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How to Use The BMW Navigation System – The Complete Guide

Navigation has become a convenient necessity. Whether you like to take local routes to avoid the freeway traffic or prefer to save gas and drive the shortest distance, BMW’s Professional Navigation System can provide you with flexible routing options.

There are eight navigation options represented by icons located on the left-hand side of the BMW standard navigation. Let’s talk about what each of these options does and how they can improve your driving experience.

Learn How to Use The BMW Navigation System

  1. Finish Flag Icon Indicates the Destination
  2. Audio Icon Indicates Voice Instructions
  3. Clock Icon Indicates Route Preferences
  4. Pin Drop Icon Suggests Point of Interest
  5. Traffic Icon Provides Current Traffic Information
  6. Target Icon Indicates the Destination
  7. Directional Icon Provides Different Map and Route Views
  8. Information Icon Allows Customization of the Map Content

1. Finish Flag Icon Indicates the Destination

This function allows you to quickly access the navigation’s “search address” function. You can find destinations by entering the house number, street, city, state, and zip code. You can also easily recall previously entered destinations for a quick start


2. Audio Icon Indicates Voice Instructions

You can turn on or off BMW’s navigation voice as you prefer when you check or uncheck this option. Voice instructions can accurately guide drivers turn by turn. Some of the voice instructions include announcement before turning, entering or exiting a freeway, and before the driver is about to reach the destination.


3. Clock Icon Indicates Route Preferences

Let’s imagine this driving situation. You need to get home on a day with bad weather. You want to find the shortest route possible while avoiding the freeways because of traffic and accidents. BMW navigation’s Route Preferences option provides alternative route options. It can guide you to avoid traffic or adverse road conditions and recommend new route options.

Advanced Real Time Traffic Information (ARTTI)

The BMW Advanced Real Time Traffic Information (ARTTI)  provides free traffic updates to users of the US region. It is extremely useful in keeping drivers updated on traffic status and helps you arrive at the destination safely and efficiently.

The Clock Icon Contains Two Additional Options

The first option within the clock icon provides users with the following route preferences: 

  • Fast: Recommends the fastest route in terms of time needed to arrive at the destination
  • ECO PRO: The most energy-saving route option. It helps to reduce the miles per gallon (MPG) needed for driving
  • Short: The shortest route in terms of miles needed to arrive at the destination

Once the route preference is selected, the user can choose the type of roads or areas to avoid:

  • Highways
  • Ferries
  • Toll Roads
  • Specific Areas


Additional options are available for alternative or preferred routes:

  • Online Alternative Route(s)
  • Prefer Express Roadways
  • Prefer Car Pool Roadways

The second option within the Clock Icon provides users the following route information and options:

  • Current Route: This option details the estimated time needed to get to your destination. It also displays the remaining distance in miles
  • Alternative Route: This function recommends other available routes based on your routing preferences. Fuel consumption related to the current route is also displayed
  • ECO PRO Route: This is the option where the navigation recommends routes that should save you the most gas mileage compared with other routing options. The standard time and distance of travel are also displayed

4. Pin Drop Icon Suggests Point of Interest

This option can also be brought up via shortcut when users press the navigation button next to the iDrive controller. Points of Interest selection allow you to search popular destinations such as coffee shops or gas stations without inputting the full address.


5. Traffic Icon Provides Current Traffic Information

Stuck in traffic sucks. Luckily, BMW provides users in the US region with free traffic information and keeps you informed of the latest road conditions. In addition, the handy detour function can route you to avoid traffic and accidents so you can reach the destination in a safe and timely manner.


4 Types of Alternative Map Views

The following four icons displayed at the bottom of the navigation screen provide you with alternative views to the map.

  • Traffic Information/Gray Map: The navigation will superimpose a grayish background in the map which contrasts with the traffic flow colors. This helps you to read the traffic flow and traffic icons much easier
  • Traffic Flow: Streets and freeways are highlighted with one of three colored lines: green, yellow, and red. Each color indicates different traffic condition of the road
    • Green shows the road is clear of traffic
    • Yellow indicates that there is slight to moderate traffic
    • Red means there is heavy traffic
  • Traffic Icons: The special icons appearing on the traffic map can indicate road conditions such as construction, accident or road closure
  • Receive Traffic Info Icon: Check or uncheck this option to turn on or off the current traffic flow information on the navigation

6. Target Icon Indicates the Destination

The Target Icon allows drivers to use the interactive map to select destinations. This is a quick and easy way to select a nearby destination without having to enter the address. You can pick any location on the map as the destination by moving the location pointer to the desired spot.


How to Use the Location Pointer to Selection a Destination

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to select a destination on the navigation with the location pointer.

  • Press the iDrive controller located on the center console to activate the location pointer (shown as a target symbol) on the navigation screen
  • Move the location pointer to an approximate vicinity to the destination on the map using the iDrive controller
  • Push down on the iDrive controller and a popup will appear with the gear icon. This popup shows you Points of Interest option in the selected area
  • Select a specific destination from the “A-Z Search” or the “Category Search” within the Points of Interest option


7. Directional Icon Provides Different Map and Route Views

The Directional Icon provides alternative map and route views regarding direction, map perspective, and route views. When you have an address mapped in the navigation, directional and route view options are available to help optimize your driving experience.

Available Map and Route Views

  • View Facing North
  • Direction of Travel View
  • Perspective View
  • Route Overview

8. Information Icon Allows Customization of the Map Content

The Information Icon allows drivers to add customizations concerning how the navigation is being viewed. For example, you can change the map to a 3D view and get a better sense of the area you are traveling to.

Customization Options in the Information Icon

  • Show Points of Interest
  • Weather
  • Satellite Images
  • Perspective View in 3D
  • Additional Settings


Learn more about the evolution of the 3 generations of BMW’s navigation system

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