Reviews

LAST UPDATED: May 27, 2019

Best Car HUDs: Display More Information Safely While Driving

Enhance your driving experience with these top HUD options

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    14 Products

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PUBLISHED ON May 27, 2019

Data information display is an important part of any driving experience. If you can't read important information like speed and engine RPMs, it can be more difficult to drive safely. Most cars use a basic dial setup inside the dashboard, but many drivers (and some manufacturers) are enhancing this setup with a car head-up display (HUD). This type of display places this information above the dashboard or onto the windshield where it's easier to read. Read on for our guide on the best HUDs to see if one is right for you.

  • Best Overall
    TIMPROVE T600
    Summary
    Summary
    Autolover's A8 is one of the best traditional car HUDs to consider if you are looking for a screen projected right onto the windshield.
    Pros
    Pros
    The screen of the HUD is a full-color dedicated display that eliminates the headache of aligning a projected screen onto the windshield or a dedicated glass pane.
    Cons
    Cons
    Limited information presented on the display. GPS-based speed readout can be inaccurate when starting up as the HUD acquires a GPS signal.
  • Best Overall
    TIMPROVE T600
  • Best Value
    AUTOOL OBD2 HUD
    Summary
    Summary
    The most basic, value-friendly HUD option for anyone wanting a simple and affordable way to read speed, fuel, and other basic information.
    Pros
    Pros
    Reminds the driver to rest to limit fatigued driving. Displays vital information at eye level. Compatible with almost all types of new car models. Warning alarms help prevent a costly breakdown.
    Cons
    Cons
    May report inaccuracies with speed. The speed indicator may max out. Poorly written instructions.
  • Best Value
    AUTOOL OBD2 HUD
  • Honorable Mention
    Arpenkin HUD X5
    Summary
    Summary
    One of the best projected car HUDs available if you want to display vehicle information right on the windshield of your vehicle.
    Pros
    Pros
    Displays data that’s easy to read and eliminates unwanted reflections on the screen. Features alerts for the status of the car. Includes automatic and manual brightness adjustment. Compatible with a wide variety of vehicles.
    Cons
    Cons
    May stop working if it overheats. The display isn’t well organized. The auto-brightness feature can be too sensitive. 
  • Honorable Mention
    Arpenkin HUD X5

    Data information display is an important part of any driving experience. If you can't read important information like speed and engine RPMs, it can be more difficult to drive safely. Most cars use a basic dial setup inside the dashboard, but many drivers (and some manufacturers) are enhancing this setup with a car head-up display (HUD). This type of display places this information above the dashboard or onto the windshield where it's easier to read. Read on for our guide on the best HUDs to see if one is right for you.

    Best Car HUDs Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    The T600 is a car HUD that bucks the trend of projecting the display onto the windshield or a separate piece of glass in favor of a more traditional LCD display. At 2.2 inches, the TFT LCD screen strikes the right balance in size to be easy to read without taking up too much of the driver's view. The dedicated display also takes away the lengthy setup and alignment projected HUDS require to view.


    Vehicle compatibility is another highlight with the T600. Most other car HUDS require an OBD-II port to connect with the car's computer for information like vehicle speed. The T600, on the other hand, uses a built-in GPS to collect and present information. This makes the device compatible with older vehicles (pre-1996 vehicles and imports) that may lack the required OBD-II port.


    Since the GPS has to acquire a signal with satellites above, it doesn't necessarily display the correct vehicle information from the start, unlike most OBD-II car HUDs. This can make it difficult to get an accurate reading on your vehicle's speed or trip information and leaves the T600 susceptible to issues with GPS signal disruptions, much like GPS navigation.

    Best Value

    The AUTOOL OBD2 HUD scanner is a budget-item that’s compatible with vehicles that comply with EU OBD or OBD II standards. You will find it easy to install with an OBD cable once you locate your vehicle’s 16-pin diagnostic socket. As for the design, it has an elaborate display that lets you keep a finger on the pulse of your driving speed, battery voltage, mileage, and instantaneous fuel consumption. 


    A notable feature is its reminder settings that will give you alerts when you need to change your driving habits. For instance, the support fatigue feature reminds the driver to rest when they have been driving for more than four hours. The Support Shift reminder lets you know when to gear up for fuel economy, and the Overspeed reminder will flicker and beep when you go over the speed limit. Other useful alerts include high temperature and low voltage alarms. 


    Unfortunately, this HUD’s speed reading may be off by 2-3 miles per hour and may show a different reading from your OEM speed gauge. It may also max out at speeds of about 120 miles per hour and not show anything higher. Moreover, the tool comes with poorly written instructions that are barely legible.

