Best Car GPS Navigation Head Units to Buy In 2019

Stereos & Receivers

CarAudioNow reviews and assembles our unbiased lists of best products independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page. See our Affiliate Disclosure and How We Choose for more details.

There are two main types of GPS Navigation units while navigating to a location in your car: Portable and In-Dash. Portable units can be moved from car to car whenever you like, however in most cases lack several features that an In-Dash Navigation Unit has. The Best In-Dash GPS Navigation will not only direct you to where you'd like to to go, it add several features to your stereo that a portable unit will not, including iPod/iPhone compatibility, Bluetooth, DVD and Video capability, and much more. A truly all-in-one unit, Double Din GPS Navigation units will get you to your destination safely, while adding a whole new level of entertainment to your ride there.

Here is a list of 2019's top rated and reviewed GPS Navigation Head Units to help you choose the best products for your car. Click a receiver to go to the full review, or just scroll down to view all of the reviews:

Our RankCar GPS Navigation ReceiverPower HandlingEQScreen Size (in)Price
1Pioneer AVIC-8201NEXRMS: 14W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
13 Band7"$$$
2Kenwood Excelon DNX893SRMS: 22W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
13 Band6.95"$$$$
3Alpine X108URMS: 18W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
9 Band8"$$$$
4Pioneer AVIC-7201NEXRMS: 14W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
13 Band7"$$$
5Clarion NX706RMS: 18W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
15 Band6.95"$$
6Kenwood DNX574SRMS: 22W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
13 Band6.2"$$$
7Alpine INE-W960RMS: 18W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
9 Band6.1"$$$
8Pioneer AVIC-6201NEXRMS: 14W x 4CH
Peak: 50W x 4CH
13 Band6.2"$$
9Jensen VX7022RMS: 13W x 4CH
Peak: 40W x 4CH
10 Band6.2"$

Who Is This Review For?

There are many cases that can warrant upgrading your car stereo's head unit. You may need to find a way of integrating Bluetooth calling and music streaming. Or you might want to be able to use Pandora or Spotify easily in your car to give you more control over your music. You might have just purchased a used car that doesn't offer any integration with your smartphone at all, and needs an updated unit. Or you might just not like the features and functions of your car stereo's current unit. In any case, upgrading your receiver can give you the latest technology and integrate with the most popular and user-friendly applications, improving your in-car experience. But just because you'd like 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.
Also, for people who have cars that are newer than about 10 years, your car may have multiple screens in different places on your dash that are controlled by different systems (and not just your audio). This will complicate your installation and you might even lose functionality of the screens that are reliant on the head unit you're looking to replace. But for those who have cars that are older than about 10 years that don't have multiple screens with different systems powering them, your installation and upgrade is pretty straight forward.

How We Tested

In order to find the best in-dash GPS navigation receiver, CarAudioNow has combined several reviews across the industry with first-hand tests. There are many criteria that we take into consideration when rating and reviewing each car GPS unit, including:

  • Style (Looks, Design)
  • Display Type (LCD, Dotted, LCD Text, etc.)
  • Features (Bluetooth, GPS, 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 GPS Navigation units. And in addition to our compilation of products, CarAudioNow also provides multiple comparisons of prices from vendors to try to get you the best price for all of your products. But in the end, the best car navigation is one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your car.

And, be sure to take a look through our Easy Guide to Installing a Car Stereo if you do decide to purchase a GPS Navigation Unit and install yourself!

Best In-Dash GPS Navigation List

1. Best Overall: Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX

Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX Best GPS Car Navigation

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD player
  • 7″ motorized touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, iPad and Android control

Price Comparison $926.88
5 new from $926.87
BUY IT BUY IT $724.48
out of stock
Last Amazon price update was: January 17, 2019 7:13 pm

Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX Quick Review

The Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX is Pioneer's flagship GPS navigation receiver because it offers a range of features that collectively outshine and outperform many others in the market. Aside from Apple CarPlay and its counterpart one-cable connection Android Auto, the AVOC-8201NEX also comes with a high-end capacitive 7-inch touchscreen, built-in Bluetooth technologies for streaming and hands-free calling, or messaging, and auto detection for smartphones.  It also features an intuitive and user-friendly interface that cannot be easily matched by other navigation receivers.

