On top of the hands free music and communication options that SYNC cars, like the 2010 Ford Taurus, we have on the trip have is the ability to access SYNC services. These services can do many things like deliver the weather, stock information, hotel reservations and more including turn by turn directions.
The SYNC service connects using your phone to help you find a location by address or by business name. After you find your destination the information is downloaded to the car and directions are displayed on your radio and spoken to you. After using it for a few days to navigate South Dakota and Wyoming we found that it is comparable to a dedicated GPS or Google Maps solution.
The first word of warning is that just like Google Maps on your phone, you will need a signal to get the directions and download the route. In most cases this is not an issue but when winding through the Badlands and Black Hills where you can lose a signal by turning a corner, this is an issue to remember.
Finding a route is as simple as pressing the voice button and choosing services. From there you will pick your destination by speaking to the SYNC system. This is much nicer than trying to find a location on your phone while driving. While it was able to find most places we looked for when trying to find directions to a the Devils Tower Monument we ran into trouble. The SYNC service couldn’t find the actual monument but was able to direct us to the “city center” which as it turned out was where the Monument was. This was not as intuitive as a Google Maps search, but was easier than looking it up by hand on a traditional GPS.
When it comes to directing you the system doesn’t display a map, but shows and speaks your next turn at several intervals. While I do like to see a map the SYNC system did a good job of providing the information we needed to get to our route and in the case of a turn followed by an immediate turn the system informed us of this ahead of time.
One issue we ran into with the system here in South Dakota was that at several points the system thought we were off route for a half mile. This led to a prompt to update the route which was soon replaced with an “On Route” notification. We had this issue with Google Maps on one occasion as well. This didn’t detract from the overall usefulness, but is worth noting.
Overall the SYNC service was easy to use and got us where we wanted to go without any major issues. If you are traveling alone it would be much easier than trying to use a GPS or phone to update directions since all actions can be accomplished with your voice and one press of the voice button on the steering wheel.
Stay tuned for more on what SYNC can do.