Last updated on November 23rd, 2020 at 10:23 pm
In this article: We'll review 9 of our best pick Head Up Displays (HUDs) on the market, and walk you through some of the common knowledge to help you decide and installation information.
If you always thought fighter jet technology or Star-Trek was cool, you can have a piece of that in your car. Head-up display (or HUD) – putting needed information on the windshield – was first used in fighter jets to reduce distractions and keep the pilot’s eyes in front of him. Now, vehicles are using that same technology to make cars and trucks safer. Some high-end cars have head-up technology as standard equipment, but most offer it as an extra cost option. If your vehicle doesn’t have head-up display or you don’t want to buy that higher trim level, you can add your own aftermarket head-up display.
A heads-up display may project vehicle information such as GPS maps, speed, temperature and other information to a film on the windshield or directly to the windshield. It keeps your eyes on the road while you are looking at directions or checking the status of your vehicle’s engine fluids. Some HUDs have more information than others and some use a film on the windshield while others are able to project information directly to the windshield.
In most cases, a head-up display connects to your vehicle’s OBD port and projects real-time data to the windshield. The best displays use a larger screen area – but not too big so as to hinder your vision – and have different colors and multiple symbols to display data so that you can see what you need at only a glance. Most HUDs are “plug and play” and are easy to install.
Heads up displays come in many forms. Power, hookup, information displayed and screen format vary widely. You need to make sure a heads-up display will work with your vehicle. If you don’t have an OBDII hookup for some head-up displays, you won’t be able to use it. Some use one color and have a lot of information on the screen, making it difficult to read.
A head-up display could get its power from a USB port, a cigarette lighter or the OBDII port. Once you choose a display, check the power requirements before you plunk your money down. You’ll want to make sure your vehicle has the appropriate power source. Some newer vehicles don’t have a cigarette lighter, so you’ll want a head-up display that is powered from another supply.
Screen Format and Size
Be sure to check the screen size on each HUD you are researching. Some are very small while some have a good-sized display. Screen size affects how well you are able to see the information on the head-up display and how much of the windshield the display takes.
Screen format is also a big factor. These small screens provide a driver with tons of information, but he or she must be able to pick out that information at a slight glance. Brands that use one or very few colors to differentiate between different pieces of information may pose a problem with reading difficulty. Brands that use several colors for different information make it easier to find the information you are looking for with a quick glance.
What Can a HUD Display?
A head-up display (HUD) can display basic information, like speed and direction of travel, or they can be more complicated, providing drivers easy access to GPS and critical engine functions. The most basic HUD systems simply plug into your smartphone. You’ll get basic functions from these devices, and they are typically the lowest cost options on the market.
More complex HUDs plug into the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port to get access to lots of information. Most OBD II-equipped cars and trucks built after 2008 will have no problem using an advanced HUD. Before spending big money on a HUD that plugs into your OBDII port, make sure it’s compatible.
Don't forget that OBD II ports provide un-switched battery power, so leaving the HUD plugged in all the time will drain your battery and shorten battery life. There is also a risk of fire anytime you leave a device plugged into the port while the vehicle is off.
How to Use this Guide
We put this guide together for drivers who are interested in adding HUD tech to their car. We consulted with industry professionals and talked to car audio installers to find out what features buyers demand. We put together this list to feature the best of the best HUD systems on the market. Instead of trying to pick which one is “the best”, we organized our list from the least expensive to the most and then explain the features that set each of these units apart from the junk so you can find the HUD system that’s perfect for your car and driving style.
Best Head-Up Displays
Lufi XF HUD Quick Review
The Lufi XF is like a multi-gauge and a HUD mixed together. It has a small footprint, but displays critical information about the vehicle in real time. Speed, RPM, oil and water temperature and more can be displayed by connecting to the OBDII port, but lots of HUDs do that. It can tell you intake manifold pressure, exhaust air temperature, and it works on most gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicles built after 2004.
The TFT screen is vibrant even in direct sunlight, so it’s easy to keep track of the information available. This HUD is not only going to make you a safer driver by reducing distractions, but it will also help tuners understand what the engine and transmission are doing in real time. The unique mounting design lets you put it where you need it for a comfortable drive.
- Bright display is easy to see in all lighting conditions
- Impressive amount of real-time data possible
- Display may be cluttered for some drivers
- OBDII powered
- Bold, bright display
- Complete data information
- Auto-off when vehicle is not running
|Buy on Amazon.com $70.68|
VGEBY HUD Quick Review
The first thing you notice about the VGEBY HUD is the incredibly clear, high-definition display that it projects on the windshield. Advanced nanotechnology and a well-equipped processor enable this HUD to display without shadow effects. Information is clear and easy to read, providing distraction-free driving and a high-quality display.
This HUD is OBDII-compatible but it will not work on vehicles that do not have the correct standard, so you should research your vehicle's compatibility before buying. You can find this information by clicking on one of the “Buy Now” buttons. Information displayed includes speed, RPM, fuel mileage and consumption, and it even provides diagnostic information such as check engine lights.
- One of the easiest displays to read
- Highly accurate data display
- Skid pad doesn’t always hold in place on bumpy roads
- Not compatible with some vehicles
- 3D windshield display
- Customizable display
- OBDII/ GPS
- Extensive vehicle information using OBDII
|Buy on Amazon.com|
USUGER HUD Quick Review
This is one of the newest HUD devices on the market, and it brings a level of customization few others are capable of providing. It creates a virtual display on the windshield with data displayed in neat and organized ways. Users can customize the display to one of several styles.
The USUGER HUD requires an OBDII port for full functionality, but also works with built-in GPS to provide speed and distance information. The display does not require reflective film and can display images in 3D for an even more realistic and easy to see display.
