Factory-installed navigation versus aftermarket navigation

We are considering buying a new Prius and have heard lukewarm reviews of Toyota navigation systems. Is it better to buy an aftermarket system or pay the extra $ for the factory-installed system? What are the pros and cons?

Factory installed navigation systems are usually a $1,000+ option depending on the make and model. Good after market nav systems (Garmin, Tom Tom, etc.) are under $300. The nice thing about after market systems is they are portable – move it from one car to another or use it in a rental car. Plus, navigation technology changes pretty quick – why have something mounted in your car that will be obsolete in a few years? In-dash systems usually need disks to upgrade the maps and aftermarket systems can be updated with an internet connection.


Twotone worded it quite well.

Plus, GPS and navigation functionality in today’s smart phones are causing the sales of traditional navigation system and GPS sales to drop rapidly.

You can pay for many many months worth of a smart phone data plan (currently averaging an extra $30/month) for the $1,000+ it would cost you for the in-dash navigation system.

Given the complexity of the Prius, I would be concerned about adding an installed aftermaket system that might void parts of the warranty, even if it does no harm.

The biggest advantage that I have seen for OEM navigation is that it always knows which way you are pointed. The aftermarket or portable units don’t know which way you are pointed (when you start out) until you have moved several feet.

The Lincoln OEM systems also add some nice features such as they pop up all the nearby gas station locations when the fuel level gets low. I don’t know if Toyota does stuff like this or not.

On the down side, map updates for the OEM units tend to be much more expensive than for aftermarket.

I paid a little more than $100 recently for an aftermarket system that has free traffic reports and speaks directions to you. The integrated system is a stylish package and some have large screens. Look at the aftermarket systems available on the internet. Many are at your local retailers.

I’ve yet to see the aftermarket navigation system you actually INSTALL…EXCEPT the ones that come with a aftermarket sound system…They all just plug-in to a 12v outlet…Either way it WON’T void the warranty.

Something like a Pioneer AVIC was what I was thinking of (yes, it is a sound system too), because it is the closest thing to compare to the factory in-dash navigation. Since the OP said “aftermarket” and not “portable”, I assumed that they were talking about an in-dash, installed system.
Yes, the law is that the factory warranty is not normally invalidated by an aftermarket add on, but we all know that there can be all kinds of kickback on this. The in-dash installed units most certainly do not just plug into a 12V outlet. There is quite a bit to installing one. (There would be no warranty issue for the portable GPS.)

I agree with that…I was a little confused too…I never saw JUST a navigation unit aftermarket…Either it’s portable (which I like) or an option in a sound system.

I’ve only kept the factory sound system ONCE…Almost always I change it out very shortly after I buy it. I can usually get a much better system aftermarket for less then 1/2 the price of the OEM system. I’ll agree if some kid installs it and screws up something…then it could be a pain getting warranty…but it’s hard to do these days. There are wire harness kits for direct plug-ins no matter what you buy…

It seems you want an “in dash” system and not something that sticks to the dash or the windshield. If you must have in dash, then I’d stick with the Toyota factory system. It integrates with the screens on the dash which now includes stuff like AC controls and the display for you radio etc.

Aftermarket in dash units are probably pretty good, but there must be some features of the factory unit that will be lost in the aftermarket version. This could make it inconvienient in someway that you can’t imagine until you are stuck with it.

The only advantages to the OEM system is it usually is a little more difficult to steal and it is more convent to use (no wires hanging here or there).

I can’t speak about the Prius directly, but factory systems often have larger screens, voice control triggered from steering wheel buttons, integration with other features such as hands-free cellphone systems, clearer voice output (using the car’s speakers), better ability to pick up marginal satellite signals (due to the antenna being outside), the ability to calculate position without satellite signals (using other sensors built into the car), and of course a cleaner look.

I got a bean bag base for mine. There’s no semi-permanent installation on the dash or windshield. I put the whole assembly in the glove box, center console, or take it into the house.

That is why I opted for the factory system, even though it costs far more than a “stick-on” aftermarket system.
I want to avoid extra stuff cluttering up my dashboard area, and this way I get a very clean look and am much less prone to theft of the system.

In addition to the extra features that lion9car mentioned, the touchscreen for my Nav system switches to the monitor for the back-up camera when I put the transmission into reverse.

All-in-all, it is actually a very elegant combination of Nav system, Bluetooth device, Keypad for dialing, Equalizer for the audio system, controls for FM/AM/CD/DVD/Satellite radio on one screen. Expensive, but worth it, IMHO.

You gets what you pays for, as the old guys used to say.

I bought an old fujitsu daylight reflective and nighttime backlit tablet pc for 160 bucks, then a street atlas program with a gps antenna for another 50, so at $210 I have an 11" screen. The little gps units do not show a big enough view as I love back roads and out of the way routes. It has all the features you could ask for, voice commands, turn by turn navigation customizable poi’s and way points etc. It really depends on what you want to do and how you want to get to where you are going with it.

Cool! Does it plug into the accessory outlet?

Yes it came with a car adapter for power supply and has 6 hour battery life. It is a fujitsu stylistic 4121, there are newer versions available, it has wireless for use in the motel room, handwriting recognition, and I have an infared keybord and usb mouse for more normal computer operations. If your looking at one make sure it has the daylight readable screen.

I’ve had experience with the nav system in the 2006 Prius and with aftermarket devices. I’d pick an aftermarket, portable one any day of the week. In any event, you can transfer the aftermarket one from car to car if need be. Caveat, I don’t know how much Toyota has improved its GPS system since 2006.


Keep in mind that Toyota’s navigation systems will not let you input your destination while the car is moving. While this is a great safety feature in theory, it gets annoying after a while, especially if a passenger wants to punch in the address. But the nav system’s screen is bigger and has controls on the steering wheel. Still, it doesn’t have many features available in the portable systems, like live traffic updates and street names (It says, “Turn right on Main Street”).

I would like to add that the repair cost of a factory system, should it break, is astronomical.

Take a 2010 Toyota Camry. The navigation receiver on that has an MSRP of $3171.32, the antenna runs another $526.49, and the disc runs $226.61. That means almost $4000 in potential total repair costs in parts alone.

By contrast, you can get a good portable aftermarket unit for under $200, easy, or less than the cost of the disc in a factory system.

IMHO, you have to be insane or insanely wealthy to buy a factory system.

Personally, I prefer after-market, Tom-Tom specifically. I have two cars and it’s a snap to swap from one to the other. I also rent a lot of cars for my work and like to bring along my Tom Tom. Also, the Tom-Tom interfaces with my computer and, as roads change, I can update my maps from time to time. They even send me e-mails when there are changes. Users can log on to the web page and send updates. When I plan trips, I can log on and get construction updates, road closures and detours, even traffic and weather, though those change over the course of a trip. Additionally, if you’re financing, you’re paying interest on, not only the car, but on all the accessories. That $1000 option, over the life of the loan, can be a $1500 option. Finally, all the factory GPS systems are in-dash and harder to read and operate than one that mounts to the window with a suction cup. I have to look away from the road to see it. I mount mine right next to the rear view mirror and so can glance at it and barely look away from the road.

There are a few drawbacks. The dangling cord is a minor annoyance. If you have a convertible or leave the windows down, they are very easy to snatch and grab. In the event of an accident or a rollover, though it’s small, if it breaks loose and tumbles around in a crashing car, it could be rather a hazard.