Contact us
Close contact box
Connect ID #
122 616 728 4
Connect ID #
122 616 728 4
Don't wait on hold. We'll call you back when it's your turn to talk with the next available .
Please enter your name  
Please enter your phone number  
Please enter a message  

Calls may be recorded for training and quality control purposes.

We are located in Virginia USA.

Thank you. We will be calling you .
We're sorry. We have encountered a problem.

In-dash navigation buying guide

What to look for in an in-dash GPS navigation receiver

Navigation receiver in dash

In-dash navigation receivers are great for road warriors because they're typically very versatile and can put you in command of a variety of information, entertainment, and communication sources through one device. Not only will you be able to access your music through discs, files, or the radio, you'll also be able to access the music and road-ready apps on your smartphone in many cases. And the receiver's built-in GPS guidance is often much more reliable than smartphone mapping apps, especially if you're traveling through areas with spotty cell coverage.

What should I look for in an in-dash navigation system?

Accuracy, speed, and ease of use

These are all elements which can't necessarily be quantified in a specifications chart, but are vitally important to your overall enjoyment, and to the system's utility. If you read reviews of various navigation systems, pay specific attention to the author's opinions of the navigation accuracy, the relative speed of route calculation and recalculation, and the ease of working with the screen's control interface.

Screen size and resolution

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of an in-dash navigation system is the size of the screen that shows the maps you'll use to get where you need to go. Hardly surprising, the bigger the better. Screens can range from just over 6" measured diagonally to over 10" in size, but most range between 6.1" and 7". No matter what size you choose, you should get excellent, at-a-glance visibility. You might also want to compare the resolutions of the screens you're considering; the higher the resolution, the sharper the picture, and the easier the map information is to see. Since most in-dash navigation receviers also can play video from DVDs or compatible portable sources like smartphones when you're parked, you may notice better picture quality with higher-resolution displays.

Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX Navigation Receiver

The Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX navigation receiver offers easy-to-follow maps on its 6.95" touch display.

Points of interest

Points of interest (POI) are some of the most useful features in any navigation system. They help you find various locations in unfamiliar towns, including restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and even ATMs. The more POI a navigation system has, the more options you'll have when you're on the road. Many systems let you program several stops along the way to your destination. Look for this feature when you're comparison shopping.

Real-time traffic data

Some systems are compatible with real-time traffic services. You can receive real-time traffic information, including traffic jams, construction, and even average speed of traffic along the programmed routes you're traveling. This doesn't just benefit cross-country travelers — it's especially handy for people with long commutes to and from work. Most traffic services are limited to major metropolitan areas. Depending on the navigation system, this service might require a monthly subscription fee.

Map updates

Most in-dash navigation systems enable you to update the maps and navigation data, usually by loading new data into the built-in memory. Map updates are released periodically and reflect the latest map information available. You shouldn't have to update your maps too often; once a year should be enough for most regions. Prices of map updates depend on the manufacturer of your system, and can range widely.

One thing to keep in mind is that different receiver manufacturers have different computer requirements when it comes to downloading map updates. Some map updates work fine with both Mac and Windows operating systems, but others are Windows-only. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s website to see their requirements before choosing a receiver.

Smartphone integration

Because most in-dash navigation receivers offer touchscreen control, they can be used to emulate certain smartphone features, including access to helpful travel and streaming music apps. Many receivers now feature some sort of "app mode" that allows some degree of control over select apps through the receiver's display. In some cases, there can be 2-way control between the smartphone and receiver for selecting music and perfroming other functions. App functionality differs from receiver to receiver, but smartphone audio control typically requires either a wired or Bluetooth® connection, and video playback through the receiver from the smartphone can usually only be done when the vehicle is in park with the emergency brake engaged.

Apple iPhone® and Android™ smartphone users can now take advantage of the Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ platforms through select navigation receivers. Compatible receivers display car-optimized interfaces of basic phone and app functions on their screens when a smartphone is connected, allowing drivers to check out maps, control music, and more, either with simple fingertip operation or by speaking aloud. The receivers can even read incoming texts out loud and allow drivers to reply using just their voice.

How do in-dash navigation receivers fit?