- Clear and easy to read display
- No reflective film required
- More expensive than some other models
- Lacks extensive reviews
- Frequently sold out
- Clear floating display
- Numerous features for compatible vehicles
- OBDII data
- Easy setup and calibration
|Buy on Amazon.com $59.99|
Autopmall Head Up Display Quick Review
The HUD from Autopmall takes the display off the windshield and puts it on a floating screen instead. The result is a much easier to read display than many windshield HUDs. The screen gives you access to important data easily, including speed, RPM, water temp, driving distance, fuel mileage, shift warnings, and lots of other information.
The HUD requires a connection to the OBDII port, and it only works with compatible vehicles, including Dodge and Chrysler vehicles, some Chevrolet cars and trucks, Italian cars, and several Japanese and Korean models. Owners of cars that are outside of the list of supported list of cars won't be able to use the OBDII functions. Check the list by navigating to one of the “Buy Now” links to see the full list.
- Clear display is more visible than windshield displays
- OBDII features are extensive
- Only works on select vehicles
ECOOLBUY Q10 HUD Quick Review
The Q10 provides all the data you could want, right on your windshield. Unlike many cheaper models, this one is big and bold, a full 5.5” of colorful graphics. The display gives you heads up access to speed, RPM, water temperature, driving distance, and battery voltage quickly and easily. It even provides lane-change information via GPS.
The unit is typically powered by OBDII for compatible vehicles, but can even be used for incompatible vehicles via 12v accessory power. Accessory data only includes GPS-derived data including speed and driving distance.
- Clear and easy to read information
- Lane change info is a great plus
- Not compatible with all OBDII vehicles
- Users claim that the instructions are terrible
- OBDII powered
- Lots of data available
- Displays on windshield
- Multiple gauge image
Color Tree A8 HUD Quick Review
When you think about a HUD display for your vehicle, you probably imagine something that looks cool, like a fighter jet display. The budget options on this list don’t quite get there, but this HUD from Color Tree is the real deal. Tons of features, lots of data, and it displays everything you need on the windshield.
The various data that the unit can provide includes speed, RPM, water temperature, battery voltage, fuel consumption, mileage, shift reminder, and can even show engine data. The display projects onto the windshield with a computer game-esque gauge set.
- Stylish display
- Provides access to tons of information quickly
- Adhesive reportedly doesn't always stick well
- Not compatible with all OBDII vehicles
- Stand-alone unit
- GPS-based data
- Acceleration, braking, speed, and distance data
- Brightly lit LED display
TIMPROVE T600 Quick Review
The HUD from TIMPROVE takes a different tact than the windshield-display models above. Instead, this one is a standalone unit that sits on your dash, keeping your eyes forward all the time. The brightly illuminated LED lights ensure you can quickly get the information you need at a glance.
This HUD uses built-in GPS to display all kinds of data. Cheaper units can display vehicle speed, but the processor in this unit also records braking speed data, acceleration, and driver distance information. And since it doesn’t require the OBDII port, wiring is a snap and it’s fully compatible with all vehicles.
- Easy to use in any vehicle, no matter how the dash is shaped
- Bright and clear information in all light conditions
- More portable than other units
- Display is on the small side
- Poor-quality connector cable
Pyle PHUD12 HUD Quick Review
This is one of the best budget options for gaining HUD displays in any car equipped with an OBDII port. A dual-core processor provides nearly instant information, and the display is easy to read, day or night. The unit even features integrated light sensors, so it automatically adjusts for differing light conditions.
The display is clear and easy to see, and even allows users to change colors. At only about one-half inch tall, it doesn’t take up a bunch of space on the dash. The HUD is simple to use, simple to calibrate, and provides simple data with no fuss.
- Inexpensive and easy to use
- Clear, quick speed data
- Doesn’t provide as much data as other units
- Some users had MPH discrepancies at specific speeds
ACECAR Head Up Display Quick Review
The HUD from ACECAR is a cost-efficient solution for drivers of vehicles built after 2008. It uses the OBDII port to display all sorts of information, including speed, RPM, and water temperature right on the windshield.
It uses LED lights and a reflective tape strip to make it simple to use. Some common vehicles, like Dodge and Jeep vehicles in the US are not compatible using the OBDII port, but drivers can still use this HUD because of built-in GPS.
- Displays on windshield
- OBDII/ GPS connection
- Provides speed, driving distance, water temperature, and voltage.
- Low-cost OBDII HUD
- Overly simplistic with fewer features
Head-up displays are easy enough to install. Place the display in place, if applicable, whether it’s on the windshield or in front of the windshield. Some head-up display units project directly onto the windshield and this step is moot if that is the case.
Make sure you put the display where it is comfortable for you to glance at it. Once that is done, put the projector in place on the dash. It is usually held into place with a sticker. If it does use a sticker, make sure it’s in the correct place before installing it permanently. Make sure the projector lines up with the display if applicable.
Plug the power cord into the correct receptacle – a cigarette lighter or USB port. Then, plug the OBDII cable into the OBDII port. When plugging the OBDII cable in, be sure the cable is right-side up and you push it straight in so you do not bend any of the pins. Make any fine adjustments needed so that you are able to see the information without having to move in your seat.
Once you have the unit installed and powered up, set up the software. You may have to download a third-party app or you may need to adjust the settings directly from the unit itself.
- OBD: Onboard diagnostics. Vehicles prior to 1996 may have an OBD port or an OBDII port.
- OBDII: In 1996, vehicles were required to have an OBDII port for onboard vehicle diagnostics.
- HUD: Head-up display. Technology that displays vehicle information and other information on the windshield in your line of sight.
- Head-up display: See HUD.
- USB: Universal serial bus port. Used to charge and/or power many types of technology or to connect one form of technology to another, such as a smartphone to a computer.