By on March 23, 2015

CarPlay screen-1200-80

Today’s QOTD comes from a reader, who wants some car audio advice for his Smart ForTwo.

Reader Ed writes,

 

I have a 2008 Smart ForTwo (don’t mock me, I live in San Francisco and I use it as a commuter car). When I bought it used, it had a JVC head unit with navigation, Bluetooth etc. The only problem is that it won’t work with my iPhone 6+. I am in my car quite a lot, and I *need* to be able to take phone calls while I’m driving, since my clients are used to being able to reach me at all times. I also wouldn’t mind being able to play my music and charge my phone in the car.

I’ve seen the newest generation of Apple CarPlay head units, and I am really intrigued by them. Do any of the B&B have advice on which one is the best? The Pioneer unit comes highly recommended. Alternately, I am open to other options, provided they have Bluetooth, navigation and the ability to sync my phone. I am also looking for a good local shop to install it. I am willing to pay for the best deck and a good install, so budget is not much of a concern – I am not a big gearhead and I am also a very anxious person, so paying extra for a well-functioning, properly installed deck is paramount.

Anyone have any suggestions for Ed? I am not much of a car audio guy, so unfortunately, I can’t offer too much help. Hopefully someone in the readership can step in. By the way, if you have a QOTD you’d like answered, email us, editors at ttac dot com.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

69 Comments on “Question Of The Day: Hit The Deck...”


  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I’m not either, but install in a smart is an easy DIY. Pop out the button bank, unscrew and pop the center dash cover, then connect and insert whatever double-DIN head unit you like.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      +1 most vehicles are made such that it’s almost criminal to charge someone for a headunit swap.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Go to a place that has head units setup to try out and find what you like. For installation I would see if whoever services your car will do it. I have seen too many problems with installs even on something as simple as a head unit. Remember, your trained audio specialist is a kid without any kind of real automotive training. I have seen to many issues. Wiring that is just twisted together and tapped over. Wiring adapters installed incorrectly causing interference issues. Wiring tapped into circuits that shouldn’t have been tapped into, etc.. You would be surprised at how these “installers” can screw up the most basic things.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Follow up question to the experts, what happens when HVAC and trip computer are synced in with the radio head unit? Do aftermarket options take this into account?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Err, umm, just don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Which OEMs do this crap? 1st don’t buy the car with HVAC and other junk going through the radio. That has to stop. It can be a messy situation, and passive aggressive on the OEM’s part.

        Bypass the radio when it can’t disconnected. Can the factory radio or the aftermarket unit be remotely located? Or the factory radio pushed deep into the dash?

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          My wife’s Volvo is like this. The HVAC and radio all are in one unit. Its that “waterfall” dash so no aftermarket unit for her. Thankfully the radio has AUX in so that how her iPhone is connected.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            My iPhone connects to mine via Bluetooth.

            (And unless it’s a pretty old Volvo it’ll have a USB port that can also do it.)

            With modern systems that both sound good and have Bluetooth audio – which is basically future-proof for input for the life of any new car right now – there’s … what need to replace the stock unit?

            I see none – I’ve only replaced stock units with aftermarket ones to *get a Bluetooth unit in*.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Which OEMs do this?

          A LOT of them do now. A crap load of them. You see it more in luxury makes with more complicated infotainment systems but even lowly Fords, GM, and Chrysler products have integrated solutions.

          In some cases there are kits that are built that will replace the OEM controls with your own head unit (Folic controller for the G8 as an example). Some of them look just like OEM (typically high volume procucts) while others aren’t all that good (like the Folic control on the G8)

          But this isn’t a niche phenomenon or something new. The all oval Ford Taurus is the first mainstream vehicle that comes to mind that had integrated HVAC and entertainment controls that made it impossible to change the dashboard head unit and keep your factory HVAC controls.

          Here is an example from an ’04 Taurus (which is after the all oval version and by ’04 was basically a fleet special – but you get the idea).

          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Radio-for-2004-ford-Taurus-includes-manual-climate-control-section-/111626524031?hash=item19fd75957f&vxp=mtr

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “The all oval Ford Taurus is the first mainstream vehicle that comes to mind that had integrated HVAC and entertainment controls that made it impossible to change the dashboard head unit and keep your factory HVAC controls.”