Some additional key features:

  • 13-band Graphic Equalizer equipped with the Easy EQ preset equalizer, Auto EQ
  • High and low-pass filters with adjustable crossover
  • MIXTRAX technology
  • Advanced Sound Retriever
  • Plays from DVDs, CDs, USBs, AM/FM, lossless FLAC files from flash drives, and has a built-in HD Radio
  • Compatible with Pandora, Aha Radio, Siri Eyes Free with built-in iPhone, iPod, and iPad controls, MirrorLink, AppRadio, Google Now voice control, SiriusXM
  • 2 rear USB, 2 rear A/V, two camera inputs
  • 6-channel preamp outputs
  • Remote control

If that’s not enough, the AVIC 8201NEX also has free traffic updates, text-to-speech GPS guidance, speed limit guidance, enhanced view and zoom plus maps of over 7.9 million areas. The catch for all these amazing features is the higher price tag, but if you happen to spend a lot of time in your car (long trips, traffic, bored children), the AVIC 8201NEX will be your best buddy on the road. The 8201NEX is the complete package.

  • Distinct, intuitive and user friendly interface
  • Free traffic updates in major cities
  • Plenty of features and compatible with a wide range of controls
  • Dual camera inputs and USB points
  • Lane guidance and speed limit warnings
  • High price tag

2. Best for Entertainment: Kenwood Excelon DNX893S

Kenwood Excelon DNX893S

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD receiver
  • 6.95″ touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, iPad and Android control

Price Comparison $529.99 BUY IT $699.99 BUY IT $959.99
1 new from $959.99
Last Amazon price update was: January 17, 2019 7:11 pm

Kenwood Excelon DNX893S Quick Review

The Kenwood DNX893S navigation receiver is bound to reinforce or revive your love for Kenwood products. It comes with the reliable Garmin system, Bluetooth technology, Apple CarPlay with Siri Eyes Free and voice control, a 6.95-inch resistive touch screen with VGA color LCD and backlight, and an HDMI input for Android devices. One of the features of the DNX893S that stood out to us is the lightning fast USB connection with no downtime or lagging experience with automatic pairing. Plus, you can use up to two phones simultaneously.

Additional key features include:

  • Compatible with Pandora, Internet Radio, Spotify, HD Radio, SiriusXM, iDatalink Maestro, and Miracast wireless mirroring technology
  • Plays CDs, DVDs, FLAC, WAV files and has an SD slot for digital music files
  • 3 programmable shortcuts to your favorite music sources
  • 13-band Equalizer with Drive EQ
  • High and low-pass filters, digital sound enhancer, bass boost
  • Option for 2 cameras and adjustable parking grids for rear-view camera
  • 7 input sources, 6-channel preamp output, rear A/V output
  • 2-year warranty

This model can even integrate the stealth K40 radar detector into the display. You also get two years free subscription to the INRIX traffic service and rapid charge for your Android phone using the USB port. A bonus to why this functional yet stylish navigation receiver gets the top score is the mid-range price that makes it an excellent value-for-money package on a product crafted to work hard and give you years of enjoyable use.

  • Built-in Garmin navigation system
  • Lightning fast USB connection
  • Capable of handling 2 phones simultaneously
  • Plenty of important, additional Smartphone features on board
  • 2 year warranty
  • Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
  • HDMI port sometimes difficult to use
  • Navigation is not voice activated
  • A bit slow to start up

3. Biggest Screen: Alpine X108U

Alpine X108U Best In Dash Car GPS

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & Digital Media receiver (No CDs)
  • 8″ capacitive touchscreen
  • 9-band graphic equalizer
  • 3D representations of buildings, landmarks, and terrain

Price Comparison $1,380.08
5 new from $1,350.00
BUY IT $1,699.99 BUY IT
Last Amazon price update was: January 17, 2019 8:38 am

Alpine X108U Quick Review

Two things to know about this in-dash navigation system from Alpine: first, the screen is really big, and second, there's no CD/DVD drive. Both may or may not be a problem.

The screen measures 8″ diagonally. That extra inch over most other screens gives you a 30% bigger display, making maps easier to follow and movies more enjoyable. However, it also makes installation a challenge as that's larger than the double DIN format. To address this, Alpine developed what they call “Restyle Packages.” These vehicle-specific kits ensure the system goes in without butchering your dash or center console.

The absence of a CD/DVD drive is only a problem if you still listen to music in that format or watch DVDs. However, there is an HDMI input, along with a rear USB port. Bluetooth pairing provides another way of sharing content, and if all else fails you could listen to the HD Radio™.

The navigation system provides maps of the United States and Canada, plus free lifetime HERE traffic service in most larger cities. If desired, you can add camera inputs to the system, share video with optional rear screens, and even install an optional Accessory Control Module. This last item lets you control other electrical devices you might want to add.

