BMW and Mercedes-Benz Infotainment Systems
Infotainment systems are great, aren’t they? Installed in nearly every vehicle on the market, consumers can do all kinds of things with an infotainment system. Listen to the radio, play music from a smartphone, navigate around town, make phone calls, and some can even connect to the internet or come with a dedicated app for remote control, safety, and other services. Some of these systems are unique to a brand, such as Uconnect for the FCA Group or UVO eServices for Kia Motors.
Other automakers may simply devise a system by combining multiple sub-systems or designing their own. BMW, Mitsubishi, and Mercedes-Benz are two good examples of this. For instance, Mitsubishi combined its premium available 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate premium sound system for music, a FUSE hands-free link system with Bluetooth to make phone calls, and a 3D map for navigation. BMW and Mercedes-Benz did something similar, but wrapped all of this into a nice package for each.
BMW doesn’t have a brand name infotainment system dedicated to their vehicle lineup, and so they designed an on-board system that integrates the vehicle’s main dashboard components into one central, easy-to-access system. These include: navigation, communications, and entertainment, as well as BMW Assist™ (not available in all models) and vehicle diagnostics. Seemingly always on the available touchscreen, models and trims with iDrive pre-installed* can access a number of menus in a neat, easy-to-read, and intuitive column.
Drivers can navigate through the menus using a rotary knob referred to as a “toggle controller” installed at hand level on the right side of the gear shift. The toggle controller acts like a mouse, able to move left, right, up, and down, and then clicking the center button to select a menu. Or, for quick access, there are several buttons around the controller for CD, Radio, Telephone, Navigation, plus a “Back”, “Option”, and “Menu” button.
The complete list of menus are:
CD/Multimedia – Listen to a CD or hook up an MP3 player for music. After selecting this menu, have the choice of choosing to listen to a CD/DVD, scroll through a music collection, use an external device, or adjust audio settings, such as tone.
Radio – Simple enough, select this menu to access the radio submenu. From here, consumers can choose AM, FM, the weather, presets, available Satellite Radio via SiriusXM and HD Radio, as well as adjust audio settings here.
Telephone – Access an uploaded phonebook and make hands-free phone calls via Bluetooth voice command. This submenu presents a list for currently active calls, one’s phonebook, a redial button, and a list of received calls, just like a regular mobile phone.
Navigation – Once selected, users can customize route preferences, plan a route to their destination, find and save Points of Interest, save a location for later, and find alternative routes when traffic is a little too hectic.
Contacts – Basically a phonebook, iDrive can save up to 100 addresses or phone numbers.
BMW Assist – This is an available safety plan consumers can opt-in for that will offer an extra layer of security. Active 24/7, consumers can enjoy peace of mind with an automatic collision notification service, emergency request, roadside assistance, remote services, and more.
Vehicle Info – At any time, the driver may check their vehicle diagnostics, ranging from how much fuel is left to fluid levels, a trip computer, and the condition of several components. A little neat feature for this is when equipped with BMW Assist, consumers can send vehicle status information to their nearest BMW center and make an appointment for maintenance.
Settings – Pretty straight forward, customize the iDrive settings through this menu, such as the display, time/date, language/units of measurement, etc.
The Mercedes-Benz COMAND system is a bit of a collection of features, similar to the BMW setup. Available with a rotary knob/toggle controller and a few buttons, consumers can navigate through ten menus displayed on the touchscreen. Presumably, this system is also available at all times. The main focus of the COMAND system is navigation, and many of the tutorial videos on the COMAND system on the BMW website focus on navigation.
Like the BMW iDrive, Mercedes-Benz COMAND has several menus, each with a possible selection of submenus. There is little information on many of the main menus due to navigation dominating the tutorial videos, but the list of main menus available are as follows:
Navigation – Enter a destination, find Points of Interest, receive guidance for traffic, and look at the map.
Audio – Listen to music via a CD, external device, or the radio.
Phone – Make hands-free phone calls via Bluetooth with voice command.
Video – The COMAND tutorial videos do not cover this menu.
System – In other words, the settings menu of the system. Toggle on/off the display, text reader speed, voice control, the 360-degree camera, language settings, and Bluetooth.
Radio – Listen to the radio.
Presets – Select a preset for a favorite radio station.
Info – Check vehicle diagnostics info.
FM – Listen to FM radio.
Sound – Adjust audio settings, such as Treble, Bass, Balance/Fade, and Surround Sound.
Mercedes debuted a new infotainment system that will most likely trump this system altogether. Presented at CES 2018, a new infotainment called “MBUX” will come standard on the next A-class series of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
This is a quick look at the two above systems and the features they offer. Interested in learning more? Test drive a BMW or Mercedes-Benz today at Drivers Automart.