In-car technology has advanced so quickly that a new Chevrolet Spark makes some five-year-old luxury cars feel quaint. Enter the aftermarket. Although no one yet offers an all-in-one solution — there’s no BMW iDrive retrofit kit for a 1989 7-series, for instance — these products can meet or beat some of the features in new vehicles.
The For My Vehicle rearview mirror can bring General Motors’ OnStar into your 2000 Honda Accord. Services include stolen-vehicle tracking, automatic 9-1-1 dialing, and available turn-by-turn navigation.
Integration with Apple’s excellent Siri voice assistant will be the next big thing for new cars.
The Alpine ICS-X7HD head unit offers it now. It can also render some smartphone screens and run many of their apps.
The Garmin Nuvi 3597LMTHD has a brilliantly crisp touchscreen, and it’s slim enough to slip into your pocket when you leave your car. Garmin includes free traffic reports and map updates.
Many of the devices here have Bluetooth, but a dedicated unit, like the Scoshe MotorMouth II, usually works better. Look for one that connects to your car stereo via FM radio or an auxiliary port.
Cut the Distraction
CellControl is a device that plugs into your car (or more likely, your kid’s car) via the OBD-II port and locks out nonemergency phone calls and
texts while the vehicle is in motion.
Escort’s Passport 9500ix with SmartCord Live uses GPS and an iPhone/Android app to give real-time updates to warn drivers of speed traps. Note: Waze, a free app, works similarly.
Radar: $450, SmartCord Live: $100, escortradar.com
Hold It Together
There are tons of cheap cell-phone holders, but this one, by Panavise, is better. A special bracket (not shown) attaches to the center console rather than taking up windshield space. Durable mounts fit nearly any gadget.