Best Car Stereo in 2023 – Car Stereo Reviews and Ratings

Best Car Stereo in 2023 – Car Stereo Reviews and Ratings
We spent over 38 hours researching and testing 14 different kinds of car stereos and found that warranty, power output, and features were most important. The Pioneer Car Stereo scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. We loved all the features this car stereo offered including a USB direct control for your iPhone or iPod, Pandora, built-in Bluetooth and much more. The Pioneer MIXTRAX technology provided excellent sound quality. The detachable faceplate was a terrific security measure that we also liked a lot and was easy to use. This car stereo comes with a 1 years parts and 1 year labor warranty.
Car Stereo

1. Pioneer

Best Overall Car Stereo

5/5 Product Rating
If you are looking for a great car stereo that has lots of features, take a look at the Pioneer DEH-X6900BT Car Stereo with CD receiver.

This system has the Pioneer MIXTRAX technology for optimum sound quality. It has tons of other features as well including:

  • Built in Bluetooth
  • SiriusXM-Ready
  • USB Direct Control for your iPod or iPhone
  • USB Music Access for Android devices 4.0 and later
  • Pandora

The cosmetic design of the DEH-X6900BT has been updated from previous models you will enjoy the upgrades that have been added such as Siri Eyes Free Voice Recognition capability, no wires cluttering things up or headsets that are uncomfortable to wear. Users can listen to their favorite songs and artists on Pandora anytime they feel like it thanks to the Pandora Station Creation.

The versatile AM/FM, CD, MP3, WMA playback, DVD playback car stereo has Peak Power Output of 50 watts over 4 channels with a Single DIN receiver. For extra security there is a detachable faceplate that deters car stereo thieves. The RMS Power output is 14 watts and 4 channels. The LCD text display is easy to see and it has variable colors. The 5 band equalizer will help you ensure the best sound possible.

The 3.5mm audio/video inputs are great for headphones and the USB input on the front can be convenient for playing music that is on your smartphone or tablet. There is a 1 year Parts Warranty and a 1 year Labor Warranty as well. This is definitely an AM/FM/CD car stereo that gives the listener lots of options.

Jonathan Maxwell

2. Kenwood DPX500BT

Best Overall Car Stereo – Runner Up

4.9/5 Product Rating
Kenwood is a well known name in stereo equipment that customers have come to love due to their dedication to quality systems.

The Kenwood DPX500BT In-Dash Car Stereo is a double-DIN CD receiver that offers listeners high performance and lots of features.

The variable color illumination button lighting makes it easy to see even in a dark car.

This AM/FM, CD, MP3, USB Receiver with remote allows you to listen to the radio, your favorite CD or your favorite MP3 file effortlessly. When you have this car stereo system hooked up to a smartphone that has been enabled, you can get Pandora Internet Radio, iHeart Radio and AhaTM.

There are three preamp outputs that allow the listener to expand the system, and the front panel USB port and 3.5mm auxiliary jack works for you external devices as well. You can get a 14 segment display that fits on the large front panel which makes it easier for listeners to see more information that they want or need to see at just a glance.

Since it has the variable illumination, car owners will be able to use it to match the color of the receiver to the interior lighting and the dashboard too. In addition it has hands-free Blue Tooth technology for hands free phoning and music streaming. For iPod owners the 2 way iPod control enables you to control your music from the iPod itself or the stereo.

Jonathan Maxwell

3. Blaupunkt Cupertino

Best Budget Car Stereo

4.8/5 Product Rating
Another great stereo that provides exceptional sound and lots of features is the Blaupunkt Cupertino 220 World Stereo. Power output Peak 45 watts and 4 channels; RMS is 22 watts and 4 channels.

With this stereo system you have an AM/FM radio, CD-R and CD-RW, MP3, WMA and a remote to run it all. There are 25 preset stations and a 3 band equalizer that offers 4 selectable EQ curves. There are also random and repeat modes that can be selected.

Make sure you have perfect sound with electronic bass, treble, fader and balance controls. It has a detachable face for excellent security benefits and has an attractive black piano finish.

