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Cheaper navigation systems now available

June 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
While navigation systems are helpful when driving around, they can really drive up the price of a new car. But that's changing as a handful of automakers introduce more cost-effective versions.Generally, opting for a navigation system in a new car would cost you $1,000 or more, but this year, Nissan broke well into the three-figure price range.

The nav system in a 2010 Sentra is $400. It has all the features of the more expensive ones, but it sets a new low for retail price. The same system is also available in the Nissan Versa for just over $600.

It's by no means bare bones. The cheaper system features live traffic information, though you will have to pay a subscription for it.

You can pick up a portable unit for as little as $100, but the one offered through the company is built right into the dash and is fully integrated with the car.

Suzuki boasts that it includes their satellite navigation free in the SX4 model, but that, too, is more of a portable that goes into a docking station.

Nissan's inexpensive nav will guide you turn-by-turn to where you want to go, but the display screen is on the small side at about 4.5 inches across.

The low-cost navigation system is available on a lot of Nissan models for under $20,000, so you can have a fairly inexpensive car with a really inexpensive nav system - a system that can save you money other ways, too.

There's a feature in the system's menu that lets you select the most fuel-efficient route, supposedly avoiding hills and traffic. Sometimes, it's easier said than done in Southern California.