In-Car Tech

Here's everything you need to know about FCA's UConnect 5

Uconnect 5 takes a logical leap into the future by helping FCA catch up with other brands' in-car software technology and capability.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

FCA's infotainment system is generally regarded as one of the best. Now, that system is getting a makeover as part of a generational redesign. Uconnect 5 will go live in vehicles this year.

Why is this generation so important?

Before, different vehicles and brands had various facets of the Uconnect system. Uconnect 5 is scalable across all FCA brands and, according to a release, "lays a foundation, bringing access to a broad catalog of applications to answer the rapidly developing demand for an improved user experience (UX)."

FCA Uconnect 5 2020 Users are able to choose the look of their Uconnect screen based on what functionality they use most. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In a nutshell, that means that no matter what FCA vehicle you hope behind the wheel of, the infotainment system user experience will be pretty much the same.

It's built on an Android operating system but that doesn't mean it's only interacts with Android phones.

Basically, the Android platform is what coding, etc. the system uses in the background. Uconnect 5 is able to connect with any number of non-Android devices as part of its functionality.

UConnect 5 allows for deeper personalization.

Personalization is one of the things that a recent survey by Lexus revealed as a highlight of a true luxury experience. It's something more buyers are seeking. Uconnect 5 is an Android-based operating system that features several fully-customizable interfaces and allow users to store up to five different profiles. These profiles store a user's favorite temperature, seating position and mirror placement settings, among other features.

UConnect 5 is adaptable.

FCA products have three different types of screen layouts - portrait, landscape, and square. Engineers worked to make the Uconnect 5 UX fit each of the different screens. Screen graphics can be customized for every vehicle and trim level.

Uconnect 5 allows users to customize their screen to put the icons they most frequently touch in the locations that make the best sense for them.

FCA Uconnect 5 2020 Users can personalize their Uconnect 5 experience. ┬ęPhoto courtesy of FCA US LLC

This version of the system uses a card-based format. This makes grouping functions and simplifying the screen possible for users based on their preference. FCA says that, "once inside a card, information and icons can be accessed in no more than two button pushes."

It's five times faster than UConnect 4.

Sure, the Uconnect 4 system was good and responsive, but five times faster?! I'l take it.

There's an Alexa skill.

Amazon Alexa-enabled devices are able to connect directly to the Uconnect 5 system. Users can interact with Alexa in the vehicle and connect with their Alexa enabled device at home, the office, or beyond. FCA says, "... occupants can ask Alexa to play music, podcasts and audiobooks; add items to their to-do list; check news, weather, traffic, sports and other real-time information; and access tens of thousands of Alexa skills. Responses and streaming audio are delivered through the vehicle's audio system, allowing anyone in the entire vehicle to easily interact with Alexa."

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will now be on 100 percent of FCA's North American vehicle offerings.

The public is asking for it and FCA has listened. Uconnect 5 also adds wireless connectivity for the systems.

FCA Uconnect 5 2020 Voice recognition is a big part of the system and helps keep eyes on the road. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Uconnect 5 will recognize your voice.

This system marks the first time Uconnect will have voice recognition available on all product lines. It will have software, microphone technology, and natural voice capability. That means that the system can understand conversational commands like, "Find an available EV charging station near me."FCA says that the system also works when there's a high level of background noise. That's good for Wrangler buyers who want to use voice recognition and take their doors off on a sunny day.

The Uconnect wake up word varied by vehicle brand.

Want to use voice recognition? Say the name of the vehicle brand you're driving. For example, "Hey Chrysler, change the temperature to 70 degrees." Will this force customers still referring to their pickup truck as a "Dodge Ram" to finally realize it's just "Ram"? Only time will tell.

Two phones can be connected at once.

Two phones in the vehicle will be able to connect to Uconnect's Bluetooth simultaneously. The system can manage input from both at the same time but one can be given priority in the system over the other.

Navigation is built-in.

FCA's navigation system, like Subaru's, is powered by TomTom. The system now includes traffic as well as EV and connect services.

Similar to how navigation works on your phone, there's one-box search functionality. Unlike with smartphones, the system works even without internet connectivity.

There are also last mile directions if walking once parked is necessary. Those directions can then be carried with the driver when they exit the car via the Uconnect smartphone app.

Unlike personal devices, even without internet connectivity, search and guidance continue to work with the system simply switching to offline map data.

The system offers navigation routes based on how much juice you have left.

According to FCA, "Dynamic Range Mapping helps the driver to visualize the vehicle's range by displaying on the map how far they can drive with current fuel/charge levels. If the range is insufficient to make it to the selected destination, Uconnect 5 will make suggestions for recharging /refueling with a cost comparison. A warning appears on-screen, prompting the user to choose a charging point/fuel station which is available and within range."