            Yes and it drove us nuts back in the day. Stupid then, stupid now.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          It’s not going to stop because buyers just don’t care. All but one of the audio install shops (not counting Best Buy) in my area have shut down over the past few years. Sound quality is becoming more and more of a niche.

          No matter how crappy it might sound, so long as it syncs with an iphone it’s the best thing ever.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Sadly, this.

            I had to go to almost unnatural level of acts to upgrade the sound system in my G8 GT (covered earlier on TTAC) and I still have a hint of 100% unsolvable alternator whine. Turning the volume up drowns it out.

            Crying shame given the system in place.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Most people can’t tell ‘quality’ from ‘volume’, turns out.

            And most of your quality gain comes from better speakers, not a Sparklier, Shiner Head Unit.

          • 0 avatar
            kvndoom

            Hypno, what amp are you using to power your speakers?

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @kvndoom

            JBL MS-8

            JL audio digital amp 150 x 4

            JBL 250 x 1 amp for sub

            Factory head unit for center channel only

          • 0 avatar
            kvndoom

            You and your installer might have already done all this, but I’ll ask anyway-

            1) bypass the MS8 and connect the radio outputs directly to the amp. If you don’t get the alternator buzz, then the processor is the source of the noise and you might be able to solve it at that level (through improved grounding or isolation techniques). If you still hear alt buzz without the MS8 in the loop, then your amp probably doesn’t have balanced RCA’s (see below).

            2) If the MS8 isn’t the issue, Try a 4-channel amp (preferably one you can return) known to have differential balanced RCA inputs. Most likely will solve your issue. I do not know if JBL has this feature, but I avoid amps which don’t.

            When I was heavy into car stereo stuff (an expensive hobby if there ever was), I learned that some amps have differential balanced RCA inputs and some don’t. The ones with balanced RCA jacks will eliminate alternator whine without any special wiring or equipment. Factory radios are notoriously bad for having balanced outputs (2 Mazda’s and One Honda I had were all this way). Amps I know off top of my head with this feature are JL (Slash and HD do for sure, not certain about XD, JX definitely do not), Alpine new PDX (I have an F4 myself), and I believe most Kicker amps.

            I used to be pretty regular on DIY Mobile Audio, but slacked off when I got heavy into school. But back in the day, this advice helped a ton of people get rid of the whine.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @kvndoom

            Taking the chance you’re still reading this.

            The install on my car hasn’t been a full on disaster, but it hasn’t been pleasant.

            The first shop that worked on it did a great job of adding a simple 10″ sub with amp. No whine or issues and installed to my specs.

            The second shop fired the installer who was working on my car mid-install. I ended up not getting all of the agreed to work done and was at the end happy to just have my car back.

            The third shop was done by a very very close friend, and in the end he got tied up, kicked the job to another installer who was in over their head. Ugh.

            So as I understand it, without ripping my car apart.

            The signal that comes off the factory head unit is the front left and right channels back to the MS-8 for sound processing.

            The center channel is run through the head unit without passing through the MS-8 at all. This channel has no issues.

            The JBL MS-8 signal is split three different ways.

            Four channels go to the JL digital amp which is powering Morel speakers – component up front, and coaxial in the door (great speakers).

            There is a mono signal going to a 250 watt 1 channel amp powering a 12″ subwoofer in a box. It is much nicer than the previous setup in sound quality, however the ability to quickly remove for drag racing or auto-X has been eliminated. That pissed me off as I told them that was a key requirement. Anyway…

            The last two channels go to two Focal speakers in the rear deck for back fill. This is coming directly off of the MS-8, where gobs of power aren’t needed (also great speakers).

            If you do a search on the Internets you’ll find that alternator whine is a huge problem on the G8 and extremely hard to isolate. I’ve read a number of reasons on why but a lot seems like theory.

            I did have a third shop try to move grounds around to solve the issue, to no affect.

