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Head Up Displays - The 2018 Guide

What you need to know

Heads up, eyes on the road.

The general disposition towards head-up displays is still "take it or leave it" but car companies are quietly improving their functionality and feature set as they start to absorb more and more relevant information. For 2018 model years, the most common update includes showing the posted speed limit and possibly road signs up ahead.

The advent of SIM-based wireless LTE connectivity in cars means they could do so much more. Information like heavy traffic or construction ahead are useful, but safety related warnings would be best. Imagine a warning for a reported accident or car stopped on shoulder ahead. Best case scenario would be an indicator for any emergency vehicles that are about to intercept your route so you can be prepared to give way.

In the far future, car companies can open up APIs for user-created apps displayable on the HUD powered by an Android or Apple phone in cars with CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Dozens of car companies are already establishing secure protocols for app makers to allow them to replace the functionality of certain multi-use controls, so the idea of an app that shows a warning for a speed camera in half a mile is not as inconceivable as it may seem.

Below is a list of car companies and specific models that can be equipped with a HUD. This is a U.S. based list, so if a car company isn't listed or it's too expensive to mention (like Lamborghini) then it won't be shown here.


Mazda

  • Models: Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-3, CX-5, CX-9
  • Information: Current speed, turn-by-turn navigation, road signs

Mazda3, Mazda6, and CX-3 models use a discrete transparent panel mounted on the dashboard while CX-5 and CX-9 models use a more traditional recess with projection style head-up display. Mazda calls their display Active Driving Display


Acura

  • Models: 2016 RLX Hybrid
  • Information: Current speed, RPM, turn-by-turn navigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, forward warning, compass, power distribution (AWD)

Offered only in Acura's limited flagship, the HUD for the RLX is comparable to competitors in its class. It's also the only HUD that shows where power is being distributed for its active torque vectoring all wheel drive system. Non Hybrid RLX models receive a flashing warning light for stopping.

2018 RLX hybrid and non-hybrid models do not have HUDs listed as a feature, so Acura is ditching the technology for now. A-Spec and Advance package trims receive a head-up warning light.


Toyota

  • Models: Prius, Prius Prime, Camry
  • Information: Current speed, turn-by-turn navigation, gear, compass, rpm, (Prius only) battery level, hybrid drivetrain activity

Although the Prius models has had a HUD for a while, the breadth of information is slim showing only speed and economy related data. The 2018 Camry now leads the forefront in Toyota HUDs, and since it's built on a new global platform you might expect to see more HUDs in future Toyota models.


Lexus

  • Models: GS, RX, LX, LS, LC
  • Information: Current speed, RPM, current gear, compass, audio, fuel efficiency, adaptive cruise control

HUDs equipped on the Lexus LC are more fleshed out and complete than ones on older models like the GS and LX. If you're looking for more information projected in front of you, the newly released 2018 LS 500 flagship sedan features an optional 24-inch HUD - the largest in the world. 


Kia / Hyundai / Genesis

  • Models: Kia K900, Kia Stinger | Genesis G70, Genesis G80, Genesis G90 | Hyundai Equus, Hyundai Kona
  • Information: Current speed, turn-by-turn navigation, lane departure, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control

Hyundai-type HUDs are offered at the top end of the range, and typically on the top trim. Its feature list hasn't changed for 2018, but newer models like the G70 and Kona will have a HUD as an option.


Ford

  • Models: Fusion, Mustang GT350(R)
  • Information: Fusion displays a flashing red light as a forward warning collision. Mustang has adjustable shift lights.

Though it meets the bare requirements for a HUD compared to other vehicles, Ford puts a lot more effort in their colorful multi-information displays in the gauge cluster instead.


Chevrolet

  • Models: SS, Camaro, Corvette, Tahoe, Suburban
  • Information: Current speed, RPM, turn-by-turn navigation, shift lights, lateral g, radio station

GM has long been a proponent of head-up displays in their divisions. For the Chevrolet brand, it's mainly within the performance models that utilize a HUD. Each model has a variety of display geometries but their focus is on how fast you've been and how fast you're going. In the case of the Corvette the HUD even matches the alternative tachometer.


Cadillac

  • Models: ATS (Sedan, Coupe), ATS-V (Sedan, Coupe), CTS, CTS-V, XTS, CT6, XT5, Escalade
  • Information: Current speed, RPM, collision alert, speed limit, lane departure alert, turn-by-turn navigation, compass heading, audio

Cadillac offers a head-up display on a large majority of their vehicles across the range. These HUDs are feature rich so there aren't many changes to its capabilities for 2018.


Buick

  • Models: LaCrosse, Envision, Regal
  • Information: Current speed, RPM, turn-by-turn navigation, audio/phone, performance, collision alert, cruise control, lane departure alert, low fuel

Buick's head-up display is similar to the ones offered in Cadillacs. The newly redesigned Regal will now be offering a head-up display as well.


Audi

  • Models: A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, S5, S6, S7, S8, RS7, Q7
  • Information: Current speed, navigation, speed limit, pedestrian warning, assistant systems

Audi HUDs are available across the board, but its feature set is unchanged for 2018 models. A HUD is standard on the latest generation A8 L.


BMW

Models: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, X1, X3, X4, X5, X6, i8, M3, M4, M5, M6
Information: Current speed, turn-by-turn navigation, adaptive cruise control, speed limit, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, pedestrian warning, forward collision warning, user controls, RPM (certain models)

BMW continues to remain a leader in the HUD technology front. M sport cars with M-specific HUDs can display even more features like xDrive setting and shift lights. 


Mercedes-Benz

  • Models: C-Coupe, C-Sedan, E-Sedan, S-Coupe, S-Sedan, GLC-Class, AMG-GT
  • Information: Current speed, rpm, turn-by-turn navigation, adaptive cruise control

Mercedes' updated HUD is not class leading because their gauge cluster display is where you'll find most of the relevant information. The position and brightness of the HUD saves with your seat memory position, and later models automatically adapt the color setting to ambient light.


Jaguar & Land Rover

  • Models: XE, XF, F-Pace | Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Evoque,
  • Information: Current speed, turn-by-turn navigation, road signs, cruise control, forward collision warning, gear position, shift indicator, traffic sign recognition

Jaguar HUDs use laser-based projection to remain clear in all conditions. Like many cool Jaguar features, it's an optional extra.


Volvo

  • Models: S90, V90, XC60, XC90
  • Information: Current speed, turn-by-turn navigation, cruise control, road signs, incoming calls

Updated for 2017 models, the Volvo head up display is now offered on more vehicles and features a new color scheme with improved technology. Volvo says the display is semi transparent and can adapt to surrounding light.