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2017 Outback, 3.6R Limited
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My first post here, though I've been lurking for several months since we got our Outback last fall.

Not having CarPlay has bugged me since we got it and after months of use I found the nav system to be a sub-par experience. I knew I'd be upgrading the infotainment system sooner rather than later. I found some great information in threads on here, and thought I'd post my upgrade experience to help out a bit if I can. I'll probably miss a few details in here, but I suppose this isn't meant to be a detailed installation guide.

Bottom line: I'm really pleased with this installation, and would enthusiastically recommend it!

Here's what I went with:
  • Pioneer DMH-2660NEX (wanted the capacitive touchscreen; I find the resistive ones to be a frustrating user experience)
  • iDataLink Maestro RR
  • SU-2 wiring harness
  • Metra 95-8906HG dash kit/faceplate
I've done several installs in prior cars when I was young and stupid, so I was confident I could pull this one off myself. This used to be much easier in my '90 Jeep YJ and '94 Cavalier when the wiring harness adapters were plug and play! Off the top, I would say this was a moderate to difficult install, mainly due to the need to know how to read and closely follow the iDataLink wiring diagram along with the Pioneer wiring descriptions (my wife came out mid-install, and nearly had a heart attack seeing all the wiring! She didn't say anything - just turned around and went back inside :) ). As it turns out, the wiring colours match up, but I wouldn't take the chance and just make that assumption out of the gate.

The trim panel pop off with a bit of encouragement - I was afraid I'd break a clip, but everything went fine. Tip: you don't need to remove the bezel around the climate control dials, just the bottom trim piece. Once you get the trim out, everything comes out very easily. Reassembly is very simple, and once the vent piece on top and the climate control unit are clipped into the Metra faceplate, you can pop the entire thing out as one giant piece. My HU is recessed in the faceplate, which could probably be adjusted with some judicious trimming and adjustment of the mounts, but I'm happy with it (for now, anyway).

Things are generally well-coded with colour. Once you've figured out which bit goes where, you need to splice some bare wires. as these are low-strain connections, I just twisted them and sealed with heat-shrink. There are several wires on the Pioneer harness, and two on the iDataLink harness which do not get used - I HIGHLY recommend you tape the ends up on all of these, as even without the end being stripped (i.e. insulation to the end of the wire) on reassembly a wire ended up touching the radio chassis and I was getting an "AMP ERROR" code. Once I took it apart again and taped the ends up, it was back in business.

Cable Routing:
  • iDataLink module is tucked in the dash above the glove box - lots of room for it there (black circle in one of the pics below).
  • I ran the mic up to the driver's top corner of the windshield (where the oil change sticker is normally placed). Ran the cable down the A pillar, under the dash and into the back so it's completely hidden.
  • I ran the USB cable down the driver's side of the console and by the seat belt latch. It's completely hidden, but not tidy at the end by the seatbelt. I may try to install it in the metra faceplate or the trim piece to the left of the console cubby which can pop off and has some space.
  • I plugged in a longer USB cable for the iDataLink module, and ran it down the passenger side of the console. The end is just tucked up behind the console panel. I did this so that any time I want to do something with the module (reflash) I don't need to take the dash apart. As I'm typing this, I do wonder if this is safe to do with everything plugged in (car turned off, obviously)? Something to look into....

Things I'm not sure about:
  • Antenna connection: There was a blue and a grey antenna connection in the dash. I didn't have the factory wiring diagram with me, so plugged in the grey one. Radio reception works, but it was not bad even without the connection so I'm not 100% sure I plugged it into the right one.
  • iDataLink flashing: I left pretty much the default values. My radio preset +/- goes up/down by frequency step, not preset. Will need to look into this.
  • iDataLink controls: I don't have access to the climate controls on the Pioneer unit, nor tire pressures, and the gauges screen doesn't function exactly as I expected. None of these are deal-breakers by any stretch - this upgrade was for CarPlay and Google Maps while driving, with the other functions as nice-to-haves. I'm not sure if I've missed a wiring connection somewhere (my Starlink wire is not connected, nor a couple of others, as I wasn't certain about the connections, and primary functionality is not affected).
And I guess that's it. More than happy to answer any questions below, and take any feedback on my unknowns listed here, etc...

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2015 3.6R Limited w/ES
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5,128 Posts
Things I'm not sure about:
  • Antenna connection: There was a blue and a grey antenna connection in the dash. I didn't have the factory wiring diagram with me, so plugged in the grey one. Radio reception works, but it was not bad even without the connection so I'm not 100% sure I plugged it into the right one.
Aside from the additional cell antenna, I'm not sure what else had changed, but I can tell you the blue antenna connector on my 2015 (coaxial FAKRA) was the SiriusXM antenna. My memory is a little fuzzy beyond that but I think the grey connector might have been GPS and the AM/FM connector was of a more conventional design (not a color/shape-coded FAKRA).

Anyway, nice work, I've been tempted by each Crutchfield install that's been posted here but I still don't care for the faceplate appearance. The only unit I've seen that actually fits pretty well is a direct-from-China product with a lot of vague info that makes me nervous.
 

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2017 Outback, 3.6R Limited
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Aside from the additional cell antenna, I'm not sure what else had changed, but I can tell you the blue antenna connector on my 2015 (coaxial FAKRA) was the SiriusXM antenna. My memory is a little fuzzy beyond that but I think the grey connector might have been GPS and the AM/FM connector was of a more conventional design (not a color/shape-coded FAKRA).

Anyway, nice work, I've been tempted by each Crutchfield install that's been posted here but I still don't care for the faceplate appearance. The only unit I've seen that actually fits pretty well is a direct-from-China product with a lot of vague info that makes me nervous.
Thanks for the input about the antenna connectors...I've downloaded all the FSMs, so will take a closer look at that.

I looked at the Canavie head unit you're talking about, and while some posters here seem really happy with it, I also didn't have a high level of confidence.

As for the faceplate, I don't love the empty real estate either, but the functionality of the Pioneer head unit far outweighs that. I told my wife that it leaves room for additional switches. She asked "switches for what?"
  • Lightbars
  • Winch
  • Rocket launcher
  • Passenger ejection
Apparently I'm not allowed to do any more car projects :D
 

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2017 Outback 2.5i Premium
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5 Posts
Nice work @_SubieDoo_ !
Funny that I also installed the same head unit on my wife's 2017 Outback. However, this was after I have tried Alpine iLX-309 and SONY AX7000.
The Alpine features a floating 10.1" screen, but for some reason wife was not happy with it, saying it was too large and blocking the A/C vent.
Okay, then I put the AX7000, nice non-reflective matte screen which I like a lot. But, the Crux steering wheel control interface that came with the SONY
was not fully functional: I could only map 3 to 4 out of the 9 control buttons depending on switch setting, a huge bummer.
We finally settled on the Pioneer because it has the proper screen size that fits in the dash and the iDataLink interface works
(forward/backward/volume+/volume-/hang up/pick up/source/voice are working, still missing a few, but I'm okay with that)
HD Radio/BT/Carplay/Rear view camera all work flawlessly. We both are heavy Apple users, so being able to use Carplay on the 17 Outback is wonderful.

Side notes
  • This is probably US model only, but I have to keep the original StarLink module hooked up in order to keep all speaks working. It's a bit tricky to stuff the HU, StarLink module, and iDataLink box inside the tiny space, but it is possible.
  • There is OEM USB port retention kit (such as this one) on the market. This works ONLY if the HU USB supports USB Hub. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none of the brand head units support USB Hub.
  • For radio, I used something like this, the metallic adaptor goes into antenna jack #5 of the diagram.
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A few photos of my installation:

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