A password will be e-mailed to you.

Recently, I purchased my wife a new Honda with a very cool integrated navigation system I have been truly amazed by what this thing can do We never get lost, we always find a close by restaurant and we can get live traffic updates to re-route us if we are stuck in traffic.

All that is great – but it comes at a huge price tag In dash navigation systems run upwards of $2000 at most auto dealers What if we want all those conveniences but can’t afford the hefty price tag?

Luckily, with GPS technology becoming more prevalent, many after-market solutions are available for a fraction of the cost. One of the leaders in after-market GPS technology is Pioneer Electronics Long known for their leadership in audio systems, Pioneer has branched out to include integrated GPS, Satellite radio and real-time traffic updates.

Pioneer was gracious enough to send us their new AVIC D2 system – so we put it through the paces.

The AVIC-D2 provides the power of DVD navigation in a double-din design. This allows for an installation that integrates well with your vehicle’s interior.

With a 6.5-inch LCD, separate CD and DVD Navigation drives, and optional XM NavTraffic, the AVIC-D2 is an advanced DVD navigation system with a factory-style fit.

The Official Line from Pioneer:

‘The Revolution Goes On – the Latest Navigation Systems from Pioneer’

Pioneer’s AVIC-D2 is Pioneer’s newest navigation system, designed to be easy to use as well as easy on the eyes. The large 6.5-inch display panel is easy to read, the touch panel provides intuitive operation, and the layout delivers user-friendly operation by positioning the basic control keys around the screen for easy reach. The unit is designed to fit into many modern vehicles with a ‘factory-fit’ style, melding unobtrusively into the vehicle dashboard. Of course, the AVIC-D2 provides a full media experience with AM/FM radio, CD, MP3 and WMA, and more. Additionally, the system is ready to deliver detailed traffic information for major cities in conjunction with the XM NavTraffic service and an optional XM Radio tuner.

Pioneer Navigation Systems come with two DVD-ROMs containing a massive ‘Tele Atlas’ database, which enables the units to provide the largest network of turn-by-turn routable roads. Within seconds, the system’s extremely fast processor calculates multiple routes and provides directions to any destination via electronic map and voice prompts. The discs provide nearly 11 million points of interest (POI) throughout the United States and Canada, including Alaska and Hawaii. The system sorts 258 categories to make finding the nearest gas station, ATM or restaurant easy. As you’re guided along your route, points of interest are overlaid onto the map as colorful, easy-to-recognize logos and icons.

The AVIC-D2 is designed for a perfect fit in many vehicles that feature a ‘double-DIN’ size. The system seems to meld into the dashboard, providing a fit and finish similar to the factory systems. The front panel is motorized to provide access to the hidden disc slots, and the default position can be set to any of 6 choices for the optimum viewing angle. Buttons for important features are positioned for easy operation.

Using Pioneer’s navigation system is a snap. Just touch large, bright icons on the screen to navigate menus, plot routes, or change map views. An easy to read status indicator provides current location information, turn distances and approximate time to destination. The touch screen has extremely fast response rates and a wide viewing angle.

Taking advantage of the large, double-DIN size, the AVIC-D2 hides two separate disc slots behind its face panel – one for navigation map DVD-ROM and one for CD (audio CD or MP3/WMA). Music from the CD player or other audio source can be enjoyed while the navigator is in operation – in other words, there is no need to eject the map DVD-ROM.

The AVIC-D2 is a full-featured audio entertainment system. Listen to AM/FM radio from the high-performance Supertuner IIID tuner. A separate CD drive in the unit provides playback of most compact discs, MP3 and WMA CDs, all with maximum power (MOSFET50) and sound performance (Easy EQ). The system is compatible with Pioneer’s iPod(r) adapter (CD-IB100II or CD-IB100) for those who want to listen to music stored on their iPod while in the car.