            I’m pretty convinced at this point that no one who was worked on this was worth their bill rates. For example when you power the system on/off at the head unit there is a nasty pop. No system, ever, EVER should do that. I’ve been told that’s the way it is, and referred to the owner’s manual on the MS-8. I get it, without adding additional protection that goes, “oh, the signal to the head unit has ended, that means the system is powered down, so I should graciously power down two seconds from now) exists and can be built in. At least that’s how I understand it.

            The while is largely heard when the system is at zero volume and you’re driving and between songs. It isn’t horrific, but to my ears it’s nails on the chalkboard.

            I would love to just have it gone.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          It’s pretty universal, extending to tire pressure sensors and beyond. If maintaining factory functionality (including wheel control) is a key concern limit your searches to make specific car GPS units. There are some pretty impressive offerings from the budget asian aftermarket brands. They also have the appeal of being matched to the dashboard design in a way that the rectangular units usually can’t match. You’d have to give up the name brand trust if you went this route, but some internet research should provide product reviews on various forums.

  • avatar

    Every car should come with a basic navigation system.

    As far as audio input:

    SD CARD, USB and 3.5mm headphone aux. I’ll do the rest

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The Nav offered by OEMs is usually a generation behind the aftermarket at 3X the price. But all will be obsolete fairly quick, so we’re faced with the aftermarket install anyway, especially on used cars.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        SD CARD, USB and 3.5mm headphone aux. I’ll do the rest

        Yes, forget any kind of navigation. Give me the above plus a place to mount my phone and I’m good to go. (OK a basic AM/FM tuner for severe weather alerts…)

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I have my music on a USB stick, but when my wife or daughters are in the car, they like to listen to what’s on their phones, and Bluetooth is very nice for that. It’s also great for phone and text integration, very convenient to have the car read the text to you while you’re driving.

        • 0 avatar
          sproc

          “SD CARD, USB and 3.5mm headphone aux. I’ll do the rest”

          I could totally live with that as standard equipment. The only upgrade to that setup I’d gladly pay for is a “dumb” LCD screen that can mirror my phone’s display. Knowing the lawyers will never allow it, I am cautiously optimistic that CarPlay will be the next best thing.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “Knowing the lawyers will never allow it, I am cautiously optimistic that CarPlay will be the next best thing”

            This would be nice, but there’s no standard for doing this, at least not one that works well. Apple has AirPlay and a (restricted) ability to mirror to HDMI/DVI, Android and BlackBerry have Miracast (sometimes) and/or HDMI (sometimes) along with USB and BT HID (sometimes). I haven’t looked at WP.

            And as far as I know, none have a good way to mirror touch input.

            Forget the lawyers, you’ll never get it past the feuding standards groups.

          • 0 avatar

            “The only upgrade to that setup I’d gladly pay for is a “dumb” LCD screen that can mirror my phone’s display. ”

            The only way that’s happening is if Apple allows Lightining -to-HDMI and all the other phone makers allow micro-HDMI.

            Thing is, unless it’s a multi-touch capable touchscreen – you won’t be doing much.

            USB is as necessary for charging the device as it is for moving data. I should add Bluetooth to that list.

            A2DP Bluetooth is pretty good.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I didn’t even get nav on my aftermarket radio. A Garmin is cheaper to buy, easier to update, and won’t disable radio features when the car is moving.

    • 0 avatar
      jdmcomp

      All of mine have always had a nav system, called a brain.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Bluetooth, you savage.

      (Ah, I see you added it in a comment. Carry on.)

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    Buy a better phone…

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Buy a better car…

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “When I bought it used, it had a JVC head unit with navigation, Bluetooth etc. The only problem is that it won’t work with my iPhone 6+. ”

        I’m just confused how a Bluetooth capable head unit “won’t work with” an iPhone 6+.

        I have Pioneer units in my F250 and Corolla and they work fine with my 5S.

        They send audio, they let me answer a phone call. They even let me make one, though I’d never do it from the head unit, considering how horrible the UX is for making a phone call with a 1DIN head unit not optimized for it.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          Is there a new Bluetooth standard out? The IP6 is only months old and maybe it’s using newer BT than the deck provides?

