Car and Driver Intellidash+ review: a painless way to add CarPlay to your vehicle

in iPhone edited June 2021
The Car and Driver Intellidash+ is the easiest way to add CarPlay to your vehicle without any installation required.

CarPlay on the Intellidash+
Wired CarPlay on the Car and Driver Intellidash+

No installation required

If history is any indication, adding CarPlay functionality to your existing car is quite the undertaking. Whether you choose to complete the installation yourself or you turn to a professional, it requires additional parts, adapters, and sometimes permanently modifying your car.

The Intellidash+ differs by building all the smarts into a simple display that can mount on your dash rather than inside of it.

The unit, a crisp seven-inch display, comes with an easy suction cup-based mount that sticks directly to your car's dashboard. It connects to the 12V auto charging port for power. Simply plug your iPhone in over USB and ta-da -- you have a new CarPlay system in your vehicle.

Intellidash+ stand
The Intellidash+ stand

It is so simple to set up that almost no work is needed. We were up and running with Intellidash+ in less than a minute in our car.

We found the display to be fairly lightweight and it had no issues staying connected or mounted in our car. Aside from mounting on the dash, the suction cup can also be mounted directly to the glass. The mount has an articulating hinge and it can even extend like many smartphone mounts.

Side ports of the Intellidash+
Side ports of the Intellidash+

Car and Driver, yes that Car and Driver, includes a very long power cable that can be routed around the glass or dash to keep it out of the way for a more organized appearance in your car. When we mounted it to the glass, we routed the cable up, around the windshield, and under the passenger-side footwell before plugging it into the auto charger, and the cable is almost entirely unnoticeable.

CarPlay and use

When you connect your iPhone for the first time, a prompt will appear on your iPhone screen asking if you'd like to use CarPlay with this device and if you'd like to allow access while your phone is locked. Assuming you say yes to the first, the CarPlay interface will instantly appear on the display.

Once CarPlay is working you will have all the smart features from any other CarPlay unit. You have access to Siri, the CarPlay Dashboard, Maps, Music, and any other CarPlay-enabled apps. If you have a HomeKit-compatible garage opener it will appear on your dashboard as you leave and as you arrive home.

Apple Music playing through CarPlay on the Intellidash+ speakers
Apple Music playing through CarPlay on the Intellidash+ speakers

Audio will be piped out of the Intellidash's own speakers unless you connect an auxiliary audio cable from the Intellidash+ to your car's audio system. The onboard speakers are passable, but they won't give you car-filling sound like your vehicle's speakers would, let alone a higher-end audio system. But it is usable.

One option is to still rely on your car's system for audio and the Intellidash+ for everything else. Use it for GPS, news, Siri, Messages, HomeKit control, all of that. It is a compromise but one way this can still be useful even if you don't connect it directly to your car's system.

At any time you are using CarPlay you can go back to Intellidash's own dashboard. From there you can access the other features it supports or get into settings, such as display brightness.

The power cable connects over a barrel connector and a USB-C to USB-C cable is included to connect a compatible Android phone. You'll have to provide your own Lightning cable for iPhone, but you can use a USB-A cable or a USB-C cable and the included adapter as well.

Outside of CarPlay

Besides CarPlay, there are several other features relevant to the Intellidash+.

Intellidash+ supports Android Auto. If you have a compatible Android handset you can connect it the same way and use Android's in-car system rather than Apple's. This is great if you have another family member who may use the system too.

Intellidash+ settings
Intellidash+ settings

Car and Driver also integrate Sirius XM. With a subscription, you can stream Sirius XM radio direct to the Intellidash+ without needing a separate receiver.

Finally, the micro SD card slot allows you to play any music or videos that you want to load. This comes with a pile of limitations such as DRM but if you have unprotected videos or music, it will work.

An easy choice

There are a few limitations to the Intellidash+ that give us pause. It looks a bit on the cheaper side, having a separate display may take up a lot of space in smaller cars, routing the cable can be hard to do, and it is still wired rather than wireless. But those matter very little for the target audience of this device.

This is so easy to set up and use that there is nothing like it on the market. It may have a handful of drawbacks, but they don't make the end product any less useful.

CarPlay dashboard on Intellidash+
CarPlay dashboard on Intellidash+

If you want to add CarPlay to your vehicle and don't want to spend hundreds and hundreds on a compatible receiver and professional installation, the Intellidash+ is a near-ideal solution.

