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Car Infotainment System Guide

2021 Ford Bronco SYNC 4

Car Brands With the Best Infotainment Systems in 2021

Modern cars are packed with all kinds of high-tech convenience and safety features, and infotainment systems have been a key area of focus. Screens have gotten larger, new features have been added, and smart assistants have been introduced.

The infotainment systems below are all attractive and intuitive. We’ve split up our list by affordable and luxury automakers, and then listed each system alphabetically.

Best Infotainment Systems

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SYNC 4

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SYNC 4 / Photo Credit: Ford

Ford SYNC 4

Ford’s SYNC infotainment system wasn’t always good. The first few iterations of the system were infuriating to use. With the introduction of SYNC 4, the automaker has made a lot of progress.

The latest and greatest infotainment system can be found on the Ford Mustang Mach-E, F-150, Bronco, and F-150 Lightning. SYNC 4 is offered with both 8-inch and 15.5-inch touchscreens, with the latter being oriented vertically. Beyond featuring a massive touchscreen, SYNC 4 brings cloud-based connectivity, natural voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and over-the-air updates.

In addition to featuring a snappy response time and cool graphics, SYNC 4 is smart. It will learn where you go and what you like, so it can customize your driving experience. SYNC 4 learns what radio stations you listen to and who you call.

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Shopping for a Used Ford?

If you’re looking to get SYNC 4 with a Ford, you’re going to have to go with a new vehicle. While Ford is starting to expand the list of vehicles that come with SYNC 4, most of the automaker’s other new vehicles continue to come with SYNC 3. By no means is SYNC 3 bad, it’s just that SYNC 4 is a massive step up.

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2022 Sorento PHEV UVO

2022 Sorento PHEV UVO / Photo Credit: Kia

Hyundai/Kia UVO/Genesis

If there’s one good thing about having one automaker that has multiple other brands under its umbrella, it’s that all of the automakers share similar infotainment systems. That’s the case with Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis.

Unlike other systems on the market, the ones found in Genesis, Hyundai, and Kia’s vehicles are straightforward and have clear menus. While the graphics aren’t very impressive and the standard 8-inch touchscreen on lower Hyundais and Kias isn’t anything to brag about, the available 10.25-inch touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster provide clear information. Additionally, the South Korean automakers continue to be trailblazers, being some of the first to offer new tech features, like wireless smartphone compatibility and Amazon Alexa integration.

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Shopping for a Used Kia, Hyundai, or Genesis?

Infotainment features vary by make and model. Genesis is in the middle of introducing redesigned and all-new models, so any vehicle besides the pre-2022 G70 will come with the automaker’s latest technology.

Kia saves its 12.3-inch touchscreen for larger vehicles like the Carnival, K900, and Cadenza. When it comes to Hyundai, the largest touchscreen the brand offers is a 10.25-inch unit on vehicles like the Sonata, Santa Fe, Tucson, and Palisade. A few vehicles can also be equipped with a 12.3-inch or a 10.25-inch digital instrument display.

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2021 Mazda CX-5 Mazda Connect

2021 Mazda CX-5 Mazda Connect / Photo Credit: Mazda

Mazda Connect

Unlike the systems found in cars from most other automakers, Mazda’s infotainment system can’t be controlled by touch. Instead, users control the system using a rotary knob. It’s not as intuitive as a touchscreen, but it’s one of the better rotary knob systems on the market. The dial operates smoothly and is in an easy-to-access location by the shift knob, while intuitive buttons provide a quicker way to access the home screen and audio stations.

Mazda Connect also has simple menus and crisp graphics. In the world of affordable vehicles, Mazda’s infotainment system feels like it’s from a luxury brand. The size of the display is impressive, too, as even small vehicles come equipped with an 8.8-inch display. Larger vehicles, like the compact CX-5 and midsize CX-9, come with a standard 10.25-inch screen.

Unfortunately, while Mazda’s infotainment system has a lot of upsides, things like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t standard on all vehicles. Additionally, not all vehicles come with a WiFi hotspot. Unlike other automakers that have started to offer large screens in place of a traditional instrument cluster, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster is the largest offering on a lot of Mazdas.

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Shopping for a Used Mazda?

Mazda’s new Mazda Connect infotainment system is relatively new. While it’s found on a lot of new vehicles, a few options like the CX-3 and Mazda6 still come with the automaker’s old system. We recommend avoiding those, as they’re dated, and have old graphics and slow load times.

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2021 Ram 1500 Uconnect

2021 Ram 1500 Uconnect / Photo Credit: Stellantis

Stellantis Uconnect

Stellantis – previously known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) – is mostly known for its high-powered V8 cars. But the automaker, which has Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Fiat, Ram, and Alfa Romeo under its umbrella, also has one of the best infotainment systems on the market.

Depending on the model, Stellantis’ Uconnect system starts off with a 5-inch touchscreen and goes up to a 12-inch unit. Stellantis fits different models with different features. Jeeps, for instance, come with helpful off-road pages, while the Dodge Charger and Challenger feature lap timers.

One of the best things about Stellantis is how customizable it is. Owners can reorganize the infotainment system’s main menu to put features that are important to them in an easy-to-access area. For anyone familiar with a smartphone, it’s similar to organizing things in widgets, but on your car. Uconnect 5 is the latest infotainment system from the automaker and brings things like wireless smartphone compatibility, Amazon Alexa integration, Bluetooth for two phones simultaneously, over-the-air updates, and more.

