The Best Car Stereos reflect the latest in digital audio technology. For example, smartphones with internet radio apps. Smartphones have become the medium for listening to music in cars, and everywhere else. Because of this shift, we've seen many features that have become standard on head units. This includes:

  • A push to standardize USB to charge and connect your media or smartphone devices.
  • Standardization of Bluetooth technology on all car stereos to stream music and make handsfree calls.
  • Many others!

The best head units don't just create high quality sound, they incorporate the latest trends in digital tech. All to make listening to your music simple and easy. Below you'll find our top pick car stereos that embrace the swift changes in audio and digital technology. Check back in frequently for updates, as new products get released and added!

Here's our list of the top rated car stereo head units of 2016. Click a receiver to go to the full review, or just scroll down to view all of the reviews:

Best Single Din Car Stereos | Top 6 Head Units

Car Stereo Head UnitPower HandlingEQPriceBuy Now
1. Pioneer DEH-X8800BHSRMS: 14W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
13 Band$$ Buy Now
2. Kenwood Excelon KDC-X799RMS: 22W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
5 Band$$ Buy Now
3. Pioneer DEH-80PRSRMS: 14W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
16 Band$$$ Buy Now
4. JVC KD-R970BTSRMS: 22W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
13 Band$ Buy Now
5. Alpine CDE-164BTRMS: 18W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
9 Band$$$ Buy Now
6. Kenwood KDC-BT758HDRMS: 22W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
7 Band$$$ Buy Now

Who Is This Review For?

There are many things that can warrant upgrading your car stereo's head unit. You may need a way to integrate Bluetooth calling and music streaming. Or you might want to be able to use Pandora or Spotify in your car to give you control over your music. You might have purchased a used car that doesn't integrate with your smartphone at all and needs an updated unit. Or you may not like the features of your car stereo's current unit. In any case, upgrading your receiver can give you the latest technology. It'll integrate with the most popular and user-friendly applications. And a new receiver won't just add a new style to your dash, it'll improve your in-car experience. But just because you'd like to upgrade your car's stereo with a new and improved receiver doesn't mean you can.

There are two types of head units on the market today: single-DIN and double-DIN. If your car's dash has a double-DIN opening, you can fit both a single-DIN and double-DIN. However, if it is a single-DIN you can only fit a single-DIN receiver. You'll need to find out which size your car can fit in order to choose the right one.

For those who have cars that are newer than 10 years, your car may have multiple screens in different places on your dash. These screens could be controlled by different systems (and not just your audio). This could complicate your installation. In some cases, replacing your car stereo may even break functionality of the other screens on your dash. But for those who have cars 10 years or older and don't have multiple screens with different systems powering them, your install and upgrade is pretty simple.

How We Tested

In order to find the best car stereo, we've combined several reviews across the industry with first-hand tests. There are many criteria that we consider when rating and reviewing each car stereo. Including:

  • Style (Looks, Design)
  • Display Type (LCD, Dotted, LCD Text, etc.)
  • Features (Bluetooth, Smartphone Compatibility, Equalizer, etc)
  • Power Ratings (Peak, RMS)
  • Price
  • Expandability (# of RCAs, XM/Sirius Read, Steering Wheel Control Ready, etc)
  • Quality (Materials used, manufacturer, etc)
  • Online Reviews (From multiple vendors such as Sonic Electronix, Crutchfield, Amazon and more)

The result from our combination of sources and testing is a list of the top rated and reviewed head units. And in addition to our list of best rated products, we provide a price comparisons from vendors to get you the best deal. But in the end, the best car stereo is one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your car.

Looking for a Head Unit with even more features? Check out CarAudioNow's Best In-Dash Car DVD Players for units that you can watch your favorite movies on. Or our Best In-Dash GPS Navigation Players to add GPS Navigation AND movie watching to your dash! We also recommend upgrading your car's speakers with your car stereo with one of our Best 6.5" Car Speakers.

The Best Car Stereos List

Editor's Rating:

5 Stars

- Single Din CD Receiver With AM/FM Radio
- Output: 14 watts (RMS) x 4 channels
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 13 Band Equalizer

Amazon Logo$175.00

Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS Quick Review:

The best car stereos can be described as one that meets the desires of audiophiles in terms of power, function, and aesthetics. Among best car stereos, it’s hard to beat the Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS.

But there’s more to this CD receiver than what meets the eye. Granted, its appearance is nondescript and traditional. As soon as you turn on this stereo is nothing short of amazing. Starting with the aesthetics, the X8800BHS gives you the option of dual-zone color illumination, allowing you to customize the text colors on your screen. This gives you have an extensive color combination range of over 210,000. In addition, the unit has a 10-level brightness control, helping you create the perfect visual setting.

