It may seem like Star Trek technology, but automotive HUDs have been with us for a while. In fact, HUD displays made their first appearance in fighter jets. In this review, we’d like to show you the best heads up displays of the year to make your choice easier.
Of course, since that time, the technology has advanced and become more readily available for consumer use. While some auto manufacturers are starting to include a car HUD in their newer vehicles, there are still plenty of solid aftermarket huds options. Below are the top 11 HUDs, but the winner (in our opinion) is Truescan 3000 – the best aftermarket hud for the most autos.
Truescan 3000 Head-up Display
Best Car HUD Without Double Image
Truescan 3000 uses premium-quality materials in it’s glass production with excellent light transmittance rate. A great advantage while driving overnight.
Also, it’s possible to display a lot of driving data on this display screen. For instance, driving speed, engine speed, mileage, water tank temperature, battery voltage, KM/H and MPH, altitude might be displayed there.
Choosing the Best Car HUD of 2021
Still, figuring out which aftermarket car HUD is right for you can be difficult. With different types of displays, different vehicle compatibilities, and different connectivity options, know what is a good value requires specific knowledge. That is why we have put together our list of the top5 aftermarket automotive HUDs as well as a comprehensive buyer’s guide, to you can feel confident making an informed purchase.
Multi Alarm and No Double Image
|Truescan 3000 Head-up Display|
The Best New HUD
|Hudly LITE Head-Up Display|
Dual Mode OBD & GPS
|ACBungji Car HUD|
Universal Head-Up Display for GPS
Universal Car HUD
The Best Budget HUD
|Arpenkin X5 HUD|
Best Last Year's Aftermarket HUD
The Largest HUD Display
The Best Mid-Tier Aftermarket HUD
HUD for Mountainous Driving
1. Truescan 3000 Head-up Display – Multi Alarm and No Double Image
There is an LED screen, which is displaying all the driving data. It adopts the reflective and perspective glass. It projects the data on the display right on the reflective glass. So the data are displayed stereoscopically in the car. There is no need in sticking the reflection film onto the windshield.
With high-quality material glass, top light transmittance, and reflectance, there is no double image and it is much clearer. There is a built-in photosensitive component, which is sensing the external light intensity. It adjusts the display brightness in order to suit the environment automatically. No matter whether it is a day or night, the data are displayed clearly.
It is possible to display a lot of driving data on this display screen.
For instance, water temperature, speed, fuel consumption, voltage, driving distance, RPM, clock, and driving time might be displayed there. With proper stereo projection, you shouldn’t lower your head when looking at the dashboard so you’ll keep your eyes directly on the road.
There are alarming and reminders. There are 7 types of reminders such as overspeed alarm, clear fault code, RPM alarm, fatigue driving, low voltage alarm, high water temperature alarm, and shift reminder. So you will be prevented from accidents and have a secure and safe drive.
The material of this display is ABS+PC. The size is 13.5*6.8*3cm/5.3*2.7*1.2inch (fold size) and 13.5*6.8*5.6cm/5.3*2.7*2.2inch (full size). The product weight is 110g. Its color is black. The reflector transmittance is 96%. The virtual image distance is 55mm.The right and left angle of view is 60°. The bottom angle of view is 15°. The sleep current is <30mA. The work voltage is 12V (DC) /400mA. The environment temperature is -40? ~80?. The alarm sound level is =30dB. The environment voice is =60dB.
Truescan 3000 display can be used not only in vehicles with OBD2 interface but with just GPS interface. These are American gasoline cars, which were produced after 2004 and accordingly to OBD2 protocol. It is used with other district’s gasoline vehicles that were produced after 2008 and accordingly to OBD2 protocol.
The common vehicle models that are not able to utilize the OBD2 are
- French and Italian vehicle’s models
- JEEP, Dodge, Chrysler, SAIL, models that were produced before 2004 and in 2004
- Some of the South Korea’s models
- Japan cars (Mazda6, Suzuki, Infiniti (QX50, Q50, Q501), Lexus (is250, ex250, es300h), Toyota avanza 2013, Honda (Jazz, CRV), and also the cars that were produced before 2008
- Pick up trucks, oil-electric, diesel and hybrid cars, computer modified cars, and RV
2. Kivic – The Best New HUD
For anyone who’s new to heads-up displays or HUDs just know that the general purpose of having this device is to allow you to keep your head up and eyeline on the road, as you view statistics such as your speed, time as well as GPS and just about anything that appears on your phone.
The Kivic is one such gadgets. According to the instruction manual, the Kivic HUD beams the various contents on the road in front of the driver by connecting with Android-based smartphones and iPhones wirelessly.
