Last updated on October 21st, 2021 at 01:53 pm

In this article: We'll review 6 of our best pick powered subwoofers for your car or truck, with quick reviews, photos and price comparisons to help you save money on the subwoofer you choose.

If you want to improve the sound system in your car, installing one of the best powered subwoofers is a great way to do so. These low-frequency speakers deliver superior bass to your sound system. They'll give your music more impact and rumble. Whether you prefer rock, hip hop, or dance music, having a subwoofer will make your vehicle more enjoyable and entertaining.

Powered subwoofers can be installed in nearly any vehicle. They're made for factory or after-market sound systems and deliver superior audio. When you have a subwoofer, you will instantly notice the difference in sound. These are an essential add-on to any audio system. They should absolutely be a part of your vehicle.

Like all electronics, however, some powered subwoofers are better than others. Powered subwoofers combine superior design with high-quality materials and advanced electronics. But before you choose one, you should understand some of the key things to look for in a powered sub.

Looking for a different type of subwoofer? Check out these lists!

Best Powered Subwoofers List

Best Overall Pick: JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1

JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 angle right view
JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 angle front image with woofer and amplifier
JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 closeup of side of box with amplifier

Key Features

  • Compact 10-inch subwoofer and 400W Class-D amplifier
  • MDF box with V-Groove technology
  • Flared slot porting
  • Measures 21” L x 13.5” W x 6.625” H Weighs 25 pounds

Latest Prices

Buy on Crutchfield.com $679.99
Buy on Amazon.com
Last Amazon price update was: October 20, 2021 3:23 pm

JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 Quick Review

The JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 is a top-notch powered subwoofer. Compact, high quality, super powerful – the ACP110LG is the complete package. The key thing that stood out to us about this unit was its performance. It delivers clear, powerful bass without using too much space. This is more than just a subwoofer and an amp shoved in a box. This is a specially designed subwoofer that we think you should check out above any other powered sub on the market.

Construction

JL Audio speaker boxes are made in the company’s Florida production facility. JL Audio uses a special V-Groove, CNC cut, medium-density MDF to build these speaker boxes. The V-Groove allows the panels of the box to fit precisely and be leak-free for optimal sound quality once assembled. Port and woofer holes are precisely cut to ensure good stability when the speaker is installed.

JL’s assembly of the boxes is unique. Rather than glue the wood together and wrap it in carpet, JL Audio glues the panels to the carpet, then folds the panels into a box, gluing the V-Groove along the way. The single panel of carpet functions as a wrap when the box is assembled.

Subwoofer

The powered subwoofer component uses an ultra-low clearance TW1 subwoofer measuring at 10 inches. The subwoofer uses several patented construction elements to provide deep bass in a shallow package.

Excursion is everything in terms of making bass. The TW1 subwoofer uses concentric tube suspension that allows the motor to sit higher up in the body of the woofer while providing excellent range of motion from the spider. The voice coil sits within the motor to eliminate the top-plate and provide a slim profile with plenty of mechanical range.

On its own, the TW1 is one of our selected best slim subwoofers. This package includes a TW1 that has an impedance of only ¼ ohm, allowing the greatest extraction of power from every volt available.

Amplifier

The Class-D amplifier provides up to 400 watts RMS. The design doesn’t ramp up voltage as most designs using a switching power supply will do. Instead, the built-in DCD technology optimizes the 12-volt supply in combination with the ultra-low impedance speaker at extremely high amperage. The speaker will receive around 50 amps of current flow to allow for the high wattage capabilities you want.

What We Like About the JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1

When it comes to adding a compact yet powerful subwoofer, these types of designs are excellent. The enclosure measures only 5-inches high so it’ll fit in lots of tight locations. The best part about this design is the premium, hard-hitting bass response you get. Installation is fast and easy. The patented features of the design and construction ensure an excellent sounding and reliable subwoofer.