In terms of audio, the Pioneer DEH-X8800 delivers solid. Some of the key features that qualify the X8800 with the best car stereo tag include:

  • Built-in Dual Bluetooth, you have:
  • Wideband Handsfree 1.6
  • Audio streaming
  • Access to Siri Eyes Free, Pandora, Spotify, Android Music Support

But there are other features that complete the system which makes the Pioneer DEH-X8800 the best car stereo. Including:

  • Built-in MOSFET amp
  • AM/FM/CD, and HD Radio with 100% free subscription on selected stations
  • MIXTRAX for DJ-inspired technology
  • FLAC playback
  • Compatibility with several audio files such as WAV, WMA, AAC, and MP3
  • 13-band Equalizer with 7 preset curves
  • 3 pairs of preamp outputs.

The system also has a remote control, giving you control of the head unit without laying a finger on it. It's compatible with most steering wheel controls, has a 12-month warranty, and is CEA-2006 compliant. Toss in that the fact that you can link two phones to the unit at once and the ability to use Guest Mode for a third phone. You’ll understand why we think this is one of the best car stereos in the market. Truth is, you don’t need anything else to create a great in-car experience!

Editor's Rating:

5 Stars

- Single Din CD Receiver With AM/FM Radio
- Output: 22 watts (RMS) x 4 channels
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 5 Band Equalizer

Amazon Logo$252.00

Sonic Logo$179.99

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X799 Quick Review:

The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X799 car stereo is designed with the latest technology. It's built to integrate with all of your favorite music applications. You can connect your iPod or iPhone or other device to the front-panel USB input. This makes searching, scrolling and playing music easy and right from the unit. It’s compatible with Pandora Internet and iHeart radio and gives you built-in controls. Simply thumbs up or down your music right from the unit. Have an Android? The KDC-X799 is also compatible with Android and enables music control directly from the head unit. And for satellite radio subscribers, you can enjoy all of your favorite stations from coast to coast.

If you are looking to upgrade all of your car's stereo components, the KDC-X799 is an excellent choice. It comes with 4-volt RCA outputs that will give your amplifiers the strong signal they need to perform well. And, it also comes with a 3-band parametric equalizer. This allows you to tweak the high, mid and low end frequencies to optimize your car’s speaker setup.

Editor's Rating:

4.8 Stars

- Single Din CD Receiver With AM/FM Radio
- Output: 14 watts (RMS) x 4 channels
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 16 Band Equalizer

Amazon Logo$279.98

Sonic Logo$279.99

Pioneer DEH-80PRS Quick Review:

In the market for a head unit with a solid performance and wicked sound? Definitely consider Pioneer DEH-80PRS. We place this Pioneer model among the best car stereos today because of it’s simple yet powerful features. It rival even the newer models that boast more modern functionality.

If you are like most music lovers, you would want a car stereo with a full sound. One that's built with high quality parts and components. You also want one that's carried by one of the most respected names in the music stereo industry. The DEH-80PRS is just that.

The Pioneer DEH-80PRS is not without its goodies. For instance, you have Android support and hands-free Bluetooth connectivity, which recognizes compressed audio files. It boasts clean sound thanks to the Pioneer 40later circuit board, which reduces the internal noise with copper foil. Combined with a set of 3 24-bit D/A converters to capture the low, mid, and high ranges and you have outstanding clarity.

We were impressed with the 16-band EQ which allows for independent output adjustment on both the left and right channels. And when tested the Pioneer DEH-80PRS, we noticed that it has Auto Time Alignment so you avoid static and garbled audio.

Aside from Bluetooth to access your apps, you also have:

  • CD playback
  • 2 Rear USB outputs
  • 2 Rear aux inputs
  • SD card slot

The Pioneer DEH-80PRS is already great out of the box. But it could even be greater when you spend time tweaking it to your satisfaction. What makes this unit quite spectacular and one of the best car stereos is the customization options you have in adjusting the audio. And being able to customize without having to run to your nearest Pioneer dealer. It’s user-friendly and designed to last for a great many years!

Editor's Rating:

4.8 Stars

- Single Din CD Receiver With AM/FM Radio
- Output: 22 watts (RMS) x 4 channels
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 13 Band Equalizer

Amazon LogoClick For Price

Sonic Logo$116.95

JVC KD-R970BTS Quick Review:

JVC is known worldwide for its excellence in sound fidelity, overall appearance and quality of their products. Especially their car receivers. The JVC KD-R970BTS is the ‘second’ best car stereo among the JVC car receivers. The only difference between this unit and the top of the line JVC unit, the 975BTS, is two USB ports in the 975BTS and the higher price tag. So, if you don’t need more than 1 USB port, you're a better deal with the 970BTS.

