Last year, I drove Cadillac’s new tech-heavy CT5-V road burner up and down the Pacific coast of Oregon, and one of my favorite tech features was the built-in Head-Up Display, or HUD system, that projected speed, RPMs, and other data bits into the windshield so I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to check my speed, RPMs and other data bits while navigating the circuitous highways winding out to the ocean shore. At night. In the rain. In heavy traffic.
It was a great safety tool.
After I turned the car back in, I was contacted by UK tech firm Hudway, which was putting the final touches on a self-contained, app-driven Head-Up Display system called the Hudway Drive that can be added to most any car or truck. The device arrived in due time but unfortunately, I had since been injured in an accident and was not able to drive again until just recently. But I healed up enough eventually and I installed the Drive-in my very low-tech pickup truck just in time for a massive snowstorm to strike the region (and nation), and really, I haven’t taken it out since. I was originally going to include the Hudway Drive in a roundup of “cool tech for dumb cars” but I’ve been so impressed with it that I felt it merited its own review.
How It Works
The $299 Hudway Drive system consists of the head-up display hard parts and an accompanying free smartphone app called “Drive.” The HUD device itself sits on a flexible rubberized platform that adheres to your dashboard, typically right above your instruments and steering wheel. The base has flexible, positionable “wings” and a big adhesive pad, making it a fairly permanent proposition once installed, so fine-tuning placement before locking down the adhesive is a good idea. Once dialed in, the HUD section can disconnect from the base to be less tempting to car prowlers. Power comes from a long USB cord that ends in a familiar legacy USB Type I/II connector. The Drive does not have an internal battery.
The HUD display itself is a transparent panel that allows for fine-tuning your eye line to the display or folding it down flat. A small projector housing sits close to your steering wheel. Hudway includes some wire routing nubs but I just used a tool to tuck the fairly long power cable into the seam between my windshield and dash for a cleaner install. The system can also show video from backup or side-view cameras, although that is a much more involved installation adventure, and I already had a mirror-based backup system in place. Still, that’s a nice expansion option. The Hudway will also display data from OBD-based car diagnostic systems that use smartphone apps, such as the INNOVA system, or others.
On The Road
After tapping a few pertinent details into the app, I decided to have the Hudway show speed, outside temperature, a weather icon (snowing!!), the time, distance traveled, and top speed. There are other options including the “cost” of the trip (more app input required), and I also opted to have the HUD show me the name of phone callers or the ID of someone texting me. Notification options for numerous social and communication apps are currently offered, but I prefer to keep those to an absolute minimum. Again, since it’s right in the sightline, I don’t feel my few data bits are overly distracting and, via the app, I set them to “show” for just 2 seconds, but of course, you can go too far with notifications very easily these days. Choose wisely. Overall, I enjoyed having all my driving data and the occasional hello right there in the windshield and felt much less tempted to peek at my phone at stoplights (illegal in Oregon).
The Hudway Drive, commensurate to its name, can also be used for navigation and displays simple directions via arrows and junctions (with voice if desired) along with a detailed map on your phone’s screen. This dual-screen approach was especially handy while navigating to some out-of-the-way spots on the Oregon coast that were off the beaten path.