CarPlay Available in 2019 Mazda3 and Nissan Rogue Sport, 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

CarPlay will be a standard feature in the all-new 2019 Mazda3, excluding the base model, according to a company spokesperson. The vehicle is making its worldwide debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week and will be rolled out to global markets over the coming months, starting with North America in early 2019.

CarPlay in a Mazda vehicle

The 2019 model will be the first Mazda3 with CarPlay, accessible through the Mazda Connect infotainment system. CarPlay is also preinstalled in the 2018 and newer Mazda6, 2019 Mazda CX-5, and 2019 Mazda CX-9, with a $199 retrofit option available for select 2014 and newer Mazda vehicles in the United States.

CarPlay will also be available as a standard feature in the 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport and 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, equipped with seven- and eight-inch touchscreens respectively. The new Rogue Sport is available now at Nissan dealerships in the United States, while the new Corolla Hybrid goes on sale in spring 2019.

Toyota and Mazda were among the last major automakers to offer factory-installed CarPlay, but each has expanded its lineup of vehicles integrated with Apple's software, which provides convenient dashboard access to apps such as Phone, Messages, Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, Apple Music, and Spotify.

Toyota now offers CarPlay in the 2019 Avalon, 2019 Corolla Hatchback, 2019 RAV4, 2019 Sienna, and 2019 CH-R in the United States.

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CarPlay Now Available in Select 2014 and Newer Mazda Vehicles as $199 Dealer-Installed Upgrade

Mazda today announced that CarPlay and Android Auto are now available as part of a dealer-installed upgrade in select 2014 model year and newer Mazda vehicles equipped with the Mazda Connect infotainment system in the United States.


The dealer-installed upgrade has a suggested price of $199 plus the cost of labor and includes both hardware and software components. Eligible vehicles will be equipped with a faster-charging 2.1-amp USB port, in addition to the latest version of Mazda Connect with CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

Eligible customers can schedule an appointment with a Mazda dealership to have the approximately two-hour upgrade service completed.

CarPlay and Android Auto will also be preinstalled in 2018 Mazda6 vehicles manufactured in November 2018 or later, excluding the Sport model, in the United States. Those who purchased a 2018 Mazda6 earlier in the year can opt for the dealer-installed upgrade option free of charge.

CarPlay and Android Auto are also preinstalled in the 2019 Mazda CX-9 and the 2019 Mazda CX-5 in the United States.

CarPlay is Apple's in-car software that enables iPhone users to access a range of apps from a vehicle's dashboard display, such as Messages, Apple Maps, Apple Music, Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, SiriusXM Radio, Pandora, WhatsApp, Downcast, Slacker Radio, Stitcher, and as of iOS 12, Google Maps and Waze.

Mazda previously announced that CarPlay would be available as a dealer-installed upgrade for a suggested price of $443 including labor in Canada by November, but it's unclear if the option is available there yet. It's also available in the UK for £350.

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Review: Mazda’s CarPlay Support a Welcome Addition for iPhone Users

Back in March, Mazda became one of the last major car manufacturers to announce launch plans for CarPlay support. Mazda's first announced vehicle with CarPlay is the 2018 Mazda6, with owners of Touring trim and above able to bring their vehicles to a Mazda dealer for a free upgrade starting this month. CarPlay will be available pre-installed in Mazda6 vehicles with Touring trim and above as of November, while Mazda's 2019 CX-9 is also just starting to roll out with CarPlay available pre-installed.

2018 Mazda6 Signature in Soul Red Crystal

While the general CarPlay experience is consistent across car brands, as it's driven by your connected iPhone, there are some differences in how CarPlay interfaces with manufacturers' various infotainment systems and hardware, so it's worth taking a look at the CarPlay experience in a Mazda. I've had a chance to spend some time with a CarPlay-equipped 2018 Mazda6 Signature, and CarPlay is a welcome alternative to the built-in Mazda Connect infotainment system that has garnered mixed reviews over the years.

Mazda Connect


Before we touch on CarPlay, it pays to take a look at Mazda Connect, as that's the software and hardware CarPlay sits on top of. Mazda has opted for multiple control options in its vehicles, with both an 8-inch touchscreen on the dashboard and a commander knob with associated buttons on the center console. A smaller dial next to the commander knob lets you adjust volume without reaching up to the dashboard, or you can adjust the volume from the steering wheel. Voice control through a button on the steering wheel is also available.

