2015 Highlander Navigation System and Voice Commands

kenanekenane Member Posts: 1
edited January 2015 in Toyota
We just purchased a 2015 Highlander to replace our 2005 Highlander that was totaled. We used to use a Garmin with the 2005 Highlander. When we purchased the 2005 the moon roof was an option. Now, it only comes with the XLE or above. The only features of the XLE we were interested in were the Navigation system and the moon roof. Otherwise, we would have been happy with a simple LE with no options.

This weekend we took our first road trip with the 2015. While the navigation system itself seems to be ok (it didn't send us the wrong way or anything), the design of the user interface really is horrible (at least when compared to the Garmin).

My wife was driving so I thought I would take our old Garmin and program in a few addresses into the new 2015 navigation system. I couldn't figure out how so I called up the dealership and found out that we can't do so while the vehicle is driving. In fact, I don't think you can do it while its in park either. We were told that the voice recognition system could be used to enter a destination (but not other addresses for future use).

Well, the voice recognition system was something we weren't very excited about when we first tried to use it to make calls a couple of days earlier. Nonetheless, we tried. It literally took us 30 minutes for the system to recognize the address: 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, California.

While the instruction indicate that you should say the entire address as above, the system was unable to figure it out. (We don't have any accents and we had trained the system earlier in the week.) The system had all sorts of problems. Finally, we got the system to understand the destination by first stating the city and state, and then stating the street and street number. I don't understand why the directions would not tell you to do that to begin with. I can see that the voice recognition system is going to take a lot of getting used to.

But, my biggest complaint is that the navigation system will not allow you to enter new addresses unless the car is in accessory mode (the engine is turned off). My wife was driving and so I could have easily done so without any safety issues. In addition, when we were trying to find a restaurant at our destination, it would only list about 7 or so restaurants. It stated that additional restaurants could be seen only when the car was no longer moving. That is simply ridiculous. So, apparently, we are now required to stop the car and turn the engine off before we can determine where we want to eat at a place we may have never been to before!!!!

The problem is that there are a ton of touch-screen options that you can still do with the navigation system and Entune while the car is moving that are just as distracting or more. So, the designers have not in any way made the car safer to drive. Only more annoying. Moreover, the car already has a sensor that knows when there is a passenger. So, it should allow full access if it notices a person in the passenger seat (at a minimum).

The cost difference between the LE and XLE was $5k. There is no way I would have purchased the XLE had I know how clumsy the user interface to the navigation system is. The voice recognition system sucks and does not in anyway improve the safety of the passengers. It just increases their frustration level with the system.

My recommendation is that if the navigation system is the reason for you to consider the XLE, don't!!! Get the LE and buy a Garmin for less than $200, which is much easier to operate, has more customization options, and does not prevent you from doing things have no relationship with safety when a passenger is onboard.

Oh... also, the navigation system will only accommodate 100 addresses. In this day and age when you can get a tiny 64GB secure digital hard drive, such a limitation makes no sense. The Garmin also let me change the navigation voice to a male Austrailian accent that my wife (the primary driver of the car) appreciated more. No such luck with the Toyota navigation system (at least that I could find).

There are actually a whole bunch of other little things about the navigation system and Entune that I can harp about, but those are my biggest complaints. Another one is that once I entered some addresses, I found that it would only sort by name or date. Date??? Why would I want to sort by Date? What about distance from current location??? Wouldn't that be more relevant? But that is not an option.

Otherwise, the 2015 Highlander itself is very nice.


  • rcummelinrcummelin Member Posts: 184
    Your complaints about the NAV system are valid and very common. There are lots of folks (myself included) that simply don't like the way the system functions--especially the "lock-outs" that occur when the vehicle is moving. I realize Toyota is protecting itself form lawsuits, but if a passenger is present (to do the entries), then why lock up the system? Also, voice recognition really does suck, but Hondas are much worse than Toyotas in that regard. Your suggestion to buy a $200 Garmin is a good idea for anyone who needs/uses the NAV system frequently. It's really a shame that car manufacturers stick us with outdated & antiquated technology. Some owners of new Highlanders are seriously considering replacing their entire head unit to get something that works properly. That's disgusting!
  • cromagnum_mancromagnum_man Member Posts: 54
    I agree that the system is frustrating and the voice commands are almost worthless but on mine you can use all of the functions as soon as the vehicle is stopped, I don't have to turn off the engine. In addition, there is a fairly simple wiring modification that you can do to make all of the head unit functions work while in motion. Another helpful modification is to install a switch so that you can see through the rearview camera at any time, not just while in reverse.
  • jonmic1jonmic1 Member Posts: 2
    I would love to know what simple wire modification works. I hate these nab system's they're worth crap. I'm just getting out of the Lexus RX 350 into a Hylender I've had nothing but trouble in the Lexus also the into an app on my smart phone always has to be deleted and reinstalled the heads up display on the Lexus always said N-Toon not set it's a wonder these car manufactures get make these nab system better.
  • gocar1gocar1 Member Posts: 1
    I would love to know who can do these wire modifications for me should I decide to move forward to purchase the 2015 Highlander.
  • jeffw01jeffw01 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2015 Highlander XLE and I took it back to the dealership, they said they had never heard of the problem, but when I look on the internet there are all kinds of complaints about the NAV voice system. I won't buy another with a nav system, sticking to my tried and true garmin. I drove a 2015 Ford escape and no such problem, it understood me completely, why can't Toyota do the same thing.
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