I have the unit plugged into the aux power jack for now. In the not too distant future I plan on adding a hard-wired power cord to free up the power jack, and a speaker in the headliner for the voice output.
I've used a lot of the indash nav kits (I work for a GPS company in fact) and there's all kinds and makes of 'em, depending on what you want to do. Since I have the 7-speaker EX stereo (and I kind of like it) I'm not going to dice it out to put in one of the in-dashers, myself. If anything I'd put up an overhead 'pod' (those dropdown video screens with a DVD) and route an under-seat unit to it, like the Alpine DVD model.
Yeah, the wires are kind of fugly. However, I leased my Element (I'm betting on a hybrid version coming out in 3-4 years and I want to upgrade) and I did the installs with a 'no cutting' mentality in mind. I'm going to surface route the wires with colored moulding soon. It'll look pretty swank.
So Tug, I'm planning on putting in an Alpine CDA-9807 (but at least for the time being, keeping the speaker system) so I think I should have some room in the dash for a nav system. I won't have my E until the 28th so I can't see quite how I'm going to set this up. Do you know of any reasonably priced (good) in dash systems? Or do you think I should go with an external?
I really appreciate the pics and the help...
Most in-dash nav systems (that fit in a single din chassis) are the kind that have a pop-out screen and are integrated with the radio. Alpine makes some great ones. You might want to consider that instead of the 9807 + a separate nav.
Navs pretty much come in three varieties: Self contained (external), integrated radios (like the blaupunkt system, the older auto-PC, etc) and modular. The modular ones are where you have a box (CD or DVD based, usually) that hides under the seat or goes into another din-slot and then feeds the nav-video output to a screen.
Easy! Just stick 'em somewhere.
Portable. Move them from vehicle to vehicle.
More theft-proof if you remember to remove them
Not integrated with anything (no auto-mute audio, etc)
Uglier installations (they're perched on things)
Tend to be less powerful processors / less elegant
These tend to not have full map displays or bigger screens. I don't know much about them, to be honest. Some are voice-based with no maps at all. Modern ones tend to be OEM and pre-installed (like the lexus kind, etc) and take din-and-a-half or double-din slots, and are integrated with the factory radio. It'd be hard to find/install one of those in an Element.
Powerful! DVD-Navs have it all.
Will work with any display, be it overhead, in-dash or otherwise
Slick installation -- you can hide it well
Faster processors usually.
If installed with same-brand, can auto-mute sounds, etc.
Taken as a whole system -- the most expensive of them all.
(gotta factor in the screen, stereo, and nav unit together)
Relatively invasive install (multiple boxes and wires)
One-car only; can't tote it between vehicles
I use the SP3 'cause it's portable and I have multiple vehicles. It's slow, sure... but it's accurate and modern, with good software. I get frustrated sometimes at its slow computation speed on re-routing, for instance... but the rest is great.
I used to have the Alpine CVA1000 pop-out screen radio. I used their CD-based navi (and in fact have it still, quite willing to sell cheap) as an under-seat box to feed it data. If I didn't buy a SP3 I would be getting a CVA1003 and their newer and far-improved DVD navi... but that's really expensive. It does it all, though.
There's a bunch of new ones out I've not seen yet, from Panasonic and some smaller names. Find a high-end audio shop that does navi stuff and take a look through the various offerings.
I really, really apreciate all your valuable help in this. I'll be checking out an audio shop just as you suggested, and I will have to do some research, but I may be interested in that system you said you may be willing to sell..