The ability to save your driver preferences in a car is a new automotive innovation. It shows how cars are becoming more personal, which is a good step forward in further automations.
The 2019 VW Jetta lets you save driver personalization settings like temperature and current radio station. On the 2019 GMC Terrain (the car shown above is the 2018 version, but photos below are the 2019 model), the user profiles go a step further. When you save your preferences for the vehicle, they are saved for other GM vehicles as well.
How does it all work? When you configure settings like the temperature, ventilation level, which apps you use, and even things like the navigation routes you used recently and points of interest (POI), they are saved with your profile. If you use a different GM vehicle like a 2019 Chevy Silverado, and login with your user profile, many of the same settings will be used.
The personal touch
To get started, you first create a login. I tested this in the 2019 GMC Terrain and also in a 2019 Chevy Silverado. Once you create the login, it is saved in the cloud and available in most GM cars and trucks, including most recent Cadillac and Chevy models. The car continually updates your settings in the cloud to save them for future use.
I wasn’t able to test this part of the profiles, but you can also access and update the settings online using the GM Owner Center and activate them by calling an OnStar adviser.
Photo credit: Josiah Bondy
For the second vehicle, you just log in with your profile again, and those settings are downloaded to that car. This would be ideal if you own two different GM veivles, or if you borrow or rent a GM car. When you use that second car, the profile is also continually updated, and subsequently used when you drive other vehicles.
This also applies to navigation routes and even your phone contact list. For nav routes, your profile stores all recent destinations (up to 250). You can set up to 20 favorites, and also select two destinations in My Places (such as home and work).
I liked how it all worked, and it’s cool to see a feature like this make its way into most makes and models for GM (user profiles actually debuted in the 2018 GMC Terrain).
Unlimited unique profiles
“There is no limit on how many profiles can be created in the vehicle,” says Ryan Corless, infotainment product manager at GM, speaking to TechRadar. “As many unique profiles are created in the vehicle will be stored in the cloud. The only related limitation is that the vehicle can only store the last four user profiles in the vehicle. The fifth and beyond will not be stored in the vehicle, but can still be downloaded from the cloud by logging in.”
It’s worth noting that the user profiles also allow you to access the marketplace features I covered recently in the Chevy Equinox. They allow you to place an order at places like Applebee's and Dunkin’ (formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts).
Photo credit: Josiah Bondy
The idea of user profiles will definitely help us in the future. As autonomous cars become more common, the sharing economy becomes more viable for everyday drivers, and we start 'renting' cars that pick us up at the curb, we could start using our own custom settings, downloaded and activated to the car before it ever even arrives to pick us up.
And, as we see more integrations between our cars and mobile devices, the idea of every car setting being tuned to our preference will match what we expect on our phones as well.
On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic tech in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who's been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge tech through the paces every week. One goal: To find out which new technologies will lead us to fully driverless cars.