The driver can check information such as the time, vehicle speed, messages, incoming calls and GPS information while driving. A key feature of Kivic is that all display information comes from your phone without relying on an OBD2 connection.
The main device consists of the display engine, the combiner, locking lever, power USB, and a light sensor. With the locking lever, we can make slight adjustments, so it’s easy to adjust a better view of a display.
What it’s like to use a Kivic? Installation was incredibly easy. Just push the sticker. Center the Kivic on a dashboard in the middle of a cluster panel and plug it into the cigar lighter.
One thing I would have liked to have seen is an extra USB out on the Kivic charger so that it would be possible to keep a phone charged while using. There are plenty of cars on the road that still only have one cigar lighter socket next to the driver. Something like this would have been nice and I think Kivic looks nice in a car. It’s sleek and feels appropriately placed, so the last step is to download the app. All options were pretty self-explanatory and once I hit a button it immediately began to display information. Bluetooth was already turned on and this part of the process felt quite easy.
In Real Life
You’ll also receive notifications when someone calls or texts or when someone contacts you via Facebook. When receiving calls you still need to rely on things like a Bluetooth earpiece or placing your call on a speaker and when receiving a text you should use voice commands to both listen and respond. Full-screen mode and screencasting will allow Kivic to show whatever image your phone is currently displaying.
Just one exception to this would be the GPS. Running the GPS on Kivic is one of its strongest benefits. I use GPS daily even on familiar commutes to check the traffic conditions and having my eye line on the Kivic display feels much safer even compared to having a phone holder on a dashboard.
It’s easy to see the road through the glass display. It removes tension that comes with each glance away from the road. The display is suitably bright during the day and there’s no trouble viewing time in miles per hour and at nighttime. Definitely, a great gadget for its price.
3. Hudly LITE Head-Up Display – Optimal Visibility with No Windshield Film Required
Hudly is a company, located in San Francisco. It was founded in 2015. Hudly produces aftermarket head-up displays. With its products, the driving experience will be safe and secure. You will get text messages, calls, and directions, keeping your eyes looking at the road. With it, all the driving data will be placed in your line of sight. Hudly guarantees eliminating of distractions behind the wheel.
With Hudly LITE Head-Up Display, you will be able to view RPMs and speed without taking your eyes off the road. You won’t need the windshield reflective film because you will see all the reflected stats clearly. But there is one, coming with the kit for your additional clarity. The sensor technology is auto-adjustive. So you will get optimal visibility either in a day or a night time. There is a special coating on the LED display, used to eliminate the excess light reflection.
With this display, you are able to set the speed limit chime alerts in order to be aware when you are driving too quickly. So that you can switch between the KM/H and MPH readouts easily. With its custom RPM chimes, you will save fuel because you will be alerted to change gear in case your car exceeds the set RPM.
The display operates in the vast majority of gas-powered cars, which were built after 1996 with the OBD2 ports.
The installation is easy because it can be made in simple three steps. Firstly, plug it to your vehicle’s OBD2 port to power. It will automatically power off/on with your car. So your battery will not be drained. Secondly, place to match the line of sight, securing onto the dashboard with a rubber mat. Thirdly, drive, reading all the data on your windshield or you can utilize the included reflection film.
The operating temperature of Hudly display is -40°F – 176°F. The working voltage is 9V – 16V. The dimensions are 6.6 x 5.3 x 1.9 inches. Its weight is 7.2 ounces. The default value is 0 where the display brightness would automatically adjust. Utilize from 1-5 to manually set the brightness setting. The speed unit setting 1 is KM/H, 2 is MPH. The tool would shut down after 10 seconds automatically, but you can adjust it to your preference up to 300 seconds. When the device does not automatically shut off, you can try to adjust the voltage to 13.2-14.0V.
4. ACBungji Car HUD – Dual Mode OBD & GPS and Reduced Power Consumption
The ACBungji Car HUD is coming with the projection board. The driving information is clear and it won’t show double. With it, you can see speed, water temperature, engine speed, fuel consumption, voltage, travel time, mileage, and fault code. Alarm alert is to be active when the car’s information exceeds the default safety information.
There is a dual mode: GPS and OBD. OBD mode works with cars that were produced of the North America after 2003 and cars produced of other region after 2007. GPS works with all DC 12V vehicles. If your car does not work with OBD, utilize GPS.
You can set a parameter in order to change the speed unit, function setting, and adjust the information error. When the vehicle stops, it will be turned off. So the power consumption will be eliminated.