    Honorable Mention

    If you need a versatile HUD that you can use in multiple vehicles, then the Apenkin HUD X5 is your best bet. It’s a universal diagnostic tool that's compatible with OBDII, EOBD, and OND2 systems. The unit sports a 3-inch display that spreads out informative data on the dashboard at eye level. It will show you the rotating speed of your engine, battery voltage, and continuous speed while switching from miles per hour to kilometers per hour. 


    This HUD uses nanotechnology to eliminate glare from the screen and to make information sharper. Also, automatic light sensors adjust the color brightness to suit the lighting of the surrounding. It also includes an alarm mark that alerts you on overheating issues, overspeeding, and when the battery is at low voltage. 


    There are a couple of drawbacks to consider from this pick. The unit may stop working if it starts to overheat from running for long hours or under intense direct sunlight. You may find the display to be a bit cumbersome figuring a lot of information is squeezed into a small space. What’s more, the automatic light sensor can be a bit sensitive and may readjust every time you pass a street light.

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    Why Buy a Car HUD

    • Read information safely. Keeping an eye on the gauges in a vehicle isn't the most dangerous thing you can do while driving, but it does create increased risk. Anytime you deviate from watching the road, you may miss something important or dangerous to react towards. Car HUDs try to minimize this risk by displaying the information more in line with the road itself; some even project the information right in front of you with a transparent display so the readouts look like they float about the hood.
    • Display more information. Modern cars tend to have more advanced, customizable displays in the dashboard, but customization can be limited depending on the manufacturer. If you want to see the information that's most important to you, it's helpful to have a HUD that is designed to give you more flexibility or to show more information in a single screen. 
    • Upgrade an old car's display. With older cars, information is all analog with basic gauges and dials. A true dashboard replacement can be costly if you want to go digital with the readouts, making a car HUD a better investment for older vehicles. Since most are mounted on top of the dashboard, there's no part swaps or replacements.

    Types of Car HUDs

    OBD-II HUDs

    Car HUDs that connect to a car's OBD2/OBD-II port read information straight from a vehicle's onboard computer. This makes information access quicker and more reliable than GPS-based devices. These units also tend to offer more information you can use while driving or maintaining the vehicle.

    Smartphone HUDs

    Since smart devices can acquire and present a lot of important vehicular information with just the onboard GPS, many car HUDs use a basic smartphone connection to display this information to the drive. This type tends to fall into two subtypes: HUDs with a dedicated display and basic bases with an integrated phone holder. Dedicated displays can present the vehicle information on its own screen, while basic mounts hold the smartphone and reflect its screen with the information presented from a native app. Both options tend to support Android and iOS phones, with some offering built-in Apple or Google Maps support. 

    Car HUD Pricing

    • $50 and under: Budget car HUDs in this range tend to be simple in design and function. Most have a basic display, either projected or dedicated, that can show limited vehicle information like speed. Smartphone-based devices are also common in this range.
    • $50 and above: Higher-end car HUDs can quickly skyrocket in price above the $50 mark, many landing around $200 or $300. These options tend to offer advanced features like GPS navigation.

    Key Features

    Display

    The most important thing with any heads up display is the display itself. How the HUD presents information will influence the overall driving experience and the safety factor. Traditional HUDs project the screen onto a piece of glass so the information appears to float above the hood. This setup is best for safely reading the screen, but it can be difficult to align and use, especially in bright daylight. Dedicated displays have better daytime results but are often more limited in usability. 

    Connectivity

    A car HUD needs someway to access or collect different data points like speed. Since all modern vehicles have an onboard computer that does this automatically, many HUDs simply access this data via an OBD-II port. Many smartphone-based HUDs, however, use the phone's GPS or a built-in GPS module to calculate speed and location. These HUDs lack more advanced information like engine performance and status readouts. For power, HUDs draw juice from the OBD-II port or the cigarette lighter.

    Mount

    Attaching a car HUD to the dashboard can be tricky if the device doesn't come with the right mount. Many use a simple suction mount that is similar to the type of many GPS navigation devices use. These are good for lightweight HUDs but can fail with heavier devices or on hot days. Higher-end HUDs tend to come with a dedicated mounting base that sticks onto the dashboard with an adhesive, offering a more stable base.

    Other Considerations

    • Extra Features: Modern car HUDs are like many other smart electronic devices in terms of offering different feature sets. Budget models tend to stick with the basic vehicle information, while more advanced options can feature higher-end capabilities like GPS navigation, automatic speed limit/over speed alarm detection, battery voltage monitoring, voice-activated/hand-gesture control, hands-free phone calls with the ability to see incoming calls, and more. Before you buy a car HUD, it's important to see what options are available that may add some additional, useful perks to your driving experience.

