Almost every other car stereo manufacturer out there has manufactured a unit that can be installed in your car’s interior, but not all of them going to improve your driving experience or the sound quality.
Since the market today is offering so many brand and models, it can be difficult to choose the right car stereo for your car.
I love listing to music while driving down the city and I am also very picky about the sound quality of my car, currently I am rocking Sony XAV-AX100 as my daily driver. This is unit have best designs and come with best amplifiers.
To narrow down your options and help you pick the best car stereo that offers all the features that you have been looking for, I have tested reviewed the 10 best car stereos with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
I have included a buying guide as well, so you know which feature is important and what are the functions of different features.
Reviews of 10 Best Car Stereos 2021
Before you head out to buy a car stereo, it is important that you know that most of the cars that have been manufactured after the 90’s come with 2 DIN units, these are larger and have space that can accommodate bigger screens.
For the cars that come with 1DIN head units, you can install stereos that feature pop out screens.
Almost all of the below mentioned stereo units are equipped with the most recent and efficient features available.
To make everything simpler, we have also listed the pros and the cons of each model.
|Sony XAV-AX100 |
|Pioneer AVH 3300NEX||7"|
|Pioneer AVIC W8400||7"|
1. Sony XAV-AX100 – Best Car Stereo Money can Buy (Our Winner)
It has a friendly user interface and offers a smooth and fast performance than we would recommend you try out the Sony XAV-AX100 6.4.
This units offers an excellent, clean and powerful sound and therefore, it is our best pick out of all the car stereos that we have tested.
Now let’s talk about its features, the unit is not equipped with an inbuilt satellite navigation but since the Apple Maps and Google Maps are more reliable on your phone, you won’t really need it in your car stereo.
The unit comes equipped with a 6.4-inch touchscreen that is high quality and easy to access.
The software has been built in such a way that it is super easy to use while driving and operates just as fast as your modern mobile phones.
To use the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, all you need to do is to connect it to your mobile phone through a USB cable or Bluetooth.
However, one thing that should be kept in mind is that you’ll lose the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionalities if you connect over Bluetooth. Siri Eyes Free can be used by iPhone users to manage different functions on the phone.
One minor issue that might concern a few buyers is that HD radio is not supported on this unit and you are not offered a CD player with this unit.
Another feature that makes Sony deserve the top position on our list and makes it better than the rest of the choices is the volume knob.
We all know that while driving, adjusting the volume through wither capacities buttons or physical buttons can be quite annoying.
However, the volume on this unit can easily be adjusted through the volume knob. For a safe driving experience, it is important that you can adjust the volume quickly and easily.
Although this unit is not cheap, if we look at its performance and the number of good features it offers, we can easily say that it is worth the price.
- The unit offers a volume knob which is very convenient for users
- Offers powerful and clean sound
- Offers easy user interface
- Feature Siri Eyes Free control
- Is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Does not support HD radio
- Does not come with a CD/DVD player
- Fitting can be a little tricky
- Screen size is average
2. JVC KW-M730BT – Best Clear Screen Car Stereo of 2021
If you are searching for a car stereo that allows you to listen to HD radio and satellite radio and is equipped with a screen that is clear, bright and a little larger than the screen of our top pick (Sony), then the JVC KW-M730BT might be the right choice for you.
This unit has a similar price to our top pick.
However, you might find the screen less responsive as compared to Sony’s screen, and it does not have a volume knob as well.
The three buttons it features are very small in size.
The user interface is not as responsive as the top pick, but overall this unit is a decent choice if these minor issues don’t bother you.
Though JVC lacks a few features, it is still quite easy to use.
On the corner of the screen you can find large icons that are easy to read and click.
Though this unit is not as responsive as Sony, it still has better responsiveness as many other models.
On the top of the bezel you can find three small buttons that can be used to display the main menu and change the volume.
Since the buttons are so tiny in size, they can be difficult to click, and the stereo’s home button is located at the far end of the unit that most of the users might find a little far to reach from the driver’s seat.
However, even though these buttons are small they are located in such a way that they can easily be located by the driver without having to search for them.
A number of icons, all of which can be used to switch between different functions, can be found on the screen when you press the menu button.
Since the screen itself is large in size, there is no space left for a volume knob, but the overall experience would’ve been much better even if a small sized volume knob was included in this model instead of the buttons.
The unit has a very powerful amplifier and it has 20 station presets. You can also connect apps such as Pandora and Spotify via Bluetooth to stream music from your smartphone.
One minor thing that disappointed us was that this unit lacks Siri Eyes Free voice control. Other than the few issues that we have mentioned, the overall performance of this unit is good.
