Toyota Tundra Infotainment Review

As a tech enthusiest and an information technology professional, I‘m always looking at technology first when looking at a vehicle. If I had to rank infotainment (what the industry calls the vehicle’s screen, software, and entertainment package) on a list of most important features it would definitely be in the top three. Not only am I a tech enthusiast, I’m also a car enthusiast so I’m always looking at what’s new in the car world. I’ve thought about buying several vehicles and decided against it only because of the technology implementation (looking at you Ford Explorer).

My current vehicle, 2022 Toyota Tundra Platinum, has the best technology package in a truck as of the time I bought it. Even better than the F-150 Lightning (which I’m still ”in line” to buy). The F-150 Lightning has the same infotainment as the non-electric F-150s with the exception of the added controls for the EV.

Ford Explorer ST Backup Camera View
Ford Explorer ST Backup Camera View

Here’s what is wrong with most of today’s in-vehicle technology:

  • Large screens with bad use of space
  • Not utilizing integrated cameras effectively (see photo)
  • Trying to pack options on the screen that no one wants or uses
  • Not prioritizing the majority of drivers that use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

Instead of filling the screen with the functions you are currently using, most manufacturers leave space for other controls, split screen, or messages. The same applies to mirroring you phone to the built-in display.

The 2022 Toyota Tundra has the cleanest large screen infotainment I’ve seen to date. This was major factor in why I purchased this particular truck, especially after pre-ordering an F-150 Lightning, and never owning a Toyota before. The Tundra’s infotainment is simple and thoughtfully laid out on the giant 14-inch LCD display in the center of the dash. There’s not a lot of bloat either with a modest selection of four different modes, plus Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

When using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, it takes over the entire screen giving you the most screen real estate to see your maps, music, or podcasts. My previous vehicles from Stellantis had a bottom navigation bar with CarPlay enabled to allow you to navigate away from CarPlay without having to do anything. Toyota’s implementation, like others I have seen, put a Toyota icon on your homescreen that when tapped, takes you to the built-in vehicle controls. This allows your phone mirroring experience to be more immersive . When the truck’s cameras are activated you again see it fullscreen and are able to see multiple cameras at once. Most of my in-car use is CarPlay so I never use the truck’s built-in functionality so the fullscreen experience was important to me. Hopefully soon Apple updates Carplay to better use the large amount of screen space I have now and make the elements fit better.

Digital rearview mirror camera
Front and bird’s eye cameras at a stop light

2022 Toyota Tundra technology overview

Pros:
UI elements utilize large screen
Fullscreen Apple CarPlay / Android Auto
Responsive and high resolution
No bloatware or complicated views
Landscape orientation
Digital rearview mirror

Cons:
Can’t use in-vehicle WiFi hotspot and wireless CarPlay simulteanously
CarPlay elements not made for such a large screen
Uses Google Maps, but not an online version
360º camera view only available in park [P]
Most camera views only available in drive [D]

In my short four months of owning the Toyota Tundra, it received one software update that was mainly bug fixes, but that doesn’t prevent them from adding features via an update. Hopefully they can add some cool stuff I haven’t thought of, but this is a promising start to a car brand that I once wrote off due to their interest in technology innovation.

Read about why I sold my Jeep and bought a truck.

Top 10 Reasons I’m Going to Miss My Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler Front

Recently I went through a process of selling my Jeep Wrangler to an online service.
Read about how that went here.

Before I sold the Wrangler, I made a video of the Top 10 Reasons I’m Selling My Jeep Wrangler.
I figured I would express that even though I made that video and sold it, I’m still going to miss my Wrangler.

These are the top 10 reasons why I’m going to miss my Jeep Wrangler.

