I'm the kind of driver who felt the encroachment of electronics was destroying the driving experience. I feared the day that every car will have a navigation screen cluttering up the center stack. Until. There is almost always an until. This weekend I drove the 2005 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum test truck to a party in an area of New Jersey I was unfamiliar with, which was a great opportunity to use GM's new navigation system.



The drive there was easy, it was still light out. The navigation system passed the ?I don?t need no stinkin? user?s manual? test, allowing me to enter the destination and start the voice directions. It was the ride home that was a killer.

2005 Cadillac Escalade ESV ITABBelieve it or not, there are still areas of New Jersey that are rural ? narrow roads, no streetlights and wild animals. Oh, and the occasional drunk driver. Things started to fall together like a bad movie. I set the navigation system to make the return trip and let the map tell me where to go instead of struggling with my usual Maps.com printout.

Behind me, an early 80?s Ford pickup closed up quickly on the rear of the Escalade. He swerved in the opposite lane, almost appearing like he was going to pass me. Then he swerved back, and then forth. There were no shoulders on these small roads, so I was waiting for the next side street to turn down so the ?impaired? driver could pass.

As I?m concentrating on all the distractions, the Caddy?s bright headlights shine on four deer crossing the street. Praying the guy behind me will be conscious enough to see my brake lights, I hit the brakes in time to let Bambi live and Drinky McDrunk woe?d his truck before hitting me. If the nav screen voice could, she would have said something I can?t print here.

What did I learn? I truly believe if I were struggling with a regular map, worrying about the erratic driver behind me and trying to read street signs on an unlit rural road, the Escalade would be wearing a new fur coat. My wife was sold on the merit of a navigational system and so am I. It kept us safe this weekend. Now about those heated and cooled cup holders?


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