XM Commander

Universal satellite radio receiver

  • XM Commander


  • XM Commander


  • XM Commander

    Tuner box
    and antenna

Item #: 209XMCMNDR

Review Summary

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Our take on the XM Commander

by Matt Freeman

The XM Commander is another great way to get XM Radio in any car with an FM stereo. This affordable package has everything you need: a tuner box with FM modulator, dash-mountable display/controller, and XM's unobtrusive, roof-mount micro-antenna. The compact display is ideal for vehicles with limited dash space, yet it boasts an easy-to-read, 2-line, 32-character display.

The tuner box is much smaller than most tuners, so it'll fit under your seat easily. The tuner's built-in FM modulator reduces the number of boxes you need to install by one (or you can plug the tuner into your receiver's auxiliary input, if it has one). The rotary controller and wireless remote help you channel surf. And TuneSelect™ alerts you when any of 15 songs you've saved is playing. A subscription to XM is also required.

Antenna adapters might be required — if you haven't already done so, please enter your vehicle information.

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  • includes display/controller, remote control, micro-antenna, hideaway XM tuner box, and mounting accessories
  • works with any FM radio
  • RCA line outputs connect to any radio with auxiliary inputs
  • low profile micro-antenna
  • display/controller has 2-line display (16 characters per line) and rotary control
  • direct channel access
  • TuneSelect™ (tags up to 15 songs and alerts you when they are playing on XM)
  • 30 XM presets
  • channel preview
  • wireless remote control
  • display/controller: 4-9/16"W x 1-13/16"H x 1"D
  • receiver: 4-1/2"W x 1-5/16"H x 4-3/8"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
Compatible Brand
Display Lines
Channel Presets
Song Memory
Built-in FM Transmitter
Car Kit
Home Kit
Changer Jack/Pass-Thru
NavTraffic Compatible
Included Antenna
Car Antenna
Dimensions and Warranty
Width (inches)
Height (inches)
Depth (inches)
Parts Warranty
1 Year
Labor Warranty
1 Year
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Controller Unit with attached 10' cable
  • Cradle for controller unit
  • 13' Controller cable extension
  • XM Satellite Radio receiver
  • Wireless remote control
  • 2 "AAA" batteries
  • Metal remote mounting clip
  • XM Antenna with magnetic base and an attached 20' micro-cable with a single FAKRA connector
  • Relay assembly with 17" male antenna cable and 19.25' cable with right-angle 3.5mm mini-plug
  • Power/Ground harness (with 19.5' constant and switched power leads/3' ground lead/In-line 2A fuse on constant power wire)
  • Surface Preparation Cleaning Kit
  • Four 3" cable ties
  • Alcohol prep pad
  • 2 Self-adhesive Velcro pads (1" x 1")
  • Two 2-sided self-adhesive pads (1" x 1")
  • User Manual
  • Installation Guide
  • "Suitable for behind-dash installation" sheet
  • XM Channel Guide

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.



Overview: The XM Commander, distributed by Terk, contains everything you need to receive XM Satellite Radio in your vehicle. The package contains an XM Satellite Radio receiver, wired controller/display, wireless remote, a micro antenna, and all the cables. In addition to the XM Commander package, a subscription to XM Satellite Radio is required in order to receive XM programming.

XM Satellite Radio: XM Satellite Radio features up to 100 channels of programming, including 70 digital-quality music channels and 30 channels of news, talk, sports, entertainment, and children's programming.

Controller/Display: The wired controller/display features a 2-line, 2-3/8" x 7/8" LCD display, a large tuning wheel and "enter" button, and 10 number keys. It fits into the supplied flush-mount cradle for a custom installation. The controller/display has a 10' cable, plus a 13' extension cable to allow you to mount the controller/display in the front and the receiver in the back of the vehicle. The display features a pale blue backlight and button illumination. The LCD's contrast can be adjusted for best viewing.

Remote Control: The supplied wireless remote control lets you control the XM Commander from anywhere in the vehicle. Nearly all of the functions accessible from the face of the controller/display can be accessed from the remote. In addition, the remote has the exclusive Jump and Scan features. The remote comes with a metal clip and infrared emitters on both ends to allow you to mount the remote in a permanent location, if desired.