The 970BTS offers satellite radio, Internet access, and many other ways to listen to music. This range of listening options combined with the JVC sound system means real value for your money. True value without settling for less than outstanding audio sound. This JVC model is also fancier in the sense that it has 3 zone color settings on the detachable front panel. It also comes with 50 preset patterns and 32 colors which make a bold, personalized style statement.

The top features of this single DIN best car head unit:

  • 13-band graphic equalizer and 8 tone curves
  • 50W x 4 channel MAX /22W x 4 channel RMS built-in MOSFET amplifier
  • Sirius XM, iHeart Radio
  • Accepts MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, and FLAC files
  • Android, iPhone, and iPod friendly with Siri Eyes Free Call
  • Bluetooth Auto Pairing for wireless audio and call streaming with wired microphone
  • Capable of linking 2 phones at the same time
  • Steering Remote Ready
  • Rapid smartphone charging

Performance-wise, the 970BTS is among the best plug-and-play stereo receivers. It has the much-envied K2 technology. This optimizes the sound quality by stretching the frequency range and bit rate. The result is clear sound that doesn’t require you to fiddle with the control.

Editor's Rating:

4.7 Stars

- Single Din CD Head Unit With AM/FM Radio
- Output: 18 watts (RMS) x 4 channels
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 9 Band Equilizer With Zone Control

Amazon Logo$226.78

Sonic Logo$199.95

Alpine CDE-164BT Quick Review:

The Alpine CDE-164BT is all about high-quality audio with innovative features. Combined with the TuneIt 2.5 app for smartphones, the CDE-164BT is an incredible acoustic tool. This Alpine includes features such as a touchscreen interface, hands-free calling, and audio streaming. It offers several Bluetooth technologies like the A2DP, AVRCP, and HFP. It has controls for bass, volume, treble, balance and fader and comes with a microphone. The display has three custom colors: red, blue, and green and the receiver supports WMA, MP3, and AAC.

Some of the other outstanding features of this best car head unit are:

  • Compatible with Pandora, Internet radio, Sirius satellite radio, iPhone and iPod
  • CD Text capable
  • Detachable faceplate
  • 9 band equalizer with 10 presets
  • 80 dB signal to noise ratio
  • 50 Watts x 4 Max power or 18 Watts x 4 Continuous power
  • Front USB port, front and rear channel output, audio line-in, subwoofer output

Considering all the features you get with this head unit, it is no question that it's among the best. Add in an attractive price and proven reliability, and you have a qualified car stereo. It's safe to say that the only frustration you may encounter with the Alpine CDE-164BT is the lack of a remote. But other than that it’s an amazing product that will give you dynamic and clear output for years.

Editor's Rating:

4.7 Stars

- Single Din CD Receiver With AM/FM Radio
- Output: 22 watts (RMS) x 4 channels
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 7 Band Equilizer With Zone Cont

Amazon Logo$169.45

Sonic Logo$209.95

Kenwood KDC-BT958HD Quick Review:

The Kenwood KDC-BT958HD lands on our list of best car stereo for many reasons. For one, it delivers more than what you would expect from a single DIN head unit. Its minimalist design and array of features make it a perfect choice for listening to music on the road.

Unlike many other stereo receivers, the Kenwood KDC-BT958HD has a removable faceplate. It has an intuitive USB folder navigation with several shuffle settings for easy music navigation. It also has Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, mood display, and dust covers. It features that signature Kenwood audio sound with its focus on mid-high, highs, and sub-lows.

Some of the other stand-out features of this unit include:

  • 3 line LCD
  • Easy rotary control and Direct Key (TEL)
  • Accepts AAC, WMA, MP3 and can play CD-RW, CD-R, and CD discs
  • 2 USB ports (front and rear), 1 Auxiliary port, 3 pre-amp outputs
  • Two memory audio setting
  • Compatible with iPod, iPad, and iPhone and the Siri Eyes Free with built-in controls
  • Compatible with Pandora, Sirius satellite radio, iHeart and Aha
  • 7 band equalizer with sound reconstruction and high and low-pass crossover

The Kenwood KDC-BT958HD is remarkably sleek, stylish and delivers incredible sound quality. Its versatility is what you would expect from a top-of-the-line car receiver. The only shortcoming we found is the lack of a full instruction manual. However, you can access one by downloading one from the website of Kenwood. On a scale of 1 to 10, this one gets the top score. It's an excellent choice and upgrade to your car stereo.

