Car Stereo & Head Unit Lists

Best iDatalink Compatible Car Stereos in 2024

Best iDatalink Compatible Car Stereos in 2024

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In this article: We'll review our best iDatalink compatible head unit picks for your car or truck with quick reviews, photos, opinion and price comparisons to help you save money.

Most car owners who keep their vehicle long enough will want to upgrade the stereo in their car to access the latest technology, without losing factory controls and integrations. With vehicles staying on the road longer than ever before, the technology that was once top-of-the-line when purchased can now be antiquated. But, upgrading from a factory head unit to an aftermarket car stereo is also more complex than ever. Today, factory head units incorporate numerous integrated features, from steering wheel controls to built-in navigation, to climate control functions making it difficult to upgrade. Luckily, aftermarket stereos can now integrate these features. But making the connection and getting all the desired features to work requires significant alteration of factory wiring if you don’t have the right tools and adapters.

To answer the call for needed connectivity, iDatalink created the Maestro module adapter. The adapter simplifies the connections between factory wiring and an aftermarket stereo head units. While many aftermarket stereos can be set up to use an iDatalink Maestro module adapter, only a few are designed specifically to make the connection.

Only a select few companies build stereos that are out-of-the-box ready for the iDatalink Maestro unit. This includes Alpine, JVC, Kenwood, Pioneer, and Sony. They provide numerous options for the aftermarket stereo enthusiast wanting to install a modern stereo in an integrated car.

Selecting the best iDatalink-ready head unit can be an overwhelming task. Many of the head units are similar, but which one is the best for your car? We did the tough task for you and dug through hundreds of reviews, contacted manufacturers, and narrowed down which head units are the best.

Most of the companies that make iDatalink Maestro-compatible head units also make head units that are vehicle specific. If you own a 2014-newer Dodge Ram, Jeep Wrangler, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado, or a Toyota truck, start searching for an excellent upgrade by looking at head units designed to fit the dash of your truck for a factory appearance.

Below, we will look at each manufacturer's best iDatalink Maestro-ready head units.

Key Features

  • 10.1” LCD resistive touch screen
  • 1280×780 screen resolution, 16:9 aspect
  • Tilt, up, out adjustability
  • Single-din double layer chassis
  • LDAC-equipped
  • ESS D/A converter
  • Audiophile-grade components
  • 55wx4 factory power rating
  • 14-band EQ, 8-band parametric EQ per channel
  • Three sets of 5v pre outs (Front L&R, Rear L&R, Sub L&R)
  • Dual camera input
  • Rear USB-C
  • iDataLink Maestro-ready
  • Built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, includes GPS antenna

Latest Prices

Sony XAV-9500ES Quick Review

See our Sony XAV-9500ES unbox and feature review article for the full review.

The world of high-fidelity stereo is finally almost upon us. For audiophiles who lament the lack of depth, clarity, and realism from car audio, Sony is bringing the XAV-9500ES to market in November 2021. This brand-new, massive receiver incorporates Sony’s proprietary LDAC technology that enables decoding of wireless content from a compatible source. This Sony XAV-9500ES in-depth review will share all of the features we already know about ahead of the release date.

High Resolution Audio

If you are one of those people who can barely stand to listen to streaming music in the car because of the lack of quality, this receiver is going to be one of your favorite new products. Even though many devices on the market are capable of playing lossless files like FLAC, very few receivers have the power to properly decode the source signal to take advantage of all the extra data included.

The 9500ES is capable of playing audio files up to 192 kHz/ 24 bit for unbelievable realism and dynamic sound unlike anything you’ve heard in a car stereo before. The LDAC technology was developed through Sony’s extensive experience in home theater sound and it’s perfect for the discerning listener that demands the finest quality of audio around.

