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Aaron Gold

Navigation update — how much???

By October 25, 2010

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Honda navigation systemI had other stuff to talk about today, but this weekend I got a letter from NAVTEQ, the folks who make the maps for my long-term Honda Insight's navigation system, inviting me to purchase the 2011 map update.

"Updating your map is simple, affordable, and will help keep your navigation system working efficiently," the letter said. And then I saw the price: $185.

One hundred eighty five dollars.

I just about choked on my toast.

I've always been a big fan of built-in nav systems. Yes, they are more expensive than aftermarket, but I always figured it was worth it to have the system integrated into the car. But $185 to upgrade the maps? What are they smoking? For that price, I can buy a Garmin or Tom Tom system with more features (including real-time traffic, speed limit displays, and free map updates) and better functionality, and still have enough change left over for two weeks' worth of gasoline. And I'm supposed to update the maps every year?

I have to be honest, the price of updating the maps on a built-in GPS system is something I've never put much thought into, but now that I've seen the price, it's changed my thinking about built-in navigation. Until the automakers and the map providers lower their price, I'm thinking that third-party nav is the way to go. -- Aaron Gold

Photo © Aaron Gold

October 25, 2010 at 6:12 am
(1) Eric says:

This is exactly the reason I didn’t get the built in navigation for our Pacifica in 2004. First, you pay 2-3 times what an aftermarket device costs for the in-dash factory unit. Then, you have to pay an exorbitant amount of money annually or so to keep it really current. This is how the vendor manufacturer makes it’s money, much like how dealer service centers are the money makers for the dealerships. On top of that, depending on manufacturer, you have to deal with figuring out how to make the danged thing work, which from what I’ve read, can vary from simple, to ‘Engineering Degree’ complicated. I’m sure each of them are different, and prices will vary, but it seems to me that the real value in Nav systems is in the aftermarket.

The other plus with the aftermarket devices is that they can be used in more than one vehicle. I could take my Garmin NAV system out of my 06 Ford and use it just as effectively in my 66 Dodge. Personally, I prefer to spend my money elsewhere and use the old school method. Roadmaps. I realize they aren’t as environmentally friendly as digits because they require paper, but I also celebrate Earth Day by burning a tire.

I will NEVER spend money for a factory NAV system. EVER!! In my opinion, they’re nothing more than an overpriced money making gimmick for the manufactuers.

October 25, 2010 at 8:17 am
(2) hunter1968 says:

Actually, if you think about it… the OEM’s should make Navigation standard or at a nominal cost. Most everyone would buy it or have it. Then insert the $185 cost to update your map. The OEM’s would definately be further ahead at that time. Sorry, in short I agree, thats ludicris especially after that $1500+ option!

That would leave a seriously bad taste in my mouth for Honda after that.

October 25, 2010 at 8:57 am
(3) Gary G. says:

Try $250 to update Toyota or Lexus. There are downloadable updates if you want try & burn an update disk yourself, but it is not easy.

October 25, 2010 at 9:17 am
(4) Mick says:

I’ll never pay extra for in-dash nav. Just isn’t worth it. Yes, its cheaper to buy a smaller portable nav system. I was actually really close to buying a Garmin. But after I bought a Droid, I realized using the included navigation through Google Maps is so much easier, and saved money on both counts…plus I always have it with me. I’m not necessarily saying a smart phone is the way to go, but anything to avoid the annoying (and sometimes ugly and unusable) dash units is the right choice.

October 25, 2010 at 9:32 am
(5) Eric in FL says:

Often refurb gps’s are cheaper than buying the map update. My gps map update is $80. Newer refurb w/ more features is $50. Go figure.

October 25, 2010 at 9:34 am
(6) Keith says:

I agree. We had factory Navigation on a Toyota and then traded for a car that didn’t have Navigation. We bought a Garmin and it is much better for much less than the price you are talking about to stay current. These guys are smoking crack:)

October 25, 2010 at 10:24 am
(7) Steve in GA says:

Mick is definitely on the right track. Smartphones are going to make both integrated $2,000 navigation systems and Garmin/Tom-Tom dash-top type GPS units look as obsolete as 8-track tape players.

Today’s Android smartphones with the free Google navigation app will give you turn-by-turn directions, and the Google maps they use are always the most recent version. That’s right; the map updates are free, too.

The only technology currently on the horizon that may give smartphones some competition in navigation are the in-car systems like Ford’s Sync and GM’s On-Star. The newest versions of these systems can and do give you navigation capability, but I can’t imagine that either Ford or GM would offer navigation service for free long-term.

