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Best in-dash navigation stereos for 2020

Check out our customer favorites and best-sellers

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

  1. Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX
  2. Alpine INE-W970HD
  3. Kenwood Excelon DNX696S
  4. Boss BN965BLC with a backup camera
  5. Kenwood DNX775RVS

What makes them top sellers and sure bets for 2020? 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-W8600NEX navigation receiver

Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX — Wireless compatibility for Apple and Android fans alike

What you need to know: Pioneer's AVIC-W8600NEX sports a 6.94" capacitive touch display, perfect for controlling Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which can both be employed wirelessly. 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. It's very new, but its predecessor, the AVIC-W8500NEX, was a massive customer favorite with a 4.5-star rating and 50 reviews. We expect a similar reception for this receiver.

Navigation features: Pioneer uses HERE guidance, which includes over 12 million points of interest and coverage across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Built-in real-time traffic updates keep you aware of possible delays, and spoken speed limit warnings help you stay on the right side of the law.

Phone integration features: As mentioned, it works with both wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto using a native Wi-Fi network. Pioneer's sweet WebLink app compatibility gives you in-dash access to more apps, including YouTube and Yelp. For Android phone owners, Wi-Fi Miracast lets you mirror your phone's screen on the receiver's display without a wired connection.

Audio features: This Pioneer boasts a 13-band EQ and the ability to use AutoEQ (with an optional microphone) to tune for your car's specific interior. It also offers time correction and listening position adjustments, as well as programming pre-set volume levels for different sources. And for those who enjoy better-than-CD-quality audio, it plays hi-res lossless digital files. 

Alpine INE-W970HD navigation receiver

Alpine INE-W970HD — Stunning sound and phone friendliness

What you need to know: Alpine's INE-W970HD is a very solid all-around nav receiver with a stellar 6.5" screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A built-in HD Radio™ tuner and satellite radio compatibility lets you get more from your favorite stations. 

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: The INE-W970HD offers wired operation of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can count on easy access of your favorite apps and phone functions via the touchscreen or your voice.

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 Excelon DNX696S navigation receiver

Kenwood Excelon DNX696S — Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus Excelon benefits

What you need to know: The Kenwood Excelon DNX696S comes with an upgraded user interface that's more intuitive than ever for switching sources and making quick adjustments. Its 6.75" touchscreen display puts all your media favorites right at your fingertips. It'll work with up to three different cameras, and Kenwood backs it with a 2-year warranty. On top of everything else, its price break makes it a better value than ever.

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, realistic views of complicated intersections, and 3D terrain views. 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: This receiver works with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Kenwood's Remote S smartphone app lets your passengers control the reciever via their phones.

Audio features: Got high-resolution (24-bit/192kHz) FLAC or WAV music files? This Kenwood can play 'em. It also boasts a 3-way crossover so you can funnel frequencies to subs, woofers, and tweeter if you're amplifying them separately. The Excelon badge means this Kenwood packs gold-plated 5-volt preamp outputs for better signal transfer, not to mention a 13-band EQ. You also get an HD Radio™ tuner built in, plus compatibility with SiriusXM satellite radio.

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 Boss BN965BLC combo 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.

Kenwood DNX775RVS navigation receiver

Kenwood DNX775RVS — Custom guidance for RV and rig owners

What you need to know: Drivers of RVs and tractor trailers have special considerations on the road, as one wrong turn could turn into a potential disaster (or at least an uncomfortable situation that wastes both time and fuel). The Kenwood DNX775RVS offers a 6.95" screen and useful Garmin guidance for larger vehicles, plus phone compatibility and significant audio upgrades. As it's a niche product, we don't have customer ratings or reviews just yet, but owners of large vehicles should give this stereo a look.

Navigation features: This receiver offers truck-specific points of interest, including truck stops, weigh stations, and repair spots. It also offers campgrounds and services and more for RV explorers. Specialized routing keeps drivers away from low overpasses, narrow roads, and sharp curves wherever possible, and it offers warnings for steep grades and windy areas. You can input your vehicle's dimensions and hazmat restrictions to make sure you won't get hung up along your route. 

Phone integration features: Built-in wired Android Auto and CarPlay compatibility let you keep in touch with your favorite apps, but mapping through those services won't offer the same level of sophistication as the stereo's built-in Garmin guidance. It also works with a couple of Kenwood apps to turn your phone or tablet into a remote control for the radio.

Audio features: Kenwood's 13-band EQ lets you tweak to your heart's delight. The Drive EQ mode helps you enjoy your music better by boosting certain frequency ranges that become hard to hear due to road noise. It also plays high-res FLAC and WAV files.

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 when shopping for a navigation stereo:

  • 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 apps 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 April 2020.

Last updated 4/24/2020

Please share your thoughts below.

  • Zac Powell from Bamberg

    Posted on 5/16/2020

    I'm looking for a radio/gps that allows you to enter multiple destination points and allows you to build a route. Also need the maps to be able to update for free would be nice. What is my best options?

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 5/17/2020

    Hi Zac - thanks for your question. Pretty much every in-dash navigation receiver we carry will let you build a route with multiple destination points. Some of them have different names for that function, but if you look at the "Details" page for each receiver, under the "Onboard Navigation" section it should explain how it works. Unfortunately, very few of the in-dash navigation units offer free map updates (beyond the first one, which usually has to be done when registering the device for warranty purposes). The Kenwood DNX997XR offers a 3-year MapCare program from Garmin which offers 3 years of free updates, but that's an exception. An in-person discussion with one of our Advisors will probably be of huge benefit to you here -- give us a call or use the web chat feature on our site during our business hours for one-on-one advice for your vehicle.
  • Michael Jones Jr from SNELLVILLE

    Posted on 4/9/2020

    I have read on multiple site reviews that the Pioneer AVIC-8500NEX doesn't sync wirelessly to Samsung phones, only wired in. Is this accurate for this product.

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 4/9/2020

    Hi Michael - thanks for your question. Our Product Research indicates that for the Pioneer AVIC-W8500NEX you can connect Samsung's Galaxy S8/S8+, Galaxy S9/S9+, S10/S10+, and Note 8/9/10 (running Android OS 9.0 Pie or higher and version 4.7 or higher of the Android Auto app) to the Pioneer receiver wirelessly using WiFi and Bluetooth (both wireless connections must be made; a wired USB connection must be made initially between the Android phone and the Pioneer receiver to setup Wireless Android Auto).
    There were indeed some issues with compatibility with Samsung phones when the stereo (which is now a discontinued model) was originally released, but those were rectified in October of 2019 with an Android Auto update. Any reviews you are seeing with those issues were likely made before then.
  • Herb from Sacramento

    Posted on 4/18/2019

    Do any of these radios link to the GPS to provide a list of FM stations that are within range of the car's current location? And, can they be displayed on the moving map so I can select one that is in the direction I am traveling? That would be very useful for driving in the mountains.

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 4/18/2019

    Hi Herb - As far as we know, there is no radio capability that provides incoming stations or the ability to swap to them via the navigation. Your best bet will to be to use your stereo's Seek/Scan function. Or, if you prefer to have access to certain types of programming at all times no matter where you drive in the continental U.S., check out SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
  • Liz Neubelt from Bristol

    Posted on 1/10/2019

    What does compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio? Will I have to buy another type of receiver in order to use Sirius or is it all set to go when I buy the subscription with Sirius?

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 1/10/2019

    Liz, when you see that, it means that you'll need this SiriusXM tuner in addition to the compatible radio and a subscription. If you have any questions about whether a radio you're interested in is SiriusXM-compatible, give one of our Advisors a call.