    Best Car HUDs Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    The T600 is a car HUD that bucks the trend of projecting the display onto the windshield or a separate piece of glass in favor of a more traditional LCD display. At 2.2 inches, the TFT LCD screen strikes the right balance in size to be easy to read without taking up too much of the driver's view. The dedicated display also takes away the lengthy setup and alignment projected HUDS require to view.


    Vehicle compatibility is another highlight with the T600. Most other car HUDS require an OBD-II port to connect with the car's computer for information like vehicle speed. The T600, on the other hand, uses a built-in GPS to collect and present information. This makes the device compatible with older vehicles (pre-1996 vehicles and imports) that may lack the required OBD-II port.


    Since the GPS has to acquire a signal with satellites above, it doesn't necessarily display the correct vehicle information from the start, unlike most OBD-II car HUDs. This can make it difficult to get an accurate reading on your vehicle's speed or trip information and leaves the T600 susceptible to issues with GPS signal disruptions, much like GPS navigation.

    Best Value

    The AUTOOL OBD2 HUD scanner is a budget-item that’s compatible with vehicles that comply with EU OBD or OBD II standards. You will find it easy to install with an OBD cable once you locate your vehicle’s 16-pin diagnostic socket. As for the design, it has an elaborate display that lets you keep a finger on the pulse of your driving speed, battery voltage, mileage, and instantaneous fuel consumption. 


    A notable feature is its reminder settings that will give you alerts when you need to change your driving habits. For instance, the support fatigue feature reminds the driver to rest when they have been driving for more than four hours. The Support Shift reminder lets you know when to gear up for fuel economy, and the Overspeed reminder will flicker and beep when you go over the speed limit. Other useful alerts include high temperature and low voltage alarms. 


    Unfortunately, this HUD’s speed reading may be off by 2-3 miles per hour and may show a different reading from your OEM speed gauge. It may also max out at speeds of about 120 miles per hour and not show anything higher. Moreover, the tool comes with poorly written instructions that are barely legible.

    Honorable Mention

    If you need a versatile HUD that you can use in multiple vehicles, then the Apenkin HUD X5 is your best bet. It’s a universal diagnostic tool that's compatible with OBDII, EOBD, and OND2 systems. The unit sports a 3-inch display that spreads out informative data on the dashboard at eye level. It will show you the rotating speed of your engine, battery voltage, and continuous speed while switching from miles per hour to kilometers per hour. 


    This HUD uses nanotechnology to eliminate glare from the screen and to make information sharper. Also, automatic light sensors adjust the color brightness to suit the lighting of the surrounding. It also includes an alarm mark that alerts you on overheating issues, overspeeding, and when the battery is at low voltage. 


    There are a couple of drawbacks to consider from this pick. The unit may stop working if it starts to overheat from running for long hours or under intense direct sunlight. You may find the display to be a bit cumbersome figuring a lot of information is squeezed into a small space. What’s more, the automatic light sensor can be a bit sensitive and may readjust every time you pass a street light.

    Tips

    • Be aware that many projected car HUDs can be difficult to see in direct sunlight. HUDs with a dedicated piece of glass tend to perform better in daylight than devices that project directly onto the windshield.
    • If you have a car that's older than 1996, you should find a HUD that has a built-in GPS and that doesn't require an OBD-II port. OBD-II ports became standard in 1996, so older vehicles can be hit or miss.
    • Be prepared to spend some time aligning the display and HUD for the best viewing results. Projected screens may require some repositioning to get the display to line up with the reflecting surface and your eyesight. 
    • HUDs with a dedicated screen need to be mounted off the center of the steering wheel so they don't interfere with the driver's view. Typical locations for GPS navigators like the center of the dashboard are the best. 

    FAQ

    Q. How does a projected HUD work?

    A. A screen mounted to the dashboard points up towards a reflective surface like glass. The image of the screen is then bounced off of the surface into the eyes of the driver. This makes it look like the display is floating above since the reflective surface is transparent.

    Q. What type of HUD display is the best?

    A. If you want a reliable display that is easy to see in daylight, a dedicated display is a way to go. To get the true HUD-like experience, however, a projected screen is better.

    Q. What information can a HUD display?

    A. Speed tends to be the most universal bit of information all car HUDs show. Other information can include the fuel level, engine and oil data, mileage, temperatures, and more. 

    Final Thoughts

    Our pick for the best car HUD is the TIMPROVE T600 for its dedicated, easy-to-read display that works day and night.

    The AUTOOL OBD2 HUD is the best pick for saving money with a dedicated display that trims the information fat in favor of the most important data drivers want.