FCA Uconnect 5 2020 The Uconnect 5 system is more integrated with the world around the vehicle allowing for more a more customized user experience. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

By 2022, FCA will offer more than 30 nameplates with electrified powertrains, half of which are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or battery-electric vehicles.

Uconnect is finally getting a mobile app.

Most automakers now offer an app that connects owners to their vehicles. Using FCA's Uconnect app, drivers can start their car's engine, lock or unlock the vehicle, or receive a notification. According to the automaker, "Assist Call, owners can contact the Uconnect customer care team for help with their vehicle or instructions on using a Uconnect system. Stolen Vehicle Assistance can help police track a vehicle's location and Family Drive Alerts delivers notifications to concerned parents when boundary, curfew or speed limits are broken. Owners can also receive a notification when someone else drives the vehicle while in Valet Alert mode."

The system can also push notifications to the driver about needing an oil change or other necessary maintenance requirements.

Uconnect's navigation now has multi-lane guidance, like Apple CarPlay.

Instead of trying to figure out which lane you're supposed to be in based on a small drawing on a screen feet from the driver's face and off to the side, the new system offers multi-lane guidance directly in front of the driver, projecting the information as well as speed camera, traffic and hazard warnings to the vehicle's cluster screen.

SiriusXM with 360L is no longer exclusive but you can still get it.

Uconnect 5 will offer FCA product buyers a 12-month trial of SiriusXM with 360L when the purchase a new vehicle. SiriusXM with 360L offers personalized programming powered by Pandora with hours of downloadable content, including live sports, free on-demand shows and performances, and interviews.

FCA Uconnect 5 2020 Users can pay for gas using a credit card without having to swipe at the pump. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Uconnect 5 allows drivers to order food and reserve a table while behind the wheel.

Called Uconnect Marketplace, the cloud-based in-vehicle commerce platform allows users to over food, find the nearest gas station, save money on fuel purchases and make dinner reservations, all from the comfort of the vehicle. Drivers can also locate and pay for nearby parking, authorize pump-and-pay fuel stations, and schedule service appointments at FCA dealerships.

Uconnect 5 interacts with a faster Wi-Fi hot spot.

FCA has improved their 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot with speeds that are now five times faster. The hot spot can connect with up to eight devices. Each Uconnect 5 equipped vehicle comes with a complementary three-month in-car internet subscription.

The screen has a night mode.

Dimming the screen only goes so far. FCA has developed night mode functionality for Uconnect that helps reduce eye strain whether driving through tunnels or along the road at night. There are independent settings for each of the screens in the vehicle.

Uconnect can updated itself over the air.

Firmware Over The Air (FOTA) updates will allow FCA to push updated software to your vehicle. This works in a similar fashion to the way your computer, smartphone, or tablet lets you know that there's an update available.

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The new Maps+ app will allow drivers to use a navigation system who had not previously purchased navigation.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is giving its vehicles a new navigation solution. Maps+, an in-vehicle, app-based way-finding program, will begin rolling out to approximately 900,000 model year 2018 and newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of 2021, starting on April 30.

"We know customers want an easy and convenient in-vehicle experience that improves over time," said Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of Global Connected Services. "We listened to customer feedback and developed a product that works seamlessly with our current infotainment systems and provides a highly personalized experience that will iterate throughout the lifetime of the vehicle."

Maps+ was developed in partnership with Mapbox. The new app replaces navigation functionality in already-purchased vehicles that had purchased a navigation system. It provides navigation functionality to drivers of vehicles that did not opt for navigation at the onset.

The new application features Alexa build-in voice control that allows users to listen to music or podcasts using the system's integrated audio apps. A search box allows users to find points of interest, shops, restaurants, parking, and more. There is also embedded speed alert, low fuel recognition, predictive keyboard entry, day and night modes, category shortcuts, rear-time traffic routing, and dynamic mapping capability.

"Our obsession is the driver," said Peter Sirota, CEO of Mapbox. "The map is the canvas for providing the driver with a delightful, easy-to-use experience. From discovering new places to avoiding traffic on your commute to paying at the pump or the plug, Maps+ lays the foundation for an excellent navigation experience. We are excited to build upon this with GM to continue to drive adoption."

GM and Mapbox are committed to continuing Maps+ post-launch, developing new features and improvements based on feedback and metrics.

Maps+ will be available on select vehicles through Connected Vehicle, Premium and App Access subscription plans. Current eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners will be notified when their vehicle is eligible for Maps+.

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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