Best Car Stereo

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Updated Feb 14, 2024 1:11 PM
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Table of Contents

To pick the best car stereo, you must determine what’s most important. Some people focus on power, while others focus on design and connectivity. To pick our nominations, we looked at the following: connectivity, size, stereo interfaces, steering wheel control integration, display, and value-added features. Once you figure out whether your car supports a single-DIN or double-DIN car stereo, you’ll want to think about connectivity — how you access media or connect your smart devices to your car. You’ll also need to consider safety features like steering wheel controls and whether you can customize the display or natively manage apps within the car stereo receiver.

After considering all of the above, we selected the Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver with a 6.2” WVGA Display as our Top Pick. While it’s only compatible with double-DIN stereo cars, this is ideal for Apple iPhone users since it natively supports Apple CarPlay. The large display, easy-to-use interface, and support for steering wheel controls and vehicle backup cameras make it a smart and safe choice for casual drivers and road warriors. Keep reading to learn more about the rest of our top picks.

Top 7 Car Stereos

#1 Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia Car Stereo

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: We believe this is the best double-DIN car stereo for Apple iPhone users because it features a large 6.2-inch display that comes with Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth support to seamlessly turn your car’s dash into an extension of your smartphone.

  • Best for iPhone
  • Includes DVD player
  • Vehicle backup camera integration
  • Expensive

If you’re firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, you know how frustrating it can be to use digital media controls from other brands. Pioneer takes the pain out of that with our Top Pick. The AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver is a smart choice for someone ready to upgrade their car stereo receiver to something that resembles swiping through their phone. We believe this is the best double-DIN car stereo for iPhone owners because it supports Apple’s CarPlay and offers so much functionality.

You’ll enjoy that you can customize the five display colors and that it is backlit with LEDs. The screen is 6.2 inches wide while also supporting touchscreen response. We also like that it’s Bluetooth-supported and can pair simultaneously with two devices. You also get a DVD player for those long car rides, and natively supported SiriusXM, Pandora, and Spotify. Station memory lets you quickly move to your favorite stations, and it also supports steering wheel controls and vehicle backup cameras for safer driving.

#2 BOSS Audio Systems BV9358B Car Stereo

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: This is the best car radio with aux and Bluetooth for those long road trips when you get tired of talking, thanks to the multiple media source and output options while also prioritizing safety by supporting steering wheel controls.

  • Best budget double-DIN
  • Includes USB charging port
  • Includes remote
  • Display colors aren’t customizable

Long car rides call for plenty of entertainment to keep everyone comfortable, regardless of how old everyone is. We selected the BOSS Audio Systems BV9358B Car DVD Player as our Honorable Mention because we feel it is the best car radio with aux and Bluetooth options for people who take frequent road trips. This double-DIN car stereo receiver features a 6.2-inch screen, a wide range of multimedia support, Bluetooth connectivity, and features to improve driving safety.

We like that you can choose so many media source options on this double din car stereo. These include physical options like CDs, DVDs, and SD memory cards up to 32GB. Meanwhile, you can choose to import media using USB, auxiliary input, or wirelessly with Bluetooth support. And the USB port charges devices too. You’ll also get pre-amp outputs to further customize your sound system. There’s also a remote control, giving people in the backseat more control as well. And for safety, steering wheel controls are supported, and backup vehicle cameras can also be integrated into the receiver. Car stereos are the funnest and best car accessories.

#3 ATOTO A6PF Android Double-DIN Android Car Navigation Stereo with Bluetooth

Award: Best Quality

WHY WE LIKE IT: We think this is one of the best car stereo receivers that’s made with Android users specifically in mind because it’s designed with that OS in mind, and includes the widest array of pre-installed multimedia and navigation apps that we found in our research.

  • Best for Android
  • Largest screen — 7”
  • Pre-installed multimedia & navigation apps
  • Steering wheel controller sold separately

iPhone owners shouldn’t be the only ones to find a car stereo receiver that’s made especially for them. While iPhone users can use the ATOTO A6PF Android Double-DIN Android Car Navigation Stereo with Bluetooth, it’s designed to natively support Android devices. We think it’s one of the best car stereo receivers for Android users because it was developed using Android 10.0 OS and comes with a wide range of media and navigation apps pre-installed, such as Pandora, Google Play, Spotify, and Google Maps. There’s also the EasyConnect app that makes pairing your devices easier. We also nominated it for Best Quality because of these key features/highlights. Note that this car stereo receiver can also work with iPhones, but it’s more intuitive for Android users. And you can choose between nine system languages for your display.

