Using an iPod in a Prius

Summary:When we bought our Toyota Prius in August we purchase the base model without any options. Although, that's what we wanted, it's not like we had much of a choice in the matter Prius' are still very scarce in the northeastern part of the U.

Using an iPod in a Prius
When we bought our Toyota Prius in August we purchase the base model without any options. Although, that's what we wanted, it's not like we had much of a choice in the matter Prius' are still very scarce in the northeastern part of the U.S. and there is little, if any, selection available.

Much to my dismay the base model base model Prius doesn't have an auxillary (AUX) audio input for things like iPods – a big bummer. After a couple of months of burning CDs for the car (remember that?) I discovered that there is an iPod solution for the Prius and that it works with the base model radio. Wheee!

I discovered the iPod option while flipping through the Prius accessory pamphlet at the Toyota dealership during a recent oil change. They charge about US$150 for the iPod connection kit, which consists of an interface module and a cable plus another US$150-180 for labor because they have to remove the entire dash to get to the back of the radio. Don't expect to leave for less than US$300, but if you're suffering with juggling CDs it can be well worth it.

Here's how to get it...

My Toyota dealership installed the iPod interface from USA Spec (PN: PA15-TOY) which turned out not to be the best option. The PA15-TOY doesn't charge the new iPod nano 4G nor does it work with the iPhone 3G. In my testing I was able to connect the nano 4G but it didn't work as expected, seemingly picking songs at random. It wouldn't charge the nano 3G and my iPhone 3G wouldn't work at all, not even in airplane mode. Luckily the PA15-TOY does work with and charge my iPod classic 80GB, which is what I'm using now.

A call to USA Spec revealed that they've released an updated 3G charging cable (PN: CB-PA-105) which charges and operates the nano 4G, iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G according to the company. The cable sells for US$19 plus shipping. If you already purchased the older PA15-TOY interface you can buy the new cable directly from USA Spec, but you'll still need to have it installed. If you're having trouble with a newer iPhone/iPod, tell your dealer that a newer cable is available and see if they can help you.

For now I'll continue to my iPod classic connected to the older cable but I plan to have my dealer switch it out for the newer cable when it arrives next week.

Tip: If you have the iPod kit installed at your dealership, bring along a six foot male RCA to male 1/8-inch cable and have the technician run that cable into your glove box while he's got your dash apart. The extra input will come in handy for connecting other audio sources, DVD players, etc. and they shouldn't charge you anything extra to do it.

What's your iPod > car rig?

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, Networking, Telcos

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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