The list of features and capabilities is impressively long, but includes:

  • Anti-glare screen
  • Works with Alpine's TuneIt 2.0 smartphone app
  • Front and rear independent equalizers
  • 18 watts RMS per channel
  • Time correction
  • Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
  • Huge screen for a better display
  • Superb sound quality
  • Free lifetime HERE traffic service in most large cities
  • 3D representations of buildings and terrains
  • Easy installation
  • Incredibly intuitive and easy to manage interface
  • Price is on the very high end
  • No CD/DVD drive
  • USB  port at rear may not fit without plenty of effort

4. Best Navigation Features: Pioneer AVIC-7201NEX

Pioneer AVIC-7201NEX

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD/CD Unit
  • 7″ motorized touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Build-in iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android control

Price Comparison $669.98 BUY IT $677.33
9 new from $677.33
BUY IT $895.00 BUY IT
Last Amazon price update was: January 17, 2019 7:13 pm

Pioneer AVIC-7201NEX Quick Review

The Pioneer AVIC 7201NEX is among the latest in-dash receivers with upgrades that came out early 2017. This 3rd gen model merits top choice in our list of best car GPS navigation receivers. From the moment you unbox the unit, you’ll love what it has to offer. As an in-car entertainment system, it lacks for nothing. It has the 7-inch resistive touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (Lollipop version or newer), auto phone switch, highly responsive screen with dark screen mode, and MirrorLink technology.

This model may seem expensive at first, but a closer review of the features will fully justify its price level. Here are just some of the features you can enjoy having with the AVIC 7201NEX:

  • Compatible with AppRadio, Siri Eyes Free, Google Now voice, Pandora, Aha Radio, Sirius XM, iDatalink Maestro
  • MIXTRAX technology for continuous music play and special effects
  • 13-band Graphic Equalizer with Easy EQ Preset, Auto EQ
  • Advanced Sound Retriever for compressed files
  • Plays from CDs, DVDs, AM/FM radio, and USB drives
  • High and low-pass filters with adjustable crossovers
  • 2 rear USB, 2 rear A/V, 2 camera option with dedicated screen icon, and an HDMI input
  • 6-channel preamp outputs
  • Door-to-door navigation, built-in traffic alerts and speed warnings, 3D views, lane guidance, and option to have street names spoken out loud

The AVIC 7201NEX transforms your car into an incredible theater with superb graphics and full audio. In fact, because of the dual zone A/V, the driver can listen to music while the passengers in the back seat can watch a movie or listen to something else.  Also, with the iDataLink, you can get a diagnostic report on your car from tire pressure to climate control.

The Pioneer AVIC 7201NEX, with all it has to offer, is easily one of the best GPS for your car in the marketplace. It has the reliable Pioneer quality in sound and video and looks absolutely beautiful.

  • Compatible with many Smartphone apps or features
  • Responsive screen with nice colors
  • Wide range of navigation features including lane guidance and 3D representation of buildings
  • Compatible with iDatalink Maestro as well as most factory steering wheel audio controls – using an adapter
  • 1 year warranty
  • Maps have been reported to be a bit slow to load sometimes

5. Best Looks: Clarion NX706

Clarion NX706

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.95″ motorized touchscreen
  • 15-band graphic equalizer
  • Build-in iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android control

Price Comparison $397.94
2 new from $397.94
2 used from $180.17
Last Amazon price update was: January 16, 2019 9:38 pm

Clarion NX706 Quick Review

Released in the US market early this 2016, the Clarion NX706 made our list with ease. This double DIN unit is admittedly a little pricey and instantly raised our expectations for something truly extraordinary – and we were not disappointed at all. With its 7-inch WVGA high definition display, built-in GPS navigation, adjustable 15-band graphic equalizer, and HDMI input for screen mirroring for your smartphone you can’t really ask for much more, thus the price. It’s the complete infotainment package for your car.

Other key features include:

  • Full digital audio with playback, RCA, 2 USB inputs, rear view camera input
  • Audio spectrum of 25 Hz to 15 kHz
  • Tilt control, touch interface, built-in microphone, external microphone, IR remote
  • Compatible with high resolution FLAC audio files
  • Bluetooth technology, Pandora, SiriusXM Ready, Siri Eyes Free compatibility
  • 50 watts x 4 MOSFET amp with noise and distortion of less than 1%
  • Source Independent Gain for low and high-pass filters

According to Clarion’s VP for Marketing, Allen Gharapetian, the NX706 will give you the perfect sound because this is the one that they pushed to the limits so you’re guaranteed to get breathtaking and powerful performance. You also get to play DVDs if you install a screen for your backseat passengers using the unit’s 2-zone operation.