Android users can use USB, Bluetooth, or WiFi to connect their devices to this car stereo receiver. The dual Bluetooth design also allows multiple devices to pair simultaneously. We like that this receiver supports Micro USB and SD drive storage with 256GB for micro SD and one terabyte for USB. This receiver also offers the largest touchscreen in our guide at seven inches wide. We like that you have rear and front-facing camera integration for safety features. And while you will need to purchase a separate device to activate it, this car stereo receiver also supports integrated steering wheel controls.

#4 Sony MEX-N4200BT Single-DIN in-Dash Car Stereo

Award: Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the best single-DIN car stereos that are affordable with an anti-theft design and a CD player, making it ideal for compact dashes. It supports USB and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free operation, and core streaming radio apps like Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify are pre-installed to make your commute easier.

  • Best single-DIN
  • Anti-theft detachable faceplate
  • Bluetooth & USB connections supported
  • Not touchscreen

So far, the car stereo receivers we’ve highlighted are double-DIN models. But none of those options will be relevant if you have a single-DIN stereo receiver. While the Sony MEX-N4200BT might not offer a touchscreen as the double-DIN models can do, we do like that this affordable single din option is still packed with features, making it one of the best single-DIN car stereo options you can choose.

We like that this model supports Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary connectivity and also features a CD player — giving you a wealth of media source options. Dual Bluetooth connectivity allows multiple devices to pair simultaneously, and the built-in microphone lets you enjoy hands-free calls for safer driving. You’ll like that this comes with support for Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify. If theft is a concern, you’ll like that this single-DIN receiver features a removable faceplate (a common feature among single-DIN models). And the included remote also gives other passengers the freedom to adjust stations, volume, and equalizer controls while driving.

#5 JVC KWR930BT Car Stereo

Award: Best Color Controls

WHY WE LIKE IT: This double-DIN is one of the few to offer anti-theft protection thanks to the detachable faceplate. Plus, it has the most customizable color modes to make using your stereo easier regardless of light conditions.

  • Best anti-theft double-DIN
  • Steering wheel controls supported
  • Detachable faceplate
  • No touchscreen functionality

There’s nothing worse than walking to your car in the morning and finding that it’s been broken into by thieves. If you have a double-DIN stereo, you might be frustrated that most double-DIN stereo receivers aren’t designed with removable faceplates. But the JVC KWR930BT is one of the few that does. Because of this, we think that JVC’s model is one of the best double-DIN car stereos that offers anti-theft protection.

Aside from theft protection, we like that this is also the only double-DIN car stereo that gives you customization controls. Although it’s not a touchscreen model, you can control two separate color zones and 50 preset patterns to fit your mood or to match your car’s lighting system and current dash button colors. This model comes with a CD player but also supports SiriusXM, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify. Bluetooth allows for hands-free phone calls as well for safer driving. And you have the option to use the proprietary JVC Remote App to control your receiver. Good loud music feels great, and so does keeping your car safe, which is what the best car alarm is all about.

#6 Kenwood Single DIN Bluetooth Car Stereo Receiver

Award: Best Single-DIN RMS Rating

WHY WE LIKE IT: We think this is the top single-DIN car stereo receiver for serious audiophiles who want to be sure that their preferred receiver is powerful enough to support the amplifiers in their sound system.

  • Most powerful single-DIN
  • USB charging port
  • Comes with Alphasonik earbuds
  • No wireless remote

If the sound quality is everything for you, you might look at audio specs before reviewing anything else. We think that the Kenwood Bluetooth Car Stereo Receiver is one of the top single-DIN car stereos for people focused on power. With an RMS rating of 22, it’s the most powerful within the single-DIN category. But it offers so much more, including anti-theft protection with a removable faceplate.

We like that this single-DIN model features dual Bluetooth connectivity for simultaneous pairing with two devices. But you’ll also like that this receiver integrates seamlessly with Amazon Alexa, and supports Spotify and Pandora. There’s also a front USB and auxiliary port if you prefer a wired connection. And as a bonus, this car stereo receiver comes with a pair of Alphasonik earbuds. The best car charger is another must-have accessory to keep your car on the road.

#7 Alpine UTE-73BT Car Stereo

Award: Best Simple Design

WHY WE LIKE IT: A dual platform streamlined supportive single-DIN car stereo that comes with a built-in CD player and supports Bluetooth for streaming your favorite audio apps.

