Toyota finally rolls out Android Auto at Chicago Auto Show

Find out in which models the smart phone tech will be available first.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
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Toyota was one of the longest-lasting holdouts to add Android Auto.

John Gress/Corbis/Getty Images

Sometimes it's the little updates that make the biggest quality-of-life improvements. While Toyota is rolling out several face-lifted models at Thursday's Chicago Auto Show press day, it's an unseen update that may prove to be the biggest benefit for owners: Android Auto integration.

The Japanese automaker has long been one of the technology's most noteworthy holdouts. Indeed, it only began rolling out Apple CarPlay compatibility on its Entune systems last year. 

Android Auto, which integrates users' Android phone functionality into a vehicle's infotainment system, will be offered in 2020 model-year Toyota 4Runner and Sequoia SUVs, as well as its Tacoma and Tundra pickup trucks. Overseas, the marque's Aygo will get the tech, as well as European-market Yaris models.

A number of automakers have quietly expressed data privacy concerns over letting Google have access to many of their vehicle's systems as a condition of Android Auto integration. Security and intellectual property reservations have previously been voiced by several automakers to me on the condition of anonymity. 

When I asked if any data security questions related to Android Auto may have contributed to the tech's slow rollout in Toyota's products, Russ Koble, the automaker's Advanced Technology Communications Manager, said that such concerns weren't the issue. 

Instead, he tells Roadshow, "Toyota and Google have been working closely on the integration of Android Auto. Part of this integration is ensuring alignment with Toyota's usability standards. Both companies came to an agreement on the technical specifications and are pleased to provide a seamless connected experience."

It isn't immediately clear how quickly Toyota plans to roll out Android Auto compatibility to its other models, including its popular Camry, Corolla and RAV4 families. Koble did confirm, however, that the tech will be available not just in additional Toyota models, but also future Lexus vehicles, too.

A Google representative reached for comment by Roadshow did not offer an immediate response.

2020 Toyota Tacoma takes a bow at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show

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