10. Maintenance
Doing your own maintenance on your vehicle is something enjoyed by many and the Jeep Wrangler makes it easy and enjoyable. Over the four years I’ve owned my Jeep, I performed a wide variety of tasks in my garage without issue. The oil plug and filter location makes oil changes a breeze. The last time I did an oil change, it took me about 15 minutes and 10 of those minutes were letting the oil completely drain. The overall ground clearance of the Jeep made rotating and swapping wheels easy as well. I even replaced the front brakes last year and was surprised at how easy Jeep made it. It’s like they knew most people get in there and tinker with stuff so they make it self-service friendly.

9. Fun-factor
Having a Jeep Wrangler is fun. It’s much more capable than your standard SUV and comes with a lot of cool tricks like the removable top and doors. It rides and drives like a truck so you get that feel for it too. Overall the Wrangler is fun to drive around, even with its compromises.

8. Off-road
Coming from a series of boy-racer type cars, having an off-road capable vehicle is a dramatic shift. Not having to worry about curbs, parking barriers, and potholes is nice. I never officially took my Jeep to an off-road trail or mud pit, but I did take my mall crawler off the road. Wether it was in my yard, the random dirt road, or the occasional grass parking lot, I can say my Jeep went off the road.

7. The Jeep club
There’s a large (unofficial) club of Jeep Wrangler drivers and owners. The day you start driving a Wrangler your in this club. Just about every other Jeep driver waves at you and gives you the feeling like you are in a community. I’ve had countless people come up to me and start a conversation based solely on the fact that I was driving a Jeep Wrangler. It’s weird, but at the same time I think I’ll miss it.

6. Ruggedness
Everything about the Wrangler is rugged. It looks rugged, the interior has rugged textures, and most of the time has all terrain tires on it. You can leave your top down/off in the rain and not have to worry about anything getting damaged. I recall a time I was at work and my soft top was down and my doors were off. It poured for probably an hour. Afterwards I went out to asses the damage. I pulled the plug in both floorboards and the almost three inches of water drained out. The sun then dried up everything else and by the time I left for the day it was dry. No damage done.

5. Convertible
Speaking of having the top down, you may not realize this, but the Wrangler is a convertible. Optioned with either a soft top or hard top (I had both), the Jeep’s top can be removed or retracted for an open-air experience that’s like no other. Taking off all four doors and having the top down is one of my favorite summer activities in the Jeep.

4. Aftermarket accessories
As one of the most popular vehicles in the United States, there are a lot of aftermarket accessories for the Jeep Wrangler. You can change almost anything the Jeep with the available third-party market. I added pre-runner lights to the grille, swapped the grille inserts for matte black finish, added a smaller antenna, wired in a 30″ light bar on the hood, upgraded the spare tire carrier to support bigger/heavier tires, added brighter reverse lights to the back bumper, and wired a LED brake light ring inside the spare tire.

3. The look
I really like the look of the current Jeep Wrangler. Prior to model year 2018, the Wrangler looked ugly and outdated to me. When they redesigned it, I was immediately interested in being a Wrangler owner.

save the manual sticker

2. Stick shift
The manual transmission, standard, and stick shift all mean the same thing. Shifting your own gears is a dying art as most cars today come with an automatic or dual-clutch transmission and only two pedals. In 2013, I decided to buy a Ford Focus ST that only came in manual transmission. I thought myself how to drive it and then never looked back. Since then, I’ve had two more vehicles both with stick shifts. The number of new vehicles being produced with standard transmissions is at an all-time low and with the electric revolution coming, it may go away for good.

1. The color
I’ve always wanted a green car. It’s my favorite color and you rarely see cars any color except white, black, gray, or red. My previous two vehicles have been yellow/orange and blue and I finally got my green car. Mojito! the name that Jeep gave this version of green is an exciting color and gets noticed everywhere I went. It was a limited run color so there aren’t a lot of Jeeps around with that same color. Someday I hope to see more green vehicles for sale and I’ll do what I can to get another one.

Keep up with the Double B Garage YouTube channel and don’t forget to subscribe!

I Sold My Car to Driveway.com

Spoiler: They picked it up in my driveway!

