A few years ago, we tested a Suzuki SX4 that was equipped with a Garmin navigation system. Of course, that system consisted of a Garmin Nuvi portable navigation device that integrated with the Suzuki's stereo via a specialized cradle. That hacked-together solution was one of our first overt experiences with Garmin as an OEM automotive navigation supplier, so it's fitting that Garmin's next step is taken again with Suzuki with the announcement that the navigation provider will be supplying its first fully integrated, factory-installed infotainment system for the automaker's 2013 model year vehicles.
This is no simple navigation software module that plugs into an existing infotainment system. What Garmin is delivering to Suzuki is a full in-dash receiver with a 6.1-inch color touch screen. So, in addition to the navigation system with traffic data, the unit also includes support for connected services, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and audio playback. Available audio sources include USB and iPod connectivity, Bluetooth audio streaming, an auxiliary analog input, a CD player, AM/FM radio, and Pandora Internet Radio support when connected to a smartphone running the app. An SD card slot can be used for digital audio storage or for pushing map updates to the receiver.
Garmin is also rolling in a voice command system -- I hope it's the same the fantastic voice command system I was able to test on the Nuvi 3790T -- which will give drivers the ability to enter full addresses in one shot and access other functions, including selecting and commanding the audio source. Additionally, the Garmin's infotainment system will be able to connect to the Internet when paired with an Android smartphone via the Smartphone Link protocol that Garmin debuted at CES 2012 with the Nuvi 3590LMT GPS navigator.
Of course, because the Garmin receiver is integrated into the vehicle's systems, it will have access to, for example, vehicle speed data for more-accurate dead reckoning when GPS data is limited, and backup camera support on vehicles so-equipped.
Look for the Garmin infotainment option to start appearing on the spec sheets for 2013 model year Suzuki vehicles in the Australian, New Zealand, European, Russian, and North American markets.