Cars aren’t just utilitarian machines to get you from A to B. Spending a good amount of your daily life in a car, you want it to be more than that – you want it to keep you comfortable, keep you entertained, keep you on track and keep you safe.
That’s why, when looking for your next car to lease, it’s important to augment your concerns over power and handling (which are also important, no doubt) with a look into the best infotainment systems.
Infotainment here doesn’t refer to the poppy news cycle on TV – that’s a separate and distinct use of the word. In the automotive world, it refers to the in-vehicle hardware and software responsible for the audio, visual, navigation, internet, climate control and certain safety features like parking assistance. You can think of it as anything controlled by your car’s dashboard monitor.
The best infotainment systems mix ample features with an easy-to-use interface. They push the envelope in terms of technology, without confusing the user. For baseline examples of the best infotainment the automotive industry has to offer, check out the five following systems, and try them out at your local luxury car dealership for yourself.
BMW’s iDrive has always been pretty far ahead of its time. One of the first infotainment systems to move to digital displays, and one of the first to incorporate Bluetooth and WIFI capability, this luxury system is still continuing to evolve. Proponents of the iDrive (and there are many) point to the simplicity in its design as a key reason for its popularity. It has everything you want from an infotainment system, but moving between its features is a breeze.
With MMI’s recent facelift, it entered contention for one of the finest infotainment systems out there. Eagle eyed readers (or impatient ones) may have noticed that each of the entries on this list are from German manufacturers, which wasn’t planned ahead of time. It just so happens that German engineers, especially those working for luxury brands, are getting scarily good at knowing how to integrate infotainment systems and create an intuitive experience. MMI is no different. Its virtual cockpit, a rotating navigational display, is both sleek and easy to use.
Mercedes’ COMAND – short for Cockpit Management And Data – is focused more on the “entertainment” end of the infotainment portmanteau. That’s no to say it isn’t an effective navigational and safety tool (it is), but its high quality audio and visual components are going to be what you notice first. It has a high quality (960×540) display showing off carefully rendered graphics. Its touchpad is as futuristic as it is helpful. And its manual rotary dial is a nice, tactile throwback to the infotainment systems of old.
Porsche Communication Management, or PCM, is standard equipment in all its models. As you might expect of a brand that prides itself on high end, sporty luxury, the PCM spares few expenses. It features a big, handsome display with relatively few additional gimmicks. Read more about the PCM here.
If you’re looking for a car that mixes functionality with aesthetics and entertainment, you could do way worse than the luxury brands above.