- Offers a great sound quality
- Comes with a large screen size
- Has an easy to use interface
- Does not have Sir Eyes Free Voice control
- Does not come with CD/DVD player
- Screen responsiveness is not the best
- The screen is difficult to read in daylight
3. Pioneer AVH-3300NEX – High Quality Car Stereo For Older Cars
Since most of the vehicles that were manufactured before 2000 were not made with large screens in mind, they were equipped with 1 DIN opening for a stereo.
Recently, the manufacturers from Pioneer came out with a stereo that was equipped with a display that can fold out from the stereo itself.
Even though this unit might not look as neatly integrated as the other units, it can still be regarded as quite a nice solution for older model cars.
The screen of this unit measures 7 inches, which is quite impressive as it is larger in size as compared to most of the 2 DIN model units.
One of the features that makes this unit all the more better is that there are a number of hardware buttons that can easily be used while driving even when the screen is off.
Furthermore, satellite radio can be accessed on this unit and it also features an in-built DVD/CD player.
It offers a user-friendly interface. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also supported on the Pioneer AVH-3300NEX.
Two issues that might concern a few users is that you can’t view any information when you fold the screen in, not even the radio station.
In this situation a rudimentary LCD screen would’ve been much better. The second issue is that a few other functions in your car might get blocked when you are using this unit.
Other than these two issues, the overall performance, efficiency and the sound quality of this unit is great and makes it a perfect fit for older model cars.
- Big screen in a small package
- Consists of a lot of easy-to-hit hardware buttons
- Offers an easy user interface
- Comes with a volume knob
- Supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- The screen may block some dashboard buttons
- No second screen for when the big one is folded
4. Kenwood eXcelon DNX694S – Best Garmin Car Stereo
It is also equipped with an in-built Garmin navigation, dual video inputs so multiple cameras can be connected, satellite radio compatibility, HD radio, DVD/CD player and variable color adjustment.
The unit comes with a large 6.8-inch LCD that works well but is not as responsive as the JVC and Sony models.
Though a lot of users might find the greater number of features appealing, they can still be confusing and complicated to use when you are driving.
The Garmin navigation system comes with the most intuitive interface, is very simple and easy to use, offers reliable lane guidance at motorway interchanges and has responsive routing.
Moreover, this navigation system even offers truck routing, so you are aware of the routes that you should be avoiding in case you are towing a trailer.
Overall, this feature is very reliable and works great. However, a minor problem that comes with it is that the Garmin’s traffic data is not as precise as that of Google maps.
The choice of split screen views that Kenwood DNX694S offers has made the overall navigation process much easier. Through this feature, both phone information and navigation can be displayed simultaneously.
For example, the phone call info or any other app that you are accessing on your phone can be displayed on the left half screen of the LCD, whereas on the rest of the right half of the screen you can open up the map view.
This is a very helpful and unique feature that is not offered in most of the other car stereos.
On the left side of the bezel you can find buttons that press quickly and are quite easy to reach.
A feature that is very efficient is that the volume of the music automatically goes up if your car is driving faster and the noise increases.
Furthermore, for expanding the system, extra outputs and inputs are provided by this model.
In the front, you can find 2 USB ports for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These USB ports can also be used for charging phones and other gadgets.
The biggest drawback of this unit is the price it comes at.
The unit is quite expensive but with greater price come more and better features, so if you can easily afford this unit and want a car stereo that offers a number of features, then you should check this unit out.
- Offers the excellent Garmin navigation system
- Comes with a CD player
- Offers support for HD radio
- Is compatible with both Apple Car Play and Android Auto
- The user interface isn’t the best
- It is on the pricey side
- You might encounter performance issues occasionally
5. Kenwood DDX9703S – Really Good Adjustable Screen Car Stereo
Through the in-built motor that it is equipped with, you can adjust the display in 7 steps.
This feature comes in handy for the cars that are driven by multiple people, for example your parents and other family members.
The angle adjust allows every person in the car to have a clear and head on look on the display.
Measuring 6.95 inches, we can say that the screen is fairly large in size.
The screen is backlit but a minor issue that users might face is that the due to the reflective surface, the display is difficult to read in daylight.
The performance and the user interface are not the best out there, but they are above average and better than what many other models are offering at the price.
Siri voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth connectivity are supported on this unit.
Furthermore, the unit features a power in built amplifier, a high definition audio playback and various equalizer presets.
It also has inbuilt DVD/CD player, which is a feature that is not usually present in 2 DIN head units. For safer driving this unit offers two inputs for front and rear cameras.