          Is there new firmware available for the JVC? A lot of new radios can be updated by USB drive.

          Better yet, is there a backwards compatibility setting for Bluetooth in the IP6/6+ ?

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            As far as I can tell, the Bluetooth spec is backward compatible for all features that existed in prior specs. For example, the low energy feature of Bluetooth 4.0 is not backward compatible with devices running 2.1, but the core functionality is.
            https://www.bluetooth.org/en-us/specification/adopted-specifications

            Also, according to Apple, support for Bluetooth profiles has not changed since iPhone 4. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204387

            I have no idea why iPhone 6 BT won’t work with this particular JVC head unit. Of course, we don’t know what “won’t work” means in this case. Won’t pair? Contacts don’t sync? Can make calls but not stream music?

            It’s too bad devices don’t have better documentation for the devices they can and can’t pair with, and what features will work. Most simply say they support bluetooth, and most consumers will run with that. Unfortunately, it might not be that simple.

          • 0 avatar
            kvndoom

            If the car’s a 2008, the radio could well predate the phone by 5 years or more. I guess we can’t really help without a model number of the radio.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          I think he’s getting at the USB integration doesn’t work. To be fair, when I moved to a 5 a few years ago any number of usb integrated i-accessories I had stopped would no longer integrate as well.

          Bluetooth has been rock solid on everything I’ve been using it with since at least 2010.

  • avatar
    frankstone

    We’ve had one of the Pioneer AppRadio CarPlay units in our Scion for about 3 months. The actual unit is pretty nice. CarPlay on the other hand should really still be in beta. It works well 75% of the time. The other 25% are random freezes, the stereo rebooting, restarting my phone to be able to connect, nav screen gets garbled, sometimes it can’t play podcasts. First world problems! :)

    I’m sure they’ll fix the bugs at some point, but it was kind of a bummer to pay $450 to become part of a beta testing team.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Do you want a capacitive touchscreen? That limits you to a few models: Alpine ILX-007, Pioneer AppRadio 4, Pioneer AVIC 8000NEX and 8100NEX. The former two don’t have optical drives.

    http://wwv.crutchfield.com/shopsearch/carplay.html

  • avatar
    philadlj

    All I can say is, avoid Cadillac CUE, possibly the worst infotainment system ever conceived. Then again you’ll only find it in the worst CARS ever conceived: Cadillacs. Honestly, they should just renamed the Cadillac “Dumb.”

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      You really need to rename this account “Monomania”.

      Seriously, could you maybe restrict the Cadillac-hate* to, you know, topics where Cadillac is relevant?

      (* I mean, I don’t like GM. And Cadillac does nothing for me.

      And you’ve got *problems*.)

  • avatar
    duffman13

    Have him go to best buy and play around with a few of them. JVC has generally been crap for around a decade, so I would look into changing brands, especially if he’s not doing his own install (Staying with the same brand is a quicker instal since you don’t have to splice a new connector harness).

    I’ve always been partial to pioneer in car audio, and seeing as they have a few CarPlay double Din receivers I would be inclined to go in that direction, especially since it keeps your navigation good and current. The Pioneer SPH-DA120 looks good if he doesn’t need an optical drive, and the Pioneer AVIC-5000NEX if he does, both at the $600 price point. Moving up to a capacitive touchscreen will run about another $4-500, but for a car I think the traditional type is better.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Article title should be “Hit The DOCK”

    Pioneer has good systems. If you have good cell phone service you don’t need GPS- just get a head unit with screen mirroring and use the navigation in your phone.

  • avatar
    epsilonkore

    I have the Pioneer NEX8000, it works great with carplay. I would advise going with the newer 8100 series that also adds android auto (in case you want to change in the future to Android OR if you have a passenger with Android). If you dont need built in NAV, and want some security features go down to the 6100 model that has a smaller screen, isnt capacitive, but adds a removable security bar and still does CarPlay and AndroidAuto all day long. You can use Apple Maps in CarPlay negating the need for built in Pioneer Nav like the higher end units have. Just look over the feature set at pioneers website and choose which one suits you best. I have a friend with the Alpine carplay unit and it sounds great, but crashes and freezes more than mine (yes they are both still buggy at this time, but very usable). Also his doesnt have a CD/DVD player which I still use… sort of…

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      The NEX is what I understood to be the best option, but I’m at a loss for the difference in each receiver. They look quite similar and Crutchfield’s comparison tool doesn’t do a great job at…. *comparing*.