Its working voltage is DC 11V – 18V. When you utilize it on the car with the electrical system that is higher than DV 24V, do connect it with the USB cable. With hybrid vehicle, you’d better use the GPS mode.
The ACBungji Car HUD dimensions are 7.2 x 5.3 x 2 inches. Its weight is 12 ounces.
5. HUDWAY Glass – Universal Head-Up Display (HUD) for GPS
HUDWAY was founded in 2013 by Alex Ostanin and Ivan Klabukov in California, United States. It produces head-up display solutions for the drivers all round the globe. Its navigation application has been downloaded more than million times since it was launched.
This device can transform each smartphone into a display.
It is compatible with any kind of smartphone and HUD application. The phone size is 6.2″ x 3.1″. HUDWAY Glass makes the image 20% larger. With the transparency of its glass, you can view the road clearly and it will display exactly at the line of your sight.
No matter whether it is a day or night, you can discern the image since it will be visible. The kit consists of Adjustable Mount with the bendable base, Hudway Glass Cradel, Soft Pouch, Slim mount, Quick Start Guide, Wiping Cloth, Warranty and the Terms of Service.
Its weight is 12.8 ounces. Its dimensions are 7 x 3.4 x 1 inches. The device is super simple to use. Just do the three steps. First of all, use the smartphone to start the application. Secondly, put it in the cradle with a display up. Thirdly, here you go to begin the journey!
Tips for its best visibility
- Adjusting of glass angle
- Augmenting phone screen brightness
- Opting for the green UI elements
For better flexibility, the kit includes 2 mounts: the slim and the bendable one. So you decide which mounting will fit your vehicle’s dashboard. There is a jelly-glue, coming with it, They are reusable, leaving no traces when they are removed.
6. TIMPROVE T600 – Universal Car HUD
T600 is a new design of TIMPROVE Universal Car HUD where it does not require the installation of a reflective film on your windshield. So, here you can read all the information directly on the Head Up Display unit.
On the front of Head Up Display we have this LCD display. And then on the back, we have this rocker switch, which you can use to set up the unit and also toggle to different display. In the middle we have a photo cell to detect daytime and nighttime. So, during nighttime it will dim the display so it won’t be so bright. Next to it, is the mini USB connector that you connect your data cable to. And, that’s what is used to power this unit on and provide the driving information on this display.
Display Button Functions
At the top of the main display is the speed reading. The bottom left hand corner is the water temperature. Over here on the right, this is the car battery voltage. The switch is at the back of the unit. You can push this in, or move the switch left and right. To get into the main menu, push the switch in and hold it for a second.
Main Menu Settings
First item is language set. Next one is warning tone by default. If you move that switch at the back left or right, you can change a setting. The other item is speed alarm. The default may be increased or decreased.
Next item is battery alarm. Default’s 10.5 volt. The other one is speed adjust. Default is 107%. With this setting, if you find that the speed reading on this unit is different than what’s on your dash, you can use this to fine tune the reading on the HUD so you can match the speed reading of the HUD to the speed reading on your vehicle.
Let’s go to the next item: In OBD diagnose, you can scan for DTC, or trouble code, and clear the DTC. In a driving test, we have two choices – speed up test and break test. A speed up test shows you the speed that you’re traveling at and the elapsed time that it took.
Data stream will display a list of pits on your vehicle. And, over here on the right is the live data that’s showing from your vehicle. You can change the view of a multi-function display screen by pressing in the back button momentarily. This will display the elapsed time and elapsed distance. If you press the button again, this will show you the speed, tachometer, trip time, distance, coolant temperature, battery voltage.
Units for Adjustment
- Speed offset: If you turn off the ignition and the speed reading on the HUD is not zero, you can adjust the value here to bring that speed reading back to zero. You can reduce BAT adjust, or increase it up to 100%.
- Engine size: There you can enter the size of the engine. The fuel adjust allows you to fine tune the fuel consumption reading on your unit.
- Color change: You can toggle left and right to change your color of the display.
- CWT unit: This is the unit of measure for the water temperature. You can change this from fahrenheit to celsius, and the other way round.
- Speed unit: You can set it for miles per hour or kilometers per hour. Sum distance allows you to set the value here to match that of the mileage of your vehicle.
- Power off time: You can adjust it to any default.
- Sleep voltage: If the device is not turning off when you turn off the ignition, you can adjust the value so the unit will turn off.
- Factory set: Here you can reset the unit to factory default.