- Comes with a large and adjustable screen
- Hardware buttons for easy access
- Great audio performance
- Supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support
- Supports two camera inputs, CD/DVD player
- Comes with built in CD/DVD player
- Screen is too reflective
- The user interface is clunky
- Does not have a volume knob
- Slow performance
6. Alpine iLX-F309 HALO9 – Best Large Screen Car Stereo
This unit might be the right choice for you if you are searching for a Tesla like screen that is located in the center of your dashboard. The unit has a gigantic 9-inch display that will look good in both big trucks and SUVs as well as smaller, more compact vehicles.
For such a big screen, the resolution of the screen isn’t certainly the best.
The unit can be fitted in both newer and older cars since the head unit is 1 DIN. Overall the unit brightens up your car’s interior since the display and the whole unit itself has a very modern look.
Other than the huge screen, the unit offers several other appealing features as well. It supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, has sat-navigation apps, integrated Siri Voice Controls, Sirius XM satellite radio and can also be connected to Bluetooth.
Overall, the unit has an easy to use interface and the software is very responsive and easy to use. The sound quality that this car stereo offers is great.
The biggest drawback of this unit is the price it comes at. For most of the buyers, this unit might be too expensive to afford.
However, other than the price, this unit works great and will certainly be a great addition to your car.
- Offers a gigantic screen
- Supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- The software is fast and easy to use
- Features Built-in sat-nav
- Offers a Great sound quality
- Features hardware buttons for easy access
- Low-resolution screen, especially for the size
- Comes at a very expensive price
- Does not have a CD/DVD player
7. Alpine iLX-107 – Best Wireless Car Stereo
However, if you are someone who like to keep their car clear of the clutter caused by cords, then you might want to look at the Alpine iLX-107.
It does exclude Android Auto, but it runs CarPlay remotely by making a specially appointed Wi-Fi system to which your smartphone connects.
The price of this unit excels the price range of most of the car stereos on our list.
Overall, this unit works great but the on-screen buttons aren’t as good as our very top picks.
These buttons are not as responsive as you would expect to have when you are paying that steep of a price and it can be time consuming to find what you want in the menus.
These buttons are of the perfect size and can be pressed quickly and easily. You just have to hold the button to increase or decrease the volume, hence they are pretty convenient.
Most of the users find the buttons of this unit so good, that they don’t mind the unit not being equipped with a volume knob.
If you want a car stereo that allows a wireless connection, then we would recommend you to get this unit.
However, if you don’t feel the need for a stereo that offers a wireless connection then our other picks give you more features for your money.
- Supports Apple CarPlay
- Offers a large 7 inch display
- Features a dedicated Siri button
- Offers a great sound quality
- Features easy to click buttons
- Does not support Android Auto
- The unit is expensive
8. Pioneer AVIC-W8400NEX – Best Performance Car Stereo
The brand offers products that are well known for their excellent output and durability.
The Pioneer AVIC-W8400NEX is a great choice if you are looking for a car stereo that offers a great performance.
This unit is listed among the best products that this brand has to offer.
Though this product is expensive, it also comes with a lot of features. This unit has large 7 inch touch screen display.
Furthermore, the unit also offers built in navigation system that provides the directions to your destination and keeps updating you on real-time traffic.
Miracast has certified the Wi-Fi connection on this stereo. It supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The navigation system features HERE, which is a mapping and location service that has all the data of the locations pertaining to Canada and USA.
Moreover, AVIC-W8400NEX also features inbuilt controls for iPad, iPod and iPhone. One CR2 battery is required for the unit to run.
- Come with a large 7 inch screen
- Is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- Features in built navigation system
- Offers Support of almost every media option and sound format available
- Built-in amplifier and navigation
- It is expensive
9. Pioneer AVH-4200 NEX – Best Reliable Car Stereo
The unit is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple Car Play.
It has a large 7 inch touch screen that is designed to fit most vehicles with double DIN space.
The touchscreen is very responsive and easy to navigate. The display it provides is very bright and vibrant.
Watching movies and songs on this 7 inch screen is a great experience.
The screen can be tilted as well by using the eject button. To ensure you are getting the perfect view the screen can be tilted in several angles.
The unit offers a user interface that is super easy to use.
The buttons that are located at the bottom of the touchscreen are easy to click and press quickly.
Furthermore, the unit also offers Bluetooth connectivity, so you can easily connect your smartphone to the system.
Overall the unit offers a powerful sound and if you want to add a fresh look to your car once you update this unit with your older stereo.
One of the downsides of this unit is that some users found it difficult to set up.
However, once you are done with the setting up and installation of the system the unit is very simple and easy to use.