Sony uses an advanced ESS digital-to-analog converter that processes information at 32 bit and eliminates timing jitter. The chipset allows this receiver to produce more full sounding bass notes without harmonic distortion. Throughout the construction of the unit, Sony has gone the extra mile to ensure the highest quality of audio playback. Dedicated choke coils enhance bass while stopping unwanted frequencies and audiophile-grade capacitors and multi-layer polymer capacitors provide the most natural sounding audio you’ve heard from a car stereo.

Display

The 9500ES sports a massive 10.1-inch floating touch screen that’s gapless for a smooth viewing experience and to maximize the usable screen. The LCD display is bonded to the protective glass screen with a special adhesive that gives the user a smoother and more precise touch experience. The display mounts to the receiver with a slick, adjustable bracket. The screen can be adjusted up, out, and tilt to accommodate a variety of dash designs and user seating positions.

Chassis Design Features

The 9500ES takes the task of producing hi-res audio to an extreme. The chassis is a dual-layer design that eliminates resonance and prevents electro-magnetic interference. The single-din chassis makes installation simple in a variety of cars and trucks.

Customizable Installation

You can really tell the direction that Sony engineers wanted to take this receiver when you look at the functionality of the connection options. The ESS and other processing chips allow for independent channel processing and time-alignment, which means you can tailor your front, rear, and subwoofer speakers perfectly so that sound reaches you at the same time, regardless of how far from the speakers you are.

The 9500ES has a built-in 14-band equalizer that adjusts the entire sound from the system while each of the available six channels have independent 8-band parametric adjustability. A built-in three way crossover gives you even more control over which speakers are fed the proper frequencies to allow for one of the most custom installations possible in a sleek package.

Advanced Connectivity

Many stereos out there have built-in access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but few can do it entirely wirelessly. The receiver uses built-in WiFi along with an included GPS antenna to wirelessly connect to your compatible phone. That means there are no more wires and cables cluttering the console and no more fumbling with the phone to press the voice button.

The connectivity ease makes using navigation, answering your phone, and responding to text messages through Siri or Assistant pleasurable.

iDataLink Maestro Ready

Installation of aftermarket receivers continues to become a bigger challenge due to the integration of various factory functions with the factory head unit. The 9500ES is ready to use iDataLink Maestro adapters that are engineered specifically to work with your vehicle. The adapter offers even more than just connectivity, it can allow you to display a wide range of metrics on your display, including things like oil temperature and pressure, tire pressure, transmission temperature, along with real-time monitoring of check engine light alerts. This is a simply amazing accessory for any modern car.

Reasons to Buy
  • Amazing, huge screen that is simple to use
  • Hi-res car audio at last
  • Excellent range of features mimic home theater equipment
Reasons Not to Buy
  • No video/multimedia features
Alpine Halo9 iLX-F509
Alpine Halo9 iLX-F509 carplay
Alpine Halo9 iLX-F509 front
Alpine Halo9 iLX-F509 angle
Alpine Halo9 iLX-F509 rear

Key Features

  • 9” capacitive touch LCD high-resolution screen with adjustable mounting angles
  • 1280×720 resolution
  • Fits single-DIN dash openings
  • Wired and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Built-in iPod/iPad controls
  • Tidal app ready
  • HD Radio
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Basic and advanced 13-band EQ
  • Six-channel time correction
  • Dual rear USB connections, single HDMI connection
  • Six-channel 4v preamp outputs

Latest Prices

Alpine Halo9 iLX-F509 Quick Review

The Alpine Halo9-series of car stereos introduced enthusiasts to the “floating” screen, and an opportunity to go really big when it comes time to upgrade from your factory radio or obsolete aftermarket unit. The newest version is the iLX-F509 was introduced in February 2023 to replace the previous F309 and F409 models. It carries the 9-inch screen but crams a lot more pixels into the space and increases resolution to take advantage of the numerous connectivity options. 

