Bob Aluska gives us his views on the Lexus RX-300 and the BMW X5  Automobile Navigation System

Contact Bob with any comments/questions
Bob Aluska
North Massapequa, NY

Here I will give my personal experiences of using two automobile navigation
systems, namely the system found in the 2001 Lexus RX-300 SUV and the system
found in the 2001 BMW X5 SAV.  (BMW calls their vehicle a sports activity
vehicle)  I live on Long Island in NY so this is a review using US databases.
    Let's start with turning the nav system on in the vehicle…after the
usual acknowledgement that you shouldn't operate or look at or stare at the
screen while driving else you or someone else could be killed type of
disclaimer, the Lexus system gets right down to business.  You are a triangle
with a circle around it traveling on the map.  The BMW system meanwhile needs
for you to enter in that you want the nav system, then you must give it an
address or go to another menu choice giving "current position" THEN go to
"show map" and finally you are on the screen.  The Lexus system uses a touch
screen for all commands while the BMW uses a rotary knob that you turn to
your choice and then push to "enter".
    The next thing I noticed was the Lexus would work anywhere in the US.
During the initial set-up you enter what part of the country you are in, as
the US is divided into about six or seven different sections.  You can access
any part of the country but I guess they do this to speed things up when
accessing the disk. Which leads me to another thing…the Lexus must have a CD
changer with multiple disks while the BMW has a single disk that covers only
several states. I can't verify the CD  changer position in the Lexus as this
vehicle was stolen after only 5 weeks of ownership and playing with the nav
    Entering addresses in the systems was as different as night and day.
The Lexus had a keyboard that popped up on the touch screen and you simply
typed the address.  The BMW has that same darn rotary knob that you keep
turning to each letter or number and then push the knob to enter that letter.
 Very tedious to say the least.  I also found the database on the BMW to be
missing many streets and cross streets.  The BMW uses the Navtech software
but I really don't know where Lexus gets their software from.
    One big plus that the Lexus system has is their touch screen.  Let's say
that you want to know where that road going off the screen leads to, simply
touch that road at the edge of the screen and the screen will scroll in that
direction!  Excellent idea and very useful.  The BMW system you need to go to
the menu and bring up the cursor choice, then you get a cross hair cursor
where you move the vertical cursor and the horizontal cursor to the area you
are interested in.  Sometimes it takes several times going back and forth
before you get the location.   Another neat thing that I really liked about
the Lexus system was when you would have the vehicle "moving up" on the
screen as opposed to traveling true compass directions, the screen would turn
as you made each turn.  I like using this orientation so that all streets or
other map objects that are on the screen will be exactly to my right or left
as they are in life.  By using true compass headings you must always remember
direction of travel before you can say what is to your right or left.(As a
quick example let's say you are traveling south on a street and you see the
next street you need to the right on the map display.  Since you are
traveling south that means that in real life that street will be on your
LEFT.  By using the "always up" display, that street you need will show up on
the screen on your left so that means that you'll be making a left turn onto
that street.)
    If you haven't figured it out by now I'll admit that I simply love the
Lexus system.  I'll give you another nice feature of the Lexus system.  If
you choose the split screen display while traveling on the highway it will
show you when you are getting near your next turn, which direction that turn
will be, and how far in tenths of miles that turn will be.  It also shows a
display of what the exit sign will say with the exit number.
    Both systems have the usual point of interest type  of information
available…gas stations, restaurants, ATM's, etc.  I do find these to be quite
often not too up to date.  Both systems also have voice guidance with the
Lexus speaking perfect English while the BMW does sound like a female
computer.  The Lexus lowers the radio slightly and speaks in a beautiful
female voice.  The BMW completely blocks out the radio and tends to blast the
information, also in a female voice but not so perfect.  (ie…"right tur….nnn
   These are some of my views having used both systems for about 1 month.
If you have any questions feel free to email me with them ( and
I'll try to answer them.  My final comment…I love the BMW vehicle but I sure
wish I could get the Lexus nav system in it.  I personally think the Lexus
system blows the BMW system away!

Bob A.