I didn't grow up with infotainment touchscreens but one did make it to production when I was in high school. The first one showed up in the 1986 Buick Riviera (see photo below), and managed automatic climate control, AM/FM radio and audio graphic equalizer, trip calculations, gauges, and vehicle diagnostics. Of course, the Buick CRT system pales in comparison to modern versions. Whereas the first system showed up on a luxury car model, car infotainment systems are everywhere now, some good, some great, some just plain bad. 

buick riviera
You gotta admit, it looks pretty cool (photo: General Motors).

So, what makes a great infotainment system? You can't just toss up a big screen and colorful graphics in the hopes that everyone's sold on looks alone. Some systems opt for beauty but sacrifice ease of use and truly great functionality, but a great system really should have an attractive look only if it works incredibly well first. It should respond quickly to touch, provide great legibility, integrate vehicle systems well, and also be fluid in its operation. As a bonus, there might be good physical controls to complement the infotainment system, as well. 

Here are 7 of the best infotainment systems we've used over the past year. Each one of these systems also shows up in vehicles that are also excellent in their own right, even apart from the in-car technology. 

2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II 4x4: Uconnect 5


The Jeep Wagoneer has been a long time coming, and it has shown up in truly regal form with three rows of room, an attractive and still very much Jeep-like exterior, serious off-road capabilities, and tremendous levels of luxury. It's a huge departure from the last Jeep three-row, the Commander, and Jeep really did its homework this time, delivering competitive features, as well as a great in-car tech experience.

jeep wagoneer

Uconnect has always been one of the better infotainment systems on the market. Big screens, easy icons, and pretty much a good operating system across the board. But it was starting to look a bit dated and risked being passed by better systems. All that changes with Uconnect 5 that looks like it belongs in a premium German vehicle. First of all, the huge 12.3" touchscreen is stunning to look at. It incorporates multiple functions on the main screen seamlessly, and the responsiveness is excellent. 

wagoneer instrument cluster

Uconnect 5 has processing speeds that are five times faster than before, so there's far less lag. You can also have five user profiles, a valet mode, and a customizable home screen. Stellantis also added Alexa virtual assistant with natural voice capability, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, and TomTom navigation with Maps Over The Air (MOTA). You can even connect two phones via Bluetooth, so a passenger can make and receive phone calls now. Coupled with the vivid digital instrument cluster that's also configurable, the Uconnect 5 system has now become that much better.

2021 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD Standard: Genesis Infotainment

genesis g80

Genesis is knocking things out of the park in terms of style, luxury, and driving dynamics. Whereas the last G80 was essentially a rebadged Hyundai Genesis, the 2021 G80 is all-new from the ground up. The design language that's now consistent across the Genesis lineup perhaps looks best in the midsize luxury G80, and that doesn't stop with the exterior. The cabin is rife with refinement and now boasts what we think is the best Genesis infotainment system ever.

genesis g80

The new G80 is easily one of the best luxury sedans on the market. It definitely has some of the best styling both inside and out. Part of that excellent interior is the infotainment system. Simply dubbed Genesis Infotainment, the G80 gets a big 14" landscape-oriented touchscreen that sits atop the linear dash. We love the fact that Genesis doesn't opt to use a ton of colors on the menu, which equates to easier reading. Every icon used makes sense to the driver, and they're all well laid out in linear fashion. 

genesis g80 infotainment control

We also loved the fact that Genesis didn't relegate all functions to the touchscreen, which can be frustrating while driving. There are still physical climate and audio controls. The far side of the screen that's opposite the driver can be hard to reach, but the beautiful knurled control wheel and touchpad between the seats work very well. There are also back, home, and menu buttons, along with knurled audio wheels just in front of the control wheel. 

2021 Cadillac Escalade: Cadillac OLED 


The Escalade has always been one of the most popular vehicles in the Caddy lineup, but it has never been truly luxurious and tech-savvy. All that changes for the 2021 Escalade. The exterior still has a bold presence like previous models, but it's more sophisticated in its execution (while retaining some of the best taillights in the business). The interior changes even more with excellent styling, top-notch materials, and what might just be the best infotainment system we've ever laid eyes on. 

cadillac escalade infotainment

It's hard to believe the brand that once gave us the horrendous CUE system a decade ago now has one of the most impressive infotainment systems in the industry today. The one in the Escalade is downright palatial with a whopping three high-res OLED screens: a 16.9-inch touchscreen, a 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 7.2-inch touchscreen to the left of the instrument cluster. If you really want to be impressed, take note of the fact that the screens have twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. Also, the artful way the screens are layered is nothing short of remarkable. It completely dominates the interior of the new Escalade but in the best of ways. There isn't a setup today in any vehicle that looks this good.

cadillac escalade infotainment screen

What's more, the system actually works incredibly well, so it's not just for show. Everything is clearly laid out, and the graphics are simple but attractive. You can prioritize icons, swipe, pinch and zoom, and also utilize the shortcuts screen on the left for your most used functions. The two touchscreens also respond well, and menus are crisp and easy to navigate. The digital gauge cluster is large enough to manage a lot of information without looking busy, and you can customize the screen for your viewing preference. and the fact that there's a physical control knob and buttons in the center console helps while driving. There are, thankfully, still climate control and audio knobs/buttons, as well. 