  • Versatile unit
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Nice quality and high responsiveness
  • User interface is a little slow
  • Cooling fan can sometimes be heard when listening to soft music
  • Not plenty of Smartphone features as others in the same range

6. Best Bluetooth: Kenwood DNX574S

Kenwood DNX574S

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.8″ motorized touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Build-in iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android control
  • Variable illumination

Price Comparison $648.99
12 new from $550.00
7 used from $209.95
BUY IT BUY IT $649.99
out of stock
Last Amazon price update was: January 16, 2019 2:38 am

Kenwood DNX574S Quick Review

The primary reason for buying an in-dash GPS is to get maps. This double DIN format does just that, displaying Garmin GPS maps of the United States and our neighbors on a 6.8″ touchscreen. It does a lot more than that though. You'll also find an HD Radio™ tuner along with a CD/DVD drive, BlueTooth, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ compatibility, a USB port and two RCA video inputs.

Included with your purchase is a 2-year subscription to the INRIX traffic service. This works through a cellphone app to deliver traffic updates. A microSD card slot on the front of the unit allows for map updates.

As with most of the better in-dash units, the DNX574S lets you pair two phones at the same time. You can also play music through the USB port, although you should note that this is on the rear of the unit, so figure on adding a cable during installation. There's support for the high quality FLAC and WAV file formats, power output is 22 watts RMS per channel and there are outputs for front and rear speaks plus a sub.

The rear RCA Video Inputs accept feeds from both rear and front view cameras. The system works with iDatalink Maestro which lets you to retain use of steering wheel audio controls while accessing other vehicle settings on your Kenwood.

Other features to help optimize how music sounds in your car include:

  • Drive EQ+ technology (boosts frequencies masked by wind and tires noise and enhances your music's bottom end at higher speeds.)
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • High- and low-pass filters
  • Digital time alignment
  • Space enhancer
  • Sound realizer
  • Sound elevation
  • Bass boost, and loudness
  • Plenty of features in addition to quality Garmin GPS navigation
  • 2 year subscription to the INRIX traffic service for real-time traffic updates
  • Capable of pairing two phones simultaneously
  • Broad range of sound control and customization options
  • No nighttime setting to reduce screen brightness

7. Best Audio: Alpine INE-W960

Alpine INE-W960

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.1″ motorized touchscreen
  • 9-band graphic equalizer
  • Build-in iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android control

Price Comparison $542.68
7 new from $527.99
Last Amazon price update was: January 15, 2019 9:40 am

Alpine INE-W960 Quick Review

The Alpine INE W960 has everything you need in a navigation and music entertainment – built-in Bluetooth technology, 6.1-inch touch screen with intuitive screen graphics, external microphone, and convenient pairing for your smartphone.

Admittedly, it is just a tad better than the basic package because it has a few extra functional features. Nonetheless, for what it offers and considering the entire package from price tag to performance, the INE W960 earns a place on our list of best GPS navs.  A few of the additional features added on to enhance the basic package are the 2D and 3D views, lane guidance, detailed maps of the US, Canada, and US territories, noise cancellation and Bluetooth streaming and hands-free use. It is also compatible with Android, Apple, and Blackberry.

Some of the features of the INE-W960 include:

  • Compatible with Pandora, SiriusXM, iTunes tagging
  • Has the MediaXpander Pro technology
  • Built-in preloaded NAVTEQ navigation system with AutoZoom and Alpine’s OnPoint Plus Advanced GPS Positioning and Text-to-Speech technology
  • 50 watts x 4 channels, 3 preamp outputs
  • Plays CDs, DVDs, MP3, AAC, and DivX Playback
  • Alphabet Search and Quick Search modes
  • 3 rear inputs (USB, A/V, and camera)
  • 6-channel preamp outputs
  • Options for front and rear cameras

Also, Alpine provides you with different upgrade kits or products that you can buy to enhance the INE W960 like the KTP 445A Head Unit Power Pack for more power and the PXA H800 with IMPRINT audio processor for a better sound boost.  However, on its own, the sound quality of the Alpine INE W960 is already full and vibrant since it has a well-balanced 9 –band parametric equalizer.  If you are looking for something of value with GPS navigation, excellent interface, and solid audio without spending a lot, then this is the one to get.

