The Best Car Stereos

The centerpiece of any vehicle’s audio system, a car stereo is a useful component of your vehicle, and makes the ride much more enjoyable. From playing music, to controlling rear video screens, a car stereo performs many functions.

Even with the best stereo, you want to ensure your vehicle has the best car speakers you can afford, in order to maximize your sound experience. Keeping your audio accessories powered properly is easy with the right car battery.

Finding the best car stereo for your vehicle means reading reviews, studying product features, and diving into the ins and outs of available settings and configurations. With the right car stereo, you can enjoy an excellent sound experience no matter where the road ahead takes you.

We reviewed dozens of car stereos to identify the best of the best, based on Amazon reviews, how well they performed in tests, cost, and other considerations. We narrowed our search down to 5 of the top-rated car stereos vehicle owners can purchase to enjoy great audio.

Top Pick
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Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver

Designed especially for today’s smartphone-driven lifestyle.

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$299.00 USD

We’ve identified Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver as the best car stereo out there. With a design that is ideal for today’s smartphone-driven lifestyle, this car stereo is one that will keep your entire vehicle in tip top shape. These benefits allow you to easily stay connected and in control of your vehicle’s audio, while keeping your eyes on the road.

The 5 Top-Rated Car Stereos

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallPioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver4.2
Runner UpKenwood KMM-BT322 Car Media Player Bluetooth4.3
Best Budget BuyBOSS Audio 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo3.5
Best Single Din Car StereoJVC KD-X350BTS 1-Din Car Digital Media Bluetooth Receiver4.1
Best Double Din Car StereoPioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver4.4

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver

The Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver took the top spot on our list of the best car stereos, and boasts several great features specifically designed for today’s smartphone-driven lifestyle. It is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and offers built-in Bluetooth connectivity. It is compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services. It boasts a 7-inch WVGA display, and allows for hands-free calling and audio streaming.

Those who purchased and reviewed this car stereo appreciated that it offered a variety of features that allowed them to stay connected, while still staying safe behind the wheel. Several reviewers commented on the clarity of the audio when making phone calls, and even with a bit of a learning curve, still found it worth the investment.

With a price tag of about $313, it doesn’t come cheap, but the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has a rating of 4.2 on Amazon with nearly 500 people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners to make the investment.

Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver Key Features:

  • USB direct control for iPod/iPhone
  • Enhanced user interface with intuitive touch screen
  • Double DIN

Our Runner Up Pick: Kenwood KMM-BT322 Car Media Player Bluetooth

Runner Up
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Kenwood KMM-BT322 Car Media Player Bluetooth

A downloadable app lets you control the receiver from your smartphone.

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$72.95 USD

The Kenwood KMM-BT322 Car Media Player Bluetooth took the runner-up spot on our list of the best car stereos, and comes with a companion app that allows you to control the receiver from your smartphone. It is available with or without a CD player, and boasts a single DIN design. There is a front auxiliary connection that allows you to easily stream music from your phone or other devices, as well as built-in Bluetooth connectivity.

Those who purchased and reviewed this car stereo appreciated that it made for an affordable upgrade from factory-installed stereos, and offered ample connectivity options. People said it was easy to install, and improved their vehicle sound system. While some users found that the display wasn’t as bright during the day as they would have liked, most people reported no difficulty viewing the screen.

At a cost of around $82, it’s pretty affordable as far as car stereo systems go, and the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has a rating of 4.3 on Amazon with nearly 700 people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners to make the investment.

Kenwood KMM-BT322 Car Media Player Bluetooth Key Features:

  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services
  • Can connect up to five Bluetooth devices at once
  • Bright, variable color LED display

Best Budget Pick: BOSS Audio 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo

Best for Budget
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BOSS Audio 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo

A budget-friendly option with a sleek and simple design.

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$29.99 USD

The BOSS Audio 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo is an excellent choice for those looking for a car stereo that won’t break the bank. It boasts a single DIN design, and includes USB, SD, and auxiliary inputs. The built-in Bluetooth lets you make and receive calls, and play and control music and apps all hands-free. The tuner is switchable between US and European stations, and it offers front and rear pre-amplifier outputs.

