The 9-5’s built-in SatNav – a tale of misery and woes

Although I love my 9-5 to bits, there are one or two features I cannot reward with a full “thumb’s up”. Time has come to discuss the 9-5’s built-in satnav system.

Short detours

First niggle when using the satnav is the definition of “short”. The short version is this: Selecting “short” can get you into trouble fast.

Mariestad to Oslo -- the short (& sane) route
I live in Mariestad and work in Oslo. Even though I know the road by heart, it still helps to tell the satnav just where I am going. That way I receive relevant traffic updates and, if I am lucky/adventurous, I might even get directions to avoid said obstacles. (In reality, it is hard to tell the difference between a one hour standoff and a five minute delay, but at least I have some choice in the matter)

Google Maps suggests two different routes. One goes south of Mariestad and is a little bit longer, but most of it is on the E6 which is very nice road to drive on if you want to get anywhere fast. The other goes north and ends up on the E18 which, in spots, is a good alternative. E18 is a little shorter, but my experience is that it adds at least 10-15 minutes to the drive and you more easily get stuck in traffic moving at lorry-speeds.

A man wronged by my car's satnav
So, it boils down to fast versus short? Almost. The built-in satnav nearly suggests the same routes, with one exception: It has found that going through the village of Hasselrör will cut a few yards off the total distance. There is a similar section on the Norwegian side of this route as well which I haven’t explored, but it certainly is possible to cut a few yards here as well and the satnav knows it all too well.

What the built-in satnav lacks is the option of “short, but still reasonably sane”. I once took years off dear Swade’s life expectancy by choosing ‘short’ on our short road-trip up north in Sweden a year ago. He blames me, and I blame the satnav (maybe I should post a poll on this subject?). Luckily I think enough time has passed for us to look back on that ordeal and have a good laugh about it.

What I sometimes do now is to first select ‘short’ to get a rough idea of which direction and then select ‘fast’. Eventually it will re-calculate the ‘fast’ route properly and everybody wins. More often than not, I simply pick ‘fast’ all the way. I have a feeling this was not what the designer of the satnav intended.

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Saab 9-5 navigation for central and eastern Europe

We have an SU reader in our midst who is contemplating the purchase of a 2011 Saab 9-5. He’s a very keen Saab fan and the 9-5 will suit his business requirements very well.

One problem – the 2011 model doesn’t come with maps for central and eastern Europe (CEE) as standard and there doesn’t seem to be a factory fitted solution at the moment.

His question:

I know of many successful map conversions for the older-generation 9-5s, which (also) didn’t have CEE maps standard, using maps from other car brands utilizing similar systems or even refitting the control module to take DVDs from systems with maps of CEE ready. There was apparently also some success using Mazda (I think) maps for the post-facelift current 9-3s (private imports from Western Europe came without the CEE DVD, and the GM price for it was absolutely prohibitive). Perhaps some of SU’s more techy readers do know what system the 9-5 is fitted with (it is my understanding the maps are still Navteq), and whether there are any CEE maps available for it I could somehow put on the 9-5’s disk, or any other solution that could make my possible future Saab provide me with navigational aid ON THE BUILT-IN SCREEN.

Buying a car with the best in-dash nav screen only to use an external system and mess up the great visibiity through the wraparound windscreen does not seem to compute.

I agree with that point 100%. If you buy the nav system, you don’t want a TomTom stuck on your windscreen.

I really hope this is something that Saab can address in the near future, but it seems that the 2011 model year will not see a solution for CEE, which is a shame given the support in some CEE countries.

Until then, maybe someone with a new 9-5 has found a solution for this issue, as suggested by our anonymous colleague, above.

Little Saabs for Garmin Satnav

This is cool!

If you use a Garmin portable SatNav device then you might want to consider these downloadable Saabs that you can install on your Garmin unit, and then display as you drive!

From the designer, Thilo:

Hello Steven,

I don’t know if many of the community use handhold aftermarket-GPS units from Garmin, I use a Garmin Nüvi 760 in both the 9000 Aero and the 96V4.

Those who use them may probably be not satisfied with the default cars or those they can download at the Garmin garage. I was not and began to create some of my own cars.

I’d like to share two cars, which should work with the most Garmin Nüvi units (I tested them on the nüvi 760 and 200 unit). The Aero-X is bigger but changes a bit in size when it turns (because of the size limitations of the units)

Here are some screenshots and the cars (*.srf) which should be placed in the \Garmin\Vehicle directory in the gps-unit. Enjoy!

Best regards
Thilo

You can download both of the images in a zip file here (right click, Save As) and then upload them onto your Garmin nav unit.

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Saab navigation problems

I don’t own a car with satnav. I live in a small city on an island and I own a street directory, so I’m ok. I’ve had the satnav discussion here before and now, after much deliberation and contemplation I’m quite set on the idea that factory satnav vs aftermarket satnav is a total no-brainer.
Aftermarket wins every time. It’s waaaaaaay less expensive, is easier to upgrade, and you can take it from car to car as you change your ride. Makes total sense.
If you’ve chosen integrated satnav then you’ve got the bonus of having it look very nice and blended with your interior. But the cost is rather prohibitive and it’s not just the cost of purchasing it, as Joe M let me know via email:
——
Swade,
This is more than slightly annoying. I paid an additional $2,795 for my Saab’s navigation system (’07 9-5 Aero SportCombi) pushing the MSRP to almost $45K. This is one of GM’s highest priced passenger cars and by far the most expensive of all the navigation systems that GM offer (it’s the same exact Denso-sourced unit found in the Corvette, Cadillac STS, and the Cadillac XLR). The ’06 – ’08 9-3s and 9-7s share the same Delphi unit with one another and almost all other GM units.
For some reason, ALL run-of-the-mill Chevy, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Corvette et al driver gets two free disks, one on their first anniversary of ownership, the second disk on their second anniversary. Saab is not included in this complimentary upgrade program even though the ’06-’08 units are the EXACT same GM units, utilizing the exact same discs found in their lesser GM siblings’ dashes.
Is their any way to get GM to explain their alienation of some of their most discerning customers? Why do we have to shell out $200 per disc? Here are the FAQs:
https://www.gmnavdisc.com/faq-browse.do?category=SUB
Here’s the part number they want me to shell out $199.00 when my STS, Corvette, GP counterparts receive it free of charge in the mail. Click to enlarge.

——
Like I said, this whole things seems to need directions of its own.
I know some people like the integrated thing and I can see why. It’s not as practical but it is a touch more premium.
If my dealer were throwing in a Navman I’d be quite happy to spend my several-thousand-dollars on some other optioins. Everybody wins and I still get to find my way home.

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