Go-Go Gadgets

Optional on the SE and standard on the SEL or SES, Ford's latest version of its Sync infotainment system incorporates turn-by-turn navigation via any Bluetooth-equipped mobile phone. Pair your phone with your car on Ford's SyncMyRide.com website, hit Sync's voice button on the turn-signal stalk and request directions, and Ford's data affiliates will send turn-by-turn directions to any address or point of interest (a nearby Starbucks, for example) to the display above the radio. Sync now includes a GPS module, so it can alert you if you make a wrong turn and reconnect to Ford's data partners for revised directions.

Rather than connecting you to a live operator — like the Directions & Connections service from GM's OnStar — Sync picks up your directions by voice-command. That requires a certain level of specificity: With OnStar, you can tell an operator you'd like to go to 3rd and Jefferson, and he or she will pull up your options; with Sync, you may need to know that it's 3rd Street and Jefferson Avenue. Ford's system works off your cell phone, so it will use a minute or so of your voice plan, a Ford spokesman told me. It does not require using your data plan. Sync's directions are free for three years and $60 a year thereafter; OnStar-equipped GM vehicles usually offer only a yearlong subscription, and Directions & Connections costs a hefty $299 a year.

Sync also offers USB compatibility with iPods and other MP3 players, with voice activation to pull up any songs. Bluetooth smartphones can also connect through streaming audio. Ford's latest AppLink feature allows BlackBerry and Google Android smartphones to run hands-free versions of Pandora, Stitcher and Twitter module OpenBreak. Next year it will also work with the iPhone. Check out more on AppLink here.

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