Should You Update Your Navigation Annually?

For many Lexus drivers, this is a yearly question—here are a few considerations.

Posted: Nov 2, 2017

Each fall, amidst the seasonal joys of sunset-colored leaves and Thanksgiving plans, many Lexus owners have a decision to make: whether or not to purchase the annual Lexus Navigation* software update, which arrives in dealership parts departments around Halloween.

For vehicles equipped with the Lexus Navigation system (not the Dynamic Navigation system, which we’ll get to in a moment), the update adds recent changes to roads, directions, and points of interest without changing how you interact with the feature.

This optional software update has a cost that depends on the Lexus model—the 2016/2017 15.1 version, for example, had an MSRP of $169 to $210 before taxes or installation (dealer prices may vary). A common question Lexus Technology Specialists (LTS) are asked is whether the update is worth an annual update, or whether it’s a better decision to add the update every two or three years.

To answer this question, many Lexus Technology Specialists have this advice: a good way to look at the annual update is to carefully think through your driving life—especially professionally—and evaluate your reliance on precise-as-can-be navigation info.

“I teach a class to drivers on Lexus Navigation systems,” says Lexus Technology Specialist Rick Barnicoat, “and when the question of purchasing the annual Lexus Navigation software updates comes up, I always ask attendees to raise their hands if they work in real estate. These are people I call ‘road warrior professionals’—basically anybody who relies on infrastructure, such as those who work in mobile sales. For these drivers, I think it’s definitely worth getting the annual update for neighborhood spaces and road routes.”

For other drivers, the decision to update annually versus every couple of years generally comes down to driving habits. If you’re a Lexus driver who’s retired, for example, but often travel long distances over mountainous or remote regions, an annual update can be a good, not to mention safe, idea. If you tend to stick close to your neighborhood and have a feel for its daily rhythms and route changes, a navigation system update every couple of years may be the right choice.

Additional considerations include the length of time you plan to own your current vehicle before buying your next Lexus, as the navigation software can vary between models. And, if you’ve recently purchased a new Lexus vehicle, says Barnicoat, it also helps to know when your vehicle was made—if it was assembled after August of each year, it will likely already have the latest Navigation system update (your dealership LTS can help you determine whether your vehicle has the latest navigation update).

Your local Lexus Technology Specialist can also advise you on the update's installation, which most Lexus drivers leave to their dealership to perform for an additional fee. For drivers comfortable with installing the software update themselves (some models, but not all, are accessible enough), it still pays to have a conversation with your local LTS beforehand to advise you on the trickier aspects of the procedure—such as making sure not to turn your vehicle off at the wrong time, which can cause the installation to freeze up. (“And if you do it yourself, definitely follow the screen prompts very, very carefully,” advises one LTS.)

It’s also important to understand that Lexus’ subscription-based Dynamic Navigation works differently than the Lexus Navigation system. With the latter, route and POI data are stored within the vehicle’s hardware (similar to files stored locally on your computer desktop), which is why annual updates are necessary. Dynamic Navigation, however, is actually connected to a cloud, or Internet-based data network. This allows the select vehicles that offer Dynamic Navigation to access online navigation sources—and these sources’ ongoing updates—so an annual software update isn’t required.

By Brian Gill

Source for above MSRPs: