Hands-On with MyLink Radio in the Chevrolet 2013 Spark [Video]

Over the past year we have seen more and more companies roll out integrated touchscreen systems which sport Smartphone integration. Unfortunately many of these systems have been packaged in higher end cars, or they are quite pricey. On the other hand, Chevrolet’s new MyLink Radio system is being introduced into their 2013 Spark LT models, which is designed to be an economical urban oriented vehicle. The MyLink Radio system features a 7″ touchscreen display and Smartphone integration. That includes compatibility with most smartphones including the iPhone and Android powered handsets, via Bluetooth or USB.

We spent some hands-on time with the system and found the MyLink radio simple and straightforward to use. And while, it doesn’t sport all of the bells and whistles that some other high end in-car systems have, it packs in all of the essential features that you would want from an in-car system. And at the heart of it all, is the integration with the system and your smartphone. As a matter of fact, your smartphone actually serves as a kind of brain for the MyLink, which Chevrolet describes as a “Dumb radio.”

The way it works is that your smartphone powers the MyLink system, and the MyLink system really becomes just a way to access important functions on your phone. That means that you can use MyLink to dial contacts, access contacts, listen to Pandora or Stitcher radio, play videos and photos, and last but not least, to control the navigation system.

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Speaking of the navigation system, Chevrolet set out to reduce the costs of having an integrated nav system in the car. They opted not to use Google Maps since the app is a data hogger. Instead, they are offering compatibility with an offline navigation app called BringGo. BringGo is available to purchase for $50 from Google Play or the App Store and offers a lifetime of free updates. The app features text to speech and a healthy amount of POIs. This is a much better value than the stereo typical in-car navigation system that requires yearly purchase updates and inconvenient CD upgrades.

The downside to all of this? If you leave behind your smartphone, the MyLink system is pretty useless. Also, there is no dedicated voice command integration, outside of Voice control on your phone. Last, but not least, Chevrolet has opted not to include a CD player in the Spark. But really, how many of us use CDs in our car anymore?

Chevrolet 2013 Spark

The Spark has the lowest average annual fuel cost of any Chevy small car (except the Volt electric vehicle), and features four passenger doors, and enough space to fit four adults comfortably. We can verify this last fact to be true after riding in the Spark today around New York City. Chevrolet has also designed the Spark to reduce driver distraction. They have managed to do this with smart screen colors, font sizes, and the placement of the buttons.

The 2013 Spark LT is also available with OnStar. Pricing for the Spark LT with MyLink radio ranges in pricing from $14,495 to $15,795. We’ll have a full review of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark and MyLink Radio system up soon.

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