Display

The display of the Halo9 iLX-F509 is obviously the first thing you notice about this highly-advanced head unit. The screen floats beyond the dash rather than filling a bezel on the dash like traditional stereos. This design gives your car a futuristic appearance and allows for a much larger screen that can tilt and adjust to provide ideal line-of-sight. The display offers a 1280×720 resolution, so icons and album artwork are clear and easy to see. The iLX-F509 is a multimedia command center that can play DVDs and video files when the vehicle is parked. 

Chassis Design Features

One of the unique features of the Halo9-series is the modular construction. The screen and the control box are separate pieces which allows the display to be mounted above, below, or to the side of the two-inch, single-DIN control box. That means this head unit can be installed in almost any vehicle, and the screen can be adjusted for the best view while avoiding climate controls and other essential functions built into the dash. The display can tilt 45-degrees forward and 20-degrees back during installation. 

Customizable Installation

One of car audio enthusiasts' most frequent complaints about the new generation of touchscreen stereos is the lack of a physical volume dial. While this head unit lacks a knob, it does offer a way to add a wireless volume or subwoofer level control that you can mount practically anywhere. The knob uses built-in Bluetooth to provide greater flexibility than most head units we’ve seen in recent years. 

Advanced Connectivity Options

Alpine offers both wired and wireless options for connecting to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for a seamless hands-free experience. Voice commands are initiated by pressing a physical button on the frame of the screen. Wireless connections are stable and use the latest BLuetooth protocol for rock-solid performance. 

We were impressed to see that Alpine includes HD Radio functionality and built-in performance for the Tidal app to allow streaming of over 90 million songs in high-fidelity. The iLX-F509 is compatible with lossless formats such as flac for even more options to get the most faithful sound. 

iDataLink Maestro Compatibility

The Halo9 iLX-F509 comes ready to roll with your iDataLink Maestro adapter that allows simple connections to steering wheel controls, climate control features, and numerous other features that are often a challenge to retain when installing even the best aftermarket car stereos. The adapter does more than just connect your options -it also can open opportunities for real-time monitoring of various vehicle systems and sensors.

Reasons to Buy
  • One of the best looking designs we’ve seen
  • High-resolution display and high-definition audio combine for great looks and sound
  • Provides video and multimedia playback
Reasons Not to Buy
  • Only works with Alpine backup cameras without an adapter
  • Screen cannot be adjusted once unit is installed due to location of mounting screws

JVC KW-V960BW

JVC KW-V960BW wireless apple carplay head unit with dvd player
JVC KW-V960BW carplay maps
JVC KW-V960BW carplay map direction on screen
JVC KW-V960BW angle view
JVC KW-V960BW rear view of head unit

Key Features

  • 6.8” capacitive touchscreen
  • 800×480 resolution
  • Double-DIN chassis
  • CD/DVD player
  • K2 Sound Optimization Technology
  • Time and space alignment
  • High-resolution audio 
  • 24-bit processor
  • Wireless Android Auto & Apple CarPlay
  • Bluetooth built-in
  • 22 watts RMS/ 50 watts max
  • Six 5v preouts
  • Dual rear USB
  • 4 camera inputs

Latest Prices

JVC KW-V960BW Quick Review

The JVC KW-V960BW is a top-of-the-line double-DIN car stereo option that also plays CDs and DVDs. It adds features we rarely see – like the ability to connect up to four cameras, along with tech that we expect from a high-end head unit today – particularly, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The KW-V960BW is ready for iDataLink Maestro adapters for a seamless installation in modern vehicles. 

Display

The 6.8” clear resistive touchscreen produces a bright and visible display, though it is at the lower end of resolution at 800×480. The CD/DVD player is above the display with volume and a microphone button on either side. The lack of buttons gives the display a modern and clean appearance that will look correct in most dashes.

JVC’s Dynamic Graphical User Interface (GUI) gives you six different screens with information like digital spectrum analyzers, custom photos, and special designs to take full advantage of iDataLink Maestro features. The display can be split into two separate screens using a two-finger swipe. The stereo offers a live wallpaper setting that coordinates lights and color with the music you are playing.

