Can You Put Apple CarPlay on Previous Subaru Models?

If you happen to own a previous model of a Subaru car, you may have been disappointed to find out that it doesn’t have built-in Apple CarPlay. While newer models come with the technology already built-in, older models may not have this luxury. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re stuck without it. In this article, we will explore the possibility of adding Apple CarPlay to previous Subaru models, the installation process, associated costs and benefits of this upgrade.

Key Takeaways

  • Subaru models produced before the 2019 model year do not have factory-installed Apple CarPlay.
  • It is possible to install Apple CarPlay on older Subaru models through aftermarket solutions.
  • The installation process may vary depending on the chosen third-party solution and the specific model of your vehicle.
  • Costs to install Apple CarPlay on previous model Subaru cars may range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.
  • Upgrading to Apple CarPlay can improve the overall driving experience, allowing for easier access to music, maps and other apps.


Before attempting to install Apple CarPlay on your Subaru car, it’s essential to check the compatibility of your model. Subaru first introduced Apple CarPlay on their 2019 models, including the Ascent, Forester, Crosstrek, and Impreza. Thus, if your car was manufactured before 2019, it might not have a built-in Apple CarPlay.

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Fortunately, there are third-party solutions available that will allow you to add Apple CarPlay to your Subaru. Many of these aftermarket solutions claim to be compatible with most Subaru models, including older ones. However, it is essential to check the manufacturer’s website for compatibility issues before purchasing.

Installation Process

Once you confirm your vehicle’s compatibility, the next step is to choose a suitable aftermarket solution and proceed with installation. As previously mentioned, the installation process may vary depending on the chosen solution and car model.

One popular aftermarket solution is the use of a third-party head unit. Using this option, the existing head unit can be replaced with a new one which has Apple CarPlay built-in. The installation process will generally involve dismantling the existing head unit, connecting the new head unit, and ensuring proper integration with the vehicle’s existing system.

Another option is to use an adapter that connects to the car’s head unit through USB. The adapter typically comes with hardware and software that transmits the CarPlay signal to the factory head unit. The installation process will generally involve inserting the adapter’s USB cable into the head unit and plugging the adapter into a power outlet accessible through the dashboard.

Finally, there may be some universal adapters that work with almost any car, including Subaru models. The process of installing these devices involves plugging them into the car’s OBD-II port, which is usually located under the steering wheel. In some cases, additional wiring may also be needed to ensure proper communication between the device and the car’s computer.

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The cost of adding Apple CarPlay to your Subaru will vary depending on the aftermarket solution you choose. For example, replacing the car’s head unit can cost hundreds of dollars, while adapters are usually less expensive. Better quality products and professional installation can further add to the total cost.

Based on our research, prices for aftermarket solutions to add Apple CarPlay to a Subaru car range from $300 to $1,500. For example, the Pioneer AVH-2300NEX DVD Receiver costs $299, while the more advanced Sony XAV-AX8000 costs $550. In comparison, the GROM Audio Kit to install CarPlay on Subaru costs $699.


Upgrading to Apple CarPlay on your Subaru car comes with several benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Better music experience: CarPlay allows you to access Apple Music and other music apps, making it easier to play your favorite songs and playlists while driving.
  • Enhanced navigation: Apple Maps provides more intuitive directions and real-time traffic information.
  • Easy access to Siri: With CarPlay, you can use Siri for hands-free communication, making calls or sending messages without taking your hands off the wheel.
  • Safer driving: Having easy access to music and navigation, without needing to look at your phone or fiddle with the car’s stereo, allows for safer driving.


Is it worth it to add Apple CarPlay to my Subaru car?

If you use Apple devices frequently and would like to have easier access to music, maps and apps, then upgrading to Apple CarPlay is certainly worth it. However, you will need to weigh the cost of installation against the benefits offered, as it can be a significant investment.

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Can I install Apple CarPlay on my Subaru by myself?

The installation process for an aftermarket solution can vary, and unless you have prior experience, it’s recommended to have it installed by a professional. Professional installers can ensure proper integration, compatibility, and provide warranty for their services.

Do I need a specific model of iPhone for Apple CarPlay to work?

Apple CarPlay is designed to work with any iPhone that runs the latest iOS version. However, for optimal functionality, it’s recommended to use an iPhone 5 or later with iOS 7.1 or higher.


Even though pre-2019 Subaru models don’t have a built-in option for Apple CarPlay, it is still possible to add it via aftermarket solutions. The installation process may vary depending on the chosen solution, car model and desired level of integration. The cost of adding Carplay to your Subaru can range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, depending on the solution you choose. However, the benefits of upgrading to CarPlay, such as improved access to music, navigation and safer driving practices, can make the price worth it. If you’re considering adding CarPlay to your vehicle, be sure to do ample research beforehand to ensure compatibility, choose a reliable solution and have it professionally installed.

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Billy Covington

With a passion for all things automotive, Billy is our go-to expert on Subaru performance upgrades and modifications. He's been featured in several car magazines and blogs, and his extensive knowledge and expertise make him a valuable member of our team. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys playing guitar and writing music.

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