You can keep your eyes on the road while playing music, checking text messages, and getting directions thanks to Apple CarPlay. An extension of your iPhone, CarPlay allows some of your favorite iOS apps to appear on your vehicle’s dashboard while driving. It lets you call up maps in Waze, play music on Spotify, listen to audiobooks from Libby, and much more with only a few commands. If your vehicle doesn’t have CarPlay built-in, this list of the best Apple CarPlay head units will help you upgrade your ride with the latest technology.
Don’t just want a new head unit? Here is a complete list of every car compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Best CarPlay head unit overall: Pioneer AVH-2400NEX
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a solid Apple CarPlay experience and SiriusXM satellite radio compatibility.
Why we picked the Pioneer AVH-2400NEX:
With what appears to be a ton of CarPlay head units available on the market, Pioneer has continued to deliver reliable, well-built options for Apple fans. The AVH-2400NEX offers support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — just in case another member of the family is flying a different flag. The double-DIN connection includes a multimedia receiver, and the unit is SiriusXM-ready for those who prefer to listen to satellite radio. No matter how you choose to use this Pioneer unit, everything is easily visible on the large, vivid 7.0-inch LCD touchscreen.
Additionally, built-in Bluetooth allows the unit to be connected wirelessly to smartphones and other devices with an appropriate connection for music streaming and phone calls. The Pioneer AVH-2400NEX sports a price that makes it a truly excellent value. If your vehicle supports double-DIN head units, and you aren’t sure which option to pick, this Pioneer is a safe choice that we know will satisfy.
Best CarPlay head unit with large display: Dual Electronics DMCPA11BT
Why you should buy this: It offers up an extra-large 10.1-inch touchscreen LCD that can be tilt-adjusted for the best possible view while driving.
Who’s it for: Technology lovers who want CarPlay prominent in their vehicle and those who may have a hard time reading smaller text and imagery.
Why we picked the Dual Electronics DMCPA11BT:
This CarPlay head unit from Dual Electronics has been sold under a few brand names and model numbers, but here it is called the DMCPA11BT. Despite being a rather generic double-DIN option, it works very well and sports one of the largest displays we have seen at 10.1 inches. The extra-large capacitive touchscreen offers up a 1024 x 600 resolution, keeping your maps and album artwork crystal clear. The screen can also be tilted forward or back 10 degrees to obtain the perfect viewing angle while driving.
If you get bored with Apple CarPlay, you can also utilize the Dual’s two USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, or microSD card slot. Those not of the Apple persuasion can still enjoy the unit, thanks to built-in support for Android Auto. Some features are lacking here, such as SiriusXM support, but for those who want to get CarPlay in their vehicle on a generously-sized display, this unit from Dual Electronics gets the job done.
Best CarPlay head unit with wireless connectivity: Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX
Why you should buy this: It offers the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, either wired or wirelessly.
Who’s it for: Those who don’t mind spending quite a bit of extra money to obtain a wireless CarPlay experience and forgo messy wires.
Why we picked the Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX:
Wireless CarPlay allows you to ditch the lightning cable and have your iPhone automatically connect with your car’s head unit when the vehicle starts. If you’d prefer to leave your iPhone in your pocket, purse, or bag, the Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX is the perfect solution. It’s one of the few head units offering Wireless CarPlay, so you can choose whether you connect wired to the system (to charge, for example) or wirelessly for when you don’t want to be bogged down by cables. The wireless functionality even extends to Android Auto for all of your Google friends.
The Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX continues the trend of excellent Pioneer head units with its 7.0-inch display. However, we wish that the company would have gone with a better display at this price, rather than the resistive touchscreen it selected. Other features include the addition of HD Radio for those who want to listen to their favorite FM stations with a higher level of clarity and built-in Wi-Fi certified Miracast compatibility for wireless mirroring. Just ensure you have room in your car for a double-DIN head unit before purchasing.
Best CarPlay head unit with single-DIN connection: Alpine iLX-F259
Why you should buy this: The large 9.0-inch touchscreen makes it easy to control CarPlay, Android Auto, or SiriusXM radio while you drive.
Who’s it for: Drivers of cars and trucks that contain only a single DIN slot for installing an aftermarket head unit.
Why we picked the Alpine iLX-F259:
If your car or truck dash is on the smaller side, or your auto manufacturer has simply chosen only to make a single-DIN available for installing a head unit, then the Alpine iLX-F259 should catch your eye. Not only is the Alpine the best single-DIN head unit available on the market, it’s one of the only — there are a few out there, but nothing else that catches our attention. Despite the iLX-F259 only requiring a single DIN, it still delivers everything you’re seeking, including support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
The floating head unit screen presents a clean appearance on your dash, but make sure it doesn’t block anything above it, such as climate controls. When installing, you can select the tilt position of the screen and then lock it in place with the included screws. If you don’t want wires running from your head unit, you can use the built-in Bluetooth for music streaming and phone calls. However, CarPlay will require plugging into the unit directly with a certified lightning cable.
Best CarPlay head unit on a budget: Boss Audio BVCP9685A
Why you should buy this: It provides a no-frills Apple CarPlay experience, along with touchscreen controls, Bluetooth connectivity, and a car radio.
Who’s it for: Those looking to install CarPlay into their vehicle without breaking the bank, and those who don’t need SiriusXM satellite or HD FM radio.
Why we picked the Boss Audio BVCP9685A:
Our head unit selection from Boss isn’t the most impressive option you’ll find on our list, but it remains a solid choice. Coming in at the lowest price, you can save a few hundred dollars easily by going with the BVCP9685A. Designed to work with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, simply connecting your device will enable you to take advantage of driving-approved smartphone apps on the 6.75-inch screen. The head unit also includes support for Bluetooth connections, as well as standard AM/FM radio.
If you’re into personalization, the audio controls on the left side of the head unit can be customized, selecting between a few different background colors to best suit your interior. We were also surprised to see a few features on this unit at such a low price, including AV inputs, a built-in EQ, and support for steering wheel controls with an additional interface. If you’re looking to get CarPlay into your vehicle, but don’t want to break the bank, the Boss Audio BVCP9685A is a solid choice.
- What is Apple CarPlay?
- The best Android Auto head units for 2020
- How to add Bluetooth to your car
- How to use Apple CarPlay
- The best CarPlay apps