XM NavTraffic(tm)* powered by NAVTEQ Traffic allows Pioneer Navigation Systems to serve as a powerful tool that helps the driver understand traffic conditions and routes the driver to their destination avoiding traffic congestion. Using the available GEX-P10XMT XM NavTraffic Satellite Radio Tuner, the traffic information is provided through a continuous satellite broadcast as XM NavTraffic(tm), with data which is aggregated by NAVTEQ Traffic from multiple sources – including leading commercial traffic data providers, government departments of transportation, police and emergency services, road sensors, cameras and airborne reports. If there is a traffic jam on the route to your destination, the Navigation System will automatically alert you of the traffic ahead, and suggest any alternate route found by the unit.

* Requires XM radio subscription and XM NavTraffic(tm) service subscriptions sold separately.

When combined with the GEX-P10XMT, the AVIC-D2 features a new user-friendly interface with specific icons for channels and categories. Each of more than 120 XM Radio channels comes with a specific icon. This ensures easy channel identification, especially when searching with the ‘List Search’ function. Channel categories also come with specific icons, for intuitive selection among corresponding channels. Up to 12 favorite songs on XM Radio can be registered using the ‘MEMO’ key. If a registered song is playing on another channel, a notification will pop up and ask if you would like to change to the channel currently playing the song.

Keep an eye on your backside using the optional Rear View Camera (ND-BC1). Two rear-view modes are offered: while you’re in reverse the rear-view camera can be in full screen. Or while moving forward, you can also see what’s behind you with the rear-view split screen, which displays both the navigation map and the rear-view camera image.
The AVIC-D2 ensures extremely easy access to roadside assistance information The unit shows emergency phone numbers and your current location – by street name, city, and state, plus longitude and latitude. The units also display any personal information you’ve entered, including vehicle identification number, insurance number, and insurance company phone number. There is even a dedicated icon for easily locating the nearest car dealer. Additionally, 1-Year Emergency Roadside Assistance Service is offered free of charge*.

*Service provided by Signature’s Nationwide Autoclub, Inc. See registration for full details and restrictions. Separate registration with Signature’s Nationwide Autoclub, Inc. is required to receive the free service. iPod and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. registered in the U.S. and other countries. XM Satellite Radio is a subscription service not affiliated with Pioneer Electronics – service is available only in the 48 continental U.S. states (not available in Alaska, Hawaii or U.S. territories). More information is available at www.xmradio.com. Sirius Satellite Radio is a subscription service not affiliated with Pioneer Electronics – service is available only in the 48 continental U.S. states (not available in Alaska, Hawaii or U.S. territories). More information is available at www.siriusradio.com.


Installation:

Installing one of these systems is not for the faint of heart Much more goes into installing a GPS based system than a standard after-market stereo There is the GPS receiver to position along with the DVD drives, speaker connections, microphone and housing.

If you are not the type to ‘tear apart your car’s interior,’ you might want to consider letting a professional do the installation, which could set you back a couple of hundred dollars.

Set up and configuration:

Once installed, the routine set up of the clock, radio stations, presets and the like were very straightforward The heart of this unit is the GPS itself

The unit features a large touch panel screen which allowed for easy programming of current positioning and planned destination The maps are DVD driven – with the DVD neatly concealed behind the electronically retractable face plate.

Inputting information like ‘home address’ was easy enough When selecting a destination – simply input state, street, etc and then set the address as the destination All destinations can be added to the address book of the device which allows for easy retrieval.


Ease of Use:

Once the initial fix is obtained – calculating routes was very straightforward and very quick The routes seem to be quite accurate Like most GPS systems, the user can specify whether to find the quickest route or the easiest route You can avoid highways or specify to use as many highways as possible.

The signal seemed strong – even if it was lost temporarily under a tunnel or over a bridge – it was able to recover and re-calculate on the fly.


Accuracy:

This is the Achilles heel of many a GPS system GPS systems today seem to use either the TeleAtlas system of mapping of the Navteq system I have found the that Navteq system seems to be most up to date – especially with Point of Interest (POI’s) and with newly constructed roads.

