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2016 Forester 2.0XT
22 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Replaced 2016 FXT Touring 7" Nav H/K Audio with Kenwwod 200mm Toyota CarPlay Radio

So I bought my FXT in April and loved everything about it with the exception of how the factory audio/navigation worked. I found it rather cantankerous when navigating from various menus to others or between functions and I absolutely HATED the inability to disable the turn-by-turn voice directions, which even when turned down as low as they would go were still very annoying due to the constant interruptions. So out with the old and in with the new.

My prerequisites were that under no circumstances were any permanent modification to be made to the car, the sound stage I had as a result of the separate lows, mids and highs speakers and the H/K audio DSP couldn't be compromised, the installation had to appear as close to factory as possible and the radio had to have CarPlay. This meant no cutting or splicing any of the factory wiring, finding out a way to continue to utilize the H/K amp when it was receiving fader information over a twisted pair data connection and not via discrete front and rear input channels, and I needed to find something that occupied more dash real-estate than a standard double-DIN. So I spent the last couple of months piecing together everything needed for a seamless and non-invasive installation and I must say that I am very satisfied with the results. The factory 7" navigation radio had quite a few connections behind it but I stuck to my plan and made sure none of them had to cut off or spliced into. Anywhere I needed to manipulate the wiring, I did so with a compatible replacement mating connector.

The head-unit I chose is the Kenwood DDX916WS. It's a 200mm Toyota replacement CarPlay radio that features a capacitive touch display, built-in steering wheel control interface, adjustable color illumination and the list goes on. It even comes with the plug-and-play wiring harness that works for those with the 10+6 Toyota style radio wiring. The 10 pin harness has the power, ground, illumination, antenna power, and front channel wiring and the 6-pin harness is for the rear channels. The wiring on the 10-pin would have worked fine if I didn't mind feeding a high-level signal into the amplifier. Problem was the rear channels are MIA from the 6-pin connector and instead, Subaru used that connector to provide part of the dimmer signal, the shielding for the audio going to the amp and the interrupt wiring which wasn't going to be used. If there was compatible shielded wiring like what was in the 2014-2015's, I'd have probably just used another set of Toyota connectors wired with RCAs to connect it but no point in doing that if it was only going to solve half the problem.

Since my car had Starlink, I needed to take the audio coming from the amp to the Starlink control unit and reroute it to the front high speakers (tweeters). I did this by removing the pins I didn't need from a connector housing that was the same as that on the Starlink control unit and then soldered the appropriate remaining pins to one another. I could have omitted this connector, keeping Starlink but that meant extra connectors, wiring and time; all of which would have been for something I didn't care about.
The connector is TE P/N 175967-2.
The following pins on connector i271 were soldered together:

1 and 2
3 and 4
9 and 10
11 and 12

The remaining pins were removed.

For the backup camera, I built a simple voltage regulator to bring the battery voltage down to 6V and tied that into the ACC wiring harness on the DDX916WS.
Connector is Toyota P/N 90980-12365.
The following pins on connector i146 were used:

1 - Camera Ground
2 - Camera 6V +
3 - Camera Video +
4 - Camera Video –
5 - NC

To get the steering wheel control, reverse and parking brake signals, I used the SWC harness that came with the DDX916WS which connected to i87 and added wires on pins 2 and 15. I was thinking about adding the additional wires needed to connect the factory 3.5mm aux input in the center console to the DDX916WS for the sake of completeness but the odds of it ever being used were slim-to-none so I decided it wasn't worth the time messing around with it.
Connector is Toyota P/N 90980-12409.
The following pins were used:

2 - Reverse
15 - Parking Brake
21 - Steering Wheel Control 1
22 - Steering Wheel Control 2
23 - Steering Wheel Control Ground
26 - AUX Right Channel +
27 - AUX Left/Right Channel –
28 - AUX Left Channel +

The remaining pins were left unpopulated.

After spending some time researching the H/K amp, I came to the conclusion that it would be price-prohibitive to make something to take the front and rear signals and generate the required data signal needed to tell the amp the fader information it would need. Long story short, I spent some time in the seat of my friend's 2015 Forester with the H/K audio to see if there was any discernible difference I could hear between it and my 2016 to see if using the H/K from a 2014-2015 Forester would be an option and after a couple days back and forth between the two, I found out that the audio quality between the two was indistinguishable to my untrained ears. I also found out that I'd have been hating life if I had purchased anything other than the XT. So I replaced the original H/K amp with one from a 2015. In keeping with the cutting no wires theme and needing a low-level signal for the amp, I picked up a Kicker Z-Series 16.5' RCA cable since it was twisted pair construction and cut it in half with the cut ends down by the newly installed 2015 Forester H/K amp. I made a selective pass-thru harness for the wiring I needed and then on the other end, I inserted the low-level input wiring from the RCA cables. I thought I had taken a picture of this when I still had the seat off but I can't find it on my iPhone so either I was slacking or I deleted it when I was going through some of the other shots I took. If I can sneak a decent one with the seat all the way raised up, I'll add it to this thread.
Toyota P/Ns 90980-12554 and 90980-12193
The following pins on connector i262 are passed through to the amp

11 - VSS
12 - ACC Power

The following positions are pins on connector i262 are populated with the wires coming from the low-level outputs on the radio:

2 - Front Left Channel –
3 - Front Left Channel +
4 - Front Right Channel –
5 - Front Right Channel +
17 - Rear Left Channel –
18 - Rear Left Channel +
22 - Rear Right Channel –
23 - Rear Right Channel +

The remaining pins on connector i262 were left unpopulated and the wiring on connectors i263 and R315 was not changed.

Since my post count is not high enough, I cannot add the links to this thread. If a moderator can fix that for me, I'd love to share them.

2014 Forester XT
8 Posts
That's awesome! I've been looking at options that don't need an extraneous trim piece. Where did you get the DDX916WS? I don't see it for sale anywhere..

2015 Forester XT Touring
168 Posts
The user interface for the HK audio and nav is what I like the least about my 15 FXT. I have more research to do, thanks for all the info you just provided.

2017 Forester XT Premium
109 Posts
That's amazing. I just bought a 2017 FXT premium. I feel like the tech in this car is way behind. I also have a 2016 civic and it has Android auto/apple car play which I miss a lot when driving the FXT. One day I might attempt what you did but seems very complicated!

2016 WRX
1 Posts
This is amazing! Replaced my HK headunit in my '16 wrx and swapped the amp for one from a '15 in order to get get around the volume control issue just like you did. Working on running some RCA's to the back as our our amps are in the trunk. Anyway, where did you get the toyota parts from (Toyota P/Ns 90980-12554 and 90980-12193) to build the selective pass through harness, and do you have any more detail around how you built it? I'm so close!

06 XSL Automatic
382 Posts
I feel like the tech in this car is way behind. I also have a 2016 civic and it has Android auto/apple car play which I miss a lot when driving the FXT.
Subaru (and Toyota, Mazda etc) have been shunning CarPlay/Android Auto for as long as they could. At least they are starting to offer them in newer models. I understand why they are reluctant, and some new systems are so integrated with the car's infotainment and driver assist systems it goes way beyond a straight swap for a head unit with CarPlay that you'd need OEM support.
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