I’ve been tracking the story of Hyundai Australia owners trying to get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for a few months now. Well, the news is out that Hyundai Australia is saying that the 2018 Tucson will come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across all trim levels. But it’s this next part that has existing owners irate. Apparently if you already own a Tucson, there will be no Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for you according to Hyundai Australia. Here’s some examples of how owners feel about that via their Facebook page.
In the interest of understanding this better. I’ve managed to get interviews with existing owners. Because it’s one thing to track rage online. But it is another thing entirely to hear about this sort of thing directly from the people involved. Thus I put the word out there that I was looking for first hand feedback on this topic and I was asking four questions:
- What attracted to you to the Tucson in the first place?
- Why is Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration important to you?
- Some would see that selling your vehicle is an extreme way to express your disappointment. Why did you go this route? (I asked this question as I have heard that some people are so mad, they are either planning to sell they cars or have already done so)
- What were you expecting from Hyundai Australia and why?
The first response I got was from James:
1. I was choosing between the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, and I was very split between them. They are largely the same vehicle (based on the same platform) but are slightly different. I was looking for a new car for our growing family and if I was going to buy a brand new car I wanted to get the best value I could, which either of these vehicles represented. I had actually decided on the Sportage, as I preferred the driving over the Tucson, even though I preferred the styling of the Tucson. As I said though, they are so similar that the differences were really immaterial and each had all the key features I wanted, with the exception of Android Auto. I was told by more than one sales person from Hyundai that whilst it wasn’t standard in the Highlander that it would definitely come in the future. They said it was just a software update, which, after all, is a perfectly reasonable thing to expect. I had offers for both vehicles at the exact same price with all the inclusions I wanted, but at the end of the day I was able to take delivery of a Tucson sooner than the Sportage and as I said the choice was so close so I purchased the Tucson.
2. The head unit in the Tucson is serviceable. It’s adequate as far as manufacturer head units go, which is to say it is not particularly good, and certainly not of an equivalent level of quality to that of the vehicle itself. Which is understandable, it is the same with any product with a digital component, where the digital component is not the primary feature of the product – TVs for example. It doesn’t matter how good your TV quality is, the graphical user interface you use to control it won’t be as good as the GUI of a device where the GUI is largely the primary component of the product, for example a phone or computer. None of this would really matter, you buy a car for the car, not for the GUI of the head unit after all, except that now thanks to Apple Car Play and Android Auto it is possible to get this level of quality in a vehicle head unit. Just like how some TVs now use Android to run the GUI, and it is immediately better than the typical manufacturer GUI. This is great news, not only for consumers, but for vehicle manufacturers as well. Now they don’t need to spend as much time or resources on their own poor offerings, all they have to do is enable Apple Car Play and Android Auto and all of a sudden Apple and Google provide a better product for less effort on their part. On the consumer side, the head unit will now always be up to date with the latest GUI and their SatNav will always have the latest maps. It’s a game changer and it benefits everyone. In short, I wouldn’t have even considered a car without it, and had I known it wouldn’t be possible to upgrade I wouldn’t have even considered the Tucson in the first place. I would have purchased a Sportage and I would have Android Auto.
Completely skipping the ridiculousness of Hyundai’s original thought process that their own SatNav was the premium option for the Elite and Highlander and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were the cheap consolation prize for the lower models, the fact that they won’t allow for an upgrade is just a complete cop out. They have stated that the software is not compatible with the Highlander head unit, and that the Active and Active X head unit is not able to be fitted to the Highlander. Now that the new model Tucson was been announced with CarPlay and Auto standard across the range, I am hoping Hyundai does the right thing by their customers and allow the new head unit to be installed in the older model. I certainly won’t be buying another Hyundai if they don’t.
3. Not applicable as I didn’t end up selling, although I strongly considered it.
4. My expectation of Hyundai was that a software update should be developed in order to enable Car Play and Auto on the Elite and Highlander. This is so beyond reasonable that it is utterly unacceptable that Hyundai has not been willing to commit to it. If this is truly unachievable, then they ought to provide an upgrade, free of charge, to replace the head unit in older Highlander models. It is as simple as that. If they want to foster any sense of loyalty whatsoever amongst those customers who purchased the top end model of their flagship vehicle then they will need to provide a solution, especially since so many of us were told by Hyundai dealers that this would happen. I would also like to mention that Hyundai only promises two (!!) map updates, as opposed to literally limitless updates with Google Maps. So at the very least I am going to be insisting on map updates at every single service for the life of my car, if they fail to provide an actual upgrade to enable Android Auto.
The second response I got was from Phillip:
1. I once owned an 87 GL Excel and it was an incredibly reliable car, ended up driving it across the Nullabor and around Tassie for a few years before another driver T boned me in it, even then the other car was written off but my good old Excel was repaired, after such a good run with Hyundai I thought I would be fine buying another one, boy was I wrong.