  • Great sound, Bluetooth connectivity, and Navigation
  • Compatible with Android, Apple and Blackberry
  • Nice looking and easy to install
  • Highly customizable
  • Has some glare in bright sunlight
  • Not the best GPS interface

8. Best Value: Pioneer AVIC-6201NEX

Pioneer AVIC-6201NEX

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.2″ touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Build-in iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android control

Price Comparison $478.26
10 new from $478.26
Last Amazon price update was: January 14, 2019 11:19 am

Pioneer AVIC-6201NEX Quick Review

Navigation is good, but real-time traffic data is even better, especially when you don't have to pay for it. The AVIC-6201NEX in-dash GPS unit from Pioneer includes this via the “Total Traffic & Weather Network” from Clear Channel Broadcasting. (It covers over 90 major cities in the US and Canada and there's no subscription needed. You might want to check that your home town is included before buying.)

Route information is a displayed on a 6.2″ touch screen that also handles all the other functions you'd expect: music, phone and a back up camera display. (Note that the camera and cable are included.) The unit also features HD Radio™, an HDMI® Input, a CD/DVD player and has Apple CarPlay™ compatibility, (although not Android Auto™.)

A feature that might make this unit attractive to families is the Dual Zone Entertainment capability. This lets you play different music in the front and rear as well as sending video to rear-mounted screens. Music quality is adjusted through a suite of controls, including Time Alignment and a 13-band graphic equalizer.
Bluetooth phone pairing is included, along with an external microphone, and there is a rear-mounted USB port. (Don't forget to add a cable!) Music is delivered at 14 watts RMS per channel, and there are outputs for speakers and a sub. The unit is also iDataLink Maestro-compatible so you should be able to utilize existing steering wheel controls.

  • Real-time traffic data for free in major US and Canada cities
  • iDatalink Maestro-compatible
  • Capable of playing different music at front and back
  • Rearview camera included
  • Navigation sometimes slow to start
  • No Android Auto

9. Best Budget: Jensen VX7022

Jensen VX7022

Quick Stats

  • Double din GPS Navigation & DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.2″ motorized touchscreen
  • 10-band graphic equalizer
  • Build-in iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android control

Price Comparison $199.99
1 new from $199.99
BUY IT $199.99
out of stock
Last Amazon price update was: January 16, 2019 10:38 pm

Jensen VX7022 Quick Review

We found that a huge portion of users who are looking for car navigation receivers just want a simple, user-friendly box. One that can stream music as well, and among all, economically priced. This is one of the key reasons why the Jensen VX7022 that made our list. The VX7022 is the higher version of an earlier model, the VX7020. It has a 6.2-inch touch screen, an HDMI/MHL connector that allows audio and video streaming, Bluetooth technology, and is compatible with Apple, Blackberry, and Android phones.

Jensen VX7022 uses the iGoPrimo navigation system from NNG, which won the Mobility India Award in 2015 for automotive navigation. This version on the VX7022 only has maps of the US and its territories. But, other maps can be downloaded online using Naviextras.

Some of the key VX7022 features include:

  • Plays from CDs, DVDs, DVD+R/RW, CD-R/RW, SiriusXM satellite radio, USB, a 3.5mm audio jack, AM/FM radio
  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Aha Radio, TuneIn
  • Plays MP3, VCD, CD-DA, WMA, SVCD, MPEG 1 and 2, AVI, and Xvid files
  • 13 Watts x 4 channels
  • 10-band parametric Equalizer with 8 preset
  • Front USB, rear HDMI, camera, and A/V inputs
  • 5-channel preamp outputs
  • Rear camera option with lane guidance
  • Speed limit warnings
  • Remote control

The Jensen VX7022 is simple, easy to use, and functional. It doesn’t offer much in terms of sophisticated elegance or style, but it is a good and safe instrument to have when on the road.

  • Most affordable option on our list
  • Great navigation and audio features at the price
  • Simple and easy-to-use interface
  • Not the best in terms of stylishness

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 a head unit even more difficult for you.

The best car stereo 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. Below is a list of criteria that we take into consideration while choosing the best in-dash GPS 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 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 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 a single din head unit should 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 we recommend you look for:

  • 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 (in our opinion).
  • 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 top reviewed head units will 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 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!


  1. Nice I like it very much

  2. I have the Kenwood DNX893 and it is AWFUL. Constantly crashes when CAR PLAY is on, disconnects .. have been told updates have to be done via WINDOWS and it doesn’t support MAC.. then ..told “yes it does”.. navigation system has led me to addresses that have long since disappeared. VERY VERY VERY disappointed and would not recommend it to anyone. I am on a road trip throughout all of North America and have covered 35,000 miles.. I use my iPhone and google maps for everything now. Do not recommend the KENWOOD AT ALL. Have read others have these same problems in other reviews.

    • I had the Kenwood NX773s. It was awful too. I had it removed from my Trailblazer in the OEM receiver re-installed.


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