For cheap car nav, go here: BringGo GPS app guides the 2014 Chevy Sonic

2015 chevrolet sonic rs gps app
Image: John Brandon

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Take a U-Turn.

Take a U-Turn.

Take a U-Turn.

If starting a review of the 2014 Chevy Sonic RS with the same sentence over and over seems irritating, try driving the car. In a recent test, driving from a camp in the middle of Minnesota to the Twin Cities, a low-cost approach to transportation and GPS routing almost worked.

2015 chevrolet sonic rs display bringgo Image: John Brandon

The 2015 Chevy Sonic RS can use the BringGo app as an inexpensive GPS service.

There’s some sound logic behind purchasing a car with a touchscreen but without the navigation system. On the Sonic RS—which costs $20,325 and includes the Chevy MyLink service and 7-inch screen—you can connect your iPhone or Android phone and use the nifty-thrifty BringGo app (available in the iOS App Store and on Google Play), which costs just 99 cents and mirrors itself on the touchscreen.

But be ready for a few problems. For starters, you always (always) have to run the app first on your phone. You can’t have Pandora running at the same time, so no Internet radio and GPS wayfinding at the same time. Of course, there are also no navigation buttons of any kind on the dash, and you can’t speak to the nav system—the voice button works only for making calls.

2015 chevrolet sonic rs display apps Image: John Brandon

The central display on the 2015 Chevy Sonic RS shows all the apps available, but you can run only one at a time.

The app is not bad, though. I was able to do a quick Google Search from within the app running on the touchscreen. In a few seconds, I pulled up an entire list of nearby coffee shops. I also found a Chipotle by wading through the POIs listing. The app even lets you change the icon of the car shown on the touchscreen—I picked a white one that looked quite accurate. Most of the usual nav features, like time of arrival and turn-by-turn voice directions, all worked.

Well, almost. In a few cases, the BringGo app started telling me to make a U-Turn, over and over again. On one lonely stretch of road, the voice prompted me a total of six times to make a U-Turn, which is about five times too many. (When queried, Chevrolet did not comment further on this experience.) The voice also sounds too robotic. Finally, I didn’t like the interface for the app running on MyLink; it’s too slow and looks too dated.

2015 chevrolet sonic rs Image: General Motors

The 2015 Chevy Sonic RS has a simple infotainment system where you use your phone to bring the apps you want to the car.

Also, the BringGo app does not actually cost 99 cents—that’s for a 30-day trial. The full app costs about $50, and there’s a version for $60 that includes two free map updates.

There isn’t any other way to get navigation features in the Sonic. Still, adding nav in most cars is usually an upgrade that can cost a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars more.

Is there a future in bring-your-own-apps for budget cars? Sure, if you're willing to put up with a few foibles, like having to run the app first, and minor slowdowns. Cheaper isn’t better—but it sure is cheaper!

This story, "For cheap car nav, go here: BringGo GPS app guides the 2014 Chevy Sonic" was originally published by TechHive.

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