TIMPROVE is very compact. You can place it in a different location if you want, such as directly on top of your driver’s side. Also, once you’ve set up everything on the unit, it’ll remember its setting. And, this unit will start up automatically when you start the ignition, and shut off automatically when you turn off the ignition.
7. Arpenkin X5 HUD – The Best Budget HUD
This aftermarket HUD is a barebones product. Keep in mind, there are many people who have no interest in all of the other pieces of information that the other HUDs on this list provide. In fact, there are numerous customers who have purchase some of the other products that noted they specifically used tape to block out some of the unwanted clutter to better focus on only the information they were interested in.
Of course, this can be a bit of a double – edged sword. While the total amount of information the HUD can display is not truly compromised, and numerous users will appreciate the displaying of a single piece of information at once, switching through the different pieces of information can be tedious and ultimately takes your eyes off of the road.
Moreover, this HUD features the worst display out of any on our list, and there are no ways to correct it like with some of the other products we reviewed. The Arpenkin, as a budget HUD, uses a projection display onto a film placed on your windshield. Unfortunately, this film does little to alleviate the problems common with many projection HUDS.
Some of the other products on this list who suffer this issue have a workaround by placing a black film behind the screen. Sadly this does not work with the Arpenkin, which makes this only suitable for nighttime driving.
8. Navdy – Simply the Best Last Year’s Aftermarket HUD
The Navdy is the unquestioned champion of the aftermarket HUD arena. Is accomplishes this feat on all levels and by providing a product which can accomplish tasks that are simply non-existent outside of it. Of course, all of these advantages come at a premium price which is by and far the most expensive product on our list many times over. Still, if you are looking for the best aftermarket HUD available, this is the only game in town.
First, the Navdy features a dedicated screen that uses LED lights in full color. Quite simply, there is not another product on our list that can hope to compete with the brightness, clarity, and cohesion of image quality. The only issue is that the screen’s supposed transparent projection which is supposed make the image seem superimposed into the distance does not work for everybody. However, this is less of an issue with the product and more a result of different people’s biology not responding to the technology the same.
This allows the Navdy to use numerous 3rd-party apps or other apps on the phone without issue and will not interrupt the products function like it would with the Garmin. As icing on the cake, the Navdy can even respond to voice commands–though the effectiveness is a bit spotty – or hand gestures. With these interactive functions, you can answer calls, respond to texts, and get directions in real time.
9. ZXLine A8 – The Largest HUD Display
After the Navdy and the Garmin, this is probably the best HUD for most people – assuming it works for you vehicle. Unfortunately, the ZXLine was designed to work primarily in newer model vehicles. This means if your vehicle is 7 years old or older, there is a good chance the ZXLine simply will not function. To make matters worse, the English translation of the directions were written by a non-native speaker of English. As such, they are often confusing, it not outright contradictory.
However, if you have a newer model vehicle and are not looking to spend over $100 on an aftermarket HUD, the ZXLine will perform better than either the Echoman or the Arpenkin. However, both of those other models have clear advantages in some respects, so you will need to weigh what it is you want most.
Still not bad for the money
One issue that is a bit of a push-pull consideration is the information organization. Quite simply, there is a fair amount of information, and it is all bunched together. This cluttered organization can make it somewhat difficult to see quickly. However, the ZXLine did at least color code the information to make it easier to see what you are looking for. Still, people with poorer eyesight might find it difficult to use.
10. Garmin – The Best Mid-Tier Aftermarket HUD
While the Garmin cannot come close to competing with the Navdy in terms of functional robustness, it does still provide far more versatility and options than any other product on this list and does so at a much lower price point than the Navdy. In fact, the Navdy is at least 3 times more expensive than the Garmin and may be more than that depending on the supplier.
However, one area where the Garmin provides a unique feature that the Navdy cannot match is screen versatility. Whereas the Navdy uses a dedicated screen, the Garmin is able to use both a dedicated screen or a film projection. While a dedicated screen is without question better for image quality, smaller cars or those with a lower angle windshield slope may have trouble accommodating the HUD and screen without seeming awkward, unsightly, or just not fit properly.
Moreover, while the Garmin does not feature the same breadth of 3rd-party app compatibility as the Navdy, it does use a proprietary app that allows GPS and directions – though in a more limited context. The Garmin also accomplishes this connectivity via Bluetooth, just like the Navdy.
11. Echoman EM03B – The Best HUD for Mountainous Driving
The Echoman holds a unique position on this list. While it does utilize a dedicated screen on which to project its display, the screen is definitely inferior to both the Navdy and the Garmin. Of course, using a screen, it is still superior to simple projection displays. Unfortunately, this does not prevent some of the same issues as projection displays which is a bit troubling. However, many users have found that by placing an opaque sheet behind the screen, these issues are completely resolved. Still, this requirement speaks to a larger issue the Echoman presents throughout its use: poor design.
