Best car stereos

Turn up your commute's volume with the best car stereos on the market

best car stereos
Car stereos aren’t as simple as they used to be. Some merely make your commute a little bit louder with no extras to speak of, but more advanced models propel you into the age of touch screen-based infotainment systems even if you drive a 1987 Pontiac Le Mans. If you’re ready for an upgrade, check out the best car stereos currently available brand-new. Consider getting new speakers while you’re at it, too, for the full “new car sound” experience without the 60-month loan.

Sony XAV-AX100 ($348+)

Sony XAV-AX100

Sony’s XAV-AX100 figures on the growing list of aftermarket car stereos compatible with Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay. This unit works with both, offering users a 6.4-inch screen they can navigate with their fingers, with voice commands, or by turning a convenient rotary dial. Music fans will appreciate the built-in 10-band equalizer, while those who get queasy at the thought of parallel parking will feel better after turning on the rear-view camera. Note the XAV-AX100 doesn’t include the hardware required for your car to see what’s behind it; it’s just compatible with built-in systems.

See it

Pioneer MVH-X390BT ($94+)

Pioneer MVH-X390BT

CDs are so 1997, right? Pioneer’s MVH-X390BT should be your go-to aftermarket car stereo if you think the compact disc belongs in a museum with the Apple II, the VCR, and the original Grand Theft Auto game. It’s a Bluetooth receiver that lets users stream music and make hands-free calls, provided it’s installed in a car with a microphone. Don’t worry, adding an aftermarket microphone is cheap and easy if needed. There is a USB port, too, but the MVH-X390BT doesn’t include a CD player. The cool part is it’s compatible with the free Pioneer ARC App, which turns any compatible smartphone into a remote control.

See it

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X701 ($155+)

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X701

The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X701 performs well as a mid-range stereo. It’s not as basic as cheaper units on the market, and it’s certainly not as advanced as high-end models, but it offers good sound with a bass boost function and a 13-band equalizer. Bluetooth connectivity lets users stream music directly from a smartphone, and it turns the device into a remote control after users download Kenwood’s free remote app. Better yet, the KDC-X701 can connect to two phones at the same time.

See it

Pioneer AVH-X490BS ($244+)

Pioneer AVH-X490BS

The central component of Pioneer’s AVH-X490BS is a 7.0-inch screen with an acceptable resolution of 800×480 pixels. You’ll need a big enough slot in your dashboard to install it, meaning it likely won’t fit in older cars without crafty fabrication work. Pioneer points out the wired USB connection makes for a clean, clear sound when a smartphone or an iPhone is plugged in, and the AVH dispenses enough electricity to prevent your device’s battery from running low. Bluetooth connectivity and a built-in amp are both included, navigation is available at an extra cost, and users can download apps like Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM.

See it

Alpine CDE-143BT ($113+)

Alpine CDE-143BT

We wouldn’t recommend Alpine’s CDE-143BT to a true, dyed-in-the-wool audiophile because it’s a relatively basic unit. Instead, it’s a great option for those who simply want to replace a broken stereo, or those who buy a car without one to begin with. It bundles the fundemental features you expect in a modern-day stereo (including Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, and a high-speed USB port) in a straight-forward package that’s easy to install and won’t break the bank. It’s a discreet-looking unit too, so it blends in regardless of the type of car it goes into.

See it


Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Smart Home

Which is better, the original Echo or the Echo Dot? We compare them

Amazon Echo vs. Dot: Having Alexa answer your questions is nothing short of futuristic, but which device should you get? There are some big differences between the two, especially in size, sound, and cost.

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…

REI cuts prices on Osprey, Patagonia, and The North Face backpacks

Whether you're hiking, camping, or traveling, you're always going to need a decent bag to carry your things in. And with REI's Outlet sale going on right now, it's is a perfect time to pick one up for cheap.

Guard your Galaxy with the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are two of the best phones to ever grace this planet -- but the screen still isn't brick-proof. Here are the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors to keep yours safe.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Mercedes wants to turn your car into a comfortable shopping mall on wheels

Mercedes-Benz designed its MBUX infotainment system with e-commerce in mind. Motorists can upgrade compatible cars via an over-the-air software updating system, but the brand wants to take this technology to the next level.

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.

2020 Cadillac CT5 luxury sedan gets turbocharged power, chiseled looks

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 replaces the CTS in the General Motors luxury brand's lineup. Cadillac will unveil the CT5 at the 2019 New York Auto Show in April. Until then, it's keeping most details under wraps.

Bentley’s 542-horsepower Continental GT V8 is the best kind of downsizing

The Bentley Continental GT V8 has fewer cylinders than its W12 sibling, but Bentley expects it to offer better gas mileage and more agile handling. The V8's top speed of 198 mph is also pretty darn fast.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.