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The Best Car Gadgets That Make Driving Even Better

I drive a lot of loaner cars for this job, usually several a month. I’ve thought a ton about how to quickly outfit a given vehicle for comfort, without permanently adhering stuff all over the interior. After testing hundreds of devices over the years, here’s my go-to kit for everything from Subaru to Rolls Royce.

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Kenu Car Phone Mount

Kenu

I’ve tried dozens of windshield suction mounts, but they take up lots of visual real estate. Mounting your phone on an air vent, however, sets your phone on unused space that is typically up high where you can see it. If, like me, you live dangerously and go case-less, the Kenu Airframe+ is the best I’ve tried.

Kenu Airframe Magnetic

Kenu

If you use a case, though, a magnetic mount is way, way more convenient. You slip a slim metal disk between the back of the phone and the case, and the phone adheres to your a tiny mount without having to open spring-loaded arms, which can sometimes jostle the vent grippers loose.

Kenu Airbase Magnetic

Kenu

Finally, if you don’t have a vent up high on your dash, Kenu also makes a mount that adheres to the space above the dash. It works just as well.

Anker Dual USB Car Charger

Most car’s USB ports don’t charge at the max amperage your device can handle. That’s fine for long trips — those plugs will still charge your phone faster than Waze can deplete the battery. But a cigarette lighter charger will give you the most electrons for your time. For years, Anker has made better charging devices (and cables) than anyone else, even manufacturers like Google and Apple. They make my favorite car charger, which will charge up multiple iPads if you need it to.

Anker Powerline Lightning

Anker

Spend the money, and leave it in your car. I’ve forgotten to bring one before, and it’s annoying. I only buy the aforementioned Anker charging cables because they last longer than Apple’s and come in cool colors.

Tile Pro

Tile

Among the many things I love about the Tesla Model 3: I don’t have to keep track of its keys. You just unlock it with your phone. So when I have keys (like my motorcycle keys) I keep a Tile attached to them. Your phone will keep track of where you last had them nearby, and can play a sound if you can’t spot them. Losing keys is a huge pain, especially in new cars where replacing them is expensive. At least add flags like this that’ll make them harder to lose in a junk drawer.

Garmin Dash 65

Garmin

I was on my motorcycle a few years back, and got pulled over for, the officer said, riding between lanes. After saying, “Yes, sir” a few times and accepting my citation, I snapped a photo of the road. It was under construction, with no lane markers. I went to court, showed a printout of the photo, and the ticket was dismissed.

Photographic evidence helps. I’ve tried dozens of the no-name eBay Chinese dash cams, but I like Garmin’s cameras because they work, and you get a real company with customer support and culpability for its product. If you fear a fake insurance claim from some jerk who reverses into you and claims you rear-ended them, buying one will put your mind at ease.

Valentine One Radar Detector

Valentine One

These devices spot the signal from police speed guns and tip you off before you’re within range. I’ve tested dozens over the years and remain skeptical of how effective they are. I’ve heard that police don’t use radar as much anymore, that even the ones with laser detection won’t help you if you’re spotted. But I still feel a bit naked without the Valentine One I’ve used for years. I’ve talked to guys like Ed Bolian and Alex Roy, who both use it.