The front panel auxiliary input is a standard 3.5mm which is just the right size for plugging in external devices of your choice. Some of the key features that this car stereo offers consumers are the playback audio that works with most iPod models when a USB is used.

You will have access to the Album, Artist and Song list on a 9 digit dot matrix that will allow you to see exactly what is playing, who it’s by and what album it comes from.

Jonathan Maxwell

Car Stereo Buying Guide

Car Stereo Reviews


At the start of the 20th century, the radio was invented, but it wasn’t until the 20s that technology really began to take off. The very first car radio listed was the Airtone 3D in 1925. They weren’t mass produced though until 1927. By the 30s they were a common in car option that car buyers could choose. The 30s is also when AM radio was introduced. In the 70s, the FM radio gained popularity which made car stereos even more popular.

Car Stereo1Although Cassette Players and 8 tracks dominated the 60s and 70s in car stereos it wasn’t until the 80s that CD players hit the scene and made both cassettes and 8 tracks obsolete. Every decade there has been advancement in the world of car stereos. They come with more features than ever and have different quality levels as well.

Now car stereos include ports to plug your iPod and cell phone into, you can get MP3 players to play music through the stereo and then there’s satellite radio that has grown in popularity over the last few years as well. There are car stereos now that even play DVDs in them.


Another word for the car stereo that is installed in your vehicles dashboard is the audio receiver. This piece of equipment is the heart of your car stereo system. The purpose of the receiver is to connect all the different parts your stereo has to its speakers and it also helps the sound get transmitted through the car’s electrical system.

There are a lot of features that are available with a car stereo. That will change according to the type of car stereo it is. Sometimes car stereos will include special features like CD players, radio tuners, DVD players or even a multi-disk CD changer.

With today’s technology and advancement, some car stereos have made it a regular practice to add interfaces for digital music players and connectors for satellite radio and car video systems too. There are car stereos that will offer the options and features you want that will fit every budget. Read below to learn about the different components of a great car stereo so you know what you need to look for when you go shopping.

Car Stereo Size – DIN is the size of the car stereos in-dash capability. There are two ratings: Single Din AND double Din. Both singe and double DIN stereos typically measure about 7” wide with single DINs being about 2” inches high and Double DINs being 4” high. Stereo depths will vary from model to model so measure the car stereo cavity before you purchase your new car stereo.

Car Radio – A basic part of a car stereo is to offer AM/FM radio. One common new offering that has been around for a few years is satellite radio. You will need a satellite receiver and a subscription unless it is included in the purchase of your car stereo. Satellite radio offers listeners the opportunity to have commercial free radio.

CD Player – Another common offering on a car stereo is a CD player. It is usually standard equipment in many car stereos and in many cases comes from the factory with it. Some car stereos even have CD changers which allow you to change disks and have uninterrupted music without having to stop and change disks. Load several into your changer and you’re good to go. Another common addition to car stereos that have CD players is for it to be an MP3 CD player that also plays custom CDs that you create.

Bluetooth Hands-Free Calling – A very convenient and popular feature of most car stereos is for it to have hands free Bluetooth capability. Aside from increasing the safety of your passengers and yourself while driving, it makes things a lot easier and more convenient for you. The majority of Bluetooth applications will require the user to purchase add-on blue tooth receiver modules. With these receiver modules you will be able to have calls routed from your cell phone through your car stereo where you can hear right through the stereo speakers. You can also get add-on Bluetooth kits that mount on the dashboard or visor.

GPS Navigation – A common offering with Double DIN car stereos is GPS navigation. Sometimes it is an optional add-on and other times it comes standard with the car stereo you purchase. You will find this offering as a standard with most touch screen in dash audio/video stereos.

HD Radio – If your stereo offers HD radio capabilities, you can expect and enjoy ultimate clarity in the sound of your stereo. Sometimes this is a very important feature for some car owners who want a very crystal clear, precise sound.

Car Stereo2Auxiliary Input Jacks – If you have an iPod that you want to play through your car stereo you want to make sure that the car stereo you purchase has auxiliary input jacks.

Power Rating – When you are looking for a powerful system you want to look at the RMS rating that is measured in watts and is a measure of the continuous output power of the car stereo rather than the peak power rating which only indicates the maximum capability.