Chassis Design Features

THe JVC KW-V960BW is a standard double-DIN chassis that measures 7” wide by 3-15/16” tall by 6-⅛” deep not including the space needed for the wiring in the back. If your car has a factory standard double-DIN, this will fit, but it might not work with applications requiring a slim chassis. The full-size chassis makes it possible for the stereo to play discs and has a large fan on the rear to provide ventilation.  

The KW-V590BW provides three pairs of five volt preouts and connections for up to four cameras that work with factory and aftermarket systems. Dual rear USB inputs, a microphone, and an included GPS antenna connect at the rear of the unit. 

Customizable Installation Options

The large size and deep chassis of the KW-V960BW means that installation options are limited. Instead, JVC allows you to customize the sound through advanced sound processing features. JVC’s K2 Sound Optimization technology helps upconvert compressed sources like CDs to produce high-resolution audio. The KW-V960BW uses LDAC technology to process three times as much data through a Bluetooth connection, resulting in higher-quality sound. 

The KW-V590BW will transform your listening experience using several technologies that compensate for poor factory speaker placement. Sound lifting elevates the sound to compensate for low speakers, while time alignment ensures that each speaker's sound is in alignment with the others. An on-board 13 band EQ provides independent adjustment of frequencies beyond preset options. The result is clean, clear, crisp sound that is customizable for any vehicle. 

Advanced Connectivity Options

JVC includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in this car stereo. You can quickly and easily connect using your favorite hands-free driving assistant. An included microphone and the voice button make it simple to change songs, get weather reports, and connect to other smart devices. Two devices can connect simultaneously to make answering calls from either device simple. 

JVC’s Streaming DJ allows up to five Bluetooth devices to connect simultaneously so your friends can get in on the road-trip tunes. Automatic pairing makes linking an Android or iOS phone a matter of connecting to one of the USB ports. Once the pairing is complete, the stereo will automatically pair the next time both devices are in range. 

The USB is also used for screen mirroring for either Android of iPhone devices. This is a useful feature for accessing your favorite navigation program and can also be used for playing videos from a device when the vehicle is parked. 

iDataLink Maestro Connectivity

The JVC KW-V960BW is one of our favorite devices for the split-screen options when using the iDataLink Maestro adapter. The adapter allows for an unprecedented level of data and information, and the split screen lets you monitor that data at the same time as running a navigation app or your favorite streaming app. Getting all of your factory functions is simplified with the adapter, and its the best way to retain factory options when installing a custom head unit. 

Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent GUI that gives users tons of options for accessing information 
  • Sound optimization technology enhances audio performance
  • The addition of a DVD player provides more entertainment options
Reasons Not to Buy
  • The lack of HD radio seems like a missed opportunity for an otherwise high-end stereo
  • No HDMI input limits the connectivity options
  • The chassis is very large and requires plenty of space behind the unit for proper installation

Kenwood DMX-9708S

Kenwood DMX-9708S
Kenwood DMX-9708S android auto
Kenwood DMX-9708S apple carplay
Kenwood DMX-9708S rear
Kenwood DMX-9708S in box

Key Features

  • 6.95” capacitive touch screen
  • Double-DIN chassis
  • 800×480 resolution
  • Built-in Bluetooth & WiFi
  • Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Rear USB, HDMI, RCA inputs 
  • Connects up to four cameras
  • 22 watts x 4 channels RMS/ 50 watts max
  • MOSFET amplifier built-in
  • 24 bit digital-to-analog signal processor
  • Vehicle tuning features

Latest Prices

Kenwood DMX-9708S Quick Review

The Kenwood DMX9708S boasts a 6.95” capacitive touch screen and a slew of features that enhance the listening experience. Drivers looking for a factory upgrade that can use an iDataLink Maestro adapter to retain factory features will appreciate the connectivity options and modern conveniences this car stereo offers. 

