Best Satellite Radio for Car

Shopping for the best satellite radio for your car can be a difficult process. There are a myriad of models, offering access to different satellite services, with a variety of control inputs. We’ve taken the guesswork out of your search by installing and testing out a number of the best regarded products on the market, ruling out units that were difficult to set up and ones that offered a paltry amount of stations or features.

Of the three satellite car radios on this list, the JVC KW-V25BT continually managed to impress. The product offered access to satellite radio leader SiriusXM, but also came out-of-the-box with functionality for Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio, not to mention Bluetooth. It also comes with a nifty feature called TuneStart, which allows you to rewind and pause content, making sure you never miss your favorite part of a song or radio show. Keep reading to discover more about this fantastic car radio which is the best satellite radio and the two other products that made the cut.

Top 3 Satellite Radio For Car Compared

 #1  JVC KW-V25BT – Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: The JVC KW-V25BT is the best satellite car radio on this list, with instant access to all of your favorite content providers, including SiriusXM, and the ability to stream from Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and even the ability to play video. It has a highly usable touchscreen, three built-in preamps to ensure sound quality, Bluetooth functionality and its the only product on this list to come with a backup camera.

Pros
  • Included backup camera takes guesswork out of pulling out
  • TuneStart feature allows for pausing and rewinding
  • Three onboard preamps increases sound quality
Cons
  • Short delay while pressing tactile buttons
  • OS seems a tad slow
  • Installation instructions were confusing

The JVC KW-V25BT offers up fantastic sound quality, thanks to a trio of preamp outputs that easily connect to each side speaker and your subwoofer. We found installation to be fairly simple, requiring just a flathead screwdriver and some thoughtful following of the manual, though mileage may very depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

The unit also comes packed in with a CD player, USB port and SD card reader, making it easy to play just about any content you can throw at it, be it audio or video. That’s right, this thing can play movies, which is perfect for the backseat driver in your life. On that note,the touchscreen is surprisingly robust, allowing you to switch from the product’s different modes with barely a thought. As a matter of fact, we found the touchscreen to be of a higher quality than the analog volume buttons on the side, which were slightly finicky.

The radio also comes with a handy backup camera, the only product on this list to do so. We found the camera to be incredibly practical, helping us out of a few sticky situations while pulling out of busy parking lots.

 #2  Sony DSXA415BT Digital Media Receiver – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sony DSXA415BT Digital Media Receiver is a nifty little satellite radio that combines Bluetooth functionality with NFC technology, meaning you can simply tap your phone on the volume knob to instigate a connection. It’s also fully voice activated, allowing for complete control over nearly aspect of its design just by saying a few words.

Pros
  • Voice controls integrate seamlessly with Siri or Google Assistant
  • Easy to install
  • Clear audio with plenty of volume
Cons
  • Button placement awkward, especially while driving
  • Screen is small with little useful information
  • Bluetooth occasionly drops out on long road trips

The Sony DSXA415BT Digital Media Receiver is certainly a no frills device, though it does offer full access to SiriusXM, along with instantaneous Bluetooth functionality. The unit features a space-saving face plate with room for six presets and some rudimentary EQ features, including a bass boost button. . This budget-friendly radio also offers a fantastic variety of voice control options, easily integrated with Siri or Google Assistant, which we found highly useful during our testing. If voice control isn’t your bag, the product comes shipped with a remote control.

This a great device for fans of SiriusXM satellite radio or for consumers looking for a simple and convenient Bluetooth setup. The built-in 4×55 w amplification delivered clear audio playback, with plenty of volume and very low distortion. The single DIN design also makes it a great choice for those with limited dashboard space.

 #3  SiriusXM SXPL1V1 Onyx Plus Satellite Radio – Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: The SiriusXM SXPL1V1 Onyx Plus Satellite Radio is the perfect device for those of you looking for a convenient and fuss-free way to listen to SiriusXM on the go. The Onyx is the easiest to install product on this list. Just mount it to the dash and plug it into your aux jack, follow some simple prompts on the color touchscreen and, voila, you are ready to go. Truly plug and play.

