More apps and customization highlight upgraded Toyota Entune infotainment system on select 2014 models

Toyota will debut its next-generation Entune interface in the 2014 models of the Corolla sedan, Tundra truck, and 4Runner mid-sized SUV. These vehicles have all started showing up at Toyota dealers in the US.

The biggest change has to do with app availability. Entune first came out in the 2012 Toyota Prius (which started shipping in 2011). Since then, apps like OpenTable let you set a dinner reservation form the car. You can use a movie listing service to purchase tickets with a credit card. And, there’s all of the typical weather and sports scores to browse.

The new version is quite slick. You can now drag-and-drop icons around and customize them—similar to what you can do in the 2013 Cadillac ATS and CTS using CUE. The touchscreen on the Corolla felt responsive and quick, unlike earlier versions that had a slight drag to them.

The 2014 Toyota Corolla is one of the cars that will feature Toyota's upgraded Entune infortainment system.

The new version also includes the Facebook Places app, which means you can let your friends know where you are when you reach a destination. Because of the long lead time for user interfaces in cars, Toyota probably had no idea that Places, announced in 2010, would fail to catch on. It’s now more of a location sharing service than anything remotely like Foursquare. Still, the app is a good step forward in connecting drivers on the road.

There’s also a new app for Yelp. Jeep recently introduced this app as part of its Uconnect service. The idea is to search for local destinations (from gas stations to hotels), check ratings from other users, and then send the destination to the nav.

One important point to make about Entune: Opt for Entune Premium Audio and Entune Premium JBL Audio or you’ll be stuck with the base version of the dashboard interface, sans Entune. There are different versions of Entune: The “Display Audio and Display Navigation with Entune App Suite” is included free with the vehicle. The “Premium HDD Navigation with Entune App Suite” version is free for three years, then will require you subscribe to SiriusXM for $14.49 per month.

Toyota has some stiff competition when it comes to the main dashboard interface. Ford is the clear leader: Its MyFord Touch system syncs with dozens of apps including MOG, Rhapsody, Slacker Radio, and the Amazon Cloud Player. Still, Entune does let you control the dash by voice and works fast and reliably on the touchscreen. There’s room for improvement, but Toyota's making progress when it comes to highly connected cars and phone syncing.

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