October 25, 2010 at 10:40 am
(8) ANT says:

Yes if you are not looking at the advanced features that some car offers when integrated with accurate map data, then latest phones seem to be a good bet.

Nokia’s GPS enabled phones come with MAP Data downloadable for free on the device, so you dont even spend on the data costs incurred in transferring map data from google on your mobile handset.

However companies like BMW, Audi etc. do have some neat features that make use of the integrated MAP data that seems like a thing out of sci-fi movies. How about automatic light beam shifting based on road curvature (available from map data). Refined transmission based on road slope, and alerts to drivers based on signal, intersection location information.

October 25, 2010 at 10:56 am
(9) db says:

There are aftermarket Chinese made (what isn’t?) in dash GPS/sound systems for under $1000 that will run on their own software, Garmin or Tom-Tom maps so you can update their maps as inexpensively as a handhelds map.

I have seen pictures of ones people on the Prius forum have installed. They look factory and owners report good performance.

Here is one thread about some. There are more brands.

October 25, 2010 at 11:30 am
(10) Andrew Silver says:

Completely agree. And the $185 doesn’t include the shipping or tax – so you’re over $200 all in.

I decided to upgrade my 2006 Honda Odyssey Nav for $185 last year (2010), and then sold the original Nav disk on ebay – surprised how much I got, somewhere around $50.

In the end my records show the Nav update cost me $172.06 (cost of the new one minus sale of the old including fees).

I hope I will get back around half the value when I sell the car.

But still pisses me off. I haven’t updated my 2007 Toyota Prius Nav disk – it’s even more expensive.

October 25, 2010 at 11:45 am
(11) ChrisF says:

I’ve always been of the opinion that the more electronic gadgetry that comes with your car, the more it’s going to cost you in the long run. This is just an example of that.

On a recent trip out of state, my wife’s Android smartphone guided us everywhere we needed to go with both visual and verbal information. Between that, and a paper map for backup, I really don’t see the need (or benefit) of a built-in nav system.

October 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm
(12) Destruct says:

You folks are still missing a key point about upgrades. When the software is upgraded and they charge you $!50 to $250, you may not get ANY changes to data for yout driving area.

Last upgrade I did for my Lexus cost $285, and I saw no improvment which benefitted me. That was after spending $5500 for NAV and sound system originally.

However, I hate the tacky add-on GPS’s.

October 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm
(13) DFI says:

I have never paid for an integrated Nav system on any of my vehicles and I never will. Though I’m attracted to the tight integration, they lack usability (car designers don’t know squat about software UI design), are way too expensive (this news about having to pay for updates every year on top just pours salt in the wound), and most of the time they are far less accurate than retail boxes.
With all the cheap and portable options out there including the smartphone apps (I use my iPhone and there are quite a number of good apps beyond the included google maps); I just don’t see the need to ever fork over the $1500 up charge to the dealer for inferior product.
The problem that I have with some car manufacturers is they are starting to offer technology packages so if you want that $300 backup camera option you are forced to include the $1500 nav system you don’t want or need. That becomes a HUGE deciding factor for me when car shopping.

October 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm
(14) Eric says:


For the nearly $6000 you paid for your in-dash nav system plus the upgrade, I can live with a tacky add-on system.

I don’t need the backup camera either. That means that I’m looking at a small, tunnel-visioned aspect viewer in my dashboard instead of where I should be looking while I’m backing up: in my mirrors and out my back window. These things, I fear, will become as much of a crutch for some folks as 4WD/AWD has become in the snow belt, with just as dire of consequences.

October 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm
(15) Tom D says:

We have a Chrysler T&C van with nav system. They wanted over $200 for a new “disk” to plug in the nav system. What a crock! And the automakers went into bankruptcy – go figure! Perhaps they really have large portfolios of Garmin or TomTom stock.

October 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm
(16) Hawaiian Don says:

I use a TOM TOM. I keep it in the center console, never on the windshield since my hearing is fine and I’m well trained by my wife in taking verbal instructions! Like a Smart phone it is portable from car to car and mostly I dig the British gal’s voice.

October 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm
(17) Dave says:

There are three members in our family, with three cars, and everyone has their own (several year old) GPS.

Our GPS units sometime tell us to upgrade the maps, but overall what we have works fine, so why spend the $80. Since we all have Garmins, one year I decided to buy the upgrade, figuring that I could install it on all three units, wrong! As if that wasn’t bad enough, after I had installed the upgrade on one unit we couldn’t see any difference from the older maps, it still misdirected us at the same places.