Dash opening size

Most in-dash systems fit 4"  openings (also known as double-DIN), while some fit standard 2" dash openings (called single-DIN), just like standard stereos. The monitor of a single-DIN retracts into the chassis when you turn the power off, then motors out and flips up when you're ready to use it again. The screen of a double-DIN sits flush in the dash, as though it were a factory-integrated component.  For the most part, the one you'll need depends on the dash opening you have (if you prefer a retractable screen, you can use single-DIN systems in many double openings with the help of an adapter kit; double-DIN systems will only fit double-DIN openings).

Custom-fit options

A small number of in-dash navigation receivers are designed to replace factory double-DIN stereos while retaining a factory look. You'll be able to enjoy guidance without having to relearn the controls on your dash.

Stinger RB10JW18B Jeep Package with optional navigation

Stinger's custom-fit HEIGH10 receiver is part of the RB10JW18B package for select 2018-up Jeeps offering a 10" display and navigation with an optional SD card purchase.

Besides handling navigation, these systems are also full-function car stereos. So you might want to check out our Car Stereo Buying Guide for a heads-up on other features to look for in your new stereo, such as Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio™ reception, satellite radio compatibility, and iPod® controls.

And when you're ready: Shop for in-dash navigation receivers.

  • russ gantt from Pickens

    Posted on 11/24/2022

    I purchased the Sony 158XAV5000 in 2019 for 2010 Jeep wrangler. Everthing works fine except clock? When time change from EDST to EST (in SC). I changed time on the clock, it will loose time. Sometime 5 minutes or one hour. Other times correct its self with the correct time. Have NOT had this problem until recently? Can you help? Thanks

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 11/25/2022

    Hi Russ - sorry to hear about your stereo issue. We offer free lifetime Tech Support for all products we sell, so since you purchased your radio from Crutchfield one of our team members will be happy to assist you. Simply call 888-292-2575 and have your order number handy; we're open 7 days a week and with extended hours most days.
  • Jackie Barnett from Culloden GA

    Posted on 8/23/2022

    I overdid my skill level do u install I havethe devise is going into 2006 ford fusion SE.I am retired so not buying a car yet

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 8/23/2022

    Hi Jackie -- sorry to hear about your situation. We don't offer installation services outside of our retail stores in Virginia, but if you bought your gear from Crutchfield you can call our Tech Support staff 7 days a week for assistance. The phone number should be on your purchase invoice. If you got your gear elsewhere, I would recommend looking online or consulting with trusted friends for a reputable car audio installation shop in your area.
  • Iacono from Whiting

    Posted on 6/12/2021

    I just bought a 2021 Rouge Nissan and has the dash board screen for my navigation use. I never got any instruction for me to use. Can you help me

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 6/13/2021

    Hi Iacono - thanks for reaching out. Congratulations on your new vehicle purchase. We don't really offer tech support for factory systems, but I do see that the 2021 Rogue offers three different navigation platforms: NissanConnect, Google Maps, and Waze. For Waze and Google Maps, there are plenty of resources online for how to use them, including video tutorials on YouTube. For NissanConnect navigation, I would suggest contacting your dealer or Nissan directly for assistance.
  • Rob Brown from Oklahoma city

    Posted on 5/15/2021

    Any idea when the current shortage of systems will return to normal? I visited with a Best Buy person and he explained why the shortage has occurred.

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 5/15/2021

    Hi Rob - thanks for checking in. We're hoping to see more inventory come through in June and July, but a return to pre-pandemic "normal" stock levels may still be a few more months away. Manufacturers are doing the best they can to address numerous supply chain issues, and the microchip factory fire in Japan in March has certainly contributed a great deal to the delays. If there's an item you're interested in, I recommend reserving it if you can as we process those out-of-stock orders in the order they were received. Your card won't be charged until it ships and you can cancel your reservation at any time. If you have more questions, one of our Advisors will be happy to help via phone or chat.
  • Dave S from West Chester, Ohio

    Posted on 12/28/2020

    Hi, I want a stand alone, in dash, navigation system for a 2005 Ford Focus, and also a 2014 Kia Soul. I don't want to use my phone. I want the navigation in the unit. I have been confused on which ones I should be looking at. They all say GPS, but none of them say, phone required, or no phone needed. Are there key phrases or terminology that I should be looking for. Thanks!