      • 0 avatar
        epsilonkore

        If you are seriously thinking about a NEX unit, and you are fairly technical, go to http://www.avic411.com and join the NEX group (I am there). Just yesterday we discovered how to load the x100 firmware on the last year model x000 units giving them AndroidAuto. The guy who figured out how to do this first has done it with the last generation 4000, which is a great unit (if you are fine with using Apple Maps instead of Pioneers Maps). It will cost much less now than the newer 4100 model and is looking like AndroidAuto will be fully functional soon. The NEX’s also have support for various auto interfaces such as steering wheel controls and energy consumption/engine monitoring found in certain vehicles. I dont know how much of this your Smart has, my FR-S has virtually none, and for that I am thankful!.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    Do you have a free aux-in connection and 12v outlet? One alternative would be a bluetooth adapter with aux out. I use one of these in my car:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16875991014

    I haven’t had the need to use it for taking calls yet, but I do use it for music on my iPod Touch and Galaxy S5.

    Pros:
    – Cheap.
    – If you only have one available 12v outlet, you can still charge your phone via USB.
    – Portable. Can use it in other vehicles easily.

    Cons:
    – For music, you can hit play/pause and next/prev, but don’t have direct control through the dash. (Can’t browse artists/albums/playlists, etc.)
    – Depends on location of your 12v outlet.
    – If you need to use audio coming form the in-dash unit (nav directions, FM radio, CD, etc.), you’d need to switch between audio inputs in order to take a call / listen to bluetooth streaming. Not as seamless a solution as an all-in-one unit.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      It may not be quite what you’re looking for, but it’s an easy/cheap solution for someone who needs to add bluetooth to a non-bluetooth car. Much better than having to fumble with your phone when you want to pause or skip a track (my primary use for it).

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think this is the right approach, if the only problem we are trying to solve is taking calls while driving. I realize money isn’t necessarily an issue, but why spend it if you don’t have to?

      I use a Kinivo BTC450. It’s a bluetooth to aux-in adapter. I picked it over the Gogroove devices for the following reasons:

      – It looks dramatically better, especially on a dark dash. Having a Gogroove sticking out of the 12v outlet is hideous. The Kinivo is almost invisible where I have it mounted.
      – The 12v adapter that it uses for a power source is on a wire, so you have more flexibility on where you plug it in. In my case, this allowed me to use a 12v power source in the glovebox.

      You do have to change inputs if you want radio or CDs. Oh well. Assuming everything runs through the bluetooth on your iPhone, you get nav directions, bluetooth audio, and can take calls on the same input. I’ve used it for short calls, and the quality is good enough – better than any other bluetooth system I’ve tried. I am very happy with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Wraith

        Don’t think I saw that one before I bought my GoGroove. The GoGroove has an aux-in feature (for non-bluetooth devices, like iPod Classic) and FM transmitter (for cars without an aux connection). But I haven’t used either yet. The Kinivo looks like a good option.

        The GoGroove isn’t as pretty, for sure. But it’s worked well for me so far.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Also in Kinivo’s favor is the usb slot on the back of the 12V power adapter is 5V/1A vs 5V/600mA on the Gogroove. 600 mA probably won’t be enough to keep up with the power demands of the iPhone 6’s screen if you are using a navigation app (1A might not even do it – I use a separate power adapter that supplies 5V/2.0A to keep up with my Nexus 4).

        Sound quality is also in Kinivo’s corner, as aux-in > FM transmitter.

        In Gogroove’s defense, it might be a cleaner solution for some. I have the advantage of a 12V socket and a aux input in the glovebox. If you have to use an aux input on the face of the head unit and a 12V socket on the center console, Kinivo will leave you with wires everywhere.

        • 0 avatar
          Wraith

          The GoGroove has two 3.5mm aux connections, one for input, one for output.

