After putting in 40 hours exploring 35 car stereos and talking to specialists, and spending another 20 hours analyzing nine of the most promising models, we think that the Sony XAV-AX100 is your best stereo for drivers that are replacing their car’s stock unit and need the advantages of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. These systems let you access helpful apps and features on compatible iPhones and Android apparatus as you push, without needing to look at or touch your cell phone. The XAV-AX100 is the easiest to use, has the most responsive display, and is among the most affordable models we analyzed.
The Sony XAV-AX100 provides you seamless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as a transparent, responsive display and a convenient controller knob, without making you pay for extras that you might not require like a CD player, a satellite tv, or even built-in navigation–it features the ideal mix if you want to rely upon your cellphone for entertainment and navigation. It fits in the standard double-DIN (7-by-4-inch) dashboard opening shared to a lot of vehicles, and its own 6.4-inch display responds quickly when you tap it, with no slight delays we saw in some other models. Contrary to other double-DIN stereos we tested, it has a conventional knob for volume control, making it simpler to use as you are driving than versions with touchscreen-only controllers or tiny buttons. In addition to this Sony’s built-in voice-command system, Siri Eyes Free allows iPhone owners use Siri to switch radio stations and control other purposes outside of CarPlay. Similar to other models we analyzed, the Sony also includes Bluetooth support, loads of radio-station presets (30), preamp outputs for expanding your audio system, and a video input if you would like to connect a backup camera.
The JVC KW-M730BT Is a Great option to the Sony XAV-AX100. It usually costs about the exact same but lets you listen to HD Radio stations and may connect to a SiriusXM receiver for satellite radio. Its slightly larger (6.8-inch) display is clear and bright, with enormous, easy-to-use buttons. However, we didn’t like using the JVC as much as we did the Sony since it lacks Siri Eyes Free, has miniature buttons for volume control rather than an easy-to-grip knob, also has fewer channel presets (20 versus 30).
If you’d like built-in navigation and also a CD player, the Kenwood eXcelon DNX694S is a fantastic choice, but it typically costs about twice as much as our top pick. The built-in Garmin navigation is beneficial if you are regularly in regions with poor mobile reception and phone-based mapping is undependable. The display provides you split-screen perspectives: One side displays your turn-by-turn directions, for instance, while the other gifts your sound information and playback controls. You also get variable-color backlighting for coordinating the stereo with your automobile’s other interior lighting. While lower-priced models normally have one USB port in the rear, the Kenwood includes 2, which means that you may use 1 telephone to run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto while charging a second phone. The Kenwood additionally supports HD Radio also contains additional video inputs and outputs for linking more external devices, such as cameras and rear-seat DVD displays. On the other hand, the DNX694S’s menus can be complicated, cumbersome, and deflecting to use as you’re driving, and also the display is occasionally not as responsive than those of the top pick and runner-up.
If your car has a single-DIN (7-by-2-inch) dash opening for your stereo, the Pioneer AVH-3300NEX, with a slide-out touchscreen, is the only alternative for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Luckily, it is a good choice, with a 7-inch screen, satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free, and a multitude of apps. It’s one of the easiest units to use, using a convenient volume knob and big buttons on the front for ordinary functions. It even has a CD player if you like to spin disks. The screen slides up and out for use, and folds up when you turn off the radio (or even when you only need to conceal it while listening), providing you an interface much like that of our double-DIN recommendations. Based on your car’s dashboard, however, the screen might block climate controls or vents (it extends about 4 inches over the stereo), and the layout involves more mechanical complexity, meaning more stuff that could fail.
If you don’t need to need to plug a USB cable into your phone every time you make it in the car, you might prefer the Alpine iLX-107. It is the only real stereo that provides you the choice to connect your iPhone wirelessly for CarPlay, that can be really convenient (though it does not do Android Vehicle). The iLX-107’s interface is relatively user friendly, with responsive capacitive volume buttons on the bezel. Its display could be finicky, however, and we often had to hunt and peck to find everything we wanted in the menus. The iLX-107 has a 7-inch display and a host of extra features such as satellite radio and HD Radio, multiple colour choices for the controls, and also the capability to set up to five smartphones on Bluetooth, but it tends to be considerably more costly than our top choice.