2014 Toyota Highlander: The 1.5-star Entune App
April 6, 2015
"If I could give it zero stars I would."
"Entune failed us again."
"Toyota, you should be ashamed of yourself and this app."
These are quotes from just a few of the recent user reviews on Toyota's latest Entune app in the iTunes store. The total rating for Entune is 1.5 stars. I was curious. Does it really suck that bad? It was time to find out with our 2014 Toyota Highlander.
We haven't covered Entune much with our Highlander so far other than Mark's update about, erm, updating the in-car software. Going further back, the 2012 Toyota Camry was the last Toyota we had in our long-term fleet with Entune. It was time for a refresher.
First of all, Toyota changed its naming scheme for Entune about a year ago. "Entune" used to refer to Toyota's smartphone app integration system. Now it's an umbrella term for the entire infotainment system. App integration is now "Entune App Suite."
What you can do with Entune App Suite is still pretty similar, though. You can get information on various topics (traffic, weather, stocks, sports, etc) and integrate a moderate number of smartphone apps. Right now that list includes Bing search, MovieTickets, Yelp, Facebook Places, OpenTable, iHeart radio, Pandora and the newest addition, Slacker Radio. Slacker is part of the latest Entune update, which debuted on March 19, 2015 for the iTunes store.
As I remembered from our Camry, setting up Entune Apps takes a bit of time. First, I needed to register on the My Entune website and supply our Highlander's full VIN. After that I was asked to link my various smartphone app accounts with Entune. For the purposes of this update I just linked up Slacker Radio. I had to download that app and register, too, but I was curious to check it out. Then, of course, I had to download the Entune app onto my phone, which is an Apple iPhone 5S.
Once you've taken those three steps it's time to get Entune up and running. I had to pair my phone with the Highlander over Bluetooth to start. That's pretty straightforward. At that point I thought I was ready to go. I went looking for the Slacker icon on the Highlander's App page. Oddly, it wasn't there. But then I realized that our system probably needed to be updated and that I actually needed to start the Entune app on my phone, too.
Once I did the latter the Highlander's system automatically wanted to update (by using my phone's cell connection). That took a few minutes. After the update was complete, Slacker was now listed. I pressed a few onscreen buttons and voila, Slacker Radio was surging through the Highlander's JBL sound system.
So, success for me, at least with one app. I also played around with the various information feeds and nav traffic to make sure those work. But it's obvious from the app's reviews that other Toyota owners have had a lot more problems connecting, updating and using Entune App Suite.
Perhaps in Toyota's partial defense, no automaker's integration apps get fantastic scores in the iTunes store. Nissan's Connect is even worse with just a one star rating. HondaLink and Kia UVO both rate 1.5 stars. BMW Connected swam to the top of the ones I looked at with a two-star rating. Woo!
One continual issue with these systems, in my opinion, is that it's typically easier to just run the various apps you like in their native phone environment rather than fiddling around to get them integrated with your vehicle's touchscreen. Perhaps Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will help. I also see some value in some vehicle-specific functions, such as remote door locking, car locating, and so forth. Unfortunately, Toyota's Entune Apps doesn't currently have that functionality.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 19,645 miles