          While it has FM transmitter capability, I’ve only used it with the aux connection.

          I noticed there’s a newer version of the Kinivo that supports two bluetooth devices synced at once. Which I could actually use, since I still use my iPod Touch for mp3s/podcasts, but use phone for Spotify. Right now, with the GoGroove, I kill the bluetooth connection on one in order to sync the other.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    JVC has always worked well for me but felt kind of cheap. Kenwood decks are basically JVC but better built. I’m not a huge Pioneer fan because I typically lime a volume knob which all but their most high end stuff lacks. Go play with some at best buy or whatever then check crutchfield.com. they will have the entire model range so you can pick out he deck you like then order it with the features you want.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I know you have probably drunk the Apple “coolaide”, but I would suggest a head unit that can handle Apple Carplay as well as Android Auto. There are currently such units from Pioneer, Kenwood and Parrot with others to follow. I’d pick the cheapest unit that does this, but none of them will be cheap as head units that handle this are very new

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    There is no way to get the Iphone 6 working with the current JVC unit via bluetooth? Did you already remove all paired devices from the JVC unit and then try to add the phone? There might be other troubleshooting steps to try as well.

    I thought bluetooth was a well-defined standard. You might not be able to sync your contacts to the head unit, but that is surprising that you can’t make a connection at all.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Apple likes to make it difficult. I have had so many issues with IPhones where they won’t pair correctly on Mercedes. The OEs always have to update their software to make it work with the newest IPhone. The differences aren’t even always new generations, even the same IPhone product built a few months apart might pair differently. Why people put up with this companies crap is beyond me. I have never had a problem pairing an Android phone to any bluetooth device. What’s funny is that some of these IDrones are more likely to replace their car than they are to replace their phone.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Difficult?

        Mine always work with my relatively basic Pioneer 1-DINs, and when I was doing test drives, I had no problem pairing my 5S with an Audi, a Mercedes, a BMW, a Honda [actually I think it was the most difficult, but I blame Honda’s terrible UX], and a Volvo.

        But, yes, please call people “IDrones”. That’s clever and makes you right.

        (A quick search reveals that you’re probably thinking of how iPhone 5 models wouldn’t pair with things that … didn’t support Bluetooth 4.

        Mean old Apple, using a current version of Bluetooth, adopted in 2010, in a phone they released in 2012, before *every piece of hardware on Earth* was updated to support it!

        Jerks.)

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          The cars I’m talking about supported the new protocol. Apple’s products are designed so that manufacturers of accessories play by their rules. Then they decide to change the rules constantly. There were about 3 or 4 different changes made on the both the 5 and 5s during their runs that caused interface issues, and required software updates for the head-units to get to work. You could have two identical IPhones in your hand, one would work fine and the other would have issues just because Apple decided to change something that month.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      @B&B

      I’m not sure if it’s an iOS thing, but my iPhone 6 Plus does not play nearly as nicely with my 2013 Equinox’ MyLink as my previous Note 3 did. Bluetooth pairing routinely requires a full restart of the car if the connection is lost, and connecting to the car (i.e. you forgot to turn Bluetooth on and then started the car) is spotty at best.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      JVC in my wife’s car works fine with her 6+ over Bluetooth and via lightning. It is not a touchscreen though but does one really need to mirror a 6+? Just mount it high and use the phone as the touchscreen. I do this with my Z ULTRA which kind of dwarfs the 6+.

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    Admittedly I only read 30 or 40 responses first, but it seems I’m the only person who may actually try and answer OP’s question.

    Pioneer seems to have the best combination of usability and aesthetic. Their AVIC-NEX series (5000NEX, 6000NEX, 7000NEX) are in the $650-$900 range. All three – and likely other models – support iPhone 6/6Plus with a software update that Best Buy, etc, would do during install. They’ll interface with Siri, and to my knowledge phone calls, the reading of text messages and playing music or podcasts all integrate seamlessly with your iPhone.