Controller knob and other controls on center console

Touchscreen operation is unsurprisingly straightforward, while the commander knob offers a flexible array of input methods including twisting, rocking, and pressing the knob to navigate around. The cluster of buttons around the knob lets you jump quickly to navigation, music, favorites, the Mazda Connect home screen (or CarPlay home screen if active), or back to the previous screen. Navigating the interface with the commander knob can be a bit clunky at times, particularly if you have to navigate through several menu levels, but overall it's a satisfactory experience similar to that offered by a number of other manufacturers.

Mazda Connect home screen

One important thing to note is that while the Mazda Connect system includes a touchscreen, it's locked out while driving in order to reduce distractions, requiring you to use the commander knob or voice to control the system. (The lockout is only while the car is in motion, so the touchscreen does work while stopped at a stoplight, for example.) Mazda is one of the most conservative carmakers in this regard, but forcing users to the commander knob can actually be a detriment in some cases where reaching over to the display for a quick tap would likely be less distracting than using the knob to scroll over to the desired option.

Navigation search menu

A significant part of what makes CarPlay such a welcome addition is that Mazda Connect has a few shortcomings. I found overall navigation of the interface passable but a bit clunky with the commander knob. The user interface layout is decent enough for touchscreen control, but when you're forced to use the commander knob it can be something of a chore to navigate through the options.

The overall look of Mazda Connect isn't bad by car infotainment standards, although it could certainly stand to see some modernization, and there are some curious design decisions such as not allowing enough characters to display song titles completely. With a nice, big 8-inch screen, it shouldn't be the case that song titles are routinely cut off.

SiriusXM Radio interface

Built-in navigation through Mazda Connect also leaves a bit to be desired, as I found the system unable to parse some of the destinations I tried to input by voice and the POI database seemed rather weak, making it difficult to find some destinations.

Navigation search results

In one test trip, the onboard GPS tracking seemed to be improperly calibrated, and navigation was useless as the map continually showed me driving off into the woods. On all other trips, however, the GPS location and directions were accurate, so the problem I experienced may have just been a one-off bug. It's also an issue I've occasionally seen with my iPhone, so maybe there isn't really that much difference in performance here.

Turn-by-turn directions with simulated road signs for easy recognition

Otherwise, the navigation system performed well with helpful turn-by-turn directions and depictions of road signs at major junctions. A handy optional feature also displays cross streets as you approach you them, even if you don't have a navigation route running. Another helpful view displays along the right side of the screen which amenities like gas, food, and auto repair are available at upcoming exits.

General map view

Mazda Connect also isn't known for being speedy, with the most significant chokepoint being at initial boot. Upon starting the car, it took 15 to as much as 40 seconds for Mazda Connect to boot up, display a warning to keep your eyes on the road, and become available to use. Loading directly into navigation can take a few seconds longer. It doesn't necessarily sound like a huge amount of time, but when you just want to hop in your car and go it can feel like an eternity. Unfortunately, CarPlay doesn't help with this, as Mazda Connect has to fully boot up before CarPlay can be recognized as available, so you still have to wait.

CarPlay


Once you're into CarPlay, things work mostly as expected. All of the familiar CarPlay apps are there, and you can navigate through them by touch (with one big caveat discussed below), the commander knob/buttons, or voice.

CarPlay home screen

One important difference for Mazda is that the touchscreen lockout while driving also extends to CarPlay, which means you'll need to use the commander knob to scroll through highlighted user interface elements. It's an officially supported input method for CarPlay, but ultimately it's less convenient for an operating system that's designed to be manipulated by touch with minimal distraction.

Touchscreen input works fine with CarPlay when the car isn't in motion, so it's simplest to get as much set up for your drive as you can before you set out and make adjustments at stoplights. Commander knob ease of use will obviously improve as you spend time using it and muscle memory takes over for some tasks, but it's rarely going to be as convenient as a direct touch interface.

While the commander knob can be a little inconvenient for navigating the user interface, some frequently used functions like play/pause (press the knob) and back/forward (rock the knob) are simple and intuitive. It's the more complicated operations that involve scrolling through various UI elements to make a selection that are more cumbersome to accomplish with the knob than a touchscreen tap.

As with the touchscreen lockout for Mazda Connect, Mazda tells me the extension to CarPlay is a "conscious choice" based on its feeling that the knob is less distractive than using a touchscreen while the car is motion. I'm not sure I necessarily agree when it comes to CarPlay, as Apple has put considerable thought into keeping the interface simple enough that you can grab relevant information at a glance and quickly tap what you need.


