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The advantages of having a touchscreen receiver in your car

Safety and convenience at your fingertips

Touchscreen stereo in the dash

Why put a large-screen receiver in your dash? Fantastic looks are a great starting point, but there’s so much more you can get from a big screen stereo. You can see all the information you need at a single glance, making it easier to keep your eyes on the road. You’ll also have expansion options like navigation and a rear-view camera available to you in the future.

Alpine HCE-C1100 backup rear-view camera

Alpine's HCE-C1100 universal rear-view camera works with any touchscreen stereo with a composite camera input

Add a camera (or cameras) for safety

A rear-view or backup camera can help make your touchscreen stereo a valuable tool against accidents, because you never know what you’ll see behind you — a pet, a tricycle rider, or even Bigfoot (he’s really shy). Its wide field of view offers a whole lot more of what’s behind you than using your mirror, including areas that your vehicle's body blocks from view. Many new stereos also offer multiple camera inputs, so you can incorporate factory or add aftermarket cameras for areas like your side view – all viewable on the touchscreen display.

Nice big display

With a large screen acting as your receiver's display, it's a whole lot easier to read than the 1-, 2-, or 3-line displays of typical car receivers. You'll enjoy being able to read more information about what you're listening to. Bigger icons, split-screen capability, and more screen real estate add up to a satisfying car audio experience. You'll be able to keep your eyes on the road a whole lot better if you're not squinting at your display, or waiting for the info to scroll by. In fact, everything you do with your receiver is easier when you have a large, touchscreen interface. Here are some examples of how these receivers can make your drive much easier.

Kenwood Excelon DNX9990 Bluetooth

Bluetooth® usability

Bluetooth lets you enjoy hands-free conversation using your compatible phone. You’ll be able to see caller information instantly with a big screen in your dash, so you can keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Some receivers also allow audio streaming from phones.

Kenwood Excelon DNX9990 Navigation

GPS navigation

Some touchscreen stereos have built-in navigation, some don't. Built-in nav is an incredible convenience, but if you don't want to spend the extra money for this feature, don't worry. You have other options.

Look for a touchscreen stereo that has Apple CarPlay™ or Android Auto. Both of these phone-integration options let you use navigation apps from your phone and have them appear on the stereo's large display. 

Kenwood Excelon DNX9990HD HD Radio

User-friendly HD Radio™

HD Radio broadcasts sound great, and a double-sized receiver provides way more info than a regular stereo. You’ll see album art and station logos from select broadcasters, plus song, artist and album info. And you can tag songs for later purchase from iTunes® right on the radio.

Kenwood Excelon DNX9990HD controls

Convenient stereo controls

One of the main advantages of any big-screen receiver is the ease of going through the menus. Whether you’re looking for a song on your iPod, a favorite satellite radio station, or the EQ settings, a big, colorful touchscreen makes finding functions intuitive and simple.

Dual-zone listening

If you're toting your family around, the "dual-zone" capability that some receivers offer lets you separate the rear-seat entertainment from the front. Your backseat passengers can listen to their tunes or watch movies on a second monitor, while you listen to the ballgame up front.

Worth a look

When you're shopping for a car stereo, consider the benefits of getting a touchscreen navigation receiver. And if you don't need built-in navigation, DVD receivers and digital multimedia receivers are less-expensive options. Regardless of which you choose, the elegance of touchscreen control makes them easy and fun to use.

Use our handy vehicle selector tool to see which stereos will fit your vehicle.

Please share your thoughts below.

  • Ricardo Molina from TOBYHANNA

    Posted on 4/14/2020

    Most of the negative commentary is a complete fail. People fail to realize that in most states it is illegal to be operating the radio while driving. Both hands must be on the steering wheel at all times.

  • James W from Helen, GA

    Posted on 3/1/2020

    I cannot stand touchscreen head units. They require far too much attention to be safe. The menus must be navigated through if you need to change anything or make a call as for some reason the voice commands seem to not work well or are more frustrating than pushing the flat screen menu. Muscle memory cannot be used. With steering controls, it is much better but still I find myself spending too much time at 70 MPH messing with the screen. Btw, I am a highly experienced driver with racing training so I'm not some lame guy going from A to B. I drive tons of rentals for work so I have experienced several factory units. Maybe the aftermarket units are better but I find the flashiness of them more distracting. And bring back volume knobs!

