If you have read any of our reviews of Toyota or Lexus models from the past few years, you'll know that one thing that ties them all together is that the infotainment systems in these vehicles are a pain point for many of our experts.
The automaker has listened and took notes, however, and an all-new infotainment system is coming to every single Toyota and Lexus with improved functionality, smoother operation, and new levels of connected services. Today, Toyota Canada gave us a look at the new system.
New screens stand out and showcase the system, running panels no smaller than 8.0-inches and as large as 14.0 with phone-like optically bonded glass to reduce glare and increase contrast. An all-new interface is designed to offer smartphone levels of ease of use through gesture-based controls like pinch to zoom and quick swiping.
New for Toyota and Lexus is an intelligent assistant and a "Hey, Toyota" voice control feature that recognizes natural speech and works for audio and navigation systems allowing commands like "Hey, Toyota, show me the best burger place nearby," and for in-vehicle commands like changing radio stations. It also handles more advanced features including climate control and even the windshield wipers. Separate microphones identify who is asking, meaning if a passenger asks for warmer air, it will turn up only on the passenger side. It will also change the heated and ventilated seats for only that passenger.
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Voice commands and cloud-based navigation capability will be standard on every single Toyota and Lexus model along with the new system. Voice command features are included, and most grades get a three or five-year subscription included to cloud nav and other connected features, packaged into Safety Connect, Remote Connect, and Drive connect, but base trim Toyota models will be paid subscription only for the advanced features. Service connect, which offers vehicle health reports and other related features, is five-years complimentary on all models.
The cloud-based nav means more points of interest (POI) when you're searching, plus the system uses POI and metadata from Google, so drivers get real-time traffic and construction updates. Users also get not just points of interest, like a park or restaurant, but star ratings and similar data from Google Reviews. Last-mile walking directions will also be part of the nav system's highlights.
Up to five smartphones can be connected to the system (two at the same time), with the vehicle storing user profiles that include climate, audio, and even seat and mirror settings. With a Remote Connect subscription, the vehicles support phone as key, letting you get in and drive off with your phone in your pocket. Drivers can share the phone as key with up to seven people through the app, letting them give someone else temporary access to their vehicle.
The app also lets you control in-car features like the usual remote start and remote lock, but the locking feature has been expanded to the rear doors and trunk. Users can control headlights and hazards remotely, control climate features, and will get push notifications from the rear seat reminder in case someone is left behind.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated into the new system. Faster wireless charging will be offered, letting the phones keep up their battery while using the wireless systems. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri home connections are all still offered.
The new system rolls out first on the 2022 Lexus NX and 2022 Toyota Tundra models. Once it starts, Toyota Canada says the plan is to get it on every model as quickly as possible, and that means some existing vehicles may get the upgrade outside of the usual new model or mid-cycle refresh process. "Our intention is to try to get these features across both lineups as quickly as we possibly can," said TCI VP Stephen Beatty.