Pros
  • Excellent bass response that greatly increases audio performance
  • Slim profile that will fit in lots of tight locations
  • Highly efficient amplifier doesn’t draw a ton of power
Cons
  • The enclosure is not as slim as some designs

Best High-End Pick: Focal IBus 2.1

Focal IBUS 2.1 powered subwoofer top view
Focal IBus 2.1 side view with gains and adjustments
Focal IBus 2.1 side view with power inputs and outputs
Focal IBus 2.1 with included wire harnesses

Key Features

  • 8-inch subwoofer mounted in an aluminum chassis
  • 75 watts RMS power handling
  • 55 watts x 2 amplifier power (RMS)
  • Includes ISO wiring harness and power lead
  • Allows a proper 2.1 channel configuration
  • 45-150 Hz subwoofer frequency response
  • 55-55KHz amplifier frequency response
  • Dimensions: 13.5” L x 9.8” W x 2.8” H

Latest Prices

Focal IBus 2.1 Quick Review

Focal is one of our favorite high-end brands for car audio speakers, subs, and amplifiers. This French company goes above and beyond to ensure you get tight, controlled bass in a compact package that is also easy to install. Focal is light on details about things like proprietary technology, build components, and overall construction which is usually a red flag for us. Having installed and loved hundreds of Focal products, we can confidently say that you’ll be amazed at the sound quality and bass response, even if you don’t have a ton of information about how and why this powered sub sounds so good.

Construction

Focal uses an all-aluminum chassis to mount the amplifier and speaker into a compact unit. The chassis is strong, lightweight, and more compact than, for example, JL Audio’s MDF box. The aluminum construction keeps everything well protected from damage and makes for a high-end appearance and feel. The chassis has a brushed finish that looks great, so you won’t have to hide the box to keep your car looking clean.

Subwoofer

There is very little information about the construction of the 8-inch subwoofer. Focal provides the RMS and max power handling, but doesn’t provide information on the woofer cone, spider, motor, or other details you’ll usually see. There is also no equivalent sub available separately, so this speaker design is only for use in the iBus 2.1 system.

What we do know about the speaker is that it has a nominal RMS of 75 watts. The frequency response is 45-150 Hz, so this one is dedicated to only the bass frequencies.

Amplifier

Focal uses a 2-channel x 55 watt amplifier to provide you with a 2.1 channel solution. There is no information available about the class of amplifier or any other details except that it is built-in and ready to run.

What We Like About the Focal iBus 2.1

Sound is everything, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better sounding subwoofer solution that fits under the seat of many compact cars. At a miniscule 2.8 inches high, this solution can work in sub-compact cars where space is at a premium. We like that Focal includes the wiring harness to connect directly to an aftermarket head unit. A wired remote allows you to make changes without having to unearth the sub from its mounting location.

Special Note from Focal

Focal products are pricy, but they carry a good warranty, and the company will back its products up. The thing that you need to keep in mind is that if you purchase any Focal products from an unauthorized retailer, you’ll get no support and no warranty. Focal specifically instructs buyers to avoid purchasing through Amazon either directly or from a third-party seller. If you are looking for an online retailer in the U.S. for Focal products, we recommend you go through Crutchfield.

Pros
  • Amazing, deep bass that’s tight and controlled even when at high volumes
  • Easily integrates into factory or aftermarket systems using included wiring
  • Attractive brushed aluminum case
Cons
  • Limited information about design features
  • Somewhat difficult to get support due to overseas customer service
  • No warranty unless purchased through specific retailers
Infinity BassLink SM 2 front view
Infinity BassLink SM 2 angle top view
Infinity BassLink SM 2 side profile view to showcase thin casing
Infinity BassLink SM 2 control panel view with inputs

Key Features

  • 8” subwoofer mounted in an ABS chassis
  • Class-D amplifier
  • 125 watts RMS
  • 35-120Hz frequency response
  • Low-pass crossover adjustable from 50-120 Hz
  • Bass Boost
  • Dimensions: 13-9/16” L x 10-1/16” W x 2-⅞” D
  • Does not include wiring harness

Latest Prices

Infinity BassLink SM2 Quick Review

Infinity puts out high-quality products often at reasonable price points, and that’s exactly what you get with the SM2. This is a compact and powerful bass solution for vehicles that lack the space for traditional subwoofer boxes, amplifiers, and other components. When you’re looking for a budget solution, we think this is the product you’ll be happiest with.