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 12/29/2020

    Hi Dave - thanks for your question. While many receivers can work with phone-based navigation apps, any receiver on our site that says GPS has built-in navigation, so no phone is needed. You can select from any of the receivers on our in-dash GPS navigation receivers page with the confidence that it will provide directions without a phone. Of course, you'll also need to make sure it fits with your vehicle. I've asked one of our Advisors to reach out to you so you should be hearing from someone via email soon.
  • Jae from Jacksonville

    Posted on 7/25/2020

    My Mercedes already has navigation. Will the aftermarket double din I buy need to have built in GPS or be GPS ready?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 7/27/2020

    Hi Jae - thanks for your question. Chances are you'll need a new radio with GPS built in, as "GPS-ready" head units are few and far between these days. Of course, lots of drivers are happy with non-GPS radios that can work with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto so they can use their phones for navigation through the stereo. Give one of our Advisors a call and they'll be happy to discuss your options with you.
  • Jim M from Las Vegas

    Posted on 5/18/2020

    I previously installed a Boss BN965BLC in my 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 which was an upgrade from the factory radio. Through time I kept finding things I didn't like with it and finally after several addresses I tried to use came up not available I decided that radio had to go. I researched other radios available and chose a Kenwood DNR476S which I felt was what I was looking for. I received it from Crutchfield in a couple days and immediately swapped out the radios. I had a little glitch with my backup camera which a Crutchfield tech helped me straighten out quickly and soon all was working as advertised. Since I'm old and retired I'm still in the learning mode because I don't drive the truck every day but I sure like everything about this radio. Being a retired pilot I am quite familiar with Garmin so that was a plus for Kenwood and the sound quality has been bumped up a notch also. I also think a lot of things are easier to use so needless to say I am very happy I upgraded. I only wish I hadn't waited past the time to return the Boss but that;s my fault.

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 5/18/2020

    Hi Jim - thanks so much for your comment. And I'm so glad you're happy with your Kenwood DNR476S. It's nice to have a reminder that all navigation receivers are not the same, and sometimes it's worth trying out more than one to find the right fit. With Crutchfield's 60-day return policy and free lifetime tech support, we're able to help folks find the best possible gear for their vehicle and budget, even if it might take a few tries.
  • Jay from Washington

    Posted on 5/3/2020

    This information was very insightful, informative and educatory. I feel like I'm better prepared to now to purchase a navigation system for my vehicle.

  • David Moore from Calgary, AB Canada.

    Posted on 12/28/2019

    Hi, I enjoyed your article, thank you for sharing. I have a 2008 ML550, with the BT adaptor module in my arm rest for phone connectivity. I want to update my navigation, and have it so I can connect my phone 11pro max to play my music as well, which currently I do not have. Do you also provide installation instructions with the kits you sell and is there a unit you would recommend for this particular make and model? Thanks again. Dave.

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 12/30/2019

    Hi David - Thanks for your inquiry. We need a bit more info on your vehicle before making a recommendation, so a member of our Advisor team will be getting in touch with you shortly to help you find the right model for your car and your needs. And yes, when you purchase a new stereo from Crutchfield we do provide free vehicle-specific instructions for how to remove your old receiver, and our Tech Support crew can help you with the installation of your new one if you hit any roadblocks. You can also purchase the instructions from us directly if you like without buying a stereo.

    Posted on 12/7/2019

    Okay I'm not totally Savvy in this area I was sold a Sony XAV-AX5000 so I could use it with Android auto with a USB cable I've had nothing nothing NOTHING but problems but I was told it would work with my 2006 Hyundai Tucson but it has NOT worked more than it has worked... buying it and installation was $800 and I'm not made of money..... can someone help me out.. I don't know if someone might want to buy it so I can get one that's more compatible or can someone tell me if it's supposed to be compatible I don't know but my anger has been on steroids for MONTHS because I was led to believe it was a bad USB cord but sometimes it works and I have tried many different cords and they're all the same... then I saw a video that the head unit needed to be hardwired to Something in the car or something?? I just want Android auto to work and I need some help please. -despondent mama

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 12/9/2019

    Hi Margy - Sorry to hear about your issues with your Sony. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

Find what Fits your vehicle


Checking fit...

Compare the sound