My lovely wife and I recently bought a used 2014 Toyota Prius v. Great car. Lousy stock stereo. I was surprised at just how ungainly Toyota’s Entune system is. I’d been waiting for Alpine’s ILX-107 to come out with its fancy wireless CarPlay, because I’m an Apple guy and it looked promising. It was released, I ordered one from NewEgg that came with a $200 gift card I used to buy the installation accessories, and I trucked it all over to Best Buy to have their guys install it.
In doing my research on the system, there were some questions I couldn’t get answered. I thought I’d take a few pictures and video to better demonstrate some of the details of how all this works.
Here’s what I started with: the stock Prius v radio:
Here’s what I bought for the install:
This thing connects the antenna:
This thing connects the USB port on the dashboard to the radio:
This is a major piece – The Maestro connects the steering-wheel controls to the radio. It’s supposed to do a few other things also, but could not be made to do so:
This is the Toyota-specific installation harness:
It was a pretty elaborate install. The guys at Best Buy had not seen this radio before. The install cost $99 for the radio and $59 for the Maestro programming and install. I got my money’s worth:
The estimate had been two hours. It took closer to five.
When it was done, some things worked great, and others had problems. The “AUX” icon wan’t showing on the main screen. The “Gauges” icon was there, but the gauges (fuel, RPM, speed, etc.) weren’t showing anything. And the “Camera” icon was there all the time, but never showed anything, because the camera was only powered on when the car was in reverse (and then you didn’t need to hit the “Camera” button…)
What worked great was the wireless CarPlay, which was the main thing that this radio was supposed to provide. The AM/FM radio also seemed to work well. The backup camera worked really well.
Still, of the four icons on the main screen (Radio / CarPlay / Camera / Gauges), only the first two did anything. So I scheduled a return visit to Best Buy to get it fixed up as best as I could. Here’s what I ended up with:
All the icons work now. The camera is now powered on all the time, so if I’m driving down the highway and want to watch the car behind me for some reason, I just hit the button.
The guy at Best Buy spent the whole day on the phone with the guys at Maestro trying to get the “Gauges” icon to work. They were unable to do so. Best guess is that the radio needs a firmware update. So he hid the “gauges” icon and all is well. On a Prius, you don’t really get anything that helpful.
The AUX input now works well. They had to wire it directly into the radio and bypass the Maestro. The Prius has a USB input and a minijack audio input on the dashboard; the USB can be used to update the radio firmware, change the starting screen, and play video into the unit. You have to be in park, with the emergency brake on, for the video to show. Sadly, you can’t go straight from a lightning connection on an iPad, say, to the unit:
Turning the system on:
The bootup time is pretty good; you’re ready to go in 15 seconds, and CarPlay wirelessly connects in about another 7 seconds:
But for me, the key is how quickly the backup camera is ready to go; I need to be able to start the car, throw it into reverse and get going. This responsiveness is excellent; it takes less than a second after putting the car into reverse for the camera to kick in:
The interface’s responsiveness is also terrific; you can flip from function to function, and from CarPlay app to CarPlay app, very quickly:
The radio works well; it’s pretty standard. Each station has two different ways to view it, which give more information depending on how the station is broadcasting:
Siri is terrifically responsive. She’ll only do a small, safe subset of her normal tasks, but they have picked the right ones:
Interestingly, your iPhone’s screen serves as a second screen for the radio when you’re navigating:
If you walk into your car playing music on your iPhone, it’ll pop over into the car stereo reasonably quickly:
Throughout this article, you’re seeing the iOS 11 version of CarPlay; I’ve been running the beta on my iPhone.
One thing it adds is a battery indicator your phone when it’s not plugged in:
vs. when it is:
I’m delighted with this radio. Alpine’s done a great job of making everything look Apple-like and getting its own stuff out of the way.
[Guest Written by Tom Moore]