The 8 Best Car Stereo Systems to Buy in 2017

Pump up the jams in your car with these car stereos

Looking to upgrade your car's stereo system with something that packs a little more oomph? We’ve put together a list of the seven best car stereo systems that you can get for your vehicle (either old or new) that’ll enhance your listening experience. Many of these car stereo systems are built with a user experience that has the same familiarity and functionalities as your smartphone. And companies like Apple and Google offer in-system apps that synchronize with your respective devices. So whether you’re aiming for assured connectivity, clear radio signaling, or want something with familiar accessibility, there’s a car stereo system for everybody. Read on to see which best suits your needs.

There are a ton of car stereo systems, but if you’re unsure of where to start, you should take a glance at the Pioneer AVH-X5800BHS. This is a powerful, high-performance stereo system that likely does a heck of a lot more than the one that came with your car, truck or SUV.

Since you probably use your smartphone as a personal life remote control, you’ll love that the Pioneer AVH-X5800BHS works with the latest iPhone and Android models and lets you play music or take calls via a USB cable or using Bluetooth. This receiver also lets you use Pioneer’s AppRadio One, a smartphone app that connects to the receiver and lets you control some of your phone’s apps on the receiver’s seven-inch touchscreen display. It’s also compatible with Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM and HD Radio, so there are plenty of choices for listening to music, news or sports.

Amazon reviewers have been extremely happy with this model, granting it an average 4.5 out of 5 stars. Many of the users said this model was outstanding, but complained that it did not have well-documented instructions for installation, so we’d recommend doing your research before attempting an install or having a professional install it.

Let’s say you’re crazy about music. You’re the sort of person that won’t go to a concert because the sound quality of a venue isn’t good enough or someone that won’t listen to an album unless it’s in the high-quality FLAC format. This means you’re also the kind of person who needs a car stereo that can do and play anything. Let us introduce you to the Pioneer AVH-4200NEX.

The Pioneer AVH-4200NEX features a seven-inch screen and an astounding level of compatibility with music files and smartphones. It can play FLAC, MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV audio files and MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI, DivX and WMV video files. For smartphones, it works with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so no matter what type of phone you have, this thing can run with it. When it comes to music services, the AVH-4200NEX is compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM and you can use its Bluetooth connectivity for both music and calling.

Amazon reviewers have been over the moon for this model, and they especially love the interactivity of between the receiver and iOS and Android phones. They also highly recommend updating the firmware the first time you turn it on to make sure you have access to all the latest features and to get rid of any old software bugs.

A lot of the audio systems on the list come with just a one-year warranty. However, the Creative Car Audio brings in their Fusion MS-RA205 Marine to the table, which is a powerful audio system with a generous three-year factory warranty – the longest offered on the list.

The Fusion MS-RA205 Marine features AM/FM, VHF, USB, iPod, iPhone, AUX and Sirius XM radio capabilities. It comes with a VHF receiver and is NMEA 2000 certified with FUSION-link enabling, one of the highest standards in marine-based equipment across the board. It measures 9.2 x 7 x 3.8 inches, weighs 2.6 pounds and has four channels with a 50W output.

Those with iPods or iPhones will be delighted with the device’s video playback and compatibility. It supports most iPod models and has an optional MS-DKIPUSB or MS-UNIDOCK dock for support. The iPod menu structure offers a wide range of accessibilities on how you’re able to play your songs.

One Amazon.com user raved about the company’s quick response in replacing their item with no questions asked. Unfortunately, the audio system doesn’t come with a beautiful visual display like the other systems on the list, and one Amazon.com buyer said the instructions are hard to follow.

The Pyle PLDNAND621 comes with a built-in Android OS computer with a Quad Core 1.6 Ghz Cortex A9 processor, and it’s one of the only car stereo systems on the list that gives users a tablet like functionality.

The Pyle PLDNAND621 offers a full 1080 HD output LCD screen resolution on a 6” touchscreen display. It features a multi-touch capacity display monitor with 3G WiFi mobile hotspot and wireless streaming capabilities with Internet browsing included. It has built-in GPS navigation and includes a CD/DVD player with integrated Google Maps and Google Play Store. The device weighs six pounds and is 10 x 7.2 x 12.2 inches.

Like your Android phone, this car stereo system has a unlock tablet-style functionality. It streams music from your mobile devices with its Bluetooth connectivity, and includes 16 GB device storage so you can store your pictures, files and music. There’s a USB flash driver and Micro SD Card input, and the system doubles as an AM/FM radio with a 30-station preset memory.

Some Amazon.com users have expressed their appreciation for the ease of use and how it sticks to the Android OS form for user experience. On the other hand, a few Amazon.com users have said that the device loses GPS signals easily and that wireless connectivity can be troublesome. 

Serious music lovers should look no further when finding a car stereo system with clear radio reception. The Alpine Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo comes with high quality HD radio signals for clean and clear reception.

The Alpine Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo system is a 9.06 x 3.94 x 10.63-inch and 4.41-pound car stereo system with a single DIN and faceplate security. Its peak power gives it an output of 50 watts through four channels while its RMS power offers 18 watts with four channels. It has preamp RCA outputs for front, rear as well as a dedicated subwoofer. The device comes with a nine-band built-in equalizer with LCD text display with four selectable colors, and includes a 105 dB with an AM/FM tuner and CD signal-to-noise. It’s compatible with your iPhone and Android smartphones, too.

What makes the Alpine stand out from the rest of the car stereo system is that it’s built for HD radio. It has a built-in HD radio tuner designed to capture the best reception and deliver the clearest sound. You’ll have no problem streaming Pandora Internet Radio from your phone and capture Sirius XM satellite radio signals. 

Some Amazon.com users have wrote that the system has a tendency to glitch with Pandora if using a Samsung S3. Other Amazon.com users have nothing to complain about, with one claiming that it has “every input known to man”. It comes with a one-year warranty.

When it comes to car stereo systems, very few receivers will blow you away when it comes to design, as most of the high-end systems look similar. That said, we appreciate a clean and useful design approach on any car system. Enter the Kenwood DDX774BH, a simple and refined car stereo with lots of versatility that will work with many types of vehicles.

The Kenwood DDX774BH has a 6.95-inch touch LCD display with LED backlighting that is bright and easy to read. There’s also a USB port that enables you to connect and charge your Android or iOS smartphone. Oh, and up to five Bluetooth devices can be connected at one time, so all your friends and family members riding in the car can select what tunes they want to hear.

There are also a lot inputs and outputs on this model to ensure strong customization options. For inputs, this model has a rear USB input, rear A/V input, front- and rear-view camera inputs, and for outputs, it has rear video output and six-channel pre-amp outputs.

While this model does not have a ton of reviews because it is relatively new, previous Kenwood models including this receiver’s predecessor have all gotten high marks.

Most high-end stereo systems offered today have resistive touchscreens. These are fine and often do the trick, but they aren’t as good as capacitive touchscreens, which are more responsive and featured on today’s best smartphones. If you’re looking for a car stereo that has the touch response of a smartphone (and plays well with them), you need to see the flagship Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX.

The AVIC-8200NEX is a true beast with outstanding compatibility with iOS and Android. It features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software, which means you can do things like bring up the native Maps or Music apps from your phone and control them via the stereo touchscreen. One thing that’s especially cool that the touchscreen enables is multi-touch gestures, so you can pinch to zoom when you have the Maps app open. (It sounds small, but try for a second to imagine your phone without pinch to zoom and you’ll see why it’s a good feature.)

This model also has great music and radio connectivity, with support for Pandora, SiriusXM, HD Radio and real-time traffic data from more than 90 North American cities from the Total Traffic & Weather Network. It also has built-in navigation with nearly eight million points of interest in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

For those that are seeking more than just a high-powered audio system, this one’s for you. The CarShow by Rosen is designed for 2006-2013 GM vehicles and features a stunning GPS visual navigation system.

The CarShow by Rosen is a full color 7” LCD touchscreen display with in-dash AM/FM radio, CD and MP3 compatibility, and features a USB receiver. It allows for a two-way iPod control so you can control from the iPod or the stereo. You can customize the interface with a seven-screen button highlight color option and eight background skin options. It includes parrot Bluetooth for hands-free interface with A2DP music streaming and voice dialing. The system accommodates your GPS navigation with OnStar, steering wheel controls, door chimes, audible turn signals, rear seat video and rear seat audio controls.

The audio system has a peak of 50 watts from its four channels with an RMS of 19 watts for four channels. It measures 13 x 12 x 9 inches and weighs 8.7 pounds. Sound quality comes from the award-winning Bose Centerpoint Audio.

Some Amazon.com said that they would like to see HD radio and improved customization, but that despite this, the navigational system is perfect. Others have said the customer service is virtually non-existent and that the touch screen isn’t as responsive as they’d like it to be.

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