One of the incongruous things about this GPS system is that is uses the TeleAtlas system for routing – but it uses the Navteq systems for Traffic updates.

That being the case, we found that some newer roads did not make their way onto the map, which is typical for TeleAtlas Certainly, newer DVD’s are released every year – but they can set the user back anything up to a couple of hundred dollars. Hopefully Pioneer will choose to update the maps affordably.

One of the highlights of GPS navigation (and the Avid D2 was not exception) is the ability to re-calculate on the fly if a turn is missed or a detour taken Usually after a few attempts to make the driver take a ‘safe’ u-turn, the AVIC will re-calculate a new route to get the driver safely to the destination.

POI’s – Points of Information

Because this is a DVD based system, it is capable of storing many more POI’s than smaller stand alone systems Want to find a near by Chinese Restaurant – just ask your Avid D2 to guide you Wand to find a museum or movie theatre or super market? Everything you can imagine is contained on the DVD Just do us all a favor and pull off the side of the road as you search for your destination Once you decide where you want to go – just hit ‘navigate’ and you are on your way.

Audio Capabilities:

When you replace your factory radio, you want decent sound quality in addition to the GPS goodies Thankfully, the Avid D2 delivers beautifully as a ‘stereo’ replacement.

Pioneer is known for its famous ‘SuperTuner’ line of stereos There were no problems with sound. It played all MP3s I threw at it, which is a big improvement over many other car stereos which often only support a limited range of MP3 bitrates and formats. Overall the sound was great. Now, I’m not an audiophile, and I lack professional sound rigs for omparision, plus I’m using stock Camry, speakers, but it sounds really good. Really!

The Stereo played all MP3 files thrown at it with exceptional clarity I don’t have the XM or Sirius radio modules, or a separate DVD player, or even a rear-view camera. Yet, if I was going go full out in installing this permanently, I would install all of this as the AVIC D2 has all the menus built-in for controlling these devices, including controlling a multiCD changer as well. It’s way more impressive than the similar, GPS upgrade, unit in my sister’s Toyota Prizm.

Screen Clarity:

Sometimes, large LCD screens can be tough to see in bright daylight The AVIC D2 seemed bright and clear in all lighting While I thought the screen was clear — it’s lightly, oh-so-lightly, textured to prevent it from having a gloss, which helps visibility.

The Screen can be adjusted for night-time viewing as well – a nice plus to cut down on glare.

Details:

  • Plays back DVD, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA and MP3-encoded discs for a wide selection of entertainment options
  • 8-channel GPS receiver and antenna with recorded voice instructions playback assists you in achieving your destination
  • Enhanced graphical XM Radio audio interface displays 120 unique XM Radio channel icons for easy channel searching (XM Radio subscription required)
  • Roadside assistance display features emergency phone numbers, your current location and personal information you’ve entered for safety precautions; 1-year roadside assistance service included
  • Touch panel operation provides easy-to-use, bright icons and navigation menus
  • Double disc slot provides a DVD-ROM drive for the navigation map and a CD drive for music
  • Rear view camera capability lets you see what’s behind you on the display
  • AM/FM Supertuner IIID with 24 station presets and BSM (best stations memory) for quick access to your favorite radio stations
  • MOSFET 50W x 4 built-in speaker power provides you with a generous sound display
  • Sirius Satellite Radio-ready and Apple(r) iPod(tm)-ready with the addition of optional adapters (sold separately; subscription required for Sirius Satellite Radio)

The Pioneer Avid D2 lists for $1500 but I have found it on various web sites for as little as $750.00

Pros: Excellent integration of CD/MP3/GPS/XM/Sirus/Camera and more
Cons: TeleAtlas road database (but only a small negative here)

Rating: n>A

Review by Gary Mazo and Kermit Woodall

Written by Kermit