Whenever any of us travel, either in a friend’s car or on a longer trip we pull the GPS out of the car and have a portable stand that we use with rental cars and other vehicles.

No one in my family could do without their GPS.

October 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm
(18) Matt B. says:

I have an 07 Accord and have thought about purchasing the update dvd but the rent is too damn high. it would be nice to have the updated map data and other info that comes with it but with the free google map navigation app for android i just don’t need it. and i think i checked last year to see if they offered the previous year’s disc for a discount and i think they did but it was still over $100. no thanks.

October 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm
(19) MrVee says:

I have a built-in nav system in my 2005 Murano (bought used). Some local areas developed in the last five years are not fully represented but none of the cities have moved so I can still get around California quite well with the help of the system and AAA paper maps. I don’t plan to update it. My AT&T Blackberry has nav-ability, but the screen is too small for use when driving. I also have a Garmin portable, for use in rental cars. It’s three years old, no need to update, but when that time comes it shouldn’t be too expensive to buy a new one. I just wish the voice wasn’t so artificial and harsh: “RECALCULATING!!” Sounds like a Dalek…

October 30, 2010 at 7:21 pm
(20) Gilbert says:

I use my Samsung Captivate Android phone too with Google Maps and Nav. Just remember, that you must have access to your cell phone carrier’s data when you acess Google Maps and Navigate — they are NOT GPS only. Without a data signal, they are not accessible. Garmin, Tom Tom, etc. as well as built-in nav systems do not need a data signal to access their maps.

November 5, 2010 at 2:35 am
(21) Jay says:

I bought a new Honda insight 2010 at Lisle Honda. A week later I noticed the GPS software is very old, should be more than 3 years old. I called the dealer, he asked me contact Honda. I called Honda, CSR keep on telling the Navigation comes with everything whatever they installed at manufacturing shop, mentioned ‘there is a new software available and you can buy’. If I drive on I-55/I-355, it gives wrong direction for I-55 north. Brand new car coming with wrong software might cause accidents, transportation department should not allow to sell new car with old GPS software. If a new software is available with in 3 months from the selling date then they should provide free update.

February 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm
(22) Brian says:

I think this is a total scam.I own a Dodge Daytona RT and it has NAV.But I wanted the upgraded touch screen radio which automaticly comes with NAV.200$ to upgade software is ??????? nuts.But those cheap add ons are not only an eyesore but they also attract theives.There is got to be a way to upgrade the NAV for less then 200$ and when I find it I will pass it on to others.These days with the economy that way it is that price is complete exstorsion.Car companies got the bailout from the goverment,why should we the cosumers have to help make them all rich again!!!!I didn’t get any bailout,what about you!!!

January 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm
(23) judy says:

I have a 12 year old Nav. in my Acura MDX. Have never gotten an update and have had only a handful of times where maybe a fwy offramp or light has changed. Would never spend the money for the update. In two of my older cars I have a portable Tom Tom and Garmin. But I will still spend the money for an installed GPS on my primary car. There is still an ease and convenience that I really do like and over the life of the car, I am willing to spend it.

July 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm
(24) mee88 says:

It is now summer of 2012. You people are missing the point of a factory GPS/Nav system. On my 2012 Toyota Sienna, the GPS/Nav cost me $1700, but what you pay is what you get.

1 – Bigger screen as opposed to a 4.3″ Garmin or smaller
2 – In car speakers playback for clearer and better voice sound
3 – Bluetooth integration for ease of use and convenience
4 – Backup camera integration is almost a must on a mini-van
5 – Nicer dash looking
6 – Resale value, if I keep the car for 7+ yrs, I will get back at least $700
7 – Push button start / keyless start and doors included in the package
8 – Other apps included (Entune) – bing, Pandora, Movie Tickets, etc.
9 – Convenience
10 – HD Radio vs analog
11 – Chrome door handles as part of the Nav package

Now you decide…

September 6, 2012 at 11:56 am
(25) S.S. says:

My family has three vehicles with three varieties of built-in navigation systems:
● Lexus
● Infiniti / NavTeq
● GM OnStar Turn-By-Turn Navigation

In 2012, it is clearly less advantageous to have a built-in system. Now there are free iPhone applications such as MapQuest that provide readable and useful screen directions and voice instructions that can be piped through your vehicle’s audio system.

Most late model vehicles accommodate cradles and connections for smart phones (especially the i… variety), so unsightly cables and the stigma of an add-on are no longer concerns. An integrated iPhone is TRULY integrated; when listening to your tunes via the audio system, the music volume is reduced when navigation instructions are given, and likewise when the phone rings. You now have all the benefits of a built-in (sound quality and volume, articulate and natural sounding voice instructions, pleasant appearance, etc.) with the convenience of portability and free updates.

