A factory-installed navigation system means that the system is installed as original equipment on the vehicle -- just like a radio or seatbelts. A lot of consumers like this option because it means the system fits seamlessly into the vehicle. It's part of the dashboard and can be controlled without any extra remote controls of add-on switches. But these systems aren't perfect. Since the systems are installed at the factory, and oftentimes the maps are stored on CDs or DVDs, the maps tend to be out of date. Of course, some manufacturers do send customers updated maps. Another point to consider is the high cost of a factory-installed system. They can add anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 to the price of a new vehicle, and remember, you'll only get the newest system and capabilities if you buy a new car. As a final point, these systems usually can't be moved from car-to-car, which means if you have two vehicles, you'll only have a navigation system in one.
Dealer-installed navigation systems use equipment from the auto maker, but installation is handled at the dealership instead of at the factory. The cost depends on the system you select and the cost of labor at the dealership, but generally drivers can expect it to cost a little less than a factory-installed system. It has the same drawbacks as a factory-installed system, as well as a few others. Because these GPS systems are not original equipment, the components may not fit as nicely into the dash as a factory system might. Also, while dealers will likely offer a warranty for their work, having the system installed may void other warranties on the car. It's always a good idea to do a little research on what it would mean for your vehicle's warranty.
Keep reading to see what portable GPS systems have to offer and which system makes the most sense for you.