Apple Maps in CarPlay

Beyond the knob itself, the associated hardware buttons surrounding it do come in handy for CarPlay. The navigation and music buttons make it easy to jump back and forth between frequently used screens, and it hops in and out of CarPlay as needed – such as when you have Apple Maps active while listening to XM radio and the buttons correctly take you to the proper music and maps apps. The system also remembers if CarPlay is active when you turn off the car, and takes you back to it when you start up again.

Apple Maps in CarPlay

One other thing to note is that if your phone is plugged into the car, pressing the talk button on the steering wheel appears to only activate Siri. I was unable to find a way to activate the Mazda Connect voice system while the phone was plugged in, even if CarPlay wasn't necessarily active.

Some systems like BMW's offer dual access via the talk button, bringing up Siri with a short press or the onboard system with a long press. Mazda tells me it decided not to offer dual access because its research concluded that customers found it confusing. Changing terrestrial/satellite radio stations is the only thing Mazda Connect's voice system can do that Siri can not, and that task can also be accomplished in some regard by using buttons on the steering wheel.

Ports and Connectivity


Mazda has been thoughtful with the placement of various ports, helping to keep cords and devices tucked away. Two USB ports (one designated for connecting a phone to Mazda Connect), an Aux port, an SD card slot used for loading maps into the onboard navigation system, and a 12V power port are all hidden away in the center console compartment.

Ports inside center console compartment

The compartment isn't particularly roomy, as the gearshift, commander knob, and cupholders take up much of the console space, but it lets you keep your phone out of sight. If you prefer to have your phone in a cupholder or the storage tray at the front of the console, there's a sufficient gap on either side of the console compartment lid to easily run the cable out without pinching it.

Rear armrest with USB ports

In the rear, the middle seatback folds down to offer a pair of cupholders, controls for heated seats (if equipped), and a shallow storage compartment housing a pair of 2.1A USB ports, which is great for keeping the kids' iPads charged up. Mazda does not, however, offer a Wi-Fi hotspot option to keep those devices connected to the internet.

Wrap-up


With CarPlay adoption growing rapidly over the past several years, it's become more of a must-have feature for car buyers, so it's great to see Mazda finally get on board with the technology. I know several Mazda owners who have been waiting patiently for CarPlay support, and while it's unfortunate there are no signs yet of retrofit availability beyond the current Mazda6, at least those loyal Mazda owners can look forward to it in their next car.

Infotainment systems from car manufacturers across the board are notorious for design and performance that don't reach the level of polish we've come to expect from our smartphones, and Mazda Connect is no different here. The whole Mazda Connect system could use a refresh to modernize the look and improve performance, but once you get familiar with the operation it's a decent system beyond the issues I had with navigation.

Of course, any shortcomings in onboard systems like Mazda Connect serve to increase the value of CarPlay support, which lets you use the apps you're already familiar with right on the dashboard and have all of your contacts, music playlists, maps history, and more at your fingertips without needing to rely on incomplete and sometimes cumbersome syncing of data to built-in car systems or audio-only connections over Bluetooth or Aux. And with CarPlay expanding to support third-party maps apps like Google Maps and Waze, even more iPhone owners may be willing to become regular CarPlay users.

The 2018 Mazda6 and the new 2019 CX-9 will be the first Mazdas to get CarPlay support, but it's reasonable to expect that the rest of the lineup should get it as the new model years are introduced. Unlike some other manufacturers, Mazda isn't charging extra for CarPlay, so far simply bundling it into all tiers above the entry-level Sport trim. The company has not, however, announced any plans to offer retrofit CarPlay support on any models other than the 2018 Mazda6 that's currently in the middle of its production year.

The 2018 Mazda6 starts at an MSRP of $21,950, although the minimum Touring trim required for CarPlay begins at $25,700. The new 2019 CX-9 starts at $32,280, with the Touring trim beginning at $35,330 needed for CarPlay.

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Mazda Continues CarPlay Rollout With 2019 CX-9

Mazda this week introduced the 2019 CX-9, its second vehicle to be equipped with CarPlay in the United States, alongside the 2018 Mazda6.


CarPlay and Android Auto come factory installed in Touring, Touring Premium, Grand Touring, and Signature trims of the 2019 CX-9, as part of the MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system with an eight-inch display. The software platforms do not appear to be an option in the base Sport trim at this time.

Mazda says the 2019 CX-9 will begin to arrive at select dealerships in the United States this month, with nationwide availability in September. Pricing for CarPlay-equipped packages starts at $35,330.