September 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm
(26) SportyDog says:

After reading most of the comments about cost for the Auto Nav systems and the Purchase of Garmin or Tom Tom’s, I am surprised no one mention the purchase of LIFE TIME UPDATES for the Garmin. Which were available from Amazon .com for about $80.

November 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm
(27) Anti-Dealership says:

Mee88 completely missed the point of this article. Mee88 is trying to justify his purchase of the Navigation system; completely irrelevant. We’re talking updates here, not original purchase option.

The year is 2012; I’m not about to pay $189 to my dealership, or $150 to Navteq for a new set of maps.

For that price I could easily get a 5″ Garmin / TomTom stand-alone unit, that is more versatile and portable if need be. By the way Mee88, you can crank up the Garmin volume no problem. Also, most units these days include free lifetime map updates. Now there’s the kicker.

I also much prefer the view of Garmin’s screens over my navigation map display.

I’m not saying I don’t like my Navigation system, far from it. It’s great to play around with the ‘Trip Computer’ to see how accurate the average mpg figures are, and so on. It’s also nifty for controlling your radio or manual controls for the auto climate control.

Necessary? Absolutely not AND in retrospect, I would not bother purchasing a Navigation system again. It’s just not needed.

December 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm
(28) cdonahu says:

I was driving through utah in my 2007 Ford Expedition and I noticed the Navteq system in dash that was part of a 2500 upgrade back then, had the exit numbers off by 2 numbers. Same problem coming back and I rebooted the route many times.

I went on line to find a number to call. Called Naveteq and they saide they had a deal on upgrades or update CD.

$199. right now in December 2012.

really. 200 bucks for a CD??? that add 2% to my maps.

I asked how many roads they thought were built after 2008 crash to now and

not many. So $200 for a CD to fix a mistake on my system??? I think not

I can get the Iphone upgrade on my plan for that and that new ap that points pout every historical landmark along the way for free.

What a crok of baloney

They havent even upgraded the voice they said.

to coin a phrase “you have arrived at your destination, route guidance is now finished.”

What a scam

July 1, 2013 at 7:43 pm
(29) DanD says:

July 2013. Just asked Hyundai to upgrade my navigation system on my 2010 Genis and was told the “data” would be 199 and 300 dollars for the technician to install it. ????? That’s outrageous, so declined the “offer”.

August 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm
(30) scott h says:

Just had this same thing, called ford to see how much it would be to upgrade the maps on my 2009 escape with built in navigation 199.00!!

That is crazy. Garmin give you upgrades for life for 89 bucks on my Nuvi I use when I am traveling.

Seriously, this just had a major impact on my likelihood of purchasing fancy navigation systems going forward.

Auto companies really missed the boat on this one. Ford, you should be ashamed of yourself.

October 11, 2013 at 11:09 am
(31) CT says:

The cost to update the dealer installed gps is outrageous. I called Toyota and was told $200.00 I figure they must be crazy, so I bought a portable unit for about $79.00. It came with free traffic and map updates for life.

October 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm
(32) Leo Bennett says:

I agree with some comments. I much rather use my smartphone with the turn by turn diections but the thing is where I live if I get out of cell coverage im screwed my phone does not work

January 26, 2014 at 6:25 am
(33) dream acr says:

You on Twitter or Google+? Would really like keep
in the loop with your latest articles or videos.

February 8, 2014 at 1:54 am
(34) Ed says:

Guys, if you own an Iphone (like I do), there is an app called NAVFREE that doesn’t need internet connection to give you directions! so if you don’t have 3G, you can still use it ! and, as the name says, IT IS FREE !

just as a side note, you DO need internet to search for the address, but if you plan you trip in advance (like I do), you can save all the addresses in the favourites tab before leaving home, and then just load them once you decide to go there.

I am quite sure this app also exists for android as well.

March 27, 2014 at 11:56 am
(35) Ada Davis says:

To expensive to keep updates. The disc was missing when we purchased the car. Now they are asking $300.00 for a new disc. I think for that amount we pay for the car they should have received a disc in the vehicle and we wouldn’t have to purchase one for the car. Or it should of had the Disc in the vehicle.

April 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm
(36) Mike says:

I bought a Garmin 3 yrs ago for $180.00 and it came with a lifetime map and traffic update with 5″ screen I can take out of my car and put in another one and has a case, never have to pay for updates again, only if the built in navigations were like that or have an option of spending $100 or $200 for LIFETIME updates as long as you own your vehicle then I would

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