Display

Kenwood’s 6.95” touchscreen bears a lot of similarity to the screen on the JVC KW-V9600BW because the two companies are essentially one and the same. We’ve seen many cases where technology and components are either shared or very similar. The DMX9708S offers the same 800×480 resolution and a pixel density of 1.15 million as the JVC KW-V9600BW. We would have liked to see a higher-resolution display from Kenwood at this tier of car stereo (and at the price point). Touchscreen capabilities are excellent, and the display is responsive and quick when making selections. Glare was somewhat of an issue in bright, direct light, but wasn’t worse than most of the touchscreen car stereos we’ve seen in recent years. 

The layout of physical buttons runs along the bottom of the frame and includes volume, attenuation, a centrally-located home button, menu, split-screen, and voice commands. The menu button is redundant with an icon on the screen. 

Chassis Design Features

The DMX9708S uses a double-DIN chassis that measures 7” wide by 3-15/16” tall by 3-⅜” deep, making it a good choice for vehicle’s with limited space in the dash. The rear of the chassis offers dual USB inputs and an HDMI input, AUX inputs, and the ability to connect four external cameras. 4V preouts for front, rear, and subwoofer lines make expansion possible. 

Customizable Installation Options

The Kenwood DMX9708S has a shallow chassis that enables easy installation in any standard double-DIN dash opening. There is no adjustment for viewing angle, so you are stuck with what your vehicle manufacturer gave you. 

Kenwood provides a series of settings to enable you to customize how the DMX9708S sounds in your car or truck. The car stereo has user-defined settings for vehicle type, speaker size and location, listening position, and digital time alignment. A 13-band EQ provides presets, customizability, and a feature called Drive EQ that compensates for road noise. 

Front & rear channels have a built-in high and low pass crossover system to filter frequencies to the proper speakers. A low pass crossover is built into the subwoofer channel to enhance bass response from a dedicated woofer. We always like to see this type of functionality in head units that are going to be used with aftermarket car amplifiers to simplify tuning directly on the amps.

Advanced Connectivity Options

Kenwood includes wired and wireless options for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to simplify streaming music. Pairing devices is simple using the USB connector, and once a device is paired the DMX9708S will remember the connection and automatically pair the next time the device is in range. 

Both rear USB ports provide playback from USB thumb drives and both ports can be used simultaneously, but playback is only available from one device at a time. The USB ports can use an Apple Lightning connector adapter, but only one Lightning connector can be connected at once. 

Bluetooth connections pair up to two devices at once to provide on-screen phone calls from either device. Kenwood and JVC share technology to allow up to five devices to be connected simultaneously for music streaming using the new Music Mix feature. Screen mirroring is provided through the Kenwood app of iOS or Android and MiraCast for Android. 

iDataLink Maestro Compatibility

The Kenwood DMX9708S is an excellent upgrade for modern cars using an iDataLink Maestro adapter. The head unit is designed to work out-of-the-box with the adapter to retain factory features and enhance the driving experience by providing access to several driver safety and vehicle monitoring options. The car stereo can provide on-screen information from K40 or Escort-brand radar detectors.

Reasons to Buy
  • Simple, easy, and reliable wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connections
  • Convenient home screen icons make switching sources and accessing menus fast
  • Great way to take advantage of multiple cameras for added driver safety
Reasons Not to Buy
  • Disappointing screen resolution with too much glare in many applications
  • Buttons on frame are intrusive and are unnecessary due to redundancy

Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX

Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX recommended gps navigation for uber drivers
Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX android auto
Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX rear

