By on January 31, 2020


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).

uconnect 5

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.

uconnect 5

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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20 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Previews Next UConnect...”

  • avatar

    I hope you can delete all those Marketplace items, but I bet you can’t.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    Best thing is that with the 1500 Classic, on the lower specs you can still get them without the Media Interface. I love that about our 2012 Ram, no touchscreen, all knobs and switches, no bull. Just Sirius and input jack please.

    • 0 avatar




    • 0 avatar

      I’m the same way. All I need is an aux jack. My two main Mopars — a 2006 Ram 2500 and a 2013 Chrysler 200 — both have a standard head unit with tactile dials and buttons. I got off lucky both times as both are upper trims and would normally come with the “upgraded” VES, but Chrysler is known to make exceptions to trim specifications.

      Don’t know what I’m going to do when I buy my eventual 300 or Charger. Save for the Journey and Caravan, which still come with the RES/REQ head unit (albeit for the absolute base models), everything else comes with a big ‘ol screen in the dash (though not as obnoxious as, say, Tesla).

  • avatar

    Pretty cool, though I imagine a big part of this hinges on selling even more customer data to Google.

  • avatar

    So tell me, will this be the last big hurrah before acknowledging that CarPlay/Android Auto have taken over, and the carmakers themselves should save their development dollars for something they can control and that people will use on the car?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    And simultaneously, leasing ad blockers, anti spammers, antivirus and other privacy enhancement software to the user.

  • avatar

    Gotta be the latest hardware to capture all that privacy invasion data, where you went and when, how fast you went, (you naughty person your insurance company will pay for that info) and Alexa wants to record your every word for the government spy cadres, and of course the opinion poll boyos. Life in the fast lane, and YOU get to pay to have your life recorded. What a simply great deal for everyone but the driver/owner/leaser.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t worry. You are being slowly nudged away from the ownership model anyway. Owning things is bad don’t you know? That’s what the owners of everything say.

  • avatar

    Marketplaces looks a lot like GM marketplace.

    Of course when Toyota or Honda rolls it out it will be the bestest most amazingest goodest idea ever ever ever.

  • avatar

    If the new one ditches the feature that keeps drivers awake by randomly buzzing at full volume for minutes on end it’ll be a hit.

    In the 2017 300S I had for awhile the system would start buzzing full volume at random where not even shutting the car off would reset the system; extremely fun on a packed freeway during rush hour. The when going in to have it corrected various options and settings would disappear. Theoretically those options and features come back via over the air updates, but I never saw them come back.

  • avatar

    Having just spent a week in a rented Chrysler 300S (perfectly nice car overall), can you adjust the butt heat without pecking around on the @[email protected][email protected]#[email protected] screen? Especially aggravating when using Android Auto. Really my only complain with the current system.

  • avatar

    IIRC, previous versions of UConnect were build using QNX, which was Blackberry, not Android. It would be nice if this article weren’t just a fluff piece for FCA. Why the switch from QNX to Android? Whats the upside for the customer, or is it just the offer Google made to buy user data from FCA? There’s more to this story. Uncover it, FCA. If you dare, that is.

  • avatar

    I actually would consider a FCA vehicle if only for this feature. I travel (and communicate) a lot for work, and my 2019 Camry without Android Auto makes responding to emails and messages challenging, to say the least. I have AA on my phone, but the ability to use it to it’s full potential is limited.

    Of course, a Charger with a V8 is enough of a selling point, too…

  • avatar

    I don’t trust anything FCA shows us on a powerpoint presentation. Until I see a physical manifestation, it’s vaporware.

  • avatar

    Meanwhile, a recent book called “The Vagabonds” tells how Henry Ford’s annual road trips with Thomas Edison helped popularize the idea of car-camping vacations and motorized touring in general. (Sorry, Ronnie, if I just tipped off your next historical topic.)

    This is one of the best written and researched stories I’ve seen here.

  • avatar

    Oh yes please! I would just LOVE for a company, ANY company(especially Google) thats already shown it TOTALLY cares about people’s privacy, to have more and more access to mine! What’s that? I just need to buy this here new SUV/CUV/Truck to make that happen? Wellllll, sign me up! Take my money!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    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.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Hope they don’t mess it up…’cause the current system is terrific!

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