Pros
  • Installation was easiest on this list
  • Comes with three free months of SiriusXM
  • Also works with home stereo
Cons
  • No Bluetooth functionality
  • Required CR2 battery not included
  • Some older XM channels sound compressed

The SiriusXM SXPL1V1 Onyx Plus Satellite Radio dash mount design is such a game changer, and so easy, that we found ourselves swapping it out from vehicle to vehicle without a second thought, even bringing it indoors and to connect with a home stereo unit. The touchscreen is intuitive and the product offers plenty of presets, along with the option to pause, rewind and fast forward content with the press of a button.

Of course, this is a device exclusively for listening to SiriusXM broadcasts and archived content. It features no Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you cannot stream music and podcasts from your phone to this device. Still, this radio is truly a great deal, made even more so by the free three month “All Access” SiriusXM subscription that comes packed in.

How We Decided

There are almost as many satellite radios on the market as there are cars to put them in. To narrow down the list to the three above entrants, we instantly dismissed units that lacked access to market leader SiriusXM. We also wanted radios that could be installed easily in just a few minutes, ideally without the help of a professional.

There was also the price to consider. Not one of the items on this list will break the bank. We also wanted to make sure each product brought something unique to the table. The Onyx, for instance, offers an extremely easy install, while Sony’s radio is nearly fully voice controlled. Two of the three products on this list offer Bluetooth functionality, in addition to satellite radio, which means you would be hard pressed to run out of stuff to listen to on even the most grueling road trip.

Satellite Car Radio Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Single DIN vs Double DIN
    DIN, an acronym for the German phrase Deutsches Institut für Normung, refers to a series of internationally-recognized technical standards used by car stereo manufacturers and automobile makers. Simply put, a single DIN radio takes up half the space of its double DIN counterpart. Single DIN units take up less space, but often lack features such as color touchscreens. Check your car’s dashboard to see what kind of room you have to work with, and decide on a DIN size accordingly.
  2. Smartphone Integration
    The smartphone is handier than ever while traversing the road, offering access to streaming content and GPS-enabled navigation apps. Many satellite radios offer Bluetooth connectivity right out of the box, eliminating the need for external hardware. Handier still, some radios offer your favorite smartphone apps natively on the device itself, which means you can actually stow your phone in a pocket most of the time.
  3. Sound Quality
    Though the sound quality of your satellite radio will, of course, be mostly determined by the speakers you have installed in the car, there are several things modern products do to help enhance your baseline experience. Look for radios that have high quality preamp outputs, ideally three, one each for the stereo speakers and one more for the subwoofer. Additionally, satellite radios usually come with an array of EQ options, which will help you adjust the sound to your liking.
  4. Other Radio Options
    Sure, the primary use of a satellite radio is to access exclusive high quality content, such as the stations and programs on offer by SiriusXM, but having the ability to tune to your favorite FM and AM stations can be a real boon to the driving experience. Most, but not all, radios offer FM/AM receivers as a matter of course. Some higher end models come packed with the ability to access HD versions of FM/AM stations, which significantly boosts the audio quality.

There are also other options to consider. Our top pick contains a backup camera, for instance, which is fantastic for pulling out of tight spots. Some satellite radios offer voice control, remote control, CD players and various ports for external inputs, such as MP3 players and memory cards.

FAQs

  • Is SiriusXM the only true satellite content provider?
    Yes. The market used to support two major content providers, Sirius and XM, but the pair combined their assets in 2008. More recently, SiriusXM bought streaming service Pandora, bringing them into the fold.
  • How much does SiriusXM cost?
    SiriusXM is a subscription service, offering a variety of price options, depending on what you are looking for. The base package, which includes around 50 stations, is $9.99 per month, with each additional station on top of that costing around a quarter. Plans max out at $17.99 per month, no matter how many stations you’ve selected. This is, of course, subject to change.
  • Can I use my SiriusXM subscription across multiple radios?
    Yes, though there are some restrictions. The company does allow multiple radios to stream from the same account, which is perfect for two, or three, car households.

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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