My wife’s been
nagging me gently reminding me that she wants to be able to listen to her iPhone’s music library in her 2008 Cadillac Escalade ESV. Combine that with her patriotic respect of the law and love of automobile safety (she’s never got a ticket, and her first one isn’t about to be for driving while holding a mobile phone), and my duty as a good husband is clear: this chick needs Bluetooth.
We used to have a wired iPod interface in her car, but it was causing a battery drain, so I removed it about a year ago. Plus, wired iPod stereo interfaces are awkward anyway, what with the interface cable dangling around when not in use, taking up valuable cupholder space. So I decided she needed a Bluetooth hands-free kit that also allowed audio streaming via A2DP, and kill two birds with one stone.
Enter the Scosche BlueFusion Bluetooth Car Kit. MSRP is $299.99, but you can easily find them online for under $200. And if you’re really diligent, you can buy one on eBay, like I did, for $76 (including shipping).
As do many happy husbands, I was driving my wife’s car yesterday because it needed gas. My plan was to run to the post office to check my business PO box, hit the gas station, and return home to a hero’s welcome with a full tank. When I got to the post office, the BlueFusion kit was waiting for me. I’d purchased the BFGMK version (I presume that stands for BlueFusion General Motors Kit), which is designed for GM vehicles 2006 and newer using a LAN communication system, but they’re also available for certain Toyotas, Hondas, and Eclipse aftermarket stereos. Check their application guide to see if one’s available for your car.
A few days earlier, prior to purchasing the BlueFusion, I’d been doing some product research and watched Scosche’s install video on YouTube (skip to 3:46 for the install details).
Keeping that video in mind, as I pulled into the gas station, I wondered if it really was that easy to install this bad boy piece of kit in my home girl’s ‘Sclade. A challenge materialized: could I install a BlueFusion in my wife’s car in the amount of time it would take to fill it with gas? The fuel gauge was slightly below E (meaning the smart move would have been hitting the gas station before the post office), so I’d have more time filling this behemoth Detroit-born suburban assault vehicle than if I were filling a cute little Japanese car, but I still considered it a worthy challenge and figured I’d give it a go.
I opened the package and reviewed the included install instructions (which I was surprised to see were written in plain English with absolutely no Asian accent), swiped my credit card at the pump, inserted the nozzle, squeezed and locked the pump handle, and ran to the passenger door.
Luckily, the Cadillac Escalade (and its GM cousins) are probably the easiest cars in which to install a BlueFusion kit. I started by opening the glovebox, emptying the contents onto the floor, and releasing the plastic tab that holds the glovebox in the open position, allowing it to pivot completely open and hang down out of the way. Next, I located the silver XM radio tuner box. Two wiring harnesses came included with the BlueFusion kit: one for cars with XM radio, and another for cars without it. Using the XM version of the harness, I unplugged the car’s male connector from the XM tuner, plugged the Scosche wiring harness male connector into the XM tuner, and plugged the car’s male connector into the female connector on the wiring harness. The XM radio tuner was now still connected to the car, but I now had two additional cables available. I connected the larger male one to the BlueFusion device itself (a small black box about the size of a deck of playing cards), and left the smaller female one (for the microphone) disconnected for the time being.
I wasn’t certain where I’d want the microphone to live permanently, so I rested it on the rear-view mirror for testing, then shoved the cable along the headliner where it met the windshield. I pulled off the side dash panel on the passenger side, fed the male end of the microphone cable through, then connected it to the remaining female connector on the wiring harness. I decided I’d make it pretty when I got home later, so I tossed the dash panel on the passenger floor… just as I heard the CLICK of the gas pump handle shutting off. Time was up!
I replaced the pump handle, jumped in the driver’s seat, and turned on the car. The XM radio fired up on the station I’d been previously listening to. OK – I hadn’t hosed the XM. So far, so good. Per the BlueFusion instructions, I held the SEEK button on the stereo down for three seconds. The screen changed and the words BLUEFUSION appeared. Alright! I put my iPhone in Bluetooth pairing mode, hit 0000 on phone’s keypad when prompted, and saw the “Connected” status on my phone. I pulled up a playlist, pressed play, and suddently heard the sweet, sweet sounds of Swedish euro/house/trance DJ Avicii blasting from the speakers. I’d done it!
I decided I’d hit the auto parts store next to the gas station to buy some double-stick tape to mount the small BlueFusion device to the XM tuner box, and while I was in there I got a phone call from my home boy Josh “Wha-choo talkin’ bout?” Willis, who wanted me to drop by his place and pick up a couple of Dell servers he had for me. Josh is also a full fledged geek commando in his own right, so I knew he’d have some zip ties, or electrical tape, or some other stuff with which I could pretty up the install.
On the short drive to Josh’s place, I made some test phone calls to make sure I was happy with the microphone placement. Everyone I called said they could hear me just fine. When I arrived at Josh’s place, he wasn’t home from work yet, so I pulled around back and spent a few minutes mounting the microphone and hiding the cord properly. The Escalade has a small black box on which the base of the rear-view mirror is mounted, which made a perfect place to mount the microphone:
Josh arrived just as I was pushing back the last bit of door trim, and was glad to produce a couple of zip ties. Here’s what the final under-dash install looks like:
I had considered giving this kit to my wife for Christmas, but we’re planning a pre-Christmas road trip in her car, and I knew she’d love the ability to listen to her music on the trip, so I converted it into a “Hey, Baby – check out what I did” present, instead. I hadn’t told her I bought it yet, and was trying to figure out a fun way to surprise her. So when she got home that afternoon, we decided to pick up some teriyaki from our favorite local joint. As we got in the car, she said “should we call ahead and order it?” Man – that couldn’t have worked out any better. Since my phone was still paired, I said “Sure!” and dialed the number as we headed out of our driveway. The radio cut out, and was replaced with “ring ring” as the radio’s screen displayed “Active Call.” My wife looked at the screen and said “Hey! You put one of those hands free thingies in here!” And then her eyes got wide as she asked “Does that mean I can also play my music in here?” I walked her through pairing her iPhone (I had to disconnect it from my iPhone first), and within minutes she was able to play wireless passenger seat DJ on the way into town.
Bottom line? The Scosche BlueFusion does exactly what it’s supposed to do. The price was great, the install was a piece of cake and required no tools, setup is easy, voice quality is clear, and the Bluetooth streaming audio sounds as clear as any other source on the stereo system. So if you’re sick of dropping your phone in your lap and yelling “FIVE-O, FIVE-O” every time a cop passes you on the road, and you’d like the added benefit of listening to your iPhone or iPod playlists through your factory stereo, then the Scosche BlueFusion may be just want you’re looking for.