Construction

One cost-cutting measure Harmon Audio uses with this build is an ABS case rather than more expensive aluminum or wood products. The case is durable and well-designed to make under-seat installation a snap. There isn’t anything fancy about the design – rather it is functional over attractive. It’s easy to mount and relatively lightweight. The case is designed to work together to help the amp and woofer provide ideal sound reproduction.

Subwoofer

An 8-inch woofer provides good bass response from a very compact package. You aren’t going to get bone-rattling thump from this compact powered solution, but it will fill in the low notes your factory or aftermarket system isn’t producing. The woofer uses a polypropylene cone for durability and good rigidity while saving you money over more exotic materials. The woofer is specifically designed for this application, so it isn’t a crossover component you can add to any system. Though the power handling of the speaker itself is unknown, it will handle the built-in wattage from the amplifier without trouble.

Amplifier

This design uses a high-power Class-D amplifier for excellent frequency response and low heat. Class-D amps are compact, making them ideal for applications like this one. You can check out more about amplifier classes if you’d like. The amp provides 125 watts RMS to the sub but doesn’t include the ability to route power to other speakers. You will get a full complement of on-board tuning options including a built-in crossover, gain, and bass boost settings.

What We Like About the Infinity SM2

This is a great option when you are trying to build on a budget. While the unit is basic, it provides good bass response that fills the gaps most factory systems lack. Its compact size makes it easy to install in tight spaces. Our favorite thing about the SM2 is the rich, pure bass that it produces. Again, this powered sub isn’t going to rattle your windows, but it does make your music feel more realistic and rounded.

Pros
  • Great sound from an inexpensive, compact powered sub
  • Easy to install and tune for your specific music preferences
  • Doesn’t look cheap
Cons
  • Requires additional power wiring harness for installation

Best Budget Runner-Up: JBL BassPro SL2

JL BassPro SL2 front view
JL BassPro SL2 angle profile
JBL BassPro SL2 control panel view
JBL BassPro SL2 angle view of the top of subwoofer
JBL BassPro SL2 side profile to show thin casing

Key Features

  • 8” subwoofer mounted in an ABS chassis
  • Class-D amplifier
  • 125 watts RMS
  • 35-120Hz frequency response
  • Low-pass crossover adjustable from 50-120 Hz
  • Bass Boost
  • Dimensions: 13-9/16” L x 10-1/16” W x 2-⅞” D
  • Does not include wiring harness

Latest Prices

Buy on eBay $299.95
Buy on Crutchfield.com $349.95
Buy on Amazon.com
Last Amazon price update was: October 20, 2021 9:23 pm

JBL BassPro SL2 Quick Review

If you were to place the SL2 side-by-side with the Infinity SM2, you would immediately notice how similar they are. The reason is simple – they are made by the same company (Harmon Audio) and are simply labeled with different brands. Functionally, they are the same product. What we have noticed is that you’ll often find the JBL on sale for around $60 off, while Infinity products are rarely discounted.

Construction

The SM2 uses an ABS chassis nearly identical to that used by Infinity. The one difference that we noticed is that the heat dissipation vents on the JBL are somewhat more restrictive than those of the Infinity. In most scenarios, this is going to be a non-factor since they are both using Class-D amplifiers that simply don’t build lots of heat. The chassis is sturdy, well-designed, and specifically engineered to get the most out of the subwoofer and amplifier combination.

Subwoofer

JBL uses an 8-inch subwoofer that is incredibly slim in this package. The woofer uses a polypropylene woofer cone for rigidity. Like many of these smaller designs, there isn’t a ton of information about the build characteristics and proprietary information on this system. Practical experience doesn’t lie, and you’ll find that this compact powered subwoofer system hits above its size. It won’t rattle windows or annoy the neighbors, but your tunes will sound better than they ever have before.

Amplifier

A 125 watt RMS Class-D amplifier gets the power going in this little box. JBL incorporates a low-pass crossover and a bass boost feature you can use to add up to 9 db to your music. The amplifier is easy to configure for your system and is easy to install. It has the tuning features you need without a bunch of overly complicated stuff you’ll never appreciate which keeps the price manageable.