We had had test driven the Santa Fe but the wife found it a tad too big and clumsy where as the tucson was just a nice size with good fuel economy (we prefer diesel) and it looked far nicer than the competitors, also the warranty was a major consideration, also it drove nicely, was quiet and had all the toys.
Sadly I did not test the sound system before leaving the dealership, never did I expect a new car to have a sound system so bad.
2. Although the features of those systems are great what really shocked me was the difference in sound quality between the CarPlay and non CarPlay unit, I find it hard to use the word “sound quality” as the unit in our Highlander had no quality of any kind, I have not heard an OEM system that bad since my fathers 1982 Mitsubishi Sigma, the radio sound is fair at best but anything streamed or played from USB has all the tone of a transistor radio,
3. Well, replacement cost of a basic double DIN unit with the same features but better sound was around $3000 plus fitting (with a reputable brand not an Ebay special) add this to the fact that Hyundai speakers are awful things plus I have no doubt that any warranty issues down the track would have been blamed on changing the stereo.
This was to be our next 7 years car but I could not bear the thought of dealing with Hyundai Australia for any longer than I had to let alone the local dealer, the attitude from both was disgraceful, Hyundai I care or I don’t care as I now call it was pathetic at best, they quite happily acknowledged that the sound quality was poor but it was a case of just too bad, better luck next time, when the local dealer first heard the sound in the highlander compared to the base model he agreed there must be something wrong and instantly ordered a replacement, weeks later they decided mine was in fact working properly and instead payed for an Alpine subwoofer and 2 new front speakers to be installed, this at least gave it a little base bu tit still sounded terrible and at maximum volume you could quite happily carry on a conversation it was so quiet.
Then there was the bonnet catch debacle, our car started beeping madly one afternoon as we were doing 80ks on the Devonport bridge, turns out our bonnet had popped open, we knew about the re-call but as it had been back to the dealer a few times we assumed it had been looked at, well we shut the bonnet and drove straight to the dealer only to be told I had not shut it properly and that ours was not involved in the re call so after being talked to like a child and having the manager insist on showing me how to properly shut a bonnet we drove home and I hopped on Facebook and asked Hyundai I don’t care if this was correct, next day I get a call from the dealership in Burnie as our car was indeed in the re-call.
After this my wife lost all faith in this vehicle, turns out it was the secondary catch that had also been giving problems, imagine that happening at 110ks on the highway with the kids in the car, she would not drive it again.
On top of all this we had the leather on the seats bubble up and need replacing twice, the transfer case seal leaked and had to be replaced, at random times we would find the electric hatch wide open, the auto sensing feature would not work from day one, in the end I had to convince the service guy that our Highlander actually had that feature, he actually drove another one up to show us it didn’t, he was quite pleased when we tried walking up to the back of the car and it didn’t do it on this one either, that is untill I showed him how to turn the feature on on the in dash menu, in the end I discovered that when they fit towbars it’s easy to unclip the sensor which after a tirade from the same guy about googling problems he then climbed under and found the sensor unclipped.
I do have a full list here somewhwer but I think this gives a pretty good idea of our experience with Hyundai.
4. All I expected from Hyundai was a decent car for the price, even after a face to face meeting with one of the rep’s it was very obvious they simply don’t give a damn.
Why on earth you would install a sound system that’s not as good as a base model in a so called top of the line vehicle defies belief,
In the end we traded it in on a used Toyota Hilux, no where near as many features but it is such a relief to have a nice simple vehicle, having said that Toyota pride themselves on how basic the Hilux is yet the sound system is brilliant, exactly what would have expected from the Highlander, plenty of volume, great bass plus it has the Toyotalink system for pandora AND voice recognition PLUS a CD player.
I have bought Mazda’s, Honda’s and Suzuki’s but never have I been treated as badly as I was during my Hyundai experience, the sense of relief is worth far more than the changeover price.
Here’s the problem that Hyundai Australia has. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are quickly becoming the standard in cars everywhere. Consumers want this functionality in their cars, and many other manufacturers are offering upgrades for free or for a fee so that a portion of their existing owners can get this functionality. Now they can’t update everyone because the infotainment systems in older cars may not support that functionality. Owners get that. But to not even try really rubs owners the wrong way. Take the example of Kia Canada who is offering up these upgrades for a fee for vehicles going back to 2014 or older in a couple of cases. Or Ford North America who brought this functionality to millions of cars last year for free. If you’re a Hyundai Australia owner, you have to see that and feel that you bought the wrong car.
The thing is by not even trying to bring this functionality to existing owners, paid or free, risks this sort of backlash as the car company will be perceived rightly or wrongly as not caring about their customers. It also likely doesn’t help that Hyundai Australia’s dealer base seems to be sending one message (that people will get these upgrades as per the screenshots above) and Hyundai Australia corporate is sending a radically different message. While this isn’t a United Airlines scale of PR disaster, this issue isn’t going to help Hyundai Australia sell cars.
I will continue to track this as I strongly suspect that things are about to heat up down under.