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Integrated nav systems are cash cows for the automakers. We've discussed this here before. While you can run to the local Target and buy a perfectly useful portable unit for around two-hundred bucks, clicking the nav checkbox on a car or truck's option sheet will probably run you ten times as much. That's painful. For the 2009 model year, however, Suzuki's looking to give shoppers some relief by making touchscreen nav standard equipment in the four-door SX4 Sport and front-wheel-drive SX4 crossover (the enclosed PR makes no mention of the 4WD crossover, but we're assuming that it also benefits from this). This makes Suzuki the first automaker to offer the feature as standard equipment in a sub-$16,000 vehicle. What a novel concept: using desirable equipment as the carrot instead of the stick.

The flip-up unit, supplied by Garmin and dubbed "T.R.I.P", also delivers Bluetooth connectivity, features live traffic info, helps locate the lowest gas prices, and is pre-loaded with a number of points of interest. The automaker is even launching a social networking-type website where owners can upload and share their favorite routes and places to go. Will standard nav help Suzuki win over new customers? It sure isn't going to hurt. Given that the technology has dropped in price so precipitously, it's probably not even costing Suzuki too much in the grand scheme of things. And if the presence of that nav unit gets some fence-sitting new car shoppers to write out a check for at least $16,000, it's probably worth whatever it cost to integrate it into the base package. Maybe Suzuki's onto something.

[Source: Suzuki]


PRESS RELEASE:
2009 SUZUKI SX4: FIRST CAR IN AMERICA UNDER $16,000
WITH STANDARD NAVIGATION

• 2009 Suzuki SX4 Sport and SX4 Crossover to feature integrated standard navigation

• Advanced functionality of SX4 navigation system includes available Bluetooth capability, a lowest price gas finder and real-time traffic

• Suzuki infuses "Way of Life!" brand spirit into system with Suzuki-recommended landmarks and points-of-interest

BREA, Calif. – Establishing an auto industry first, and packing even more appeal into its bold and stylish sport compact, American Suzuki Motor Corp. today announced the addition of a fully integrated standard navigation system to the 2009 Suzuki SX4. The company's offering marks the first time a new vehicle under $16,000 will include navigation as a standard feature. The innovative navigation system will be included as standard equipment on both the four-door SX4 Sport and front-wheel-drive version of the five-door SX4 Crossover, propelling the 2009 SX4 to the front of the compact segment as the personal technology leader.

The Suzuki SX4's integrated navigation system is the result of a partnership with Garmin and is available with a variety of advanced Microsoft Network-enabled features, including real-time traffic, weather forecasts, local event listings and a gas station finder capable of locating the lowest priced fuel in town. To further customize the system to reflect its "Way of Life" brand attitude, Suzuki will add a number of lifestyle-oriented, Suzuki-recommended destinations and landmarks to the system. The locations include hip music venues, popular surf spots, interesting road trip attractions and other activity-focused destinations that will be clearly identified with a Suzuki "Way of Life" icon on the navigation screen.

"Aside from improving an already popular vehicle, this navigation system provides a unique opportunity to further express the Suzuki 'Way of Life' brand spirit and directly respond to SX4 shoppers' unmet needs," said Mark Harano, president of American Suzuki Automotive Operations. "We know that our customers are vibrant and adventurous at heart, so we've gone beyond a typical navigation offering to develop a system capable of enhancing driver experiences and activating a passion for living life to the fullest. Navigation makes drivers feel more confident and in control, and our customized navigation system is the perfect fit for Suzuki owners' on-the-go attitude and daily routine."

Suzuki based its decision to include standard navigation on feedback from current SX4 owners regarding their most desired features in their next vehicle purchase. In addition to improving overall favorable impressions of the SX4, Suzuki research showed the addition of a navigation system had a positive "halo" effect on a range of driver perceptions, including significant increases in drivers' "feelings of control" and "feelings of safety."
Referred to as the Suzuki T.R.I.P. (Travel, Real-time traffic, Information and Play), the fully integrated system utilizes Navteq mapping software and includes a flip-up 4.3-inch touch screen display and Bluetooth hands-free calling technology that can receive and audibly play text messages. The system also comes preloaded with street maps that feature millions of points-of-interest, such as hotels, restaurants, gasoline stations and ATMs, and other Suzuki-recommended, brand-oriented destinations. A dedicated community Web site will be launched to support the sharing and downloading of user-generated recommendations for destinations and drive routes among Suzuki owners.

The touch screen navigation system included as standard equipment on the 2009 SX4 Sport and front-wheel-drive version of the five-door SX4 Crossover will come with a number of standard navigation features and millions of unique points-of-interest. Bluetooth capability and other enhanced Microsoft Network-enabled features of the system, including real-time traffic, local events, weather forecasts and a gas price finder, will be included as part of the SX4's upgraded trim package. The 2009 SX4 is scheduled to arrive in dealer showrooms this summer.