What We Like About the JBL BassPro SL2

Everything we like about the Infinity SL2 applies here, along with the fact that we often see this device on sale. If you are looking to put 8-inch subs under both front seats, catch this one on discount and save enough money to upgrade another pair of speakers. It’s durable, easy to install, and simple to tune.

Pros
  • When it is on sale, it’s one of the best deals you’ll find for high-quality, low-cost car audio
  • Slim chassis makes under seat installation simple
Cons
  • Like the Infinity SL2, you’ll need to buy a power harness that is at least 10 ga to install

Alternate Choice: Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway

Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway top angle view
Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway top view with woofer
Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway thickness view from side
Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway with power inputs and gain adjustments

Key Features

  • 8” subwoofer in an aluminum chassis
  • 150 RMS amplifier
  • 25-120 Hz
  • Dimensions: 13-⅞”L x 9-⅜” W x 3-⅛” H
  • 50-150 Hz low-pass crossover
  • Includes velcro for mounting and Molex quick-connect harness

Latest Prices

Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway Quick Review

The Hideaway from Kicker is one of the finest examples of a well-built and well-designed powered subwoofer around. Kicker is light on details, but we can tell you that after installing the 11HS8, this thing really performs. It’s easy to install, easy to move to another vehicle, and works very well with factory head units that don’t make a ton of power. This is a good choice all-in-one solutions to adding thumping bass to any vehicle.

Construction

The HS118 has an all-aluminum case that is durable and attractive. It’s perfect for putting it in the trunk or under a seat where it might get kicked or banged around without damage happening. The case completely covers the woofer so you won’t have to worry about accidentally damaging your sub when it’s installed in a vehicle with limited space. 

Subwoofer

We like Kicker subs when we want good bass, and this is a good speaker. It sounds deep and has that unique Kicker sound that pushes the thud of the bass forward making it seem more powerful than it really is. The woofer is rated to handle the amps 150 watts RMS and produces frequencies from 25 to 125 Hz to give you all of the deep bass you want without muddy midrange frequencies getting in the way.

Amplifier

Rated at 150 watts RMS, the amplifier does a good job of getting power to the speaker. It has basic features like a low pass crossover and bass boost. Crutchfield testers noted that it does an excellent job of reproducing live acoustic bass notes and fills rock and R&B tracks well. Perhaps the best part about this powered subwoofer is how easy it is to connect to factory or aftermarket head units using the included Molex quick-connect harness.

Why We Like the Kicker 11HS8

Simple, compact, and easy to install are all features we love. That this powered subwoofer sounds as good as it does is a real benefit, particularly given the totally reasonable price. The Velcro mounting apparatus and the quick-connect harness make it one of the easier powered subs to install. This is simply a good design that is well-built and provides you the bass you need to complete your compact car audio system.

Pros
  • This provides some of the deeper bass frequencies of any of the models on our list
  • It’s easy to remove and install from your car
  • Durable design that fits in tight spots
Cons
  • Amplifier will get excessively hot if it doesn’t get enough airflow
  • Recent reports of quality-control issues and numerous products being sold as new when they are not

Avoid Kenwood KSC-SW11

Kenwood KSC-SW11 top angle view
Kenwood KSC-SW11 bottom view with power inputs
Kenwood KSC-SW11 remote controller

Key Features

  • 8-¼” x 5-⅛” speaker in an aluminum case
  • Class-D amplifier rated at 75 watts RMS
  • 35-125 Hz frequency response
  • Dimensions: 11” W x 7-½” L x 2-¾” D
  • Low-pass crossover (50-120 Hz)
  • Includes everything to install

Kenwood KSC-SW11 Quick Review

Kenwood used to be one of our favorite budget-friendly brands, but the last few years has seen a decline in overall quality and that’s the biggest issue that we’ve got with this compact powered subwoofer. When it works right, it sounds great and it’s easy to install. It’s one of the least expensive products on the market and much cheaper than anything else using an aluminum chassis. Unfortunately, dozens of buyers over the last two years have received defective products that either didn’t work out of the box or failed shortly after the brief warranty period.