DVD Playback – DVD playback means that you can listen to your favorite movies through your stereo system. To have the visual aspect of the movie your system will need to have a monitor or pop out screen that is attached to it otherwise you will just be able to hear the movie.

USB Ports – Many car stereo systems have USB ports on the front of the car stereo. These USB ports can be used to transfer music, play music or can be used for any number of other functions.

Remote control– Some car stereo systems offer remote controls that work all of the features the stereo offers. You can change the radio station; switch from AM to FM, Play CDs and other functions.

Removable Faceplate – One feature that has been around for some time is the removable faceplate. This is a great feature that is designed to deter thieves from stealing your car stereo. When you turn off the vehicle and radio and intend on leaving the car, just take the faceplate off, put it in your purse or under the seat of the car and when people look into your vehicle they will not see a fancy car stereo dash.

Clock – Many car stereos have a clock that will show on the front. This is usually an option to shoe the time and can alternate with the radio station the stereo is tuned to not.

Amplifiers – When looking at the amplifier of the car stereo, you want to look at the RMS power which will tell you the steady level of power that the stereo will produce. There will also be a peak power rating which is the maximum power the amplifier will have in short bursts. To make sure that you don’t have your speakers damaged, make sure you match the power rating on the amplifier to the speakers. Amplifiers typically have 1-4 channels. In general low pass filters will give you better low-frequency bass sounds and high pass filters will give you better mid to high range treble sounds.

Illumination Lighting – Some car stereos have lighting kits that enable you to match the stereo with the dashboard or interior lighting. Not all stereos have lighting but it can be a real nice addition.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Stereo

Make sure of the fit – One of the most important factors in which stereo to choose is making sure you get the right size for the spot you have in your vehicle. Most vehicles are able to support the regular Single DIN size which typically measures 7” x 2” high. If your vehicle can support a double DIN it will have a space that measures 7” x 4” high.

Don’t over buy – Many people want a terrific car stereo and feel that the bigger they get the better it sounds but that is not always true. There is nothing wrong with talking to a professional before you buy to find what matches are in line with what you want from your car stereo. It will keep you from spending more money than you need to.


As dust and dirt build up on your vehicle’s dashboard, it will build up on your car stereo as well. There are many buttons and grooves that can appear like they are magnets for any dust or dirt in your vehicle. It is very easy to clean your car stereo and we’ve provided the tips for you below so you can prevent dust and dirt from building up on it and affecting its performance.

  1. Using a paper clip or toothpick, get into the grooves and crevices of your car stereo and very carefully scrape away the dirt and dust. Be careful not to scratch the surfaces.
  2. Take a cotton swab and go over the area you have just scraped. The cotton swap will rub the dirt off that the scraping might have left or missed. Cotton swabs are great for cleaning small crevices like that because they can get into those little crevices easier. For a deeper cleaning, spray all purpose cleaner on the end of the cotton swab and clean the areas with that.
  3. Car Stereo3

  4. Wipe down the surface of the stereo with a window cleaner. Once it is wiped down, dry it with a dry rag. This will remove fingerprints, smudges and germs from the front of the stereo.
  5. If your stereo has a CD player in it that starts skipping, you can use the CD player cleaning disks they offer, or you can take it out and spray it with compressed air. This effectively gets all the dust out of the CD player and it should start to work like new again Cassette players, although very rare nowadays, can be cleaned with a cotton swab and alcohol to clean the tape head.


A car stereo is one of the features of a vehicle that people are interested in. If the factory installed stereo is really bad, it is simple to find a better replacement that is more in line with what you may be looking for. There are tons of car stereo options available on the market today. With some time invested and proper research, finding the one that will work for your needs can be much easier.

The three top rated car stereos in this review are all terrific choices for anyone who is looking for a great car stereo that provides great sound without breaking the wallet. You’ll have lots of features to choose from and utilize and the power is good with all three.

In our buyer’s guide you have learned about the common features that car stereos typically have and got tips on keeping your stereo clean once you have it installed. With this information you will be able to choose a car stereo that fits your vehicle, your needs and your preferences.

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