Fiat Chrysler Previews Next UConnect

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
fiat chrysler previews next uconnect

No North American Auto Show in January? No problem, says Fiat Chrysler – “let’s bring some media to our neck of the woods to talk about the Chicago show.”

I can’t yet talk about the other stuff I learned in Auburn Hills last week – while I’m not a huge fan of encouraging OEM marketing plans by agreeing to embargoes, those same embargoes are meant to make sure we play fair with other media, and I’m on board with that – but there was one piece of news that’s no longer under embargo.

UConnect is getting an upgrade. A massive one.

Using an Android operating system, the infotainment system is poised to undergo a great deal of change.

Fiat Chrysler claims UConnect 5 (UConnect is now on its fifth generation after starting in 2003) will offer processing speeds up to five times faster than the current-gen system.

Users will be able to set up five different profiles, plus a valet mode. This means each user can set up their own preferences, and different drivers will be able to switch back and forth. Handy dandy if your partner occasionally drives your car and you’d rather not hear their “Old Town Road” Spotify playlist.

Digital-assistant Alexa gets integrated into the system, along with so-called “Car to Home” features. Meanwhile, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are going wireless, and thanks to UConnect 5, the two systems will now be available in all FCA products.

A Maps Over the Air feature should help available navigation systems run better, and drivers will be able to personalize Pandora stations. (It should be noted that Pandora currently brings your personal stations into Apple CarPlay).

Two smartphones can connect to Bluetooth at the same time, and users can prioritize what phone manages what function. The graphics will include “cards” that simplify the display. The system is set up for over-the-air software updates.

About those user profiles: You can do a lot with them. Predictably, you can set your music preferences, but that’s not all – you can also set your preferred temperature, seating position, and mirror position, for example. You can then switch it up for the other drivers in your household.

Just like with cell-phone cameras, the screen can be arranged in portrait or landscape modes. A square mode is also on offer. Users can personalize the home screen with their most-used apps and features, allowing one-click access. That’s similar to how people set up their mobile phone screens.

Hardware includes a 50K MIPS chip, 6 GB of RAM, and up to 64 GB of flash memory.

The over-the-air maps feature intrigues. Not only does it automatically update maps in the background, but it will be used to help electric-car owners (FCA promises more EVs in its lineup soon) find nearby charging stations and shows drivers using the map how much further they can go on the current charge. The former is no big deal – most nav systems in current EVs locate charging points – but the latter is neat since it removes the math and simply shows you the point of no return.

Sirius XM 360L satellite radio will be available, as well, and vehicles will continue to be a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot. Chrysler says the system should be ready for 5G.

We didn’t get a true demo of the system; all we saw were pics on a PowerPoint deck. Meaning: I can’t judge anything at this early date other than to say the system looks good in pictures. If it’s easy to use and not buggy at all, or at least not any buggier than one would expect from a brand-new system, it should help FCA retain the consensus crown for best infotainment system.

Fiat Chrysler was mum on which vehicle might see UConnect 5 first, but expect to see it before the end of 2020.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Feb 02, 2020

    I believe there would be more interest in history if our leaders were not put up on a pedestal. Much more interesting to see leaders as humans with all their faults along with their accomplishments. Just because Henry Ford was anti-Jewish and against the new age music of his time does not mean that he was entirely a bad person nor does it diminish his accomplishments. The question should be asked is what made Henry Ford so anti semitic. I am not supporting anti semitism but when Henry Ford was starting out trying to get financing the banks and financial institutions would not lend him money and at that time most of these institutions were either owned or run by those who were Jewish and because of Henry's experience it made him the way he was. This wasn't right but it is better to understand this and not judge the man on 21st century standards. People are people and to judge them on today's standards is just as wrong as judging an individual on their religious beliefs or race. History is much more interesting if it is viewed objectively. We as a species will never be perfect and to elevate anyone to a god like status is just inaccurate.

  • Roberto Esponja Roberto Esponja on Feb 03, 2020

    Hope they don't mess it up...'cause the current system is terrific!

  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.
  • Kendahl One thing I've learned is that cars I buy for local errands tend to be taken on 1,000 mile trips, too. We have a 5-speed Focus SE that has gone on longer trips than I ever expected. It has served us well although, if I had it to do over again, I would have bought an ST. At the time of purchase, we didn't plan to move from 1,000 feet elevation to 6,500. The SE is still adequate but the ST's turbo and extra power would have been welcome.