Honda Dream Drive Offers Up a Plethora of In-Car Tools from Payment Solutions to Movie Rentals

It’s been two years since Honda unveiled the innovative "Dream Drive" in-car entertainment system at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Now, the Japanese manufacturer returns to the CES with a much-improved version of the "Dream Drive" system that incorporates a compelling array of features for both the driver and his passengers like the ability to make in-car purchases, hotel reservations, play games, or watch movies.

The first prototype of the "Dream Drive" in-car infotainment system that Honda brought to CES in 2017 was merely a preview of what the automaker has on its stand this time around. Back then, we were awed by the in-car VR experience offered through a partnership with DreamWorks. However, Honda made it clear that this wasn’t the system’s only use and that it would give those traveling in Hondas of tomorrow an all-in-all better in-cabin experience through entertainment, education, music and the ability to do almost anything without leaving the comfortable seats of the car.

The Variety of Things You Can Do Inside Your Car is About to Dramatically Increase

Remember Honda’s motto, "The Power of Dreams"? Well, it’s in full display here with the new and improved "Dream Drive" feature that comes in two varieties that run simultaneously: there’s the "Dream Drive: Driver" designed for, well, the person behind the wheel and the "Dream Drive: Passenger" for everybody else in the car.

You and I can agree that the "Dream Drive: Driver" suite may be short-lived as automation kicks in high gear.

In any case, Honda’s been telling us about what "Dream Drive" will be able to do ever since 2017. Back then, John Moon, Head of Developer Relations at Honda Developer Studio, said that "entertainment in the car is rapidly changing as consumers rely more and more on personal devices and Honda sees new opportunities to create unique experiences for our customers."

Honda Returns to CES with an Evolved "Dream Drive" and It Could Change the Way We Look At In-Car Infotainment Forever
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So, now that Honda’s finally showing us in detail what these new "unique experiences" are, let’s delve a bit deeper into the two suites. First, as I said, is the driver-oriented one which allows the person behind the wheel to pay for fuel, rent hotel rooms, make restaurant reservations, order food and have it delivered to the location of the car and even share that location with friends. Previously, Honda only revealed to us the ability to make in-car payments through its partner, Visa.

Now, this partnership has been enlarged, and both Mastercard and PayPal have joined so you can pay through them as well without having to reach for your smartphone.

However, you will need a touchscreen device as the voice-activated part of "Dream Drive" is barely in its beta stage and is quite moody as of yet, meaning that it sometimes works and on many other occasions it does not. Still, you can connect an IPad to the "Dream Drive" system and use that to toggle through its many functionalities.

Honda Returns to CES with an Evolved "Dream Drive" and It Could Change the Way We Look At In-Car Infotainment Forever
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Through the "Dream Drive: Passenger" suite you can play games, some using VR technology, watch movies, listen to music, read original comics stories, use travel applications, explore new points of interest along the route, and control the radio and other features inside your Honda too.

There will also be downloadable content to add to the already impressive list of things that "Dream Drive" offers.

To achieve all this, Honda has partnered with a number of big names in a number of key industries. Atom Tickets, Chevron, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, GrubHub, Glympse, iHeartRadio, and the IPS Group are just some of them. Then there’s also the gamification aspect that’s going to be implemented within "Dream Drive." This concept involves reward points for completing everyday tasks and more: "Honda drivers and passengers earn points from common activities as well as extraordinary experiences created with market-leading brands and developers, and then redeem their reward points at their favorite local and online retailers," said Bryan Biniak, the CEO of Connected Travel, Honda Innovation’s key partner and co-developer in this ambitious endeavour.

Honda Returns to CES with an Evolved "Dream Drive" and It Could Change the Way We Look At In-Car Infotainment Forever
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Connected Travel is also helping future Honda owners park their cars by using just their voice to connect with the car. People that visit the 2019 edition of CES will be able to taste the "Dream Drive" system for themselves as it’s been fitted to a Honda Pilot. Tech Radar hopped on for a passenger ride aboard this special Pilot and they underline some interesting features of the system. For instance, talking about the gamification feature, Tech Radar says the bigger the number of people who have "Dream Drive," the bigger the rewards involved for those using it.

These rewards or, to put it otherwise, bonus points can then be converted to discounts that can be used to purchase stuff from the partnering companies that are part of "Dream Drive."

This all sounds interesting but let’s all hope the driver won’t get too wrapped up in the "Dream Drive" system and forget the fact that he’s not actually dreaming, but actually driving a vehicle... well, at least until driverless cars become the norm. Still, Honda’s ideas have huge potential, and many people could get hooked on the idea as a whole as it’s yet another way to simplify your life (some more). We all know how hard it is to cram some time for yourself in this day and age so solving things like plane tickets, hotel reservations, movie nights and food while driving around town could be a great way to save a few precious minutes.

Honda Returns to CES with an Evolved "Dream Drive" and It Could Change the Way We Look At In-Car Infotainment Forever
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With all that being said, Honda isn’t the first to showcase some of the features encapsulated in the "Dream Drive." For instance, GM introduced late in 2017 the ’Marketplace’ option within its infotainment system for any 2017 model year vehicle or newer.

The feature became available on anything, from Buicks to Cadillacs and from Chevrolets to GMCs.

Back when it was launched, you were able to make purchases through a number of partners such as through partners Dunkin’ Donuts, Wingstop, Shell, ExxonMobil, Applebee’s. A number of other partners, such as Starbucks, have joined in since then.

“Rather than having somebody pull over and get in park while they’re doing [the purchases through their phone], which causes you to lose valuable time, or even worse, the temptation for people to try to use their phone while driving which is something that we definitely don’t want… we believe in doing everything we can to make it available while making it safe while in motion,” John McFarland, GM’s Head of Global Digital Experience & Connected Vehicles, told Tech Crunch.

Honda Returns to CES with an Evolved "Dream Drive" and It Could Change the Way We Look At In-Car Infotainment Forever
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GM’s ’Marketplace’ uses machine learning to understand your patterns when using the platform so that it can offer you suggestions that, in turn, streamline the whole process, making you lose less time looking at the ’Marketplace’ interface and, instead, focus on the road. This is important because many people die on the roads nowadays due to being distracted by their phones or other mobile devices as well as the car’s own infotainment system. This may become a non-issue with GM’s fleet of driverless cars although that program isn’t progressing as smoothly as the automaker would’ve hoped.

We’ll have to wait and see what’s the next manufacturer to jump in the freight - Tesla, maybe? - and what new options they’ll bring to the table to differentiate themselves from the competition. It’s surely a brave new world out there when it comes to in-car entertainment as well as features that make your life easier. It’s all part of a trend that recognizes that driving should be the last of your problems when traversing to your work or wherever you have to be via your own car - or a car you shared/loaned.

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Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert -
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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