The used car market is at an all-time high and I did what any American would do and tried to take advantage of it. My daily driver has been a 2018 Jeep Wrangler (4-door) for the last 46 months. While I always like to shop around for my next vehicle, there hasn’t been much I was excited about. I usually keep my vehicles for two to three years before I get bored and trade them in on the new hotness. This Jeep has been an exception and might be the longest I’ve ever driven one continuous vehicle. Selling to Driveway wasn’t my first choice, but they were the highest bidder.

I made a YouTube video on the top 10 reasons why I’m selling my Wrangler.

You’ve probably seen all the online companies emerging that want to buy your car and pick it up for you. The popular ones being Carvana, Vroom, and Carmax, but I decided I was going to get prices from all of them. It’s an easy process to get a quote on selling your car. You just give them information about it and they give you a price instantly. Most of the time they honor that initial price throughout the buying process.

Last year I saw the announcement of the Ford F-150 Lightning, all electric pickup truck, and I was immediately enthralled with an electric truck. Ford took “pre-orders” of the Lightning models only to announce later that they wouldn’t be able to make that many quickly. Recently this year, Ford let me know that I won’t be getting a Lightning in the next 12 months. While sad about that, I was excited by the thought of having a truck, so I started looking at my options. All the while I was keeping an eye on what the value of my Jeep was. I never thought that I would sell it to a 3rd-party, but more likely would trade it to a dealer on a new car/truck.

In February of this year I told myself my next vehicle was going to be a truck, so I decided to actually keep tabs on my Wrangler price. Since then, the prices haven’t changed much, but I was pretty much going with the highest bidder. I found the prices to be all over the place and didn’t expect Driveway to be the leader. When I got quotes from each of these vendors I used the same information and options to make it fair across the board. I also used fake contact information because I didn’t want bothered and just wanted to see the price.

ServicePrice
Driveway$40,477
Carmax$38,500
WeBuyAnyCar$37,045
KelleyBlueBook$35,550
Carvana$33,280
Vroom$32,479
CarBrain$26,730
Peddle$18,745
My price tracking from the nine services I contacted
driveway promo image
Promo image from Driveway.com showing how easy it is to hand someone your keys

You can see how close the big names are, but hilariously CarBrain and Peddle are very low and not sure who would actually take that price. In my research I also learned about all the different companies that will offer to buy your car. Prior to this I didn’t know Carmax and KBB did the online buying thing. Additionally I also learned about services I’ve never heard of like CarBrain and Peddle.
There are some out there that I didn’t bother looking at mainly because they didn’t offer instant quotes online without talking to someone. My time is worth more than what you’re probably going to offer me. Initially I thought Vroom or Carvana would be one of the companies buying the Jeep, but Driveway surprised me.

I recently got word that my truck of choice was on it’s way from the factory to a dealer near me. This meant it was ‘go-time’ for me to sell the Wrangler to Driveway. I went through the online quote process with my real information and somehow it was lower (by $1,000) than the previous number I had. This was fine so I completed all the additional information requested. Shortly after, I was texted by a person from Driveway confirming details. Here’s where it starts to get shaky… this is the timeline of what happened next.

Thursday March 31stText conversation from John at Driveway: “Hello Ben, this is John from Driveway.com. I’m reaching out regarding your 2018 Jeep All-New Wrangler. We sent you an offer of $40,477. Are you interested in moving forward with selling that vehicle?” Why yes John, I am. “Can I call you to explain the process?”
Over an hour later John called me and talked me through what would happen next. I had made an appointment online for the next week to meet someone at a dealer near me to inspect the vehicle. Then they would schedule a date to come pick it up later. I asked a few questions about logistics and timing because I didn’t yet have a replacement vehicle. He assured me they were backed up and it would be 1-2 weeks before they came to get it.

