Car and Truck Voice Command Navigation. 16 Systems Tested, Only 6 Work.

Can a vehicle's voice command system direct us to our favorite sandwich shop?

Voice Command Navigation
The benchmark result desired for TFL’s Voice Command Navigation test. (TFL)

At TFL, our go-to test for a vehicle’s Voice Command system and Navigation is to ask it to take us to lunch at Snarf’s Sandwiches in Boulder. The name is challenging for systems to decipher, and the range of voices amongst the TFL crew from André Russian accent to Nathan’s SoCal drawl result in some systems doing better than others. The ultimate goal is to find the set up that allows us to simply say, “Take me to/Go to/Find Snarf’s,” and have it serve up the correct address just as it would if we were speaking to Alexa or Siri or Google Now.

Except for the Chevy, all the vehicles were equipped with on-board navigation. Each was given a Pass or Fail grade no matter how many steps were involved to get to a successful result.

Voice Command Fails

2020 Mazda CX-9 interior
The Mazda’s system responded to voice, just not with a useful result, despite nifty access to the rotary infotainment controller. Shown, the 2020 Mazda’s interior not the prior model we tested. (Mazda)

Volvo V60 – Couldn’t even get the navigation screen to come on.
Honda Civic
Infiniti QX50
Kia Sorento – Not even close
Mazda CX-9

The Understood, Voice Command Winners

Audi Q3 interior
The Audi Q3, our current Voice Command champ. (Audi)

Audi Q3 – The clear winner. Press one button, say “Find Snarf’s” and that’s it.
Nissan Rogue
Ford Edge
Acura MDX
Honda Passport
Chevy Equinox* – While the vehicle didn’t have navigation, it did have OnStar available. We pressed the button, spoke to a live person who found Snarf’s and then sent the turn-by-turn instructions to the vehicle.

Trucks That Wouldn’t Do as Told

Toyota Tundra dash
Toyota’s system in the Tundra pick-up left us hanging. (Toyota)

Unfortunately, none of the pickups we tested passed our voice command nav test. Here’s the list of models that we asked to take us to lunch:
Ford F-150
Toyota Tundra
Ram 1500
GMC Sierra 1500
Nissan Titan

Does CarPlay and Android Auto Make This Test Irrelevant?

With the advent of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being integrated into more and more vehicles, will there even be a need for OEM nav system integration? Both mobile systems’ voice commands will work through a vehicle’s voice command system. Plus they usually work faster and more reliably than manufacturers’ systems. And even bigger plus, there’s no upcharge like there is for getting a navigation system on a vehicle.

Let us know what you think in the comments. And definitely share your experiences with any voice command systems not on our list above.