  • Rich from So San Francisco

    Posted on 7/16/2019

    I recently retrofitted my old Civic with a modern touchscreen with Carplay and Android Auto but the lack of steering wheel controls continued to bug me, it was too distracting to constantly look to the touchscreen to have to change the volume or answer a call. Since my car never originally came with SWC retrofitting was a chore. New steering wheel, repinning the harness, wiring up and programming the SWC module, programming the head unit and making the whole thing come together and work was a complete hassle, one that my professional installer wanted no part of. But now that I've installed it and it all works I can say it's a necessity. No more constantly looking and fiddling with the touchscreen. Even Siri and Google Assistant are a button press away. Need to find a gas station or restaurant? Directions to the hotel? Change playlists? Make a phone call? Need to know what the capital of Bolivia is while driving? Just hit the steering wheel button and ask away. It's great! A touchscreen is better than all the idiots I still see on the road with their heads buried in their laps fiddling with their phones while driving. But if you go the touchscreen route then you really need to have steering wheel controls and better yet access to Siri or Google.

  • MarlinB

    Posted on 6/11/2019

    Wondering why nobody from Crutchfield seems to be taking seriously all these posts about how dangerous touch screens are. They only seem interested in responding to questions from people looking to BUY something. CRUTCHFIELD, what are you doing to address these concerns? Are you letting manufacturers know that people want more options with SAFETY in mind (NO TOUCHSCREENS)?

    Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    on 6/12/2019

    Thanks for pointing that out, MarlinB. Our goal when responding to comments is indeed to help people solve problems, whether that's figuring out which product is right for them or how to best use the gear they already have. We don't typically engage in the other conversations that take place. As much as we'd love to, we just don't have the time.

    Driver safety is a major concern for everyone on the road today. Between smartphones, more complex vehicle controls and interfaces, and yes, fancy car stereos, it's just too easy to become distracted while behind the wheel.

    Here at Crutchfield, we have always taken driver safety seriously. We promote products to help keep the driver's hands on the wheel. We refuse to provide tech support that would result in an unsafe installation, say by defeating a stereo's safety features. And we strive to educate our customers about the dangers of distracted driving.

    As for your question about communicating with the manufacturers, we definitely do. A big benefit of our relationships with our vendors is that they rely on us for that direct customer feedback. And luckily, if you don't want a touchscreen in your dash, there are still tons of great stereos out there without them, so we as consumers, do have that option.

  • lone* from Atlanta

    Posted on 4/29/2019

    Touch screen really should be consider the distraction that should be ban from use in car. Also, it is duplicate with your phone and it not operable without eye aide at cost of road safety. Plus for most aftermarket car radio, they be installed at the location that not easier to view. For car with oem touch screen, which most of time would have bigger size and easier to view without to lower your head too much. I strongly agree with many who already point out this to us. Put a music art displayed at 7" and at knee level really a bad practice. I would rather hook up my phone while driving. The speaker, mic, and control is all we can share while driving but not the additional views that for entertainment purpose. Glance of small degree is ok but not at 30 degree, which is way too much off.

  • Thomas Leach from Lexingtom

    Posted on 4/14/2019

    I think touch screen controls are a safety hazard. They require you to take your eyes off the road for many seconds an in some cases over a minute to drill down many levels of controls. I rent cars almost every week in my business travels and have not found a touch screen that I can use without taking my eyes off the road. I'll keep my 2005 GMC Sierra. I can do everything by feel without ever taking my eyes off the road.

  • Rob

    Posted on 9/6/2018

    "You can see all the information you need at a single glance, making it easier to keep your eyes on the road" In practice, they do the exact opposite. Because the user interfaces (UI) do not have to adhere to any standards, no two screens are the same. You can never rely on muscle memory or even tactile feel to navigate the device. EVERY interaction requires looking at the UI and finding the bit you have to touch. This can take seconds, which is time away from the primary function of driving a car. Even the benefits of a reversing camera are dubious when you are focusing on one screen to the detriment of the mirrors all around you. We have a touchscreen in our Outlander and I doubt I will ever get another one.

  • Kylee O'Brien from McHenry

    Posted on 6/15/2018

    Hi, I am 16 and just getting my first car. I have found a touchscreen in the car very useful in the past and just wonder if it is legal for me to have one. I have looked all over and not found a specific law about screens and just want to double check before looking into investing in one.