Construction

The case is aluminum and is well-made and a good design for small-space applications. Unlike most designs that you’ll need to bolt down when installing, there are no provisions for fixed mounting. Instead, you’ll use the included brackets or a cable tie to hold this sub down. The idea is that by doing away with mounting hardware, you’ll be able to remove it easily. We struggled to find a time when removing an amp easily was a good thing until we started reading reviews of people who had repeated failures. Now it makes sense why there are no provisions for bolting it down.

Subwoofer

Kenwood went a different way than other designers and used an elliptical speaker rather than a round woofer. Measuring 8-¼ inches by 5-⅛ inches, this design produces significantly more mid-range performance than bass and you’ll hear and feel the difference. This sub isn’t nearly as tight and punchy in the low frequencies and many buyers report odd sounds, rattling, and crackling that are simply unacceptable.

Amplifier

A Class-D amplifier rated to produce 75 watts RMS provides the juice for this design. The amplifier isn’t terrible and does offer some useful tuning features like a 0-180 degree phase controller, low-pass crossover, and volume controls. While this amp is fairly baic, it does a good job of boosting the power for the built-in speaker.

Why We Think You Should Aovoid the Kenwood KSC-SW11

Nothing is more frustrating than spending money on a product, taking the time to properly install it, and then finding out that it doesn’t perform very well. Well, except of course for when you go through all the trouble just to have the device fail after six or seven months. You can spend just a little bit more on a powered sub from Infinity or JBL and have a higher quality, more durable product.

Pros
  • Unique shape that doesn’t look like other companies’ products
  • One of the cheapest aluminum cases you’ll find
Cons
  • Repeated reports of total failures
  • More of a mid-range speaker than a true subwoofer

Best Powered Car Subwoofers: What to Look For

It’s essential that you understand what you are looking for in order to find the best powered subwoofer for your car. You will want one that meets your specific needs for your specific vehicle. It needs to fit your vehicle, as well as your preferences. So take your time and select and item with care.

First of all, you need to look at the dimensions and measurements of the powered subwoofer. Make sure the product you choose can fit in your trunk or under the seat.   Take measurements to ensure that your car has enough space for the item you desire. If you are choosing a subwoofer for your trunk, you should have enough space no matter what you drive. However, if you are choosing a subwoofer that will be placed under the seat, you need to make sure there is enough height. This is very important if you have a car with power front seats, as these seats often have components underneath.

You should also be on the lookout for how much power the sub you choose can handle. This will be listed in watts and will give you a good idea of how much power the subwoofer can handle. The key thing to consider, since these subwoofers are already paired with an amplifier, is how powerful you'd like your system to be. The more power, the louder the system will be.

While we’re discussing power, be sure to keep an eye out for ohms. This'll indicate electrical resistance, or “impedance.” (It “impedes” the electrical flow.) Most subwoofers have 4-Ohms, but there is a vast variety of products available so finding the right one for your needs should not be a problem.

Before you install your subwoofer, you’ll need to know what type of enclosure it has. There are two common types, a sealed and a vented enclosure. Sealed enclosures are air tight and have a very basic design. Vented subwoofers, also known as “ported subwoofers,” have various vents that emphasize specific frequencies. Typically, sealed enclosures are better for small spaces like trunks or under seats. Ported enclosures are a great design for larger spaces.

The amount of voice coils will also make a difference. Voice coils give input to the speakers, and if it has one coil (know as Single Voice Coil or SVC), it will have one input that you need to wire. Dual voice coils, however, are popular among audio enthusiasts who want more options when wiring their system.

Finally, take into account the size of the subwoofer. While the enclosure will have its own measurements, the subwoofer inside the enclosure will effect how the speaker sounds. In most cases, the larger the subwoofer, the lower the frequencies it can reach.  However, larger subwoofers can't keep up with faster bass. This may be heard more in fast pace rock or metal music. If space is not a concern and you want the lowest bass possible, then a large subwoofer is your best option.

If you're looking for a stand alone subwoofer, consider checking out CarAudioNow's lists of Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers and Best Component Subwoofers.