Top 7 Best HUDs
By | Last updated: January 22, 2021
best head up displays

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 Gripping the wheel at ten-and-two has been replaced by nine-and-three, although dad’s exhortation that my preferred wheel grip of twelve-and-nothing was absolute bollocks brings a smile to my face even now.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 t4hinking 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.

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

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, good graphics
Cons/Cables are the bane of my existence
Bottom Line/Hide those unsightly wires and you're good to go

2. Arestech 5.5-inche OBD2 Windshield HUD

This unit plugs right into the OBD plug in one’s car, meaning it should be able to haul critical information about speed and whatnot right from the vehicle’s computer. Those who wear tinfoil hats might not like that thought but you can’t deny it is a handy setup.

As such, this HUD can display engine revs, fuel economy estimates, voltage, temperature, and other details not accessible by a smartphone-driven HUD. It needs the application of a reflective film to work properly, which is supplied in the kit.

Pros/Tons of information hurled at your eyeballs, reflects onto the windshield
Cons/Might it know a bit too much?
Bottom Line/Nah - just roll with it (pun intended)

3. Pyle Universal 5.5’’ Car HUD Head-Up Display

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 other HUDs, 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.

Pros/Colorful display, OBD operation
Cons/Weirdo brand name
Bottom Line/Why do these things cost a lot from the factory?

4. Reflective Windshield Film for Car Head Up Display

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
Bottom Line/This is why these things cost a lot from the factory

5. iKiKin Car Heads Up Display

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/More expensive than some others
Bottom Line/Worth the cash on looks alone

6. ACECAR Car Universal Dual System 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
Bottom Line/Decent basic unit

7. TIMPROVE T600 Universal Car Head Up Display

Looking for all the world like the tacked-on center stack display of a Mitsubishi Endeavor – remember those? – is this display from Timprove. I’ll say that again; TIMPROVE. Clearly, someone’s just throwing darts at a name board when labeling these things.

It’s also similar in appearance to one of those cheap travel alarm clocks we all used to deploy before smartphones and, indeed, when we used to actually travel. This display doesn’t fold closed, however. Reviews are squarely in the ‘good enough’ category, especially for an outlay of forty bucks.

Pros/Could appear to be part of the actual dashboard if creatively placed
Cons/Very basic information display
Bottom Line/A unique option

Heads-Up DisplayFAQs

Can I install this myself?

We hope so, since the vast majority of these things are no more difficult to set up than plugging in a wire or pairing to one’s smartphone. Some don’t even require that amount of effort, with a few just needing to be secured on the dash with a bit of sticky tape.

Wait – sticky tape?

Yeah. How else do you expect this thing not to go flying the first time you do a handbrake turn in the Burger King drive-thru after the server forgot your jumbo fries? While radar detectors and aftermarket GPS units generally affix themselves within one’s line of sight with a suction cup, the reflective nature of most of these things mean they need to be stuck to the dash and pointed away from the driver. The (good) ones that show detail in a pod can probably be altered to accept a suction cup.

Keep your eyes on the road

These things aren’t meant to be a replacement for attentive driving. Rather, they’re supposed to permit the display of critical information like speed more within the driver’s line of sight. In other words, you cannot mount this unit in the backseat so you can keep tabs on things while having a nap.

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.

(Editor’s note: 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.)

[Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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

  • avatar

    I’ve never had a heads up display and though it was included on the Mazda we bought, My wife and I thought It would be useless, and we would turn it off. Man was I wrong! It shows speed of course, and the blind spot monitoring for both sides, but it also projects a small speed limit sigh up there too! Took about a day to get used to, as I’m used to a clear windshield, and this kind of hovers in front of you with a ghostly image that stops being distracting, and becomes very useful after the first day. Can’t imagine what it costs if it breaks though. If it’s included in the car you buy, I think you will like it. I guess this idea was taken from fighter jets? Modern cars, ya gotta love em. All the features on new cars make me feel like I was living in the Stone Age before. I’ve been driving for 40 years, and the changes in cars to my eye is just incredible. I worry though that the average person is being priced out of a new car by all of these gadgets and government regulations. Thank you for showing what is out there Matthew, as I may have to try one of these for the rest of my fleet. Wife always gets the new stuff, and I get the old. This time it was a CRV. Ugh!

  • avatar

    “my preferred wheel grip of twelve-and-nothing” Yup, GM apehanger style, we called it. You’d follow a ’60s or ’70s or ’80s GM RWD car, and from behind, you’d see drivers slumped over to the right, their heads positioned diagonally between the wheel rim top and the rear-view mirror, eyes trying to pierce the gloom. Goodness knows what ergonomic error GM continuously repeated, but the one hand on the skinny rim hung on for dear life at the 12 o’clock position, coming in at a bit of an angle, was the way to pilot rhese bolides.

    HUD displays? They’re okay if you’ve got nothing else to do, like actually driving. I saved $6K on my Mazda by getting a lower model that still had the turbo, but none of the frippery. I wouldn’t mind HUD but the option packages, like everyone else’s, make you spend $2K or $3K for a single option you actually want and a load of “who needs it?”. Adding an add-on with velcro or sticky tape on a new car? You MUST be joking.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      I’m not sure which Mazda you got. There was about 3000 dollars difference. I actually didn’t mind the extras. Moving from the 6 GT to the GTR gave me real leather, HUD, auto dimming mirror, cooled seats, electric passenger seat and auto headlights.

      The two things I thought would be useless was the HUD and auto headlights but I’ve found them the most useful, especially at night on dark rural roads.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s exactly what I found when I bought our 2021 Mazda CX-5. Signature. I test drove the top model with the base motor, and it was just too gutless for me. It reminded me of the CRV we presently have in terms of power, but with a much nicer interior, amd much better handling. I knew this would be perfect with a larger motor, to I test drove the only Turbo on the lot, the carbon addition Turbo. Didn’t take long to realize I had to have the turbo, but with a much nicer interior with more options Mazda really impressed me as a company, and the product displays quality construction on a slightly upmarket, mainstream vehicle. I looked at Germans, but would hav leased, because I’m not paying $60,000 for a car. My Scottish heritage would not allow me to, although I easily could. The Paint on the Mazda is also incredible on this vehicle. It’s not as large inside, and doesn’t get quite the mileage of the mainstream Cuv’s , but the driving experience is amazing for the price.

  • avatar

    Apparently 9 and 4 has been supplanted by 8 and 3 per my niece’s driving instructors. I’ve tried driving like that and was so uncomfortable I went back to right hand 11.

  • avatar
    qwerty shrdlu

    Your first choice displays “sailing angle” which brings back memories of driving a 1969 VW van in crosswinds and gusts.

  • avatar

    In 2017 I rented a Yukon Denali with HUD. Couldn’t see a thing when I had on my polarized sunglasses.

    It’s a nice toy and a friend once had an opium dream of creating one for cars, but it was the 1980’s and the OBD tech wasn’t there at the time. He should have patented something then. I don’t think a patent has to actually work.

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