- Has a user-friendly interface
- The screen can be tilled in several angles
- Offers bright and vibrant screen
- The unit is easy to install
- The price deal is not good
- Some issues of incompatibility with iOS 11 and select Samsung Galaxy models
10. Kenwood DNS995S – Best Navigation Car Stereo
Other than offering some pretty good features the unit can be bought at a good price as well.
The unit comes with a free of cost surface mounted cam that can be attached to the surface of your car.
The stereo features a large 6.8 inch touchscreen display that is responsive and easy to use and navigate.
To allow a clear view of the display in sunny days the unit also features an anti-reflection/glare panel that allows you to adjust the display settings of your screen.
Furthermore, the unit also allows you to tilt the screen you get the best possible view of the screen.
For camera, a lot of space is available for both rear and front inputs.
Some other features that this unit offers are double rear input for USB, 3 gold pre-out with 5V capacity and an input for SD card.
This unit offers plenty of good features for the price and the best part is that the unit offers a good sound quality as well.
Hence, if you want an affordable unit that offers good benefits then we would recommend you try this unit.
- Offers a powerful sound quality
- Offer in built Wi Fi and Bluetooth
- Display is anti-reflective
- Some users have reported the issues of glitches in this stereo
Car Stereo Buying Guide – Things to Look for
One important feature that should be kept in mind while buying a new good car stereo is that it should be able to connect to your mobile phone via Apple Car Play or Android Auto.
MirrorShare is also a function that is offered by a number of car stereo units, but this is an old technology which has become outdated and does not work as good as the other two.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been developed by Apple and Google. Through these two technologies, user interface has been made much easier and simpler, the best part is the top-notch performance that they offer.
You can link and use several apps with these two such as send or read SMS, voice recognition commands, navigation systems, music streaming service, you can even interact with some third-party apps on an easy to use interface and answer calls on the go.
The best car stereos are the ones that have both technologies built-in. To ensure that you don’t have to change the car stereo if you switch your phone from Apple to Android, you can look for a car stereo unit that is compatible with both Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Other than this, let’s look at some of the features that all the best car stereos of today must offer.
The first and the foremost feature you should look at of the car stereo you are planning to buy is the sound quality it offers. Because, that’s the main thing stereo is supposed to be good at, right? Units that are low priced often fail to offer a high-quality built-in amplifier.
If you cannot afford a high-priced car stereo and are shopping on a budget, you should choose a model that has pre-amp outputs so you can improve your sound quality later on. Pre-amp outputs allow you to add digital sound processor, amplifier and equalizer later on.
Ease of use
Just like sound quality, most low-priced units do not offer ease of use. It is important that you check the controls of the unit that you are planning to buy before you actually purchase it.
To make sure that you can easily see the display and the options on the touchscreen, stand a few feet away when you are testing out different models in the market. You should also check the menu and options so that you don’t find them difficult to use later.
It is pretty obvious that most of the units on the expensive side offer better design and quality than the ones that are low priced. However, there are a few models that are available at an affordable price but offer an overall clean and attractive look. We have included a few models in our list below.
Siri Eyes Free
While most of the units that are listed on our list let you use voice command to initiate commands, there are some that have a great feature known as Siri Eyes Free as well.
Through this feature, users can open content and features on their phone even if they are not using CarPlay. This feature helps you to enter destination, change tracks, stations or sources by voice.
Though this is not necessary, but it is always better if your stereo unit includes a remote control. The remote controls that come with car stereos are very much similar to the ones that come with televisions, but obviously are much smaller in size. This can be useful for the ones who want to switch the videos or the song from the backseat.
Most of the recent models of car stereos lack CD/DVD players these days because most of the users like to connect their car stereo to their mobile phones or portable audio player.
Although these days, having a DVD/CD player is not necessary but they can certainly be useful when you don’t have your phone on you. However, the units that offer DVD/CD player as well come at a higher price.
Physical buttons and volume knob
Other than the virtual buttons that are present on the touchscreen, most of the units feature physical buttons around the screen as well. The units that are equipped with fairly large buttons are very easy and quick to use, whereas the ones that are tiny in size can be quite difficult to press, especially while driving.
On the other hand, some units feature volume knobs which are much better option than any kind of buttons. Volume knobs allow you to turn the volume up and down much quickly and smoothly as compared to buttons that might require effort to press.
You will add new life to your car if your choice in the car stereo is right and that can only be done if you have enough knowledge about the different models and features of car stereos to make an informed decision.
With our reviews and buying guide, you can gain important knowledge on car stereos that will allow you to navigate the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto stereo market confidently.