As for the 2018 Mazda6, existing owners of the Touring trim and above will be able to have a Mazda dealership install CarPlay and Android Auto at no extra cost, starting in September. Then, starting in November, CarPlay and Android Auto will come factory installed in brand new 2018 Mazda6 vehicles.

Accordingly, while the 2019 CX-9 is Mazda's second CarPlay vehicle to be announced, it will be the first to roll off the lot brand new with factory-installed CarPlay and Android Auto in the United States.

CarPlay will enable iPhone users to access a range of apps from the MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system, such as Messages, Apple Maps, Apple Music, Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, SiriusXM Radio, Pandora, WhatsApp, Downcast, Slacker Radio, Stitcher, and, starting with iOS 12, Google Maps and Waze.

Earlier this year, on its Canadian website, Mazda said CarPlay and Android Auto will be available as a genuine retrofit for MAZDA CONNECT systems starting this fall, suggesting that Mazda vehicles released as early as 2014 could eventually support the platforms, but exact rollout plans often vary by country.

Mazda is one of the last major automakers in the United States to offer CarPlay, after Toyota and Lexus announced support earlier this year.

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Mazda to Begin Offering CarPlay in September

Mazda today detailed long-awaited availability of its first vehicle with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the United States.


Starting in September, existing owners of the 2018 Mazda6, excluding the Sport base model, will be able to book an appointment with a Mazda dealership to have CarPlay and Android Auto installed at no extra cost. Mazda says the hardware and software updates take approximately two hours to be completed.

The upgraded Mazda6 models will also receive a faster-charging 2.1-amp USB port, and the latest software version of MAZDA CONNECT.

Then, starting in November, CarPlay and Android Auto will be preinstalled as original equipment in brand new 2018 Mazda6 vehicles, excluding the Sport model, at Mazda dealerships across the United States.

CarPlay will enable iPhone users to access a range of apps from the MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system, such as Messages, Apple Maps, Apple Music, Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, SiriusXM Radio, Pandora, WhatsApp, Downcast, Slacker Radio, Stitcher, and, starting with iOS 12, Google Maps and Waze.

Back in March, on its Canadian website, Mazda said CarPlay and Android Auto will first be offered in the 2019 CX‑9, and then rolled out across the entire model lineup thereafter. Mazda also said the platforms will be available as a genuine retrofit for MAZDA CONNECT systems starting this fall.
Mazda also announced the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support to its vehicle line-up. In Canada, these mobile device connectivity technologies will first be offered in the 2019 CX‑9 launching this summer, and then rolled out across the entire model line-up thereafter. In addition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available as a Genuine Mazda Accessory retrofit for MAZDA CONNECT systems starting this fall.
The press release suggests that Mazda vehicles released as early as 2014 could eventually support CarPlay and Android Auto, but it's unclear if the backwards compatibility will extend to the United States.

Mazda is one of the last major automakers in the United States to offer CarPlay, around six months after Toyota and Lexus announced support.

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Mazda Remains Committed to Introducing CarPlay But Still Won’t Say When

Toyota and Lexus today confirmed that CarPlay will be available in select 2019-and-later vehicles, making Mazda one of the only recognizable automakers—if not the only—without support for Apple's in-car software platform in the United States.


Many of our readers commented or tweeted to ask if and when Mazda will ever support CarPlay, so we reached out to the company for an update. MacRumors received the following statement from Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown today ensuring that it still plans to offer CarPlay… eventually.
We remain committed to introducing the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies to our vehicles, designing them to interface with our MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system in a manner that promotes a focus on the driving experience. We cannot provide timing or any additional details at this time.
Mazda made a similar promise a few times last year. Last March, for example, the automaker told Cars.com that CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility was in the works, and noted the software platforms would be available in both new and older-generation vehicles with its Mazda Connect system.

Mazda Connect appears to have debuted in 2013 model year vehicles, so a wide range of Mazda vehicles should eventually support CarPlay and Android Auto if and when the company finally fulfills its promise. Of note, like Toyota, Mazda has been listed as a committed CarPlay partner on Apple's website since 2014.

A survey last year indicated that an increasing number of customers consider CarPlay a must-have feature, so like Toyota, it may be worthwhile for Mazda to begin supporting Apple's software platform sooner rather than later.

CarPlay is already available in hundreds of vehicle makes and models around the world, including Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, MINI, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Volkswagen, Volvo, and many others.

As an update to Toyota's announcement, a spokesperson said the automaker doesn't have any plans to support CarPlay in pre-2019 vehicles at this time, even though models like the 2018 Camry and 2018 Sienna have its Entune 3.0 system.

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