© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This paper investigates virtual reality head-mounted displays (VR-HMDs) as immersive and interactive media to simulate how new automotive user interfaces will contribute to passengers’ user experience (UX) through experience prototyping of a conceptual infotainment system for front-seat passengers. It first demonstrates the integration of VR-HMDs into experience prototypes through (1) identification of what to prototype by deconstructing the system into its aspects; (2) definition of the scope and fidelity of the prototype for each design aspect; and (3) elimination of challenges brought by VR-HMD (e.g. simulation sickness) through strategies like static presentation of car surroundings. Secondly, it confirms the strategies to exploit immersion safely with the results of the simulation sickness and presence questionnaires. Thirdly, it probes how using VR-HMD affects UX appraisals with content analysis of the follow-up interviews. The paper concludes with a discussion of how VR-HMDs enrich digital appraisals of (automotive) user interfaces at early design stages.