Those who purchased and reviewed this car stereo appreciated that was easy to connect their wireless devices, and that it looked sleek when installed. Quite a few people found the fit wasn’t that great for their vehicle, but for the price they were satisfied with the performance.

With a cost of approximately $30, this car stereo is a solid choice for those looking for a car stereo option on a budget. It has a rating of 3.5 on Amazon with more than 4,200 people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners that this budget-friendly pick is just as good at blasting their favorite tunes as its more expensive counterparts.

BOSS Audio 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo Key Features:

  • Illuminated controls for ease of use
  • Large, easy-to-read LCD display screen
  • Includes a wireless remote control

Best Single Din Car Stereo: JVC KD-X350BTS 1-Din Car Digital Media Bluetooth Receiver

Best Single Din Car Stereo
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JVC KD-X350BTS 1-Din Car Digital Media Bluetooth Receiver

Bluetooth automatic pairing and supports basic remote control functions via Bluetooth.

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$68.00 USD

The JVC KD-X350BTS 1-Din Car Digital Media Bluetooth Receiver is an excellent choice for those who need a single DIN car stereo, and is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. It boasts integrated Bluetooth connectivity, and is compatible with major music streaming services including SiriusXM, Pandora, IHeartRadio, and Spotify. It is steering wheel control capable for added convenience and safety, and also supports basic remote control functions like pause and play via Bluetooth.

Those who purchased and reviewed this car stereo appreciated that it was easy to install and offered excellent sound quality for the price. People commented that the Bluetooth connectivity was fast, and found the screen large and easy to read.

With a price tag of about $70, it’s not outrageously priced, and the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price.

JVC KD-X350BTS 1-Din Car Digital Media Bluetooth Receiver Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 50W x 4
  • Sirius XM-ready (subscription required)
  • 13-band equalizer
  • MP3/WMA/WAV/FLAC playback via USB

Best Double Din Car Stereo: Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver

Best Double Din Car Stereo
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Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver

Offers an intuitive way to make calls, use maps, listen to music, and more.

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$249.00 USD

The Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver is an excellent option for those who want a double DIN car stereo for their ride. It boasts intuitive controls, and lets you make calls, view maps, listen to music, and more, all hands-free. It is available in either black or white to suit your vehicle’s esthetic, and with or without Apple CarPlay. There are responsive button controls along the driver-side of the unit, and it also features a touch screen interface.

Those who purchased and reviewed this car stereo appreciated that it offered a large, easy-to-use screen, and that you could retain steering wheel controls with a few minor adjustments. People found it easy to install, and reliable for daily use.

At a cost of around $269, it doesn’t come cheap, but the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has a rating of 4.4 on Amazon with nearly 400 people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners to make the investment.

Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver Key Features:

  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services
  • Includes the receiver, all required hardware, harness, and installation manual
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Who Should Buy a Car Stereo

A car stereo is an ideal choice for those who want upgrade their vehicle’s sound system. Most vehicle manufacturers only install the most basic of car audio systems, and upgrading with an aftermarket stereo unit is an easy project that can offer noticeable improvements.

From playing music, to controlling rear video screens, and even displaying maps, a car stereo performs many functions. A car stereo is also sometimes called aradio, receiver, or head unit.

You might also buy a new car stereo if your current stereo does not allow for the connectivity options you prefer, such as Bluetooth, music streaming services, or satellite radio. They can also offer more control over things like balance and fade, as well as tone adjustments and time correction.

Finally, you might also want to buy a new car stereo if your current stereo is worn out or at the end of its life, or if the faceplate or controls have been significantly damaged.