Key Features

  • 6.94” capacitive touchscreen
  • Double-DIN chassis
  • Plays CDs and DVDs, SD cards
  • Navigation receiver with included GPS antenna
  • Dual rear USB, HDMI, and AV inputs
  • Dual zone video playback
  • Rear camera input
  • Wired and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Works with Amazon Alexa, Siri Eyes Free, and Android Auto for voice control
  • Front, rear, subwoofer preouts, 4v
  • 22 watts RMS x 4 channels/ 50 watts peak
  • HD Radio
  • iDataLink Maestro RR-ready

Latest Prices

Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX Quick Review

Drivers who want a car stereo that enhances the driving experience with excellent sound quality, and built-in navigation will find a lot to like about Pioneer’s flagship AVIC-W8600NEX head unit. It provides high-end features with excellent audio quality and the convenience of connecting with the latest modern vehicle features through an iDataLink Maestro adapter. Add the ability to play DVDs or CDs and built-in HD radio, and you have an ideal car stereo for drivers who need the most features in the car. 

Display

The AVIC-W8600NEX is a 6.94” capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 800×480. Like other car stereos on this list with the same resolution, having a higher resolution for watching videos would be nice. The multi-touch function is great for navigation when you want to zoom in on the details of an intersection and for quickly and easily shuffling sources, stations, and songs. The home page is customizable to allow the most-used sources to be located on the main page or to add widgets. The background is selectable between any of five key colors to one of 112  button illumination colors. You can also upload a still image to use as a background wallpaper. 

Chassis Design

The AVIC-W9600NEX uses a standard double-DIN chassis requiring at least 7” of space behind the dash panel. The large size is due to the CD/DVD player that is cleverly hidden behind the display. The motorized display drops to allow discs to be inserted and provides access to SD card storage. The back of the chassis features three pairs of four volt preouts for front, rear, and subwoofer levels. Dual USB and an HDMI input provide a means for playing stored music, video files or accessing apps on-screen. The AVIC-W8600NEX offers a rear camera input, and one of the A/V inputs can also be used for a second camera. 

Customized Installation Options

As with other fixed-screen head units, the angle of viewing is limited to your vehicle's dash and there are not any features to allow for tilt or side-to-side angling for an improved view of the screen. Unfortunately, this limitation is common and can be a challenge to overcome in vehicles with oddly-placed factory head units. 

The AVIC-W8600NEX provides several customizable options for enhancing your vehicle's sound and video output. The stereo can provide dual-zone video so you can send information from the head unit to a rear monitor to entertain backseat passengers while retaining navigation and other features on the screen. The unit provides one of the easiest tuning programs around and automatically adjusts for time and space delays while configuring output to maximize the speakers in your car.

Advanced Connectivity Options

The AVIC-W8600NEX offers both wired and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connections for the most accessible and most convenient hands-free driving experience possible. Built-in Bluetooth and WiFi make it a snap to pair your device and hit the road. WebLink allows drivers to control third-party apps like YouTube directly on the touchscreen. Drivers who use Siri will find Siri Eyes Free for iOS, while Android users can use Certified for WiFi MiraCast to mirror their screen on the head unit’s touchscreen. The AVIC-W9600NEX is compatible with Pandora and Spotify using CarPlay, Android Auto, or Amazon Alexa. 

A knock against this head unit is the lack of ability to pair two or more devices simultaneously. While this might not be a big deal for many, drivers who find themselves with a co-pilot might be turned off by the inability to use either or both phones at once like some of the products on this list offer. 

The dedicated navigation option provides clear, bright maps with tons of information about points-of-interest. While apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps have made some of the navigation receivers obsolete, we think the performance and appearance of the maps on this head unit rival the very best available. An included GPS antenna is required to use the navigation feature.  

iDataLink Maestro Compatibility

The features and functions of this head unit are made even better by including iDataLink Maestro readiness. The optional adapter retains factory functions like steering wheel controls and climate control functions while offering advanced access to vehicle drivetrain data. Data is shown on a dedicated screen, but the AVIC-W8600NEX does not offer a split screen view, so you’ll need to toggle back and forth from the iDataLink screen to change songs or sources. 

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