If you’re driving a vehicle that missed out on an OEM touchscreen audio display and hands-free Bluetooth phone capabilities, here’s an elegant, easy and economical way to bring your vehicle into the smartphone world and add a backup camera. It’s only one of Pioneer’s dozen or so Apple CarPlay options too, so there is apt to be one to integrate into your ride. It links to iOS devices and allows mapping and tunes to be played and controlled on the NEX from services like Pandora and Spotify. It can offer some hands-free capabilities with Android too. Tune it to find the radio stations you want, or play a CD or DVD on board. There are plenty of entertainment options available and standard. It integrates with Pioneer’s ND-BC8 backup camera to give a 129-degree-wide and 105-degree-high image.
ALSO COOL: In addition to all its integrated music apps and iPhone CarPlay, it plays DVDs too.
INSTALLATION: This is likely not a DIY project for most and requires expertise to determine which mounting brackets and automotive system interfaces are required to maximize vehicle integration. It includes a microphone for hands-free calls and offers the capability to send and receive text messages hands-free. Mounting brackets and frames run from $100 for a basic mount to replace a standard pre-smartphone audio system to $300-plus for a mounting panel with a heating and air-conditioning control interface.
PROS: This can give any solid but older vehicle cutting-edge communications, mapping and entertainment options for a more enjoyable cruise. Apple CarPlay lets your system display iOS mapping on the display. An optional GPS module is available, but with Apple CarPlay, we think it’s redundant. CONS: The AVH-1330NEX is not an inexpensive shortcut to integrated factory audio, communications and mapping systems in newer vehicles, but it does successfully bring those things to older vehicles in its standalone format via Apple CarPlay or Android Bluetooth connection. There are lots of technical questions to resolve when choosing this system, and it will require professional installation.
COST: $400; pioneerelectronics.com
MoÕ Betta Pioneer brings full-featured media and navigation suites for aftermarket use.