Top Pick
Buy Now
Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver

Designed especially for today’s smartphone-driven lifestyle.

buy now
$299.00 USD

Important Features to Consider

Not all car stereos are created equal. A car stereo should fit your vehicle well, and offer all the controls you want. Here’s what to consider when evaluating the options in search of the best car stereo for your vehicle:

  • Size. Arguably the most important consideration when it comes to choosing the best car stereo for your vehicle is the size. Car stereos are available in two main sizes, single DIN or double DIN. A single DIN car stereo is approximately 2-inches tall, and easily replaces a factory-installed single DIN stereo. A double DIN car stereo is approximately 4-inches tall, and often allows for the use of maps and other visual controls, due to its larger size.
    Before you replace your factory-installed car stereo, be sure it can accept the size of the replacement stereo. Single DIN units can replace OEM single and double DIN stereos, but double DIN units are often only compatible in vehicles that came with a double DIN stereo already installed. Some vehicles come with non-standard size stereos installed, which can make replacing them with aftermarket models trickier than is worth the hassle sometimes.
  • Sound quality. The next most important consideration when shopping for a car stereo is the sound quality. Generally speaking, the more expensive the unit, the better the sound quality will be. A high-quality built-in amplifier will ensure the best sound performance, while a unit with pre-amp outputs allows for the future addition of an amplifier, equalizer, and digital sound processor.
  • Controls. Another important feature to think about is the stereo controls. Are they large enough and easy to control? Can you easily read the buttons and display? Are the features you want available? Be sure to take a deep dive into the menus and options to ensure the unit isn’t too difficult to use when you’re driving.
  • Style. While not as important as the other features, how a stereo looks is also a major factor for a lot of people. Consider not only your personal style and what you like the look of, but also what will complement your vehicle’s design.
  • Price point. Finally, consider how much you are willing to spend on a car stereo. Car stereos vary in price from $30-$400 or more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a car stereo work?

A car stereo works more or less as the brain or command center of your vehicle’s sound system. It contains separate electronic components such as a radio tuner, CD player, preamp, and amplifier all connected by various cables and in one convenient package. A car stereo, or head unit, lets you connect various inputs such as an iPod, USB drive, or online streaming service, before sending signals to be played back through the amplifier, and then onto the vehicle’s speaker system. The amplifier increases the power of an audio signal so it’s strong enough to create sound (by moving the speakers). Many stereos have low-powered amps built-in, which are sufficient to move small speakers, but if you want the best quality sound, then you’ll also want a stereo system with a separate power amplifier. The stereo will have controls on it that allow you to adjust the volume, as well as other aspects of the audio playback, such as bass and treble.

How do I choose a car stereo?

The first thing to consider when choosing a car stereo is the size. Car stereos are available in two main sizes, single DIN or double DIN. A single DIN car stereo is approximately 2-inches tall, and easily replaces a factory-installed single DIN stereo. A double DIN car stereo is approximately 4-inches tall, and often allows for the use of maps and other visual controls, due to its larger size.

Before you replace your factory-installed car stereo, be sure it can accept the size of the replacement stereo. Single DIN units can replace OEM single and double DIN stereos, but double DIN units are often only compatible in vehicles that came with a double DIN stereo already installed. Some vehicles come with non-standard size stereos installed, which can make replacing them with aftermarket models trickier than is worth the hassle sometimes.

Once you have selected an appropriately-sized stereo, consider what sort of controls you want it to have, and if you are interested in advanced features. You’ll also want to think about what sort of input you’ll be using, with USB, auxiliary, and Bluetooth being several popular connectivity types. Finally, consider the look of the unit and how it will fit in with your car. A stereo with a detachable faceplate or security codes can help you keep your investment safe from theft.

What is a good wattage for a car stereo?

A good wattage for a car stereo will depend on what sort of power the speakers can handle. Check your vehicle’s user manual for this information. Generally speaking, a maximum output power of 50W x 4 channels should be more than sufficient for most people.

Do car stereos need an amplifier?

Not all car stereos need an amplifier, as many stereos have low-powered amps built-in. Although they are sufficient enough to move small speakers, if you want the best quality sound, then you’ll want to invest in a stereo system with a separate power amplifier, or purchase an amplifier in addition to your stereo. One way to tell if your stereo needs an amplifier, is if you experience distortion at your desired volume level. If you hear distortion, you probably need a separate amplifier.