We'd love to see a new model down the line that integrates wireless CarPlay instead, but barring that we've no qualms recommending this to anyone who needs the functionality.

  • 60-second setup

  • Official CarPlay support

  • Charges phone while in use and doesn't require a second phone charger

  • Affordable aftermarket solution to add CarPlay with no mechanic

  • Sirius XM integration

  • Android Auto support as well
  • Looks a bit on the cheap side

  • Suction cup may not work on dashboard

  • Routing the cable can be tedious or impossible based on vehicle

  • Wired CarPlay connection instead of wireless

  • Interface is a little clunky at times

  • Can't use auto charger for other accessories

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Where to buy

The Car and Driver Intellidash+ is available on Amazon for $249.99.


  • Reply 1 of 15
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,509member
    This setup is good for two types of vehicles: older cars with a single DIN stereo without room intel dash for a carplay aftermarket unit; or newer vehicles with a complex entertainment unit or a pop up display that will never get a car0ay upgrade.

    This looks very similar to the coral vision carplay display that for $325 is wireless carplay, with a wired version $225. Well worth the difference to get wireless IMHO.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    I like ths idea, but to me a real game-changer would be to allow CarPlay just to run on the iPhone.  No hardware required, just pop your phone in a mount, activate CarPlay, and even your rental car has CarPlay.

    The problem with this idea is it disincentivizes carmakers from integrating CarPlay in their vehicles.
    edited January 2021 razorpitrundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,503member
    I will be all over this when there is a wireless CarPlay model.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Is it possible to use Bluetooth for audio whilst connected to this?
  • Reply 5 of 15
    That's a little too pricy for not offering wireless CarPlay. I found a solution for similar money to add wireless CarPlay for Ford/Lincoln MyTouch Sync 2 systems, and installation doesn't look too bad, maybe an hour. I might pull the trigger on one in a week or two.

    Actually, this could be done with a cheap Android tablet or old jailbroken iPad for much less. 
  • Reply 6 of 15
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,766member
    This one has huge impact in many countries where CaryPlay/AA is not integrated into vehicle's infotainment to keep the cost lower. As article says, eliminates headache of properly installing, modifying dashboard area to install carplay unit in older car so this unit can help lot to older vehicle owners. Portable so detach/attach to dashboard/windshield as needed like older GPS units.. Someone may argue why not buy larger screen iPhone and use it for GPS,messages,music,etc while in car and attach iphone with adapter to car vents or dashboard.
    edited January 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    This would be almost perfect if the USB connector had been incorporated into the cigarette jack, leaving just a single cable to the unit carrying both power and data. 

    Otherwise this looks like a fine product for the price. 
  • Reply 8 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,001member

    The problem with this idea is it disincentivizes carmakers from integrating CarPlay in their vehicles.

    Not really. It looks cheesy, clunky and would never find it's way into my car. I would rather just use my phone and forgo CarPlay.
    What's with the stupid USB adaptor of some type protruding from the left side? Also, Why a separate USB and power cable?
  • Reply 9 of 15
    It is a shame that in 2021, this unit doesn't offer A2DP connection to the car's radio. Or even an USB connection to stream audio through.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,666member
    Many states have laws against having a large device like this on the dashboard because it obscures your vision. 

    As far as price goes, when I looked at replacing the radio in our odyssey it was about $200 more for a comparable unit that had wireless CarPlay, so the price doesn’t seem too bad to me. 
  • Reply 11 of 15
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 822member
    Man, if this was WIRELESS, I'd be looking to buy this like a PS5!!
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Seems like a missed opportunity to not include bluetooth input and output and wireless CarPlay.
    Out of stock anyway…
  • Reply 13 of 15
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,257member
    mr lizard said:
    This would be almost perfect if the USB connector had been incorporated into the cigarette jack, leaving just a single cable to the unit carrying both power and data. 
    Is that even possible?
  • Reply 14 of 15
    Considering the functionality and the size, I would just use my existing iPhone 12 Pro Max and not use Car Play at all with this device. Considering it's size, there is little to gain.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    Considering the functionality and the size, I would just use my existing iPhone 12 Pro Max and not use Car Play at all with this device. Considering it's size, there is little to gain.
    Same here. I just don't get the purpose of this product. CarPlay is something I want. My 2016 Toyota doesn't have it, but I'm not going to go out and get this and have two devices in my dash area with cables all over the place.
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