Not everyone can afford a car with a heads-up display. The feature is usually reserved for high-end luxury and sports cars priced well out of reach of the average driver. is attempting to solve that with an aftermarket dash-top unit that promises all the perks of a HUD, a bunch of other neat features, powered by your smartphone and an OBDII plug. We took a Navdy display out for a spin to see if it can do everything your phone can— more—without you ever having to take your eyes off the road.
Navdy sprang from a crowdfunding campaign back in 2014, envisioning an aftermarket add-on that could give access to your smartphone's capabilities without taking your eyes off the road, and bring modern smartphone connectivity to cars that didn't offer it from the factory. What the Navdy team came up with is a device that sticks onto your dash and projects information onto a deployable piece of glass, giving you a heads-up display of information including navigation, music, notifications, speed, RPM, and fuel level.
The car we used on our Navdy test drive, a 2014 Porsche Cayman, seemed like the perfect candidate for a HUD upgrade. Heads-up display was never available from the factory on this model, and this particular car wasn’t optioned with navigation or Bluetooth music streaming. And hailing from the days just before Android Auto and Apple CarPlay became common, this Porsche doesn't have an all-encompassing way to integrate a smartphone into its infotainment system. In short, it's exactly the type of vehicle the Navdy unit is designed for.
Installation is fairly straightforward, with the only issue being the location of the Cayman’s OBDII port—which the Navdy plugs into. Sorry classic car owner—the device is powered through the car's OBDII connecter, so pretty much any car built before 1996 is out of luck. As you can see, the Porsche's OBDII port happens to sit flush with the fuse box, meaning if I wanted to keep the Navdy plugged in while driving, I’d have to leave the fuse panel cover off, a minor quibble with this particular installation.
After adjusting my seating position, the Navdy’s head-up display fell perfectly into view without obscuring any forward vision. For people who stick to their preferred seating position religiously, be mindful—the device's position on your dash may force you to make some adjustments. The steering-wheel-mounted dial used to navigate through the device’s menu fit snugly, and was intuitive to operate.
On the road, Navdy performs exactly as advertised. With the Navdy app running on your smartphone, the unit connects via Bluetooth, using Google search and HERE maps (and your data plan) to get you where you're going. Thanks to a clear, vibrant color display, all the information is easy to read. The accompanying audio directions are easy to understand, conveyed by a voice that can be changed to suit your preference. Directions are viewable as a full-screen turn-by-turn map, or a smaller inset displayed below a dashboard layout showing speed, RPM, and fuel remaining. The Navdy unit's voice recognition functions almost identically to a factory-installed nav system, allowing you to input addresses and change destinations on the fly without having to type or swipe.
Music is easy to manage too, even with third-party players like Spotify. Each time a new song comes on, the display shows the album cover and gives you the option to skip or pause the track—something this Bluetooth-less Cayman never offered. Phone notifications are seamless as well, popping up on one side of the display without hiding any information. “Glances,” as they’re called, can be read aloud to you, displayed on screen, or both, depending on your pre-set preference.
Driver-facing sensors on the device allow you to handle notifications with hand gestures, swiping right to view or left to dismiss. The feature, which is only beginning to become available on high-end luxury cars, works well, but I found it more natural to use the wheel-mounted dial. It's not like the gestures were a hassle to use—they worked just fine every time I tried them—it's just that the dial was always at my fingertips. Why take your hands off the wheel if you don't have to? Still, we commend this aftermarket company for adding something that even most new luxury car buyers still don't get.
The data pulled from your car's OBDII port—speed, RPM, and fuel level—is accurate, but the readoutswhen compared to your car's dashboard. Certainly not a deal-breaker, but worth mentioning—you wouldn't want to rely on Navdy's head-up display to shift precisely at redline, for example.
For its intended purpose, Navdy works great. It lets you interact with the smartphone features you're most likely to use while driving, without having to take your eyes off the road or let go of the steering wheel. Plus, in some cars—like the Cayman tested—it adds features you wouldn't have had before. At $500, Navdy isn't cheap, and it's obviously meant for cars that fit a particular profile—new enough to have OBDII, but not so fully-loaded that they came with Navdy's features from the factory. But for someone looking for a safe, convenient way to use driving-related smartphone capabilities while on the road, Navdy's dash-top unit makes a compelling case.