Other Car Stereos We Reviewed

Top Pick
Buy Now
Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver

Designed especially for today’s smartphone-driven lifestyle.

buy now
$299.00 USD

We looked at 20 other car stereos. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best car stereos list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your vehicle. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Single Din Car Stereos

SARCCH Multimedia Car Stereo – Single Din

SARCCH Multimedia Car Stereo – Single Din

This single DIN car stereo boasts dual USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity, as well an auxiliary port, for a variety of audio playback options.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 50W x 4
  • Backlit controls
  • LCD screen

Cost: $16

Sound Storm SDC26B Car Stereo CD Player

Sound Storm SDC26B Car Stereo CD Player

This single DIN car stereo boasts a 4-channel design, and features Bluetooth connectivity. There is an integrated CD player, and it comes complete with a 3-year warranty.

Key Features:

  • Backlit controls
  • USB and auxiliary inputs
  • Wireless remote control included

Cost: $50

BOSS Audio 632UAB Car Stereo

BOSS Audio 632UAB Car Stereo

This single DIN car stereo is switchable between US and EU tuner frequencies, and boasts Bluetooth connectivity so you can control your device hands-free while behind the wheel.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 50W x 4
  • Wireless remote control included
  • Includes front and rear pre-amp outputs

Cost: $44

HERCHR Single Din Car Stereo

HERCHR Single Din Car Stereo

This single DIN car stereo boasts funky, classic styling, and features large volume and tuning knobs for ease of control. The built-in microphone makes for safer, hands-free phone calls.

Key Features:

  • Wireless remote control included
  • White backlight LED display
  • Includes a 1-year warranty

Cost: $28

Pioneer in-Dash Built-in Stereo Receiver

Pioneer in-Dash Built-in Stereo Receiver

This single DIN car stereo boasts an AM/FM tuner, and comes complete with a built-in MOSFET amplifier for better-quality sound.

Key Features:

  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services
  • iOS and Android compatible
  • Color customization

Cost: $100

Pioneer MIXTRAX Single DIN in-Dash Car Stereo Receiver

Pioneer MIXTRAX Single DIN in-Dash Car Stereo Receiver

This single DIN car stereo boasts front USB and auxiliary inputs, and comes complete with a CEA-2006 compliant amplifier for superb sound quality.

Key Features:

  • Wireless remote control included
  • Detachable faceplate
  • Includes free pair of ALPHASONIK earbuds

Cost: $70

Double Din Car Stereos

Yakalla Double Din Car Stereo

Yakalla Double Din Car Stereo

This double DIN car stereo boasts an easy-to-use touchscreen interface, and comes complete with a wireless remote control and backup camera system.

Key Features:

  • Steering wheel control compatible
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • iOS and Android compatible

Cost: $52

HaoXuan DianZi Double Din Car Stereo

HaoXuan DianZi Double Din Car Stereo

This double DIN car stereo boasts a 1080p high resolution touchscreen with dual core processor, and comes complete with a wireless remote control and backup camera system.

Key Features:

  • 24/7 technical support
  • Choice of seven backlight colors
  • Includes a 1-year warranty

Cost: $50

Regetek 7″ Double DIN Touchscreen in Dash Bluetooth Car Stereo

Regetek 7" Double DIN Touchscreen in Dash Bluetooth Car Stereo

This double DIN car stereo is available with or without a backup camera system, and features Bluetooth connectivity and a crisp, 1080p screen.

Key Features:

  • USB, TF, and auxiliary inputs
  • Steering wheel control compatible
  • Wireless remote control included

Cost: $72

H*Sheng TPK Double Din Car Stereo

H*Sheng TPK Double Din Car Stereo

This double DIN car stereo boasts a 7-inch, 1080p HD display, and comes complete with a steering wheel control kit, backup camera system, and wireless remote control.

