the collaboration between Suzuki and Garmin has resulted in a pretty slick system. The NAV unit is similar to the familiar Garmin NUVI 700 unit and has a 4.3-inch screen. It plugs into a flip up lid atop the instrument panel and syncs with the audio system. As all Garmin units this one is touch screen and you input destinations just by tapping the screen. While the screen is not the huge 8.5-inches found in some OEM systems, the Suzuki/Garmin system is plenty big enough for most things.
Hats off to Suzuki for being first to the market with an innovative and cost effective way to get NAV into the hands of buyers of less expensive cars.
Now, about the holy grail. Since AutoPacific began conducting consumer research on navigation systems and telematics over a decade ago, it became obvious that the logical solution would be some sort of super PDA or iPod that would be personalized to the driver. The car would be the receptacle and the iPod-esque device would carry music, navigation, personalized vehicle settings, address book, telephone, bluetooth, etc. All that stuff that is becoming an integral part of our 21st century lifestyle. Because all of those things change rapidly, they are not ideal for hard-wiring in a car or truck. We know the industry is working on solutions like this. Just taking too long.
• • • • • Garmin’s Press Release Can Be Found Below the Fold • • • • •

April 28, 2008
Garmin® Navigation to Be Standard Equipment in Suzuki SX4
OLATHE, Kan./April 28, 2008/PR Newswire —Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, announced today that it would provide an integrated navigation system for the new 2009 Suzuki SX4 as standard equipment. The program marks the first time in America that a vehicle under $16,000 will include GPS navigation as a standard feature.
“We’re delighted to work with Suzuki to make Garmin navigation standard equipment on the Suzuki SX4,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “The device includes a fully integrated mount that allows for elegant mounting inside the vehicle, but also makes it easy-to-remove for adventures on foot. And Suzuki has customized it with its own set of fun and useful destinations and points of interest.”
Based on Garmin’s popular nüvi 700 series of premium navigators, the Suzuki T.R.I.P. (Travel, Real-time traffic, Information and Play) system has maps of North America pre-loaded, and has a bright 4.3-inch touchscreen display with nearly six million points of interest (POI) – places like restaurants, hotels, ATM machines, and more.
While a base version of the navigation system will be included on these vehicles as standard equipment, users can upgrade to a premium navigation device with the SX4’s upgrade package. This enhanced navigator includes next-generation dynamic content from the MSN Direct network, including up-to-date traffic information, fuel prices, and weather reports. The system also offers news and stock market information, local events, movie listings, and the ability to plan trips and look up destinations on a computer and then wirelessly send them to the device. Owners can pair most Bluetooth-enabled phones with the device, for hands-free calling.
The system is also uniquely integrated into the SX4’s audio system. Drivers can listen to the radio or CD player, and the audio will automatically lower when their navigation device gives a voice prompt or when there’s an incoming Bluetooth-enabled phone call. Furthermore, the MSN Direct antenna is seamlessly integrated into the vehicle’s existing antenna, and it continuously is collecting the most up-to-date data.
Suzuki is enhancing the unit’s POI database by adding a number of lifestyle-oriented, Suzuki-recommended destinations and landmarks to the system. These locations include hip music venues, popular surf spots, offbeat road trip attractions and other activity-focused destinations that are clearly marked with a Suzuki “Way of Life” icon on the navigation screen. A dedicated community site will also be launched to support the sharing and downloading of user-generated recommendations for destinations and drive routes among Suzuki SX4 owners.
2009 Suzuki SX4 models are scheduled to arrive in dealer showrooms this summer.

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