“So… the person we had scheduled to pick up your Jeep next week can’t drive a stick shift”

Friday April 1st – Phone call from Jamie at Driveway: “We need to get approval from you, for your bank to release the payoff information on your car loan.” I was on the phone with Jamie for a while before we concluded that the bank might be closed for the day so we’d try again next week. Jamie also informed me that it might be too soon for them to get me a check for next week’s appointment. This is when I found out that the “inspection” appointment I made was the pickup my vehicle and take it away, appointment. I told her this was too soon and I needed to reschedule. So she was able to get my appointment rescheduled for the week after next.

Monday April 4th – Phone call from Susan at Driveway: “So… the person we had scheduled to pickup your Jeep next week can’t drive a stick shift, so we need to schedule someone who can drive a stick shift.” Susan even made me chuckle by calling it a “millennial anti-theft device” and I agreed, even though I’m a millennial.

Tuesday April 5th – Phone call from Susan again: We rescheduled the pickup and I had some more questions answered, because at this point basically everything changed. We scheduled the pickup on Monday April 11th and instead of it being at a nearby dealer, it was at my house. I told her that previously I thought it was somewhere else and she didn’t have record of that same information. No big deal, home is better for me. I asked about the payoff information and she said it looked good. She told me that they would provide me a check on Monday with the difference between the purchase price and my loan payoff, even though I thought I was getting a wire transfer. I also asked her to confirm the price. Susan said they had a lower price than my initial offer, but she was able to see that John mentioned the higher one, so they were going to honor that.

Tuesday April 5th – Phone call from Susan again: “Hi Ben, I have the bank on the line to confirm your information.” I talked to a representative from the bank I financed the Jeep through and confirmed everything. So now maybe we were actually ready and set for Monday.

Sunday April 10th – I received a reminder email from Driveway about my appointment on Monday. This was the first time I had an official appointment notice for the updated day/time. It was nice to know it was still happening. The email stated I needed to have my driver’s license, registration, keys, and all persons named on the title/registration needed to be present. Luckily that’s all me so I was ready.

I did some last minute gathering of all my personal belongings and left a few presents behind for the next owner. I didn’t bother cleaning the interior or exterior of the Jeep. I learned a long time ago that spending your own personal time cleaning a vehicle for trade/sell doesn’t actually return any additional value. I also left all my stickers/decals on the exterior. They can remove those.

I learned a long time ago that spending your own personal time cleaning a vehicle for trade/sell doesn’t actually return any additional value.

Monday April 11th – I got a call around 10am from Brian at Driveway. He was confirming some details and times. I told him I was able to meet earlier and so we planned for 11am. Shortly after 11, he arrived via Uber and greeted me.

The entire process took less than 15 minutes. He started the car, took some photos, looked around, and then gave me the check. He opted not to do a test drive since he was happy with what he saw. I had to sign some power of attorney documents (standard for vehicle sell/trade) and the sales documents. He removed my license plate and attached a dealer plate, then drove it away.

That deal is now done. They’re going to payoff the remainder of my loan and deal with my bank directly. The check I received is a difference between the sale amount and the payoff.

I had a lot of hesitation going into this process as I’ve never sold a car to anyone but a local buyer or dealer. Selling your car to an online service can be scary, but Driveway made it mostly easy the entire time. There were a few hiccups of scheduling, pricing, and information, but in the end it worked out. I can honestly say I would do this again tomorrow if I needed to. The only thing I lost in the deal was the tax benefit of trading in the Jeep at the same time of buying a new vehicle. The tax savings was about half of the difference Driveway offered, so still worth it to me.

Introducing: Double B Garage

SUV Search: Complete

Most new SUVs are good, but none are perfect.

suv-search

My wife and I are in the market for a new SUV this fall. We are looking to replace our 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, not because we hate it, but because our lease is about to come to an end. There are so many options out there that fit our needs, which could be why this segment is becoming the most popular among car manufacturers today.

Feature Rich

We have a very specific wishlist for this next SUV, mainly because of what we have already been accustomed to. Most of the items are luxuries or technology based goodies that we feel every car should have.