Key Features:

  • 24/7 technical support
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • iOS and Android compatible

Cost: $49

PLZ Double Din Car Stereo

PLZ Double Din Car Stereo

This double DIN car stereo boasts a 7-inch 1080p HD touchscreen, and features USB and auxiliary inputs. Bluetooth connectivity allows for hands-free calls and turn-by-turn directions.

Key Features:

  • Backup camera system included
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Includes a lifetime warranty

Cost: $90

JVC in-Dash CD Receiver (KW-R930BT)

JVC in-Dash CD Receiver (KW-R930BT)

This double DIN car stereo boasts automatic Bluetooth pairing, and is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Key Features:

  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services
  • Companion app available
  • Maximum output power of 50W x 4

Cost: $88

Pioneer MVH-S600BS Double Din Digital Media Receiver with Enhanced Audio Functions

Pioneer MVH-S600BS Double Din Digital Media Receiver with Enhanced Audio Functions

This double DIN car stereo boasts USB and auxiliary inputs,and comes complete with a built-in MOSFET amplifier for better-quality sound.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 50W x 4
  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services
  • Backlit controls

Cost: $87

Bluetooth Car Stereos

JENSEN MPR319 Single DIN Car Stereo Receiver

JENSEN MPR319 Single DIN Car Stereo Receiver

This Bluetooth car stereo boasts an easy-to-read high resolution seven character LCD display, and comes complete with two band tone control and four preset EQ curves.

Key Features:

  • USB and auxiliary inputs
  • Wireless remote control included
  • AM/FM receiver with 30 presets

Cost: $27

Pioneer MVH-S310BT Single Din Built-in Digital Media Receiver

Pioneer MVH-S310BT Single Din Built-in Digital Media Receiver

This Bluetooth car stereo boasts a single DIN design, and is available with or without a CD player. It has USB and auxiliary inputs, and is compatible with iOS and android devices.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 50W x 4
  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services
  • Companion app available

Cost: $85

Pioneer AVH-X390BS Double Din Bluetooth in-Dash Car Stereo Receiver

Pioneer AVH-X390BS Double Din Bluetooth in-Dash Car Stereo Receiver

This Bluetooth car stereo boasts a double DIN design, and features a 6.2-inch WVGA clear-resistive touchscreen. It comes with 24 presets, and provides a maximum output power of 50W x 4.

Key Features:

  • Multi-language display
  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM audio services
  • Wireless remote control included

Cost: $210

Ironpeas Car Stereo Receiver with Bluetooth

Ironpeas Car Stereo Receiver with Bluetooth

This Bluetooth car stereo boasts a single DIN design, and comes complete with two built-in USB slots so you can charge your devices while also enjoying music.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 60W x 4
  • Preset built-in EQ
  • Wireless remote control included

Cost: $30

BOSS Audio 508UAB Multimedia Car Stereo – Single Din

BOSS Audio 508UAB Multimedia Car Stereo – Single Din

This Bluetooth car stereo boasts a single DIN design, and features USB and auxiliary inputs. The backlit controls are easy to see, and there’s an integrated CD player.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 50W x 4
  • Wireless remote control included
  • Sturdy aluminum chassis

Cost: $45

XO Vision FM and MP3 Car Stereo Receiver

XO Vision FM and MP3 Car Stereo Receiver

This Bluetooth car stereo boasts a single DIN design, and features USB, SD card, and auxiliary inputs. The FM tuner comes complete with 18 presets for added convenience.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 20W x 4
  • Preamplified line-out
  • Wireless remote control included

Cost: $15

BOSS Audio 820BRGB Car Stereo

BOSS Audio 820BRGB Car Stereo

This Bluetooth car stereo boasts a double DIN design, and AM/FM receiver. It features USB, SD, and auxiliary inputs, and front, rear, and sub pre-amp outputs.

Key Features:

  • Maximum output power of 80W x 4
  • Choice of multi-color illumination
  • Wireless remote control included

Cost: $41

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