For one, the display does present a good amount of information. In fact, the Echoman is unique in that it is the only HUD on our list that presents your altitude. In fairness, the Navdy could be used to find that information as well, but it is not presented natively. As such, if you are driving over mountainous terrain – like in Japan where the Navdy was developed – you will be able to see your altitude.
Unfortunately, both the altitude and the compass – the other piece of information not often found on a HUD – have their own issues. For some reason, these features regularly find themselves out of sync and must be realigned regularly. However, the HUD does not present the method for doing so in an easy manner and is not even necessarily effective once you do figure out how to change it.
Best HUD for a car – Buyer’s Guide
There are only two types of aftermarket automotive HUDs at the moment: projections and screens. Ultimately, the HUDs that utilize their own screen are generally superior.
The screen itself allows you to quickly and easily reposition the unit if the angle does not allow the best presentation. Moreover, HUDs with their own screen are far more likely to suffer less from the dreaded “double image.”
However, the material of the screen will play an important role in whether this effect occurs as well. However, there is no standard material used for HUD displays that use a screen, though avoidance of plastic composites is advisable. Unfortunately, the HUDs that utilize a screen are also generally significantly more expensive than HUDs that simply project the image.
Problems and Solutions
Still, you get what you pay for, and projection HUDs have their own issues. The biggest problem with projection HUD has to do with the image quality. In the most ideal conditions, the image quality of a projection HUD will generally be pretty good. However, ideal conditions are usually limited to at night without too many bright lights. During the day, and especially if the sun is in front of you setting on the horizon, the image of projection HUDs can be completely washed out.
This also requires you to stick a small piece of film onto your windshield which can be difficult. Specifically, you need to know exactly where the film should be placed which can take a few tries of trial and error. Moreover, depending on the HUD, the film itself may be sticky. This can make removing it from the windshield difficult, and if you have to reposition it numerous times, it may lose some of its adhesive integrity.
Connectivity and Information
Most HUDs still connect by way of wires. This is especially relevant for the HUD’s ability to display the vehicle’s performance. Moreover, many HUD’s are also powered by the 12 volt vehicle outlet located on your dash. However, if your HUD connects to your smartphone, it may require another stage of connectivity. In this regard, the HUD may connect directly to the smartphone with a cable, or it may allow connection through Bluetooth.
Whether or not your HUD connects to your phone will also impact the amount and type of information you can receive. HUDs that do not connect to a smartphone generally only receive information from the vehicle itself. This information can include, speed, RPMs, engine temperature, and a host of other pieces of information. However, if your HUD connects to your phone it will often provide directions when driving, and some of the more advanced HUDs will even allow you to use 3rd-party apps.
This consideration can broken down into 3 qualities: brightness, resolution, and cohesion. Cohesion in this instance relates to whether or not the display creates a double-image effect or not. Generally, it is the polarization of windshields that cause this effect. The brightness will have a lot to do with the type of illumination–with LED being the brightest.
However, the brightness will also hinge on whether the display is projected onto a dedicated screen or a film placed on the windshield.
The same considerations which impact the brightness of the display will also impact the resolution and the cohesion with the same factors producing a better or worse quality.
This consideration can be broken into two parts: smartphone and vehicle. The best HUDs connect to your smartphone and even allow the use of 3rd-party apps while in function. However, even for the HUDs that connect to your smartphone, many of them require the use of HUD-specific apps and may stop working when you switch to a different app.
The other compatibility consideration for HUDs has to do with the vehicle in question. Different vehicles have different readout systems which measure the vehicle’s performance. These readouts are OBD, OBD II, EOBD (for European standards), and JOBD (for Japanese standards). If your HUD and vehicle readout are not compatible, you will not be able to receive information about your vehicle’s performance through the HUD.
If money is no issue, the Navdy is the only option that can provide a full modern experience. Aside from its impressive dedicated screen size, it also presents more information than any other product on our list.
Of course, this has to do more with the Navdy’s ability to connect with your smartphone and utilize 3rd-party apps, but it is still an impressive feat to be able to control your smartphone with hand motions directed towards your HUD.
Beyond the Navdy, the Garmin offers a decent product at a greatly reduced price, though the smartphone functionality is greatly reduced as well. For a stripped down, budget option, the Arpenkin is a solid choice, though the ZXLine may be a better one.