12 Best In-Dash Navigation Units in 2017
If you have recently purchased a car, you may have noticed an increased emphasis on In-Dash navigation units. They are almost standard on luxury vehicles these days, but economy class vehicles from all types of manufacturers are starting to adopt the tech as well. Needless to say, it is not just about listening to music anymore as Wi-Fi and other options are no commonplace.
Some head units have DVD players built-in while others come with cool features like Apple Carplay and HD radio. The more features, the pricier the system can become although there may be a few things you can’t stand to live without like Sirius radio or FLAC file playback.
All the systems in our list of the best In-Dash navigation systems have one thing in common – they are of the Double Din variety. Everything else varies wildly, and there’s a little something for everyone whether you want to go high-tech or keep things simple and affordable.
Table of Contents
- Top 12 In-Dash Navigation Units Comparison Table
- Buying Tips for Audiophiles
- Top 5 Best In-Dash Navigation Reviews
Buying Tips for Audiophiles
Most of these players can handle your music with ease. That doesn’t necessarily make choosing the right one any easier however so you will want to consider the information below as well.
- Installation – All the systems on our list are of the double din variety meaning they should work with most vehicles featuring the properly sized slot. Single din units are basically a thing of the past in the navigation world unless you want to go the pop-up route. While we can’t install your new head unit for you, here are a few important few things to remember.
Some of the navigation systems on our list are far easier to install than others. All come with the proper mounting hardware, but you may need to buy additional items as well. Check to see if you have the right harness out of the box for your vehicle model. You will also want to check (and double check) the size of the actual unit vs. the size of the slot in your car.
Some vehicles are more forgiving than others when it comes to cramming a radio in the dash, but when in doubt, always turn to a professional. There is no sense in breaking your new navigation unit or butchering your dash, so it’s worth a few extra dollars to have the job done right.
- Navigation – All navigation systems can get you from Point A to B with any decent map system. That said, having a built-in setup from Garmin or other top brands is different from running an app from a third-party. Android-based systems tend to go that route, which means you can pick and choose what you want to use. While that certainly has its advantages, it is not without its faults as anyone who owns an Android device knows. You don’t want your Waze app crashing when you are heading to an event or trying to find the right off ramp on the interstate.
If you want true navigation, you are better off looking for a system that is dedicated to it, not one that relies on an app or other tech tricks. High-end units can also sport special traffic receivers to ensure you miss any tricky spots in the road ahead.
- Additional Features – Are you an iPhone aficionado in need of Apple CarPlay or are you the type that likes to watch films in your vehicle when you are on the sideline? While all of our In-Dash navigation systems can help you find your way and pound out your favorite music, some have far cooler perks. Remote controls, HDMI ports, and rear camera support are all things you may want to keep in mind before making your pick.
The number one contender on our list of the best In-Dash navigation system comes from a brand most folks probably are not familiar with. Panelo is their name, and the PA-09YZ32 receiver is their top tier head unit. The OS is based on the Android operating system and has several solid features despite the fact it is essentially a slate built for your dash.
Due to its tablet-based nature, the Panelo navigation head unit will allow you to watch videos on the screen through an included microSD card. It also has specifications smartphone fans will recognize with 1GB of DDR3 RAM and a quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz. Other tech specs of note include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 16GB of storage. The 7-inch touchscreen display sports a resolution of 1,024 x 600.
As this tablet is built for your vehicle, it comes with an AM/FM radio and GPS navigation with support for Waze, IGO, and Google Maps. The double din unit also comes with a few extras including a backup camera with a 120-degree lens.
The HIZPO In-Dash navigation system comes with a few more perks than most of the units on our list. It has a built-in DVD/CD player and while the design isn’t cutting edge, the row of buttons on either side of the screen provides easy access. It also has tuning dials on the front, which is an odd but interesting choice. Unlike most of the off-brand navigation units, this one won’t run Android as you will get Windows CE.
This head unit has all the usual features you would want including an FM radio, Bluetooth, and GPS navigation. You’ll get a 6.2-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 800 x 480 so you can watch a flick or two on your player when you aren’t rocking out to your tunes. It will support a wide variety of formats as well with WMA, Divx, Mp3 and MP4 along with CDs and DVDs.
HIZPO’s head unit should fit most double din setups and comes with a remote control, 8GB “Map” card and a backup camera with night vision.
If you were wondering when something from a big brand would show up, wonder no more. The Pioneer AVIC-6200NEX is a step down from their flagship model, but well worthy of a place on our list of the best In-Dash navigation systems. It is also one of the few models that offers up HD radio. This gives you better clarity across the board while also giving you the opportunity to check out additional programs through simultaneous broadcasts.
The 6200NEX supports Apple Carplay out of the box with Siri Eyes Free and is Sirius XM Radio ready as well. When it comes to navigation, this one is hard to beat with a tuner for the Total Traffic Network, the HERE map database, and speed limit warnings. We would be remiss if we did not also mention the HDMI port on the back and the 6.2-inch WVGA resistive touchscreen display.
Pioneer’s head unit may be pricier than others, but quality costs and they have plenty of experience in the audio department. If this one is not quite spiffy enough for you, the 8000 series models are always an option.
The Joying 7 is another Android-based navigation unit but has a bit more pop than most of the head units to make the cut. That is due to 2GB of RAM beneath the glass and a whopping 32GB of storage. Those are mid-range smartphone specifications, and the display lives up to its name at 7-inches with a resolution of 1,024 x 600. It is of the capacitive variety and supports multi-touch as well.
As mentioned, one of the advantages of running certain types of software is the access it can bring to the table. In this case, you’re getting Google Play store support which is pretty wild. Along with the usual GPS apps and maps, you can download any other application or game and give it a whirl when you are not rolling down the road. Picture-in-picture, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and steering wheel controls are a few more interesting features. PIP is certainly something you don’t often see with this type of system.
The Joying 7 runs Android 5.1 out of the box and comes with two types of ISO harnesses, external GPS antennae, and an external mic.
Kenwood has been cranking out high-quality audio equipment for longer than most of our readers have been on this Earth. They are a mainstay in the audio world and have kept with the times when it comes to In-Dash navigation. Kenwood’s DNX573S was our favorite, and it may be the next head unit you buy.
This navigation unit has plenty of style with easy access buttons on the left and a 6.2-inch touchscreen on the right. All the usual bells & whistles are present in the audio department with DVD/CD playback, a built-in 22 watt 4-channel amp, HD radio and Apple CarPlay. It can do almost everything Pioneer’s system can and you can even adjust the illumination color for the keys. Like lossless FLAC files? It can tackle those and anything other types of music files you throw its way.
Garmin will handle the navigation duties for Kenwood’s head unit which means you’ll get millions of points of interest, high-quality maps and text-to-speech prompts. A 2-year subscription to INRIX traffic reports is available as a perk with purchase as well.