Display Options: The XM Commander's controller/display gives you three options for displaying channel information. Using the controls on the controller/display or the remote control, you can toggle through the following display options:

  • Channel name, channel number, and artist name
  • Channel name, channel number, and song title
  • Artist name and song title

Tuning Options: There are several options for selecting channels on the XM Commander:

  • Direct Tuning: You can select a channel by number by entering the channel number using the number keys on the unit or remote.
  • Preset Tuning: The XM Commander can store up to 30 preset channels in 3 different memory banks (Preset A, Preset B, and Preset C). Once a preset bank has been selected, you can enter the preset number 1-10 from the number keys on the unit or remote.
  • Tuning Wheel: You can tune channels in sequence by rotating the controller/display's tuning wheel.
  • Remote Control: You can tune channels in sequence using the up/down buttons on the remote control.
  • Category Tuning: The two Category Tuning buttons on the remote control allows you to cycle through the available genres of programming, such as Decades, Country, Hits, Christian, Rock, Urban, Jazz & Blues, Dance, Latin, World, Classical, Kids, News, Sports, Comedy, Talk & Variety, and Premium. Once the category has been selected, you can choose the channel from that category using the up/down buttons.

TuneSelect: TuneSelect is an XM feature which allows you to "tag" up to 15 songs you like and have the XM Commander alert you when any of those songs is playing on a different channel.

Preview: In many cases, you can preview what artist and song is playing on other channels without changing channels. When a desired song or artist appears, you can select that channel to play.

Jump: The Jump feature (activated by the remote) lets you immediately revert back to last channel selected. Pressing the Jump button returns you to the original channel played prior to initiating the jump process. With this feature, you can cycle back and forth between two channels.

Scan: The Scan feature (activated by the remote) allows you to automatically and sequentially cycle through presets in the active bank, channels in the active category, or all channels until the desired channel is found. Each channel plays audio for 5 seconds, after which the radio tunes to the next channel in the scanning order.

Save/Recall: You can save the artist's name, song title, channel name and channel number on the current channel for future reference. Up to 15 different items can be saved at once, after which any new information that is saved will replace the oldest information in memory.

Audio Output: You can adjust the audio output level to match the XM Commander's output to the other sources in your vehicle's sound system.

Hideaway Receiver: The XM Commander's hideaway receiver has a built-in FM modulator with 6 FM frequencies to choose from. The modulator enables XM reception in any vehicle with an FM radio. In addition, the hideaway receiver also has stereo line outputs (with female RCA jacks) for use with receivers with auxiliary inputs. Constant power, switched power, and ground connections are included.

XM Micro Antenna: The supplied low-profile XM Radio antenna features a strong magnetic mount. The antenna must be installed in a flat portion of a metal vehicle roof with at least 12" x 12" of surface area and a minimum of 6" from a window or sunroof. The antenna has a single-wire antenna cable with a single FAKRA-type connector.



  • Controller/Display: W=4.532", H=1.764", D=1.0"
  • Cradle:
    • Overall: W=5.814", H=2.239", D=0.549" (1.083" including mounted controller/display)
    • Cutout (for flush mount): W=4.689", H=1.933", D=0.385"
  • Hideaway Receiver: W=4.464", H=1.273", D=4.35" (5.115" including mounting tabs)
  • Antenna: W=1.765", H=0.651", D=2.33"
  • Remote Control: W=1.561", H=0.866", L=4.254"
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XM Commander Reviews

Average Customer Review:

7 people say:

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2 out of 5

Buy it for its size, not for service

Written By DGW, Atlanta, GA on Saturday, December 09, 2006
I've had the XM Commander for about 11 months, and it has been great up until the last month, except for the 3-line display, which is seriously inferior to the SkyFi2 I had in a previous car. My beef about the XM Commander is that if it gets below 35 degrees, it take at least 5 minutes before it turns on, and much longer if the temperature gets lower, as in 13 minutes when the temperature hit 19 degrees. I contacted the Terk support line online and they said to contact their 800 number tech support, who told me that the unit was defective. Unfortunately, the deal is that you have to pay to have the entire unit removed, pay to have it shipped for service, and then pay to have the repaired or new unit installed. All in all it would cost as much to repair as to buy a new one. The quandary now is whether to replace it with one of the same, which is best due to the small size, and run the risk of the same happening again, or to buy a different one. Based on my experience, if you're lucky enough to have one that doesn't go belly-up, it's a good receiver, otherwise avoid it.
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4 out of 5

XM Commander in RX-8

Written By Tim, Fairfax, VA on Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
My SkyFi was just too big to fit anywhere logical in my new RX-8 but the Commander fit perfectly in place of the ashtray/lighter, it even fits behind the flip-up door so it's completely hidden from view. It's directly connected to the external input of the stock Mazda Bose radio and there is absolutely no engine noise or whine in the output.

