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Before we get to the Best Android Auto Head Unit currently on the market, let’s take a quick walk down memory lane…
The beginnings of the head unit started way back in 1935. Two brothers bought some bankrupt stock and set up a company that later became known as Motorola. They made car radios that by today’s standards were frighteningly expensive, especially considering they only offered AM radio. That went on for another 20 years.