Best Car Stereos & Head Units: What To Look For

Every car requires a unique combination of car stereo components to sound great. A car stereo may sound excellent in one car, but sound terrible in another. Additionally, the limitations in size and wiring configuration make selecting the best car stereo even more difficult for you.
The best car stereos will give you the features you love while conforming to the environment of your car and create an excellent reproduction of the music that you love. With the right car stereo, you'll be able to custom tailor frequencies to your car, integrate your favorite music/media device, connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and much more.
At CarAudioNow, we use multiple key criteria when rating products in our top lists, including our Best Car Stereos and Head Units. Below is a list of criteria that we take into consideration while choosing the best car stereos for your vehicle.

Power Ratings

Power ratings are extremely important feature to consider while choosing a car stereo. Without an external amplifier, the power output of the car stereo is what dictates the power of your speakers and ultimately the power of sound. There are typically two power output ratings that are given with car stereos:

  • Max Power Output: Max power rating is the maximum amount of power that the car stereo can emit for short periods of time. It is the maximum amount of power that will be sent to your speakers (without an external amplifier)
  • RMS (Continuous) Power Output: RMS power rating is the amount of power that the car stereo can emit at a constant or continuous rate. This is the most important power output rating.

Along with power handling and output, the level of control of the output sound's shape is also very important. This control is typically made through a built-in equalizer (EQ). It will allow you to tailor the shape of sound, raising or lowering the level of certain frequencies in order to best optimize the output sound for the environment of your car. The higher the number of bands that the car stereo's equalizer has, the more you will be able to customize the frequencies and shape of your music and sound.

Display

Display features play a huge role in how stylish and user-friendly car stereos are. High end car stereos will have a high LED pixel count, and give customizable features like color and brightness in order to match the color of your interior.

Playback

Playback can be defined as the methods that your car stereo is capable of playing back audio. CD, DVD, MP3, HD Radio, Pandora, Auxiliary (Aux) Ports, Bluetooth; these are all examples of playback types that the best car stereos will typically have.
You will want to make sure that the playback methods that you intend on using is consistent with the playback features of the car stereo. Otherwise, you may be stuck with a head unit that doesn't play your music in the format that you have it. Here is a breakdown of the most popular playback features in the best car stereos:

  • HD Radio: HD Radio is the same radio stations that you listen to, but with a higher audio quality and more metadata than tradition radio. Metadata includes titles, artists, albums and more.
  • CD Player: CD players will play your favorite CDs in multiple formats, including CD,CD-R/RW, MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA.
  • Auxiliary (Aux) Port: Auxiliary ports allow you to connect any music device that you may have using a headphone connector. Typically, the best car stereos will have an auxiliary port on the front of the unit.
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth music allows you to connect to your music on a smartphone or other bluetooth enabled device, playing all of your music wirelessly from your device via a Bluetooth connection.
  • USB Port: A USB port will allow you to connect your music devices via a USB connection. It will allow you to listen to your favorite music from your device, while charging it for endless listen time.
  • XM Radio: XM radio is satellite radio such as SiriusXM, that allows you to connect and listen to thousands of channels of radio via a satellite connection. This increases the coverage of radio that you have, however requires a paid subscription.

Smartphone Integration

All of the best car stereos allow you to fully integrate with your smartphone, enabling the best features such as Pandora and Spotify while allowing you to answer phone calls without touching your smartphone. With recent legislation prohibiting you from using your phones while driving, it is becoming increasingly important for the best car stereos to fully integrate with your smartphone. Additionally, they will come with microphones with noise-canceling technology that will hone in on your voice and eliminate road noise.

Expandability

Expandability is what allows you to connect external components to your car stereo. The best car stereos will have at least three 4volt RCA outputs (Front, Rear, Subwoofer), Audio/Video (AV) input/outputs, rear view camera inputs (with compatible displays) and a microphone input.

Looking for deals and specials on single din car stereos? Find special prices for the latest car stereos HERE!

5 Comments to “Best Car Stereos 2017 | Top Single Din Head Units”

  1. Dariushsays :Reply

    Hi ! Which one is 32-bit ?

  2. Hi ! What is the best car stereo bluetooth please ?

  3. Cedric Robertsays :Reply

    These car radios aren’t cheap, you can find many at under $40 on amazon.

    1. Usucksays :Reply

      The aren’t cheap because they are actually good.. moron.

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