  • Remote startpullquote
  • Heated / ventilated front seats
  • Large panoramic sunroof
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Apple CarPlay compatible stereo
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Factory-installed hitch
  • Powered lift-gate

Not that bad of a list right?

In addition to those refinements, we really need a car that has an engine that can really move when we need to. We previously had a vehicle with an undersized engine and while it was good on gas, merging onto the highway proved to be somewhat dangerous. Some of the options we’re looking at vaulted us into the luxury SUV space which we didn’t want to tread in. Companies like BMW, Lexus, and Jaguar have great offerings but we did not want to get in on the low-end of their trim levels to meet our budget.

Narrowing It Down

In January of this year, we traveled to Detroit for the North American Auto Show to take a look at some potential new models. We came away from this show mostly disheartened by the fact that our beloved Jeep was not changing and thus not keeping up with the influx of technology in this space. The early leader leaving the show was the newly redesigned GMC Terrain. Remember that car I mentioned earlier that had a very underpowered engine? That was a 2013 GMC Terrain with a 4-cylinder lawnmower engine that would redline going up the slightest hill. Needless to say, we only owned that car for about six months. There was some hesitation to lean towards the new Terrain, but the new 2.0 turbocharged engine seemed like a good upgrade that we’d be happy with. Leaving the show I was just about set on getting the new Terrain, in fact, if they would have offered a trade right then and there, I probably would have taken it. They didn’t offer me a new 2018 GMC Terrain on the spot, so we decided to sleep on it.

Fast forward eight months and we’re still looking at new cars coming out and deciding what we’re going to do. We have a slight deadline because our lease is set to expire sometime in October of this year. Lots of time ahead, but we aren’t taking this decision lightly. While the GMC Terrain is still in the running, we’ve had some other potentials come into view. The 2017.5 Nissan Murano checks all of our boxes and looks pretty cool too. We took a Sunday trip to our local Nissan dealer (because they are closed on Sundays) and eyeballed some new Muranos. This spelled bad news for the Murano because it just doesn’t look at good in person as it does in promotional photos. Now back to one again, the original GMC Terrain that started courting us in January.

There has always been one wildcard in our race, but it only had the support of half the votes. I have really admired the Volvo XC60 since it’s redesign last year, and even added it to my list. Volvo is a great car company, and they know it, which is why the are now moving up the price list and becoming more of a luxury brand than ever before. My wife has never been impressed by either the XC60 or XC90. “Volvos are for old people, and I’m not old yet” exclaims my wife every time I mention the Volvo SUV. I’ve realized that’s a fight I cannot win, and thus we move on.

The Winner

A strange, almost divine series of events have unfolded lately that lead us to pick our next SUV. I was doing more research as I always do and found that the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokees were soon entering production. I thought to myself, “I wonder what’s new on the 2018 model year?”, turns out, just enough. The upcoming Grand Cherokee updates included one key feature that was missing from all previous Grand Cherokee models, Apple CarPlay. This was the one feature we had to have, not because it’s cool, new, and easy to use, it’s because most car infotainment system are downright horrible. The ability to essentially mirror your iPhone on your car’s screen for music and maps is monumental. Along with the addition of CarPlay, Jeep brought back a new special edition trim called High Altitude which fits our styling tastes perfectly. The basics of this special edition are removing all the chrome accents, including the Jeep badges, and replacing them with matte finish dark accents. This creates a very modern take on a more luxurious trim.

If all goes well with finances and timing, we will be leasing a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude in white.
IMG_5768

How I Did The Research

Over the last 10 months I’ve been researching mid-size SUVs as they are announced and adding them to a spreadsheet to compare the specifications. I have posted it here so that you all can see the various types of specs I was comparing and how the different vehicles stack up. You’ll also notice that I went after specific trim levels on each SUV and only cared about certain features. This was mostly due to the fact that almost all SUVs in this class are going to perform the same and have the same overall sizing.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my research and hope this will help someone else make a decision on a very large purchase. I will definitely post an update once we finally get our new SUV.


Click here for spreadsheet