Research a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, or Fiat Model

Shopping for a Used Stellantis vehicle?

Uconnect 5 made its debut on the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica before it was rolled out on the 2021 Dodge Durango and 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. Eventually, all of Stellantis’ vehicles will come with Uconnect 5. Models on the used market most likely come with an older version of Uconnect, which is still great.

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Best Luxury Infotainment Systems

2021 Audi A4 MMI

2021 Audi A4 MMI / Photo Credit: Audi

Audi MMI

To stand out against nearly every other automaker in the industry, Audi’s latest version of its Multi Media Interface (MMI) includes two large touchscreens, replacing the need for any physical buttons. On most vehicles, the top screen handles the regular infotainment system, while the lower touchscreen is used for climate controls and other convenience features.

Audi’s infotainment system is straightforward, reacts quickly to inputs, and is handsomely designed. To make the screens easier to use, the screens are slightly canted toward the driver. They’re also angled slightly to decrease glare. To make sure users don’t hit the wrong button, the touchscreens have haptic feedback, meaning that there’s a vibration when the screen is touched.

One of Audi’s best infotainment features is its Virtual Cockpit system. The system is optional on smaller, more affordable vehicles and standard on a lot of Audi’s larger cars. The system provides users the ability to have a lot of the information from the infotainment screen be displayed in the instrument cluster. It’s a highly customizable system that puts important information in front of the driver.

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Shopping for a Used Audi?

Audi’s MMI and Virtual Cockpit systems have been available for a few years, so you should be able to find a used Audi with both systems. Screen sizes for MMI range from 7 inches up to 10.1 inches. Vehicles with Audi’s dual-screen system come with a 10.1-inch touchscreen and an 8.6-inch touchscreen. Virtual Cockpit, for the most part, includes a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.

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The New BMW iDrive 8 and iX

The New BMW iDrive 8 and iX / Photo Credit: BMW

BMW iDrive

BMW was one of the first automakers to come out with an all-encompassing infotainment system like the ones found in modern cars. While the first few iterations of iDrive were difficult to use, BMW has come a long way in making its iDrive system more intuitive. BMW’s infotainment system also offers some customization to get specific information.

One of the highlights of iDrive is wireless Apple CarPlay, which first came out in 2016. Android users have had to wait quite a few years to get the same feature, but the latest iDrive 7 system brings wireless compatibility for Android Auto.

You’ll also find crisp graphics, well-laid-out menus, and the seamless integration of iDrive in the vehicle’s digital gauge cluster and head-up display to be a nice touch. Just like a few other automakers, BMW offers users a few ways to interact with iDrive. Most vehicles come with large touchscreens, but users can also use a rotary controller and gesture controls. The latter can be tricky to get used to, but feels like a futuristic feature.

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Shopping for a Used BMW?

BMW’s iDrive 7 system is a relatively new feature found on the majority of the automaker’s vehicles. Screen sizes for iDrive 7 measure 8.8-inches up to 12.3 inches and can also be paired with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Since the Toyota GR Supra shares a lot of components with the BMW Z4, Toyota’s version of the sports car comes with BMW’s infotainment system.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC MBUX

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC MBUX / Photo Credit: Mercedes

Mercedes-Benz MBUX

Mercedes-Benz has always been known for cutting-edge tech features and lavish interiors, but the automaker’s new MBUX system, which stands for Mercedes-Benz User Experience, made its debut on the most affordable Mercedes – the A-Class. Previous infotainment systems from Mercedes weren’t that helpful, but MBUX is.

One of MBUX’s headlining features is its virtual assistant that responds to natural commands. All someone has to say is, “Hey Mercedes,” along with a command. The assistant can handle more than just car-related tasks, but can answer random questions, like naming capitals of countries around the world.

Unlike other infotainment systems that lock you into using one input method to control the main infotainment screen, MBUX can be controlled through multiple methods. The system includes a touchscreen, a touchpad, and a pair of small touchpads on the steering wheel. Also, MBUX boasts heavily customizable gauges, augmented reality navigation, crips displays, and quick response times in a gorgeous package.

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Shopping for a Used Mercedes-Benz?

MBUX is relatively new, though it’s available on nearly all of the automaker’s vehicles. The C-Class and AMG GT are two of the few vehicles that don’t come with MBUX. Screen sizes range from 7 inches to 12.3 inches.

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Volvo Sensus

Volvo Sensus / Photo Credit: Volvo

Volvo Sensus

Volvo does things a little differently than other automakers. Focusing on safe, comfortable vehicles, Volvo has also emphasized having an easy-to-use infotainment system that puts simplicity first. Mimicking a similar layout to your smartphone, Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system has a clear layout that puts important things in easy-to-access places.

Every Volvo comes with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while navigation, wireless charging, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display are available. The digital instrument cluster can be used to display navigation and offers a little bit of customization for ease of use.

The Sensus infotainment system can be slow to respond to inputs at startup, but quickly gets up to speed. Without any physical buttons, users are required to use the infotainment system to handle all of the car’s controls, but intuitive menus make things easy to access.

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Shopping for a Used Volvo?

Volvo has been working on its Sensus infotainment system for many years, but newer vehicles come with more high-tech versions that offer more advanced features and can be found throughout the automaker’s entire lineup. All Volvos come with a 9-inch touchscreen as standard.

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Next Steps

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