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touch screen for cars

Every car infotainment system available in 2018

Your guide to the touchscreens, connectivity options and other infotainment tech features in every new model.


Though there's a basic AM/FM/satellite radio with USB, Bluetooth and auxiliary connectivity, all BMW models can be upgraded to an infotainment system called
iDrive. Most models are controlled using a rotary jog dial on the center console, but some newer systems also offer touchscreen support. You can "write" letters and numbers atop the controller in certain models, which can be useful when inputting navigation address. Apple CarPlay is supported as a paid option (usually costing $300) but Android Auto is not offered.

The 5 Series and 7 Series offer limited gesture-recognition ability: You can twirl your finger in the air to raise or lower the volume, for instance. Other options include a Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless phone charging, depending on the car.

Modern versions of iDrive are fast, responsive and intuitive, with great functionality whether you're stopped or on the move. We just wish that BMW didn't charge extra for a feature (CarPlay) that is fast becoming standard on much more affordable mainstream models. The 2019 X5 introduces a new version of iDrive that uses a 12.3-inch touchscreen as well as a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. We'll have to wait until we have chance to drive the new X5 before we can evaluate its performance.

Depending on which Jeep you buy, different infotainment systems are available, but all offer at least 7- and 8.4-inch touchscreens with Uconnect 4, the latest version of the user-friendly infotainment system. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and has optional navigation, SiriusXM traffic and travel information. The Renegade, Compass and new Wrangler all also offer a much less impressive 5-inch touchscreen on base models, with older Uconnect 3 software that doesn't support CarPlay or Android Auto.

As on all vehicles with Uconnect, the Jeep systems listed here work very well, with bright and clear graphics, plus quick responses and simple-to-navigate menus. Using the on-screen climate controls (on vehicles with 7- or 8.4-inch displays) isn't always the smoothest experience, but Jeep does provide redundant physical buttons for most of those operations.

Kia offers 7- or 8-inch touchscreens in all its cars, with the upgraded UVO3 option featuring navigation as well as voice recognition. All of the systems feature AM/FM, Bluetooth and satellite radio, and every Kia supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Pandora internet radio. UVO telematics services, like many competitors, allow let you locate the car with an app. The 2019 K900 sedan features a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation as standard and also has a rotary controller for operating its interface.

Kia's touchscreens may not be the most feature-rich, but they, like sibling brand Hyundai's, work seamlessly and flawlessly. Though not the prettiest or most stylized, the on-screen graphics and impeccably clear and easy to use at a glance while on the road. Using CarPlay or Android Auto with the touch functionality works simply, too. The new K900's system has even smarter graphics and a revised menu structure that, we think, borrows a lot from the design of BMW iDrive -- that's not a bad thing.

Mercedes calls its infotainment system Comand, and while there are slightly different versions depending on the age and model range of each car, overall it's an excellent system to use. Operated by a rotary dial and, in some newer models, a touchpad controller, it offers navigation, Bluetooth, USB and auxilliary connectivity, as well as AM/FM/satellite radio. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported. Optional features include Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless phone charging. The Sprinter, A-Class and all future Mercedes models will use an all-new touchscreen system called MBUX. It uses 7- or 10.25-inch screens.

Comand has a logical menu structure that is simple to navigate with the rotary dial or touchpad; the latter offers some simpler shortcuts for jumping between functions on the display. The screen's graphics, especially the 12.3-inch screens on newer models like the E- and S-Class, are pretty and legible, with stylish iconographic and images yet very straightforward controls. While we need to spend more time with it, MBUX proved impressive in our test drive of a Sprinter -- though its voice controls, intended to be operated by saying, "Hey Mercedes," did not always work as intended in our early testing.

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