With apologies to Audi and several other automakers, the 2020 Jaguar XE is the best car navigation display in any car. I was overwhelmed by the crisp and clear directional aid that appears in the dashboard view above the steering wheel. The lines are clear, the colors subdued and the fact that it's so functional that it helps you get to your destination is a huge bonus.
Driving today is an exercise in excessive user interface enjoyment. Because car companies can provide tiny little symbols anywhere and use a wide range of colors, they do it. I often felt like I was driving in a car with every widget enabled. It's slimmer on the XE.
The Connected Navigation Pro function shows a navigation map with easy-to-identify shades of gray and black, green for grass and blue for lakes. I have tested the Audi A4 and other cars many times and they use Google Earth. It's nice, but it can be a little disoriented and too detailed.
I drove the XE around town and watched the display in front of me, using the voice-activated feature to suggest destinations. I liked how functional it was. If you need to go to a library or restaurant, the car provides visual and acoustic guidance. Many cars use extra frills, but they don't really help if you are late for a meeting or are really hungry.
The display is also functional for many other reasons. With just a few taps, I was able to configure the display to show the speedometer and the map (left). I could see two dials, one with the speed and one with my speed. I was able to completely disable all files and the navigation system and only see the collision avoidance features.
This last shot is almost confident. You only see the hood of the car and then signs of problems. I sometimes like to keep things simple, especially when I drive a highway for many hours. I don't even have to see my speed – I set it using adaptive cruise control and the car can automatically adapt to the traffic level. You can also see the speed in the virtual heads-up display (HUD), which is shown above the bonnet.
Reduce the clutter
Back to the navigation screen. Here's the most important factor when driving these days. I like to reduce clutter. The main display between the seats on the dashboard can show POIs, the nearest gas stations (Jaguar uses the word petrol) and even subtleties like the speed limit. That's all right – maybe there is a passenger with you who can check these details. There is a time and place for more interface options in cars. However, you can also distract yourself.
The XE display above the steering wheel is so trimmed that I couldn't look at it to find objects near me. The focus is only on the goal.
We will see much more of this in future cars. Adaptable interfaces know when we are tired or have driven long and deactivate additional interface functions.
You only have to drive (or let the car drive), and you may not even need media features. Frankly, the goal is to help you achieve your goal at this point. I never drove tired or hungry, but I could see how the subtle shades of black and gray allow you to concentrate and eliminate distractions.
I wish more cars would follow. I can activate any navigation aid under the sun in the XE. I just preferred to have most of them turned off. It helped me do what I love most: just drive.
On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic technology in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who has been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge technology to the test every week. One goal: to find out which new technologies will lead us to fully self-driving cars .