Sweet Tech to Upgrade Your Aging Road Warrior Chariot

About two years ago I made the move from a 2014 Honda Accord to a new-to-me 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. (Try to contain your jealousy, okay?) All kidding aside, it’s actually the perfect car for me to drive during my big business travel season each fall.

But as an almost 10-year-old vehicle, it sure does lack some of the technological amenities of 2018. (Although what the car lacks in tech savvy it more than makes up for with its heated seats and remote start. But I digress...)

I’ve already made a few improvements, and since then I’ve discovered a number of game changing ways to upgrade my car.

Tech I’ve Already Added to the Malibu

Anker SoundSync Drive Bluetooth Car Receiver

It’s so easy to add Bluetooth connectivity to older cars, especially if they have an AUX jack, which my Malibu does. The Anker SoundSync Drive ($20) plugs into your AUX and has buttons for Play/Pause, Next/Previous, and Siri, too.

Anker PowerDrive USB Car Charger

The aforementioned SoundSync Drive bluetooth receiver is powered by USB, but I also want to charge my iPhone while driving, so I picked up this little gem to replace the standard power outlet in my main console. The Anker PowerDrive ($9) has two USB ports and even offers the preferred 2.4 amps for iPad charging.

MPOW Universal Dashboard Car Mount

This smartphone mount is the newest addition to my Malibu. The MPOW Dashboard Car Mount ($13) replaced another mount that failed after about 12 months on the job, and it’s crucial for keeping Waze in my field of vision as I navigate across the back roads of northern Michigan. So far, so good.

Automatic Pro Connected Car Adapter

I have the older model Automatic adapter (new Pro & Lite versions started shipping soon after I bought mine), but it still works great. Basically it plugs into the ODB port of pretty much every car on the road today and provides information about engine issues, fuel level and overall mileage. You also get business mileage and trip tagging for better reporting.

The Lite version pairs with your smartphone for internet connectivity, but the Pro version ($129) takes it to the next level with built-in free 3G for five years. That cellular connection unlocks all kinds of cool stuff, like crash detection & alerts, live vehicle tracking, and even integration with IFTTT. I’d like to upgrade to the Pro edition at some point.

Dreaming On — CarPlay or Bust

I’ve been able to make many improvements for not a whole lot of money, but there’s one big ticket change I’d love to make in the near term.

Sony XAV-AX100 6.4" CarPlay/Android Auto Media Receiver


Once you’ve used Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto, I would assume), there’s just no going back. Auto manufacturers’ first-party “infotainment” systems are notoriously bad, and while my Malibu’s original head unit ain’t the worst, it certainly isn’t the best, either. That’s where this aftermarket receiver from Sony comes in.

It’s Wirecutter's pick for best car stereo with CarPlay, and what I like most is that of all the options out there for replacing your media console in the car, this one puts the touchscreen as the focus, with no superfluous neon lights shows or anything like that. Nope, just a few physical buttons and a Sony logo — I dare say this unit would fit in quite nicely in my dear sweet Chevrolet. Ooh, CarPlay, I do love thee. ($398)

Have you tried any of these gamechanging tech gadgets for your car? Share your experience in the comments with fellow on-the-go road warriors!

Andrew Meyers is an Upside Brand Ambassador and consumer tech enthusiast. He writes about consumer tech on The Agenda, his collection of gadgets, gear, and more. He also recently released Better With Basecamp, a guide to help folks learn how to use Basecamp to manage their projects and teams. Use his referral code JJHBLN at checkout or click here to earn a minimum of $100 in gift cards when you book your first Upside business trip of $600+.

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