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OnStar 'eNav' GPS Is Worse Than Asking Some Rando For Directions

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I recently got to experience the OnStar-based eNav "GPS lite" that GM offers to customers too cheap to order the proper map-based navigation. Those people may have saved a few bucks at the dealership, but they're going to pay for the duration of their vehicle ownership with pain and suffering.

That's right, I have an unjustifiable aversion to asking for directions. I'm a man. That's a cliché. Let's move along.


The eNav GPS is horrible because it can only feed you one instruction at a time, with no map context, and it requires you make a phone call to OnStar every time you want to plot a route. That means you also need a cell signal for it to work, so even in National Forest land just an hour outside downtown Phoenix, AZ you're buggered.

Besides, what if I don't want to divulge to some operator that I'm heading to a strip club at 8:00am on a weekday? I shouldn't have to feel judged in my own truck just because Platinum Plus does a great breakfast buffet (come on, it's catered by Lizzard's Thicket!)


Want to change destinations? Add a waypoint? You've got to make another call. It's annoying if you're in a new city and don't want to have a conversation with a stranger every few minutes, and it'd be a downright nightmare if you're antisocial.

But I hated the lack of a map even more. Say you're in a parking lot and you get directions to the nearest Drive-Thru liquor store. It'll tell you the first street you need to be on, but it won't tell you where that is relative to your starting location. If the first direction is a street is on the opposite side of a big building like a hotel, you'll be doing laps looking for street signs to get your trip started.

Automotive GPS is supposed to help you avoid driving like a tourist. In my experience, this setup made me feel more idiotic than if I'd been picking my way across town by the position of the sun.

If you want to see it for yourself, I took the liberty of documenting one of my interactions with team OnStar as I stumbled around Arizona last month:

On a 2014 Silverado, a real GPS with a map and manual input is part of a $995 infotainment package. Nothing revolutionary, but it's a perfectly fine navigation setup. If you're buying a new GM, please spring for it. You'll thank me when you don't throw a temper tantrum and punch the bowtie badge off your steering wheel.