    If the HVAC weren’t combined into it, one of these is what I’d put in my 2013 Equinox to replace MyLink. I *really* want navigation, and aside from a shady looking $1,200 add-on kit which, if I’m reading correctly, involves sending a shady company my old center stack after installation, I seem to have no other option. Not sure how factory back-up camera or other in-car controls integrate into these decks, though.

    http://wwv.crutchfield.com/p_1307000NEX/Pioneer-AVIC-7000NEX.html?tp=20217

    http://wwv.crutchfield.com/p_1306000NEX/Pioneer-AVIC-6000NEX.html?tp=20217

    http://wwv.crutchfield.com/p_1305000NEX/Pioneer-AVIC-5000NEX.html?tp=20217

    • 0 avatar
      Internet Commenter

      I’m looking to do something similar with my 2006 Scion xB, but I have an Android phone (Nexus 5). The 5000NEX seems to fit the bill, but it appears to be Apple- centric. Do you think it would be a waste to use an Apple focused unit with Android?

      Is there a system with a similar aesthetic that is more Android-centric? The Parrot Asteroid looks promising, but the reviews imply that it’s not fully baked. Anyone have any experience with it?

      Lastly, is installing one of these really as simple as people are saying?

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        If you swapping one standard sized unit for another, yes, it is pretty easy.

        If the new unit has a nav, you’ll have to find a home for the GPS antenna and run the wire behind your dash to the back of the head unit. You’ll probably have deviate from the directions if you want it to work with the car moving too.

        Even if you don’t already have a standard DIN head unit and have to add some kind of adapter bracket, it’s just tedious. If you lack space behind the dash, stuffing the wires back there can be frustrating too. There is certainly no special expertise required. It’s also free to attempt, since if you fail the car is still driveable; you just have to tuck your tail between your legs and have a pro fix your mess at some point.

        The simplicity of this applies to professional installation as well. Make fun of Best Buy’s Geek Squad all you want, but car audio installation doesn’t take an advanced degree, and this is what they do for 30+ hours per week. I would have no problem taking my chances with an install at Best Buy or similar.

        • 0 avatar
          Internet Commenter

          @burgersandbeer

          Thank you for taking the time to write a detailed response. I suspected a “you don’t know what you don’t know” scenario (i.e. GPS antenna set up).

          I’ll likely go the professional route.

    • 0 avatar

      Trust me, you do *not* want to mess with installing an aftermarket head unit on any of those GM cars with the Global-A electrical architecture (everything introduced in or after MY2010). And of course swapping the non-navigation MyLink for one with navigation is a complete nightmare. I believe only Chrysler’s latest Uconnect system allows you to add full-fledged navigation after the fact (although with a few capabilities removed); the other automakers expect you to simply buy a car with navigation even when there’s no reason not to make it an optional add-on, still use separate units for nav vs no nav, or compensate with some kind of app that lets you use your phone for GPS/Internet connectivity (with an optional higher-priced unit that has built-in nav in the case of Toyota). GM does the latter with its smaller Sonic and Spark models, which use a different version of MyLink than your Equinox (there are actually *four* separate systems that go by the trademarks MyLink or IntelliLink).

      And don’t get me started on those weak “Turn-by-Turn” navigation subscriptions that both Ford and GM offer…

      • 0 avatar
        epsilonkore

        It was a daunting and ultimately self defeating journey that I took with my Saturn Sky trying to upgrade it to a Pioneer unit several years ago. I agree, if you have multiple GM systems already… just stick with it and weep when you see someones superior aftermarket solution that you cant have because of all the integrated Onstar/IntelliLink/Turn Signals/Door chimes/Diagnostics going through the basic function GM stereo :/

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mcs: They’ll have to carry a new version of those signs on delivery trucks: “Vehicle Carries No Toilet...
  • nrd515: I’ve driven several Wranglers over the last 25 years or so, and none of them approached the...
  • nrd515: I’m 63 and will never get old enough that something as ugly as the Avalon would appeal to me. I...
  • nrd515: My friend’s family had two of them, a ’71 and a ’77, both with the six and they were...
  • nrd515: I can tell you from experience, you didn’t need to be wearing anything more than thin pants to get the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Timothy Cain
  • Matthew Guy
  • Ronnie Schreiber
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth