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Best in-dash navigation stereos for 2018

Check out our customer favorites and best-sellers

In this article... we'll discuss four of our customer favorites for in-dash navigation receivers:

  1. Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX Package with a backup camera
  2. Alpine INE-W960HDMI
  3. Kenwood DNX574S
  4. Boss BN965BLC with a backup camera

What makes them top sellers from last year and sure bets for 2018? Let's find out!

More and more newer vehicles come with double-DIN (4" tall) dash openings, so why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that real estate with a spiffy and helpful new in-dash navigation receiver? You'll not only get great maps and guidance that'll work even when your phone can't provide directions, but you'll also have significant upgrades in sound and smartphone integration, especially with Android Auto™ and/or Apple CarPlay™.

In most cases, you'll also enjoy the ability to hook up a rear-view camera, or play video content from your phone, a thumb drive, or a DVD while you're parked. Many nav receivers also work with the iDatalink Maestro interface module, which lets you keep your car’s factory features, and in some cases will add vehicle performance gauges not available to you before.

As a starting point, here are four recent models which have delivered high customer satisfaction ratings. After reading this article, if you want a deeper dive into what to look for when shopping for a new GPS stereo, check out our in-dash navigation buying guide.

What makes these favorites?

The navigation models we highlight below are not only some of our best-selling stereos. They have also earned an average Crutchfield customer rating of 4 (or more) stars*, which means that our customers really like the receivers once they've spent some time with them.

Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX navigation receiver package with backup camera

Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX Package with a backup camera — Top-of-the-line guidance and superlative audio

What you need to know: This package includes the Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX navigation receiver with an ND-BC8 backup camera. The receiver’s 7" capacitive touchscreen makes it easy to swipe through menus, change sources, and zoom the maps for a better view. It’s also compatible with the iDatalink Maestro module.

Navigation features: Detailed and accurate maps, including 3D representations of landmarks and buildings you won’t find on most receivers. It also offers “natural voice” for spoken directions, which tells you the next maneuver without sounding so annoyingly robotic.

Phone integration features: You don’t have to let your phone dictate your receiver choice because this one works with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Pioneer’s AppRadio mode also lets you command select apps with an eye towards optimized in-dash operation.

Audio features: Pioneer knows about sound quality, so they made this receiver work with high-resolution (24-bit/192kHz) FLAC music files. It also boasts a 13-band graphic equalizer, Auto EQ, and Time Alignment. You also get an HD Radio™ tuner built in, plus compatibility with SiriusXM satellite radio.

Alpine INEW-960HDMI navigation receiver

Alpine INE-W960HDMI — Superior sound and satellite radio solution

What you need to know: Alpine saw that a lot of their customers were into satellite radio, so they made the wise choice to include a SiriusXM SXV300 satellite radio tuner with this stereo. New users get a 3-month subscription free when they purchase this stereo. The INE-W960HDMI’s 6.1" display puts all the stereo’s mapping, entertainment, and audio controls right at your fingertips.

Navigation features: Guidance across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 3D terrain views and 3D representations of buildings and landmarks.

Phone integration features: Built-in Bluetooth® for hands-free calling, plus excellent control over your Pandora app. It plays well with iPhones, and its HDMI input makes it easy to connect your Android or Windows smartphone for on-screen control of select apps.

Audio features: A 24-bit digital-to-analog converter ensures all your music from discs or files sounds great. Alpine lets you customize the sonic characteristics to match your ride’s upholstery type, number of speakers, and speaker locations.

Kenwood DNX574S navigation receiver

Kenwood DNX574S — Great for divided phone families or carpools

What you need to know: The 6.8" screen allows this receiver to work with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so it’ll accommodate multiple users with different phones easily. It also works with up to two cameras, including a dash cam. And it’s compatible with both SiriusXM satellite radio and the iDatalink Maestro module.

Navigation features: Kenwood loads this receiver with guidance by Garmin, one of the most trusted names in GPS. It boasts spoken street names at turns, lane assistance, and realistic views of complicated intersections. It also offers optional traffic reports through the INRIX smartphone app, and includes a 2-year subscription when you purchase this stereo.

Phone integration features: As mentioned, it works with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it can even pair with two phones at once.

Audio features: Kenwood’s Drive EQ feature boosts certain frequencies of your music to overcome road noise. This receiver offers a full suite of tweaks, including a 13-band EQ, digital time alignment, space enhancer, sound realizer, sound elevation, bass boost, and loudness. You’re golden if you’ve got high-resolution FLAC files on a thumb drive. And if you enjoy your area’s HD Radio broadcasts, Kenwood includes a built-in tuner with the DNX574S.

Boss BN965BLC navigation receiver with backup camera

Boss BN965BLC with a backup camera  — No-frills guidance, plus a touch of safety

What you need to know: The receiver's finger-friendly 6.5" screen gives you convenient command of your music and maps. This receiver offers playback from thumb drives and SD cards, plus a front auxiliary input and disc player. A wireless remote control lets your passengers get in on the action. And Boss includes a rear-view camera so you can get into and out of tight spots without fear.

Navigation features: Its maps cover the entire U.S. (except Hawaii) and Puerto Rico. It offers spoken street names at turns, so you’ll be sure about your next move. Lane information and signposts provide additional detail.

Phone integration features: Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free streaming and calling, but there’s not a lot of integration beyond that. If you want to listen to music from your phone, you’ll have to either stream it or use the stereo’s auxiliary input.

Audio features: A 10-band EQ lets you make crucial adjustments. The Reverb feature gives your tunes a bit more personality, including a “Bathroom” setting to echo your favorite shower singalongs.

Android Auto map example

With the right navigator, getting there can be half the fun

If you're ready to make the move to better maps, sound, and phone integration, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • How much do you want to spend? An in-dash navigator that seems like a great value is probably limited in key phone integration features and sonic tweaks. If you don't need to access your favorite maps while driving and are generally not too picky about sound quality, a more expensive model might be overkill.

  • How long do you plan to use it for guidance? Some manufacturers let you update your receiver's maps for free or for a fee. However, if you can't update your maps, your receiver might not be terribly helpful for directions in a few years.

  • What fits your car? You'll need to pick a navigator that fits the dash of your car, which is generally not a problem for most double-DIN dash openings. For some newer vehicles, replacing the factory receiver might be impossible because of climate controls or other features which will be lost. There are a handful of options for single-DIN (2" tall) openings, typically with fold-out screens. Receivers without a disc player are especially easy to fit. Use our Outfit My Car tool to refine your choices.

Let us help you shop

Don't forget to read our in-dash nav buying guide and contact our advisors if you have any questions or to confirm what you need to install a new navigation stereo in your car.

*Note: The star ratings cited are current as of February 2018.

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