2021 Land Rover Defender: Pivi Pro


The Defender returns in both a rugged design and high style inside. There's no question the off-roader is already a huge hit with customers, and it can take on just about any difficult terrain you throw at it. What's more, suburbanites are flocking to it in droves because of the interior space, engine options (now with an available V8), as well as unique styling that sets it apart from every other SUV. Shockingly, the new infotainment system is commensurate with the rest of the vehicle.

land rover defender infotainment

We never thought we'd recommend an infotainment system by Land Rover. They've drawn criticism for years because their infotainment software lacked good responsiveness and was difficult to operate smoothly and quickly while driving. Its look was also faded and tended to wash out in bright sunlight. The new 11.4-inch screen and fresh software is a game-changer, to the point where it's quite good to look at, as well as use. The high-resolution screen receives touch inputs quickly, and are three-panels with more frequently used items along the left side. The home button is also sticky, so you can find your way back in an instant. You can also customize the screen with just easily accessible apps versus the default screen that's more aesthetically pleasing. 

land rover defender gauges

The system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for two devices instead of just one. The digital instrument cluster provides an analog-look center tachometer that surrounds the digital speedometer readout. Important trip data flank the tach, but you can opt for other vehicular data and infotainment information. While it's not as quick to respond as other systems in this group, it's one of the most improved systems in this set.

2021 Ford F-150 Lariat Supercrew 4x4: SYNC 4


If you thought the new F-150 was pretty much the same as the last one, you'd be very, very wrong. Not only does it have an even better exterior with great new styling elements, but it also adds a hybrid powertrain that really boosts (or in this case, Powerboosts) the output. We were blown away by the interior, as well, that really hits the nail on the head in terms of ergonomics and features (the folding shifter!), but it's the infotainment's look and feel that really make a difference in the user experience.

ford f150 infotainment

It's hard to recall what Ford's SYNC 2 (and even further back to the MyFord Touch) infotainment software even looked like, but we know they weren't very good systems. The SYNC 3 system was damned good, and it kicked off Ford's leveling up in the tech department. We loved it for its simplicity and quick response. Ford's SYNC 4 is its latest system, and it's definitely light years ahead of its predecessors. The light blue screen might not be beautiful, but it makes menus and fonts incredibly easy to read. 

ford f150 gauges

An 8.0-inch infotainment display comes standard, and a much larger 12.0-inch unit is optional. SYNC 4 provides over-the-air software updates, traffic-and- weather updates through the optional navigation system. There's also.Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our favorite aspect of the in-car tech is the F-150 Lariat's awesome configurable digital instrument cluster that's just wonderful to read. Aside from the drive mode animations that are positively entertaining, the gauges are large and crisp, making them easy on the eyes while driving.

Lexus NX 350: Lexus Interface


We really liked the last NX. It did just about everything right for a luxury crossover. But it was time for a style change, and the new NX carries forward the look while upgrading it. The big grille looks better than ever, and the creasing looks more unified from front to back. The transformational infotainment system, however, is what the world has been waiting for since Lexus hasn't exactly done it right until now. 

lexus nx 350 infotainment

We have never been fans of Lexus's Enform system, mostly because of the dreadful touchpad controller that provides poor control and navigation of the menus. Lexus has improved the screen over the years, giving it better graphics, touchscreen capability, and Apple CarPlay, but that didn't overcome the poor operation of the entire system as a whole. The new Lexus NX 350 F Sport we drove had a brand new system called "Lexus Interface", and it's as if Lexus fired their infotainment team and brought on a whole new one. This system is what we've been waiting for. 

lexus nx 350 gauges

The huge 14" touchscreen is remarkably vivid, glare-free, and very responsive. It's definitely one of the best-looking infotainment systems we've ever used. With Connected Services activated and the available Drive Connect Cloud Navigation, you can zoom, pan, and tilt using intuitive touch control. No more + or - pressing to distract you. The system also has cloud navigation with Google Point-Of-Interest search capability, OTA updates, and you can even start up the car with your phone and your profile will automatically pop up on the screen with your preferences. It's about time, Lexus.

Hyundai Tucson: Hyundai Infotainment

tucson hybrid

If it's a crossover you want that looks like nothing else on the road, look no further than the Tucson. The big grille and DRL elements look incredible, and the daring body creasing means it makes more conventional crossovers look drabe and boring. Step inside, and Hyundai has done something truly special with the interior and with the center stack, including the new infotainment system. 

hyundai tucson infotainment

The new Tucson sets itself apart not just by virtue of its edgy and unique styling but with its excellent tech, as well. We forgive its complete absence of physical buttons because the system actually works quite well with capacitive touch controls that beep when you press them. The 10.25-inch screen looks really being thanks to the expansive flush frame that extends all the way down past the climate controls. 

hyundai tucson gauges

The infotainment system is mated with a big digital instrument cluster that changes with drive modes and places key driving data in front of you. Everything is highly legible and great to look at, as well. Each gauge changes into a blind spot monitor when you use the turn signal, a great feature from the brand that other automakers should copy. As a whole, the system looks fantastic and works tremendously well.