If testing a car’s USB ports seems like a weird idea, there are a few things you don’t know. First, the power level of such ports varies widely between cars, and it often varies between different ports within the same vehicle, as well. Second, we tend to dive deeply into many aspects of our top Best Of award winner, and the all-new Hyundai Palisade, our Best of 2020 vehicle, has an impressive seven USB ports serving all three rows of seats. Finally, I’ve personally been obsessed with the subject of USB power for almost a decade since I navigated from Illinois to Wisconsin’s Road America racetrack in a Hyundai Elantra Touring using Google Maps on my phone, only to arrive with its battery charge lower than when I departed even though it was plugged into the USB port.
As you’ll see below, the difference in charging times between sources in a vehicle can be counted in hours.
For the Palisade testing, I used my nearly depleted Samsung Galaxy S10 phone, which displays the time left to charge in hours and minutes, connected with the supplied Samsung cable. (Do not miss our report about how important cord choice is if you want your smartphone to charge quickly and communicate effectively with your phone.)
Note that the only margins that matter are those between the pad and the data port, and then between that port and all the dedicated charging ports. The small differences between the charging ports are merely because the phone would quickly add charge with each test (as shown in the Battery Level column) and decrease the remaining charging time. For what it’s worth, the Palisade’s charging ports are admirably consistent; it’s not always this uniform elsewhere.
The differences in charging times we see in the Palisade are pretty typical. The wireless charging pad was the slowest with my phone, which is new and capable of faster wireless charging than we see here. The data port would take the second longest, which is frustrating because that’s the port you must use to enjoy Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, both of which make your phone work pretty hard. We’ve come a long way since the Elantra Touring, but data ports usually remain weaker than dedicated charging ports. My testing isn’t extensive, but these variances do seem to be evening out in the market: In five other 2020 models I tested recently, two had data ports that measured roughly the same as the charging ports, and one was a bit faster.
We don’t put too much stock into charging times versus other vehicles on a head-to-head basis because many factors are at play — and my phone isn’t always at the same state of charge while testing — but the Palisade’s charge ports seem particularly robust for regular USB-A outlets limited to 5 volts and 2.4 amps. Samsung phones and their supplied chargers are capable of voltages higher than 5 volts, yet when I plugged mine into a wall socket at home, the charging rate was no faster than it had been using the Hyundai’s ports, which always registered on the display as “fast charging.”
More From Cars.com:
- Phones and Cars: Why Choosing The Right Cable Matters
- My Car Has a USB-C Port. Is It Better? What Do I Do?
- What’s the Most Mobile-Device-Friendly 3-Row SUV?
- 2020 Hyundai Palisade: Why Does Apple CarPlay Use the Whole Screen but Android Auto Doesn’t?
- More on Our Long-Term Hyundai Palisade
Depending on what you drive, the fastest charging option may not be a port at all, especially if the car is older. As noted above, the Samsung charger gave the same results in the Palisade as the car’s charging ports, but a 12-volt outlet and adapter or a household outlet (which our Palisade also offers), along with the supplied charger, might be the best way for you to add minutes.
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