  • Android & Apple compatible
  • CD player
  • Bluetooth supported
  • Most expensive single-DIN

Although the Alpine UTE-73BT car stereo receiver isn’t as feature-heavy as some of the other single-DIN car stereo receivers in our guide, it’s a great option for the person who doesn’t need all of that functionality. While it’s pricier than the other single-DIN options, it’s compatible with Android and Apple devices, comes with a CD player, and supports Bluetooth connectivity.

You’ll enjoy hands-free calling that includes phone book access to your contact. And the fact that Siri is supported with this receiver also means you have no excuse to touch your phone. The front USB port and auxiliary inputs give you multiple options for media sources. The best cars have killer stereos, after all.

How We Decided

The customer who shops for a car stereo receiver is quite varied. Some people focus on output stats, while others want connectivity features. To create our guide, we looked at the following features — connectivity, size, stereo interfaces, steering wheel control integration, display, and value-added features.

For size, you have a choice between single-DIN and double-DIN. Our Top Pick, Honorable Mention, Best Quality, and #5 are all double-DIN models, while our Best Budget, #6, and #7 are all single-DIN options. Before you begin your search, you’ll need to confirm that your car’s stereo dash is compatible with either of these models.

For connectivity, we’ve featured a range of options. All of the models in our guide support wired (USB and auxiliary) connections and Bluetooth. But except for our #5 choice, the double-DIN models also offer Wi-Fi connections that give you the freedom to connect via proprietary Apple and Android apps. Stereo interfaces are also important. If the touchscreen is a priority, you’ll want to focus on our Top Pick, Honorable Mention, and Best Quality recommendations. All feature large touch screens (with our Best Quality being the biggest) with additional physical buttons.

Likewise, if you don’t want to give up safety features, the double-DIN car stereo receivers tend to be the best bet. While all of our recommendations support hands-free calls, The Top Pick, Honorable Mention, and Best Quality all support steering wheel controls as well as rear and front-facing cameras.

Double-DIN receivers are the way to go if you prefer a larger display. However, for more control over the color display, we recommend the #5 pick since it gives you a wide range of color variations that you can customize to match your car’s interior lighting system.

And hands down, the double-DIN car stereo receivers offer the most value-added benefits. From preloaded media apps like Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio to supportive connectivity features like EasyConnect (on our Best Quality), and even additional media source options such as SD or microSD, you won’t struggle to find ways to connect media. However, all of the models on our list support USB and auxiliary media connections.

Best Car Stereos Buying Guide

When choosing the best car stereo in 2024, you don’t want to just pick up any great car audio. No, the best thing to do is to read plenty of car stereo reviews, which you can find on our site.

As you browse some of the best car stereo systems online for good audio quality, you’ll find that leading car radios in 2024 are not the same as your dad’s or grandpa’s car radios. These top-rated car stereos have more additional features, like Bluetooth, capacitive touchscreen, voice controls, and more. And, many of the best in-dash car stereos are much easier to install than before. You can just follow the installation instructions provided, follow the installation process, then enjoy your new stereo. And if you want your Jeep to look as nice as it sounds with a new stereo system, check out our page on the best Jeep soft top.

So, keep the following key factors in mind as you shop for the best car audio systems.

