Put an iPhone in the dash of an old Pathfinder on the cheap.
I should bike everywhere, I know, but sometimes I give in and drive; usually when I'm going far. A good audio book gets me lost. A good offline GPS gets me really lost. Any newish phone can do both with ease.
Getting a phone and an auto to cooperate has been a struggle for as long as I've used either. Bless their hearts, auto-folks are just trying to keep up with the gadget world. The phone has always been more technologically endowed, but autos refuse to play a support role.
Carmakers keep upselling drivers on integrated touch screens and bluetooth sync, inserting themselves between my phone and I. But their screens are dim and laggy; their bluetooth flakey and battery draining. An old fasioned cigarrette lighter charger and aux audio cable do better, if only they didn't leave the phone dangling by those tangly cords.
14 year very old truck1 was built before there were many gadgets. Gutting its onboard entertainment (radio) and docking my phone instead was pretty straightforward.
1 - Mechanics always call it a truck.
For the Pathfinder, I cobbled together a satisfying combo of:
- RAM X-Grip Phone Gripper ($50) A little pricey, but it grips well and tolerates the future.
- ISO radio install kit ($14) For a flat, in-dash base to suction to. The X-Grip baaaarely fits in the top slot.
- Hifonics 4-Band EQ ($70) The iPhone dock cable spits out audio at line-level, so a volume knob is crucial. My pathfinder has several amps near the speakers, so no amplification is necessary at the stereo.
- iPhone to USB and 3.5mm splitter ($5) iPhone specific, but it's one clean cable. Luckily the EQ has two inputs and 12V-to-USB has two outputs, so I tuck a spare micro-USB and 3.5mm in the dash in case other folks take the wheel.
- 12V USB Adapter ($3) I actually disconnected the 12V socket from the faceplate, then wrapped this whole connection in electrical tape and tucked it behind the scenes.
- 3.5mm to RCA splitter ($0.79) Connects phone audio cables to the EQ's inputs.
- RCA Audio cables ($3) Spliced these into the speaker lines to connect them to the EQ.
Now the phone is in charge. The auto keeps it stable and powered, hides away the cords, and will happily support next year's model. 1 year in, nothing has melted yet.