By on November 4, 2019

best head up displays

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

Not much of the driving advice doled out by my long-suffering father has been retained by your author’s increasingly foggy brain. Gripping the wheel at ten-and-two has been replaced by nine-and-three, although dad’s exhortation that my preferred wheel grip of twelve-and-nothing was absolute bollocks brings a smile to my face even now.

However, being told to keep one’s eyes on the road is a lesson that rarely leaves any of us. Look far ahead, he would say, because those who simply look just beyond the hood will find their drives full of terrifying surprises. Come to think of it, that advice holds true for lots of things in life, not just driving.

Some snazzier cars (and even some not-so-snazzy ones) have a head-up display that projects the car’s speed and other info onto the windshield. The thinking behind this feature is that, heeding dad’s advice, one doesn’t have to take their eyes off the road to learn their car’s velocity and other minutiae.

What’s that? Your car doesn’t have a head-up display? Worry not, for we’ve assembled a few options for fitting it to vehicles lacking the feature.

(Editor’s note: As noted above, this post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

1. Editor’s Choice: ACECAR Upgrade Universal Car HUD Head Up Display

acecar t800 universal car hud

Displaying driving data on its 4.3-inch TFT screen, this little unit can display a phalanx of information in too-small numbers or simply give a massive readout of one’s current speed. Presented in a clear font with an attractive color scheme, it is a small matter to switch between a variety of operating interface modes and layouts.

Based on the GPS module inside its housing, this unit will start and turn off automatically with vehicle ignition. Be sure to annoy your favorite teen driver with the speed alarm setting. It does need to be plugged into a power source, so be sure to hide those unsightly cables. The GPS chip can also tell drivers information like altitude and driving time. Thanks to the simple need for 12V power, this unit can be used in just about any wheeled vehicle.

Pros: Versatile, clear screen

Cons: Ugly cables

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2. Widerlife Dual System HUD Head Up Display

widerlife universal hud

More of a true heads up display than the unit selected above, this item projects an image onto ones windshield, beaming it out of its face like so many Star Trek transporter beams. Its reflected image includes information like speed and direction. Choose from a snazzy decorative light or simply one’s vehicle speed.

Unlike other HUDs on this list, the Widerlife runs off the car’s OBD2 port, allowing it to provide readouts of water temperature, battery voltage, and engine speed in RPM. The box is a 3.5”x2.1” rectangle, standing about 1.2 inches high. A quartet of easy to use buttons face the driver and allow for scrolling through the various options.

Pros: Compact size, its reflective nature makes it a true HUD

Cons: Only good for vehicles built after 2008

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3. Pyle Heads-Up Display Screen

pyle hud

Despite sharing a name with Gomer, this head-up display also projects its information onto a glass surface. Its arrangement of data is much more frenetic than the HUD listed above, a decision which will please players of Forza Horizon by anger any luddites in the audience. Changing the display doesn’t seem to be much of an option.

Speed, driving direction, driving time, driving distance, and altitude are all on full display. With no need to take your eyes off the road, all vital information is projected ahead of the driver in a full-color 5.5-inch display. No OBD2 ports are needed here; simply plug this thing into a 12V power source and you’re set.

Pros: Plenty of data information, 12V operation

Cons: Weirdo brand name

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4. Red Shield HUD Reflective Windshield Film

red shield hud reflective windshield film

This isn’t technically a heads up display; rather, it’s an accessory to go along with one. According to the seller, the high definition crystal clear film provides the best display resolution and pixels per inch to best reflect the projection. Apparently, the film is totally transparent and will not distract a driver.

After cleaning a 6-inch square on one’s windshield to ensure maximum adhesion, peel off the sticky backing and place this film where it is desired. Somehow, despite its 6-inch measure, it can effectively display a HUD of 7 inches. Reviews are somewhat middling, with customers reporting it doesn’t really work in daylight.

Pros: Could provide clarity for displaying one’s HUD detail

Cons: Not an actual HUD

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5. iKiKin Car HUD Head Up Display

ikikin car hud

This heads up display is, in your author’s opinion, the best-looking option on this list. Shaped like the gauges on a sportbike, this HUD displays a wealth of information in what could be construed as a second dashboard rather than a head-up display. Its tachometer encircles a speed readout like that in a Fiat 500.

Displayed information includes the likes of voltage, water temperature, and turbine pressure. In fact, the seller says it can read 36 data from the car’s ECU. The display is about four inches in diameter, plus a bit on the right-hand side for extra detail. Six different displays can be selected, including a trio that swap the big round gauge for a wide readout of data.

