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Best Double Din Car Stereos

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 22 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 127 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best double DIN car stereos

    Last Updated December 2018

    While most consumer products have adapted to the dizzyingly rapid pace of technology, there’s one that’s still playing catch-up: the car stereo. Because car ownership cycles are longer than most products, by the time a car is five years old, its stereo is already woefully outdated.

    Thankfully, that’s changing, and double DIN car stereos are here to bring smartphone-level convenience to our cars. The term “double DIN” refers to size; a double DIN car stereo takes up twice the amount of space as a traditional car stereo.

    Grabbing a double DIN car stereo is the perfect way to modernize your commute, whether you’re looking to bring podcasts to life or you want to find the easiest way to get somewhere. At BestReviews, we’re on a mission to help you find the double DIN car stereo that best suits your needs. Read on for our shopping guide, and when you’re ready to start browsing, check out our recommended models.

    Not sure whether your vehicle can accommodate a double DIN car stereo? You may need a dash kit – a custom plastic mold made specifically for your car make and model. You’ll need to install the dash kit before you install your new car stereo. If you’re not comfortable modifying your car’s dashboard, consider hiring a professional to handle the job.

    Key features to look for

    Most double DIN car stereos come with a long list of features. This can make it difficult to compare models side by side. Some features, like connectivity options, are well worth it. Others, like DVD playback, don’t do a lot to improve your driving experience. Here are the features we consider essential on double DIN car stereos.

    • Bluetooth: Whether you want to stream music from your smartphone to your car or take hands-free calls while you’re driving, Bluetooth support is fast becoming an essential feature. Be sure to read the fine print carefully when shopping; some older or budget car stereo models support Bluetooth for phone calls but don’t allow Bluetooth music streaming.

    • CarPlay or Android Auto: CarPlay and Android Auto are special menus that allow you to interact with your iPhone (if you use CarPlay) or Android phone (if you use Android Auto) through your car stereo’s interface. They’re designed to get you the things you need from your phone – music, directions, urgent alerts – while minimizing distractions so you can keep your hands on the wheel.

    • GPS navigation: Car GPS is typically a lot easier (and safer) to use than smartphone GPS. Car stereos with GPS navigation usually cost a few hundred dollars more than those without it, but for many, the peace of mind of knowing you’ll never get lost is worth it.

    • MP3 and FLAC compatibility: For drivers with large personal digital music collections, digital audio support is a must. Most double DIN car stereos support common audio formats like MP3 or M4A, and some higher-end models include support for high-resolution audio formats like FLAC or WAV. If you plan to listen to your personal collection in the car, make sure the car stereo you buy can play every file format you have.

    Future tech for older cars

    Pioneer’s AVH-X390BS is perfect for anyone looking to breathe new life into an older car. With a resistive touchscreen, built-in Bluetooth, support for music streaming apps, and a DVD player, it’s a full entertainment center that can bring any vehicle back to the future.

    Car stereo installation: DIY or get help?

    One of the big questions you’ll need to consider when shopping for a double DIN car stereo is if you want to install it yourself. The decision you make could save you money – or it could leave you in over your head.

    Here are some pros and cons to consider:

    • Installing your car stereo yourself is the most affordable option, as most pro installers charge an hourly fee that can add up quickly. However, car stereo installation isn’t “plug and play.” A custom dash kit, as well as additional adapters and wire harnesses, may be required. If you’re comfortable modifying your car and have experience with wiring car audio equipment, the DIY approach makes sense.

    • Hiring a professional to install your car stereo costs more, but you get the reassurance that everything will work properly. Pro installers know which hardware to use for your specific car, and in most cases, the installer can connect your stereo to your car’s existing tech – steering wheel, rear backup camera, and so on. For most people, hiring a professional is the better option.
    DID YOU KNOW?

    Most double DIN car stereos don’t include a microphone but are compatible with car microphones. If your car doesn’t already have a built-in microphone for Bluetooth phone calls, remember to budget money to buy one.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some marketing materials make it sound like you need to buy new speakers with a new double DIN car stereo. While new speakers are nice, they’re not necessary for you to enjoy high-quality audio from a double DIN car stereo.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Most double DIN display screens are between five and seven inches. As you compare products, think about how much screen you need. A larger screen is easier to read and interact with, but it will also cost more.