I find it easier to read the display of the Commander than the display of the SkyFi, but the Commander has fewer lines of information so you must choose which line to omit; the channel number, the artist, or the song title. True, you can toggle through them with the 'display' button, but that gets tedious.

The preset buttons should be grouped with a larger gap between the 5th and 6th buttons, like the SkyFi, so it's easier to tell at a glance which one you are pushing. Ten small buttons evenly spaced are not user friendly, specially in a car environment.

The micro antenna is mounted inside the car, on the back center of the rear deck looking through the glass. It works fine that way.

The first Commander I ordered from Crutchfield didn't work - it was completely dead and would not power up at all. Tech support and customer service were great; they immediately shipped a second unit to me overnight and it worked fine. I sent the first unit back after confirming the second one worked. How many other companies are this accomodating to their customers?
8 out of 8 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Commander Installation

Written By srb1194, Greensboro, GA on Saturday, December 24, 2005
Now I know why they call it the Commander. I installed this last night in my '98 Mercedes Wagon. This thing is awesome. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is wanting to install XM in a Mercedes. I am also planning to purchase another. You may think the price is high but I think it is a bargain.
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Solid Unit

Written By Rick, Bloomington, IN on Friday, November 18, 2005
I have had this unit for over a year. I use it in the car with the FM modulator. I haven't had any problems with it and can't say anything bad about the performance. I have done TONS of driving in the IN, MI and IL areas and have been pretty happy with the performance. I haven't had a chance to try any other units but have been pretty happy with this one.

The only bad thing I can say about this unit is that the sound volume is a bit low compared to CDs or regular FM radio. I've found that I have to MAX out my stereo volume when I want to jam loud and if I turn to a cd or something after listening to XM it really blows out your ears. There is an "output" volume adjustable in the options, but the louder you make that, it can add noise. All of this is a minor problem because you just have to turn your stereo volume up a bit more.

3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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2 out of 5

FM Whine

Written By Jack, Houston, TX, USA on Saturday, April 16, 2005
Great reception but unable to get rid of FM whine in 2001 Volvo S80. Several XM approved installers were unable to resolve the problem. Beware of unplugging the factory radio as this means a $100 reset of display codes by the dealer.
1 out of 7 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Installed in Tundra

Written By Brad, Sacramento, CA on Monday, April 11, 2005
Excellent product! Works great and the FM modulator is very strong. Using the remote is a must for easy access to the 30 presets. The main unit takes up very little space and has no wires showing. My only complaints would be color choices for the screen and a more detailed text.
21 out of 25 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

XM Commander makes tradeoffs

Written By BaabSlaab, Mountain View, CA on Sunday, February 06, 2005
Just had it installed in a 97 Expedition (with Mach audio). Planned on making a direct input through the CD changer connector but the aftermarket adapter harness supplied separately did not work. So, the installer ordered a different one. Well see if that works next week. Meanwhile, using the FM radio method through a direct input to the Expys radio antenna. There is a relay-controlled switch-box that came with the Commander that blocks the vehicle radio antenna when the Commander is turned on. This minimizes interference from broadcast FM signals. But FM is FM, so you can often hear the familiar "FM buzz" around heavy bass and in strong choral sections. Theres also background hiss plainly audible during quiet passages.

XM service is great. Driving is a pleasure again like in the days of great radio in the SF Bay Area--70s to early 80s.

The Commander receiver is small, unobtrusive, and easy to operate. Looks classy and blends into the interior well.

The two lines in the display are enough, but there are too few characters per line. Like a cheap CD or DVD player, it cuts off most artist names and song titles. You can still figure out what you are listening to, but it looks "cheap" or old-fashioned, esp. to passengers you are trying to impress with all your latest technology.

More on the display: many of the various, dedicated, status indicators only stay on for a few seconds after you change one of them. These include which group of presets youre in and the display mode you are in. For the presets, it means that you have to hit the disp/menu button before you hit a preset channel button in order to recall which group (A, B, or C) you left it in
116 out of 157 people found this helpful
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For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the XM Commander, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_209XMCMNDR/XM-Commander.html ).