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Connectivity
    These days, people like to integrate their smartphones into their cars with the use of a top stereo for a car. Look for systems with built-in Bluetooth to seamlessly stream content and audio features like playlists, navigation, podcasts, and audiobooks from your music library. An intuitive capacitive touchscreen display offers simple controls right from the dashboard. Voice commands allow for hands-free control of music and calls while driving.
    • Whether that means you’re playing your favorite music or relying on your phone’s mapping apps for navigation support like Apple Maps, all of this is infinitely easier when you can easily sync your phone with your car’s stereo system.
    • While syncing with a USB cord is more than enough for some, others may prefer Bluetooth or wireless connectivity on these products for a more convenient audio experience.
    • Keep in mind, though, that if you are looking for a car stereo receiver that specifically supports CarPlay for Apple iPhones or Android Auto, you’ll need to make sure that the stereo includes a built-in WiFi network as neither of those proprietary syncing systems works with Bluetooth. Keep in mind the price increase as well.
    • Moreover, any extras, such as an external amplifier, video playback, and intuitive controls, will also increase prices. 
  2. Compatibility (single-DIN vs double-DIN)
    As with most things, you should always check to ensure that the car stereo you’re buying is compatible in terms of size and wiring support for your car. In addition, when shopping for the best aftermarket radio, consider factors such as Bluetooth compatibility and auxiliary input support to ensure you’re getting the most out of your car audio purchase.
    • Most car stereo receivers are designed to fit in either a single-DIN or double-DIN dash opening. A double-DIN opening is seven by four inches, while a single-DIN is seven by two inches.
    • While all aftermarket stereo systems list their size as either single- or double-DIN, you might not be able to tell automatically which size is compatible with your car.
    • In fact, researching the best aftermarket car stereo and finding out which size is suitable for your vehicle is paramount to a successful installation. Furthermore, researching the best car radios will give you an idea of what features are available in each product, such as Bluetooth capability or hands-free calling.
    • So, always do your homework before buying any car stereo; otherwise, the installation will be a big problem.
    • What’s more, modern car stereos come with installation kits for added installation versatility. As you’ll find, many new models come with a 7-inch touchscreen display and all the necessary installation components.
    • For those looking for the best car stereo 2023, many believe that the best stereo system for a car is one that offers a built-in amplifier. This makes it easier to manage the audio signal from your car’s speakers and overall sound quality. In addition, there are many good options for the best car stereo with a built-in amplifier available.
  3. Power
    For the average car stereo shopper, the standard amplifier and channels that came with their car’s factory system are more than sufficient since this type of shopper is simply looking to upgrade their stereo receiver.
    • But if you’re a serious audiophile, you might be looking to completely overhaul your car’s sound system.
    • Modern car stereos come with a range of advanced features, including dual USB ports for USB connectivity and multiple customizable audio settings.
    • If that’s the case, you should be looking for the best Bluetooth car stereo, or at least one with the best car stereo brand sound quality from a trusted brand. There are plenty of options out there when it comes to the best car stereo brands, but finding one with the perfect blend of features and sound quality can be tricky.
    • If this sounds familiar, you’ll need to consider how much power your speakers are designed to handle.
    • And that requires confirming the RMS — a figure that outlines how much continuous power speakers can support.
    • The RMS for your intended car stereo receiver needs to match the RMS rating on your car’s current speaker system, or the car audio system you plan on installing.
  4. Stereo Interface
    Considering that you’ll most likely be driving while your car’s stereo is on, you’ll want an interface that’s easy to use. When researching the best car radio brands and the best car radio for sound quality, don’t forget to check their user-friendliness.
    • While you should always be careful while driving, options like big on-screen buttons and larger fonts can help to reduce distractions.
    • And, having great audio control on the user interface is an ideal benefit. This is ideal on touchscreen car stereos, but you should also be mindful of the physical buttons or knobs.
    • Physical controls can help drivers keep an eye on the road for longer and feel their way around the stereo unit. All of them should be easy to use, with a good hand feel and responsive movement.
    • Gadget reviews can provide more information on the exact feel and responsiveness of each unit’s controls.
  5. Steering Wheel Controls Support
    For most newer cars from the last decade or so, you can control your car’s factory audio system, track selection, and source straight from the steering wheel. This is ideal because it helps to reduce the risk of distractions. If you’re looking to buy a new car stereo, you should look for models that can support this important feature. But keep in mind that this feature can force you to look towards more expensive models, or require that you also invest in a wiring harness to integrate those features into your new car stereo.
  6. Screen Size & Display
    Screen size tends to go hand in hand with your budget. Responsive touch controls create a seamless, luxurious user experience while driving. If you prefer a mostly touchscreen display, these tend to offer larger screen sizes — but can be pricier. For budget shoppers, there’s usually a compromise between touchscreen and physical buttons or knobs. However, while these models are cheaper, the screens tend to be smaller and with more limited single-touch functionality. Likewise, some people are very into customization. So a car stereo that allows you to adjust the display color themes may be very important to you. This can include changing the button colors on the display or even creating daytime and nighttime modes to make using your car stereo easier in varying light conditions.
  7. Value-added Features
    Especially if you spend a lot of time in your car, you might want a car stereo that does more than offer auxiliary or digital radio support. Other value-added features that can be very important include built-in navigation system, multitouch control, climate control, remote controls, additional power output for improved sound, streaming audio support (i.e. Pandora, Spotify, etc.), HD radio for enhanced broadcast radio signals, or even CD/DVD players, and video inputs and outputs. The last two features may come in handy if you’re going on a long road trip and need to keep children entertained. Then the handy features like built-in GPS navigation and phone integration features can serve multiple functions. They enhance your driving experience by letting you enjoy certain things like the music on your own phone, like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Some users may appreciate a familiar navigation system too such as Apple Maps. Apple users can also appreciate real-time map updates in Apple Maps in case you need to suddenly change routes for a shorter ETA. Some of these extra features might only be available on higher-priced stereos, but the extra money might be worth it to you.

Best Car Stereo Questions (FAQ)

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