2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Long-Term Update 2
Pioneer recently offered to install an AVIC 5000-NEX head unit in our long-term Forester, specifically to test out its integration with Apple's new CarPlay technology. Since our Subaru has the stock head unit without GPS, I was looking forward to the new setup. Pioneer partnered with Best Buy's Geek Squad to install the head unit, so the dirty work was handled for us.
CarPlay is compatible with the iPhone5, which is hooked up to the head unit via a dedicated plug installed through the center armrest, where the Forester already had a USB port installed. Once the iPhone is plugged in, the screen on the 5000-NEX brings up a select number of icons, like an enlarged version of the iPhone screen. The icons that pop up are: Phone, Messages, Maps, Music, Now Playing, and Pioneer (to return to Pioneer's default menu system).
The AVIC 5000-NEX is equipped to carry an XM signal, but since our Forester didn't come with satellite radio, it doesn't have the correct antenna to receive that signal. The Pioneer head unit comes with its own dedicated GPS, but I have found it much easier to use Apple Maps through the CarPlay connection (the Pioneer setup is shown above; the stock setup is shown below). Honestly, I would much prefer if every car out there simply came with Google Maps, but for the sake of convenience, Apple Maps does the trick.
Using CarPlay is quite intuitive, and does provide a lot of convenience. The voice control button on the Subaru's steering wheel can be used as if it were the home button on an iPhone. Simply hold the voice control key down until you hear the familiar Siri beep indicating she's listening. State your command for navigating to a destination, making a phone call, playing a song from your phone's music library, or having Siri read or transcribe a text. The only issue I've had is with Siri not pulling up the right artist or song when I have asked her to play something in particular.
Phone calls have become a breeze without the need for of a Bluetooth earpiece or wired earbuds. The sound quality has been great coming through the stock Forester speakers. Feedback from callers on the other end of the line has been good, as they've said the installed microphone clearly transmits my voice. Fearing that I would become one of those drivers who is inadvertently sharing my private conversation with everyone within a 20-foot radius of my vehicle, I stepped outside the parked Forester while the person on the other end of the call continued talking. With the windows up, I could barely tell there was a voice being projected through the speakers at all, let alone decipher the content of the conversation. Major points for that, Subaru!
For more on our long-term 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT: