Garmin K2 Infotainment Hands-On: Garmin Goes Beyond Navigation

Garmin is expanding its portfolio beyond in-car GPS devices and looking to take over your entire dashboard. The company is here at CES 2013 to debut its new K2 infotainment platform, and we got behind the wheel of a Dodge Journey with a built-in concept version of Garmin’s system to see if the company is on the right track.

Garmin’s system features a 10-inch touch screen and a 12-inch configurable instrument cluster that users can control via a series of steering wheel-mounted buttons. The touch-screen display is large and easy to read, which makes navigating its various menus and features a snap.

Garmin demoed a version of its 3D navigation software, which rendered a map of downtown Chicago in real-time. The software is still an early model, but displayed large 3D versions of buildings as well as the famous elevated train line.


In addition to its navigation function, Garmin reps demonstrated K2’s in-car smartphone connectivity. When a user connects their smartphone, Garmin’s system allows users to listen to incoming email and text messages, and will eventually be able to dictate them as well.


In a shout-out to the the film “Lincoln,” the Garmin crew set up a Samsung Galaxy S III to simulate what Honest Abe’s smartphone would be like, complete with relevant contacts. Seeing Mary Todd Lincoln’s various emails was a bit jarring, but helped give us a good idea of what users could expect when using K2.

The system’s user interface is very attractive and can be separated into three different columns displaying items such as contacts, messages and more. Weather reports and forecasts, as well as sports scores and schedules, are also available to users. We’re not sure, however, if automakers would be comfortable providing users with so much information on their in-car display at one time. 


A to-do list feature will allow users to create location-based reminders for chores, which K2 can automatically bring to your attention when you approach a relevant location. If you make a to-do list reminder to pick up groceries, for example, the K2 system will automatically alert you when you drive near a grocery store.

As of yet, Garmin hasn’t announced any OEM partners for the K2 system. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that the company could announce a partner in the near future. 

Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
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