Onstar Navigation or Google Maps – Which is Best for You?

In today's digital age, navigation tools are indispensable for drivers and travelers alike.

Two giants in the arena, OnStar Navigation and Google Maps, often become top choices for many.

Setting up google maps for directions

Each has its unique features and benefits, catering to various user needs.

In this article, we'll compare these two platforms to help you decide which one suits your navigation needs best.

Let's dive in!

What Is Onstar Navigation?

If you're in the market for a navigation system, you may have heard of Onstar Navigation.

Woman driving her car in the highway

But what exactly is it? Onstar Navigation is a GPS-based system that gives drivers turn-by-turn directions to their desired destination.

It's an add-on service with various features that can make your driving experience safer and more convenient.

Key Features of Onstar Navigation

Onstar Navigation offers a range of features that can help you get to your destination quickly and easily. Some of the key features include:

  • Turn-by-Turn Directions: OnStar gives voice-guided instructions, indicating turns, lanes, and distances.
  • Real-Time Traffic Updates: It can also provide real-time traffic updates to avoid congested areas and reach your destination faster.
  • Emergency Services: Onstar can connect you with emergency services if you're in an accident or experience a mechanical issue.
  • Roadside Assistance: If you experience a flat tire, run out of gas, or have another issue while driving, Onstar can send help to your location.
  • In-Vehicle Navigation Experience: OnStar integrates with your vehicle's touchscreen for easy navigation input.

What Is Google Maps and Google Built-In?

Google Maps is an excellent choice if you're looking for a reliable and feature-packed navigation app.

This free app, available on Android and iOS devices, gives users accurate turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic updates, and more.

Its integration with Google Built-In sets Google Maps apart, allowing users to access Google Assistant and Play Apps directly from the infotainment system.

Key Features of Google Maps

Google Maps offers many features, making it one of the most popular navigation apps.

Here are some of the key features that you can expect when using Google Maps:

  • Accurate Directions: Google Maps uses real-time traffic data to provide users with the most efficient route to their destination.
  • Real-Time Traffic Updates: Offers live traffic conditions, allowing users to anticipate delays and find alternative routes when necessary.
  • Street View: Google Maps' street view feature allows users to see a 360-degree view of their destination, making it easier to find the exact location.
  • Offline Maps: Google Maps allows users to download maps for offline use, which can be helpful when traveling in areas with poor cellular coverage.
  • Integration with Google Built-In: Google Maps can be used with Google Built-In, allowing users to access Google Assistant and Google Play Apps.
  • Location Sharing: Enables users to share their real-time location with friends and family for safety and coordination.

Onstar Navigation Vs. Google Maps: Key Differences

Let's compare Onstar Navigation and Google Maps side-by-side so you can see more of their differences.


Onstar Navigation is available on most General Motors vehicles, while Google Maps is available on any device with internet access and a GPS signal.

In other words, Onstar Navigation is more accessible for those who own a GM vehicle, but Google Maps is more accessible overall.

Continue Reading: Why Is My OnStar Light Red? [Quick Troubleshooting Guide]


Onstar Navigation is known for its reliability, as it uses satellite technology to provide accurate and up-to-date information.

Google Maps, on the other hand, requires internet connectivity and may sometimes offer inaccurate data or lose signal in weak connectivity areas.

Vehicle Integration

OnStar Navigation is designed to work closely with GM vehicles, providing real-time information on vehicle performance and diagnostics.

Google Maps specializes in offering accurate directions and is often utilized via Google Built-In.

Building on its foundation, the Google Built-In system can be viewed as an upgraded version.

It provides a more immersive in-car experience, integrating deeper with Google services.

From voice-activated functionalities via Google Assistant to Google Play Store for car-compatible apps, Google Built-In enriches the driving experience.


If you're using OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, you'll benefit from voice-guided driving directions, all powered by advanced GPS technology.

You're not left without support if you ever venture into an area where OnStar's automated navigation isn't at hand.

By pressing the blue OnStar button, you can connect to a live Advisor who can provide you with on-the-spot driving directions.

Google Maps, on the other hand, requires internet connectivity to provide directions and can become unreliable in areas with poor connectivity.

Be Sure to Check: Onstar Wi-Fi Woes: Troubleshooting Tips To Get You Back Online

Cost Savings

Onstar Navigation requires a subscription fee, while Google Maps is free.

However, Onstar Navigation provides additional services, such as remote vehicle diagnostics and emergency services, which may justify some users' costs.

Updates and Improvements

Onstar Navigation receives regular updates and improvements limited to GM vehicles.

Google Maps receives regular updates and improvements available to all users unless we're talking about Google Built-In.

Then, it only extends to top vehicle brands, including Chevrolet, Honda, Polestar, Renault, and Volvo.

Other Services

OnStar Navigation provides additional services like remote vehicle diagnostics and emergency services.

Google Maps does not have these additional services.

Pros and Cons of Onstar Navigation


  • Convenience: OnStar Navigation is built into your car, eliminating the need for phones or separate GPS devices.
  • Safety: Onstar Navigation offers several safety features, such as automatic crash response and emergency services.
  • Accuracy: Onstar Navigation uses real-time traffic data to provide the most accurate and up-to-date directions.
  • Integration: Seamlessly fits into your car's system, offering voice and touch controls.


  • Cost: Onstar Navigation is a premium service, meaning you must pay a monthly subscription fee. 
  • Limited Features: It doesn't offer as many features as its competitors. For example, it doesn't provide real-time gas prices or parking availability.
  • Limited Availability: Onstar Navigation is only available on select GM vehicles. If you don't own a GM car, you won't be able to use the service.

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Pros and Cons of Google Maps and Google Built-In


  • Real-Time Traffic Updates: Provides real-time traffic updates, which can help you avoid congested areas and save time on your commute.
  • Detailed Maps: Google Maps provides detailed maps with accurate information about streets, landmarks, and points of interest.
  • In-Vehicle Apps: Google Built-In provides in-vehicle apps that can help you stay connected while on the go.
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot with Unlimited Data: With Google Built-In, you get a Wi-Fi hotspot with unlimited data, helping you stay connected on the go.
  • Voice-guided navigation: Google Maps provides voice-guided navigation, which can help you keep your eyes on the road while driving.
  • Integration with other Google services: Google Maps is integrated with other Google services, such as Google Search and Google Assistant.


  • Data Dependency: In areas with poor connectivity, navigation may be compromised unless maps are downloaded in advance.
  • Compatibility Issues: Some Google Maps features might not be fully optimized for all vehicle displays or voice commands in Google Built-In.

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The Verdict: Which is Better, Onstar Navigation or Google Maps?

After weighing the pros and cons of both Onstar Navigation and Google Maps, it's clear that both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference and specific needs.

If you're looking for a navigation system seamlessly integrated into your vehicle with reliable, real-time traffic updates, then Onstar Navigation is the way to go.

However, if you want a navigation system that is more versatile and customizable, then Google Maps is the better choice. 

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