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    on 6/20/2018

    Kylee, unless there are specific laws in your state regarding younger drivers and touchscreens, those types of radios are legal everywhere. Your best bet may be to contact your local DMV to confirm. It's worth noting that it's illegal to have a video playing in the front of the car in every state. That's why touchscreen stereos must be installed properly so that some functions are restricted and won't work unless the car is parked.
  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/16/2018

    Casey, they do with the proper adapter. I've passed your question along to an Advisor. Someone will contact you soon to help.

  • Casey Bales from Wichita

    Posted on 4/15/2018

    My wife has a 2011 Chevy Cruze. All of her climate control settings are displayed on her OEM head unit. Do any of these stereos have those functions?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/20/2017

    Scott, I've passed your question along to an Advisor for the best answer. Someone will contact you soon to help you find a receiver that's not a distraction. Adjusting your receiver settings will likely be part of the solution as well.

  • Scott from Portsmouth

    Posted on 11/10/2017

    I have ADHD these displays are a complete distraction. How do I purchase a new vehicle that does not have one. Or one that the screen is not able to be used and only displays the clock when over 25mph?

  • Jay from Lake city fl

    Posted on 3/16/2017

    Great article. I used the crutchfield menu to find which in dash Navi receiver would work. Really narrowed it down. Thank you

  • Edwin

    Posted on 12/7/2016

    I always felt touch screen was very difficult to operate than manual controls in car head unit since you have to see the screen to control.In case of manual controls you can adjust without viewing it. My car got small accident as i was trying to operate while driving. It's bit of dangerous sometimes. I switched back to normal headunit with manual controls. Now i did not face any problem

  • KenD from Portland

    Posted on 11/23/2016

    I agree with Merwin! Touch screens in cars are a safety hazard, regardless of their size. Tactile buttons are far safer. I'm a bit disappointed in Crutchfield for publishing an article that says otherwise, and in manufacturers for abandoning the safer designs. I'm completely baffled as to how this trend has been ignored by safety regulators. I have complained to the manufacturers of every car I've bought that had a touch screen in it, and I can tell you now that I will never buy an after-market car entertainment system that can't be completely controlled by tactile buttons. I miss my 2003 Jetta with the Monsoon stereo, the last SAFE car stereo I've owned.

  • Jim Hassinger from Los Angeles

    Posted on 11/21/2016

    Something people might think of, if they're worried about touch screens being too distracting, is a phone with Google Now or Siri. "Hey, Siri, play the Beatles," starts up within seconds. "Play Mozart" or anything else you want will start up, and if you do it while watching the road, you're safe and happy with your musical choice. At a stoplight, I'll tell Siri to send a message to my friend Lisa. It's off before the light changes.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/26/2016

    Tara, unfortunately, we don't recommend radio replacement for your vehicle. Give us a call and an advisor can suggest alternatives to improving the sound in your BMW.

  • Tara E from Richfield

    Posted on 8/24/2016

    I have a 2003 BMW M5. The picture that you are showing for the Stereo is not the same as I have. Which is making it difficult to to have your automatic thing help find a replacement. Thank you

  • merwin

    Posted on 5/19/2016

    I have also observed that touch screens require the driver to focus on it longer to accomplish tasks than buttons. A much bigger distraction from driving. and far less safe for that reason alone. Try to make a selection and hit a bump - now you need to spend time looking at the screen again to figure out what you selected instead and correct it..... Once again, distracted driving. Give me pushbuttons any day. Tactile feedback is superior!

  • Jesse Barnes from Missoula

    Posted on 4/13/2016

    I am concerned about how long a touch screen in a vehicle will last. We are looking at buying a new Honda Odyssey (2012-2014) and then driving it for ten + years. I have never had a computer last ten years and thus I am concerned a touch screen would break or be a major repair eventually. I'd rather save my auto repair budget for mechanical issues not a cool touch screen.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/25/2016

    John, if you have a factory sub, there is an amp powering it. Your sub and amp are located in the cargo area on the passenger side. I've passed your question along to our sales team. An advisor will contact you soon to help you find the right gear for your Ford.

  • John Cariotto from Lincoln, NE

    Posted on 3/25/2016

    We have a 2007 Ford Escape Limited. How do I tell if the vehicle has the amplified bass? The 6-cd changer on the factory radio has a broken gear and I am told it can't be fixed. We're thinking of installing a radio with a screen so we can have a backup camera.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/1/2016

    Alvin, a variety of touchscreen receivers should fit your 2006 Civic. You can use our vehicle selector to confirm which stereos fit your car and get some info on what else is needed for the installation.

