Car and Driver releases a solution to those of us with older vehicles that want the great features that you get from Apple Car Play and Android Auto: the Intellidash Pro.
If you are like me, you may not drive a new vehicle or even one that is less than ten years old. I myself drive a 2008 Toyota Prius. I love my car and it had some great technology for 2008. Sadly, we live in 2021 and the features in my Prius no longer match those in my wife’s 2021 Kia Forte. After driving her vehicle I became envious of the Android Auto feature it has. I decided to look at some aftermarket stereos I could shoehorn into my Prius and was gun shy of tearing apart my entire dashboard and finding the right combination of harnesses and adapters needed to upgrade my ride. Luckily for us at GeekDad, Car and Driver sent us their new solution specifically for people like me, the new Intellidash Pro.
Unboxing and Setup
The Car and Driver Intellidash Pro will look very familiar to most people as it is essentially a thick seven-inch tablet with a suction mount. The setup is not at all very far from the GPS units we mounted to our windshields ten or so years ago. What is also has in common with those units is the plethora of cables that you will need to get everything up and running. Thankfully Car and Driver have given us a bounty of parts to get all of our kits in order. If you are not a fan of having a lot of cables on your dash this may become an issue. There is a 12V power cable that will go in your cigarette lighter, a 3.5mm Audio cable for the AUX port, and if you choose a USB-C to USB-C cable to charge your phone and if you choose an Android phone it will also give you a direct connection to Android Auto.
Car and Driver do include cable maintenance clips that stick to your dash to help keep things relatively tidy but you will still see a lot of tight wires lurking about.
Once everything is plugged in and powered up there are two ways that you can connect an Android device. The most obvious was the Bluetooth connection that was very easy to do on both my phone and the Intellidash Pro. The USB-C to USB-C connection allows for a more direct Android Auto experience as well as charging your phone, which makes it my preferred way to connect. The Intellidash Pro has a built-in FM transmitter to tap into your car’s radio but I highly recommend using the AUX cable if your car is new enough to have an AUX port. If your car does not have an AUX port the FM transmitter is strong enough to tap into an empty station on your car stereo but you can still have some noise or dropouts depending on the power of your local stations. I have been using Android Auto on my wife’s cars for a few years so I am accustomed to it but to be honest it is such a simple and straightforward user interface even the least tech-savvy person should be able to navigate it in a reasonable amount of time.
Once my car starts up the Intellidash Pro starts up and connects to my phone relatively quickly and brings up my Youtube Music playlist where it left off so that I can get to my tunes. My Intellidash Pro also fires up WAZE by default when it starts up in case I need some immediate navigation, which is nice.
I do not have an iPhone but if Apple Car Play works as good on this device as Android Auto does then I cannot imagine it not being another wonderful upgrade to your car media.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
The Car and Driver Intellidash Pro is a great solution for those of us with older vehicles that want all the advantages that new stereos with Android Auto and Apple Car Play have to offer. There are a few issues though. First and foremost you have to be willing to navigate the forest of wires needed to make everything work. I have bought a set of 90-degree audio and USB-C cables to help aid in this and it improved the situation but it still looks a bit untidy. If that is not an issue for you then perhaps the next flaw may halt your progress… the price. The Car and Driver Intellidash Pro comes in at a whopping $399.99. The Intellidash Pro is a great device but not a great value. For that price point, you can get a name-brand double din car stereo with a 10″ screen installed professionally in your car. No wires exposed, no birds nests, and a bigger screen. For that reason, I can only recommend this product if you are dead set on not disturbing your car’s factory stereo setup or you want to use it in multiple vehicles. I would recommend it to everyone if it were a third of the price but $400 just seems too steep at this point in time. To be honest, if you have a phone with a 7″ screen you are not seeing too much of a benefit at all from just having it mounted and synced. True Android Auto is a much simpler and safer way of accessing your car’s features but that is a choice you have to make.
Thoughts expressed in this article are the author’s alone and not that of the manufacturer or editorial staff.
A sample of the product was made available by the manufacturer for this review.