Pros: Looks super cool, OBD2 precision, lots of display options

Cons: Expensive

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6. ACECAR Car Universal Dual System HUD

acecar universal hud

Similar in scope and size to a head-up app one could download for their smartphone, this HUD provides relevant data in large easy-to-read numbers, which should make it popular with the Golden Corral set. The difference between this and an app is this units ability to speak with one’s car through an OBD2 port.

This, of course, allows the unit to display information such as engine rpm and voltage. Ambient decorative lighting looks pleasant and the screen that projects the detail onto a windshield is plenty large. Thanks to some nifty engineering, cars that do not have an OBD2 port can play with this HUD as well, since it also packs a GPS unit

Pros: Uses either OBD2 or GPS, affordable

Cons: Displays minimal information at once

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7. Hudly Wireless Head-Up Display

hudly wireless hud

Unique to the others on this list, the Hudly looks much like the Xbox Kinect system, sitting atop the dashboard like an oversized radar detector. Its clear screen flips up like a Top Gun prop, drawing power from any 12V power source.

Acting like a mini version of Apple TV or Google Chromecast, one can mirror their smartphone’s display to the display. This mean that Waze, Save for oddball Pixel and Nexus phones, this unit plays well with all iOS and Android software. Yes, one can technically watch movies on this thing but be aware that audio will route through the Hudly speakers, not your car speakers — not to mention that playing a film while driving would be very distracting.

Pros: Flip up screen, works with apps

Cons: Very costly

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[Images via the manufacturer]

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18 Comments on “Heads Up, Man: Best Head-Up Displays...”

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    “From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community.”

    From time to time is becoming way more frequent. Just call it what it is.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    Cool, I didn’t even know these existed as add-on accessories.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I didn’t either, but my 2012 Lacrosse has this.

  • avatar

    Hey, non of these high dollar add on’s for me, I ordered my 1997 Pontiac GP SE with a real “Heads Up” factory Display! Oh Yeah, it still works, and runs great after 179k miles! It’s 3.8 is a fabulous engine, it is still running on it’s original plugs and wires (shame on me )Air, cassette player, power seats, cruise control, wipers, everything still works!!! Thank You GM for such a GREAT Looking/Running Car !!! The best $18,000 I’ve ever spent (GM discount applied) ;-)

    • 0 avatar

      Question, have you ever replaced that windshield, how much was it?

      I’m interested because I believe the windshield on my SS is upwards of $500 which is mind boggling.

  • avatar

    I have a HUD from the factory that projects the data onto the windshield. Being reflected light, it’s useless if I’m wearing my polarized sunglasses.

  • avatar

    All these pictures annoy me greatly esp. if they are projected on the windshield. I would prefer to have less distractions esp. when they are forced into your field of view and you cannot avoid them.

  • avatar

    I thought the whole idea of a HUD was to get your head out of the cockpit, sorry, cabin looking a various dials etc and onto the road, where you should be looking. Having your speed and other pertinent information displayed in your line of sight, or just off it is great. Having a warning flash up to direct you to anything out of the ordinary is a better use of resources, plus it might stop those annoying people who can’t recognize that they have left the indicator on for miles!

  • avatar

    I don’t need any speed display that will potentially tip off my wife how fast I’m driving.

    Although the quieter the interior of the car the harder it is for passengers to realize how fast you are going.

  • avatar

    I’ve driven a couple vehicles briefly that had a native HUD and thought it was neat, but these all look chintzy and would probably be yanked out in good order. I personally don’t see a major benefit. I’m also weird because I kind of liked the high center mount cluster from my friend’s Ion 4 door coupe thing (had the suicide doors in back).

    That said, if I ever have a vehicle with a native setup I’d probably use it frequently. The mirrored nav in the instrument cluster of the Chrysler I had for awhile was pretty nice.

  • avatar

    I want the Cadillac Nightvision from the 2000s for my Semi.

  • avatar

    The power of & ??

  • avatar

    Non-projector screens you glue onto your dashboard aren’t HUDs~*

  • avatar

    If the drivers in my area get their hands on these, they’ll likely crank up the brightness and blind themselves at night even more than they already do with their dash lights up max bright. These kinds of people already compensate by driving everywhere with their high beams on. Nothing like looking over at the next car and being able to see their face in the dark, glowing like Homer Simpson’s face looking at the glowing nuclear fuel, and realizing that person is probably every bit as good a driver as old Homer.

    I really wish the cops would run a “safety” harassment campaign giving verbal warnings to the high beam forgetters. It doesn’t have to be fines or citations, just verbal warnings to shake them up a bit and instill a bit of @#$% courtesy.

    Anyway, to the topic at hand, this made me chuckle: “Be sure to annoy your favorite teen driver with the speed alarm setting.” Uh, like the roadsigns that flash “too fast” hehehehe

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