  • Alvin from Miami Lakes

    Posted on 1/31/2016

    Hello, can any of these touchscreens radios/receivers fit in my 2006 Honda Civic Coupe?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/7/2016

    Brent, I've passed your question along to our sales team for the best answer. An advisor will contact you soon to help you find the car stereo that's right for you.

  • Brent from Petawawa

    Posted on 1/7/2016

    Hey, I'm curious is worth switching out my 2015 kia forte sx model factory HU with nav system and back up camera for high end after market, I have kicker components Kc series and spr 69 rear and powered by pdx4 and alpine mrx 1100 with two 10" alpine type r plus cap. Your thoughts ??

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/23/2015

    Sabine, I've passed your question along to our sales team for the best answer. An advisor will contact you soon to help you find the right gear for your Accord.

  • sabine from dallas

    Posted on 12/22/2015

    I have a 2010 honda accord ex-L with navigation, but it is not touch screen, Is there any way I can keep the factory navigation and add a touch screen interface on the dashboard near the air vents? ideally, I would like to use both.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/30/2015

    Robert, I've passed your information along to our sales team. An advisor will contact you soon to help you find the receiver that's right for you.

  • Robert Aycoth from Forest Hill

    Posted on 10/29/2015

    I have a 2010 ZR1 Corvette. It's Time I upgraded the Receiver. I need Bluetooth, Navigation, Ipod ( Aux Jack) ,DVD and backup Camera. What Options do I have?Who can Install it? Thanks.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/19/2015

    Dave, I'm afraid there isn't an aftermarket satellite radio antenna that you could swap in and out of a factory connector when you need it. Your only option is to replace your radio with a SiriusXM-ready receiver and additional SXV300V1 tuner, or add on a dock-and-play radio. Both will come with an antenna that will give you the length you need to adjust placement when you have your camper on or off. In that scenario, you wouldn't use your factory-installed satellite radio antenna at all.

  • dave

    Posted on 10/18/2015

    How can I access the sat radio antenna on a 2015 f350 to allow an after market antenna to be installed that would allow playing the Sirius sat radio when I have a cab over camper on the truck blocking the sky. Ford is no help what so ever. Older model trucks used to have access behind the glove box but not any more. Most of the time the sat radio is a waist of time. There has got to be something that will work. Just want to listen to what I'm paying for when I have the camper on.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/17/2015

    Bill, we carry the comparable Pioneer AVH-270BT DVD receiver.

  • Bill Hoover from Phx.

    Posted on 8/15/2015

    How much does a pioneer car stereo model #AVH-271BT cost?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/22/2015

    Wayne, we have researched a good number of Toyota's 2015 vehicles, but not all. Give us a call at 1.888.955.6000 or enter your vehicle information in our vehicle selector. If you purchase a receiver from us, you'll receive instructions on how to install it if we have researched your car, you'll receive free lifetime Tech Support to help you with your installation, and you'll receive a deep discount on any related factory integration gear.

  • Wayne Prather from Vallejo, CA

    Posted on 7/22/2015

    I need a Head unit with all the features. I just returned a unit which there was almost no info and support from the busines. Do you have eniugh info on the 2015 Entune Audio unit from Toyota? I have: AM/FM- CD/DVD-STEERING WHEEL-BLUE TOOTH-R-CAMERA-USB/AUX. I NEED NAVIGATION AND IF WIFI WAS IN IT IT WOULD BE OK. I will be instaling this myself, I just need good instructions.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/22/2015

    Angel, there are only a few touchscreen receivers that will fit your vehicle. You can use our vehicle selector to confirm which stereos fit your car, or give us a call of 1.888.955.6000

  • Angel Castro from New York

    Posted on 7/21/2015

    I need something like this for my 2004 ml350

  • Craig from MN

    Posted on 7/5/2015

    The double DIN DVD receiver that was in my car when I bought it was nice as long as I didn't listen to satellite radio. Every time I switched to the AUX input the screen would go black and display a message telling me that I couldn't watch videos while the car was in gear. I couldn't get anything else, and the company that makes it told me it was a safety feature to keep me from killing myself watching videos instead of traffic. They told me that the backup camera plugged into the AUX input and there was nothing I could do about it. I could still listen to Sirius, but it wouldn't tell me what I was listening to. I no longer have that receiver. If you're buying one of these, you may want to check on this.