    Double DIN car stereo prices

    Not every car stereo “bargain” is truly a good deal. As you’re shopping, keep these price ranges in mind.

    • Between $100 and $249, you’ll find budget models that offer the basics (like Bluetooth support) and skimp on some key luxuries (like a capacitive touchscreen). If you can live with sub-par interfaces and the occasional lag – or if you don’t expect your car to last more than a few years – it’s easy to find a good bargain.

    • Between $250 and $799, there is a mix of incredible values and almost-but-not-quite models. Stereos on the low end will leave out key features like USB input. Stereos on the high end often include built-in GPS navigation. If you’re looking for a model that works beautifully with your smartphone, you’ll need to spend at least $250 – and spending significantly more would likely be worth it.

    • Between $800 and $1,500, you’ll find double DIN car stereos that bring the kitchen sink and then some. Expect a full range of software features (like native apps for Pandora and Spotify) and hardware upgrades (like capacitive touchscreens). In this case, the extra money is buying you luxury – slicker finishes, smoother menus, and more conveniences – which may or may not be worth it to you.

    The Swiss army knife of car stereos

    BOSS Audio’s no-nonsense car stereo is a bargain for anyone who needs to add basic music functionality to their car. While the interface can be a little pokey to use, its comes with a surprisingly complete suite of connectivity options for bringing your own music, including options like USB, SDcard, Bluetooth, and a feature not found on many modern stereos: a CD player.

    Tips

    • If you buy a car stereo with a MicroSD or USB input, buy a MicroSD card or USB flash drive, and put your personal music files on it for use in the car. Most double DIN car stereos support at least one USB input, and using a flash drive is a great way to make sure your favorite tunes are always in the car. What’s more, you’ll never have to fuss with your smartphone connection.

    • If your car has a front dash cam and backup camera, make sure the stereo you buy has inputs for both. Some double DIN car stereos have only one video input, which is traditionally for rear backup cameras. However, many newer models have multiple video inputs, so you can use the screen to help you park and record any important events happening in front of your car with a dashcam.

    • If you buy a double DIN car stereo with a touchscreen, make sure the screen is capacitive and not resistive. There are two types of car stereo touchscreens. Resistive touch screens are an older, less-expensive technology that requires you to push the screen firmly for input. Capacitive screens are the ones used in smartphones and tablets. Capacitive touchscreens support additional features like pinch-to-zoom and typically cost more than their resistive counterparts. If you want the easiest experience available, get a car stereo with a capacitive touchscreen.
    Installers who also sell car stereos may advertise low car stereo prices that don’t include parts and labor costs. Keep these potentially “hidden” charges in mind as you shop.

    FAQ

    Q. Many car stereos list “iPod compatibility” as a feature. Will these models work natively with my Android phone?

    A. No. When a car stereo lists iPod compatibility, it means that it includes software that can play music from your iTunes library, and iTunes is only available on iPhones and iPods. If you plug an Android phone into a car stereo that has iPod compatibility, it may charge your phone, but you won’t be able to access music on your Android phone from the car stereo touchscreen. That said, car stereos with Android Auto or custom apps can play music from an Android phone.

    Q. What are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

    A. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are specially designed interfaces for using smartphones in the car. Apple CarPlay supports iPhones, and Android Auto supports Android phones. With a car stereo that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can connect your phone and easily access and control your apps from your car stereo screen.

    If you can’t imagine a drive without music from your phone or assistance from your favorite GPS app, get a car stereo that supports your smartphone with either CarPlay or Android Auto.

    Q. If my car stereo has GPS, will I be able to keep the maps updated?

    A. Yes. Most double DIN car stereos that have GPS navigation include a USB port. When the manufacturer provides map updates, you can download the files to a USB drive, attach it to your car stereo, and follow the upgrade procedure. To learn more, consult your car stereo manual.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Gadjo
      Gadjo
      Writer
    • Jaime
      Jaime
      Writer
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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