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Honda Connect in the test: fun, GPS, phone, browser, Carplay & Android Auto

Hans-Christian Dirscherl

Honda Connect provides the driver with a hands-free system, navigation, music streaming from smartphone, radio including DAB +, Carplay and Android Auto. Even a browser and Google search are on board. But there are also weaknesses.

EnlargeThe Honda Connect navigation view

Honda Connect is the name of the infotainment system from the Japanese automobile manufacturer Honda: It offers navigation based on the well-known Garmin technology, a hands-free system for the connected smartphone, audio streaming, DAB + radio, and Internet browser. Google web search and web radio as well as Carplay and Android Auto. We tested Honda Connect in the Honda Civic Prestige.

Price: Honda does not sell Honda Connect as a stand-alone option, rather the infotainment system is included in certain, higher-priced equipment variants. Honda Connect is based on an Android system, as you will notice as soon as you reset the system to the factory settings: When you restart, the green Android man appears.

hardware

The 7-inch color touchscreen is the central display and control element of Honda Connect. First of all, you operate Honda Connect via the touchscreen. The screen offers quite small buttons at the top to switch between map view and audio menu and the sources for music / radio. In order to hit this with the finger, the driver has to concentrate on the screen - bad because of the danger of distraction. Overall, the screen, which is quite tight at 7 inches, is easy to read. In this vehicle class or even below, like in the Ford Fiesta, however, 8-inch or even 9-inch touchscreens like those in the VW Golf are now widely used.

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The Honda Connect screen display has a rather simple look, but some menus - such as the one for the widgets or for the apps - could use a little more love from the surface designer.

EnlargeThe widget overview page: what is Honda telling us?

The touchscreen reacts sufficiently quickly to finger inputs and it also performs zoom movements relatively quickly.

In addition to the touch control, there are steering wheel buttons with which you can conveniently, for example, regulate the volume (the Honda does not have a classic rotary control for the volume), navigate through the on-board computer menus, accept calls and switch on the voice control. You can also use the steering wheel buttons to switch radio stations and switch audio sources such as FM radio or Bluetooth. Voice control rounds off the operating concept.

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As with other automobile manufacturers, there is another digital screen right in front of the driver in the cockpit: the so-called driver information display with the digital speedometer and the rev counter. This touch-free screen shows the usual on-board computer information, for example the remaining range of the tank or the radio station currently being played. If navigation is running, you will see the turn-by-turn instructions on the driver information display.

EnlargeTurn arrow in the driver information display.

A CD player is missing. You can plug in your smartphone via the existing USB sockets and, if necessary, use Android Auto and Carplay. An HDMI connection is also available, as is a 12-volt socket. Carplay and Android Auto only work via the front USB port that Honda has hidden under the center console at the front - together with an HDMI port and a 12-volt socket. In order to connect a cable there, contortions and sometimes a flashlight are required.

EnlargeHonda has hidden the USB port, which is relevant for Carplay and Android Auto, as well as the HDMI port and the 12-volt socket under the center console.

Smartphones can be charged wirelessly if they support the Qi standard. The loading recess is easily accessible at the front end of the center armrest in the middle under the dashboard. The charging process worked with our iPhone 8 without any problems.

You can also operate the air conditioning manually using the rotary knobs below the touchscreen, so neither touch nor voice control is required. In addition, detailed air conditioning operation is also integrated in Honda Connect and is possible via the touchscreen and, to a limited extent, also via voice control.

Voice control

Honda Connect has voice control, but it shows slight weaknesses. So you can have the current time announced to you with a voice command: “What time is it?” - “It is 7.45 am!”. One can discuss the usefulness of this command, because after all, the Honda shows the time on the display anyway. It makes more sense: You can also call a contact from the smartphone phone book by voice command and set the temperature for the heating. That worked well in the test.

However, entering a navigation destination sometimes failed because Honda Connect did not understand the city names or street names. However, this problem did not occur consistently; Honda Connect understood most of our destination addresses. But for example Lyonel-Feininger-Straße in Munich did not want to understand the voice control at all during the first days of testing, regardless of how we varied the pronunciation. But when we reset Honda Connect to the factory settings and then restarted it, the voice control suddenly recognized Lyonel-Feininger-Straße straight away. Although we hadn't changed the pronunciation.

The name of a radio station cannot be set by voice command: this function is not provided, instead you can only record radio frequencies. This is completely out of date, but by no means unique: Even in a current Ford with Sync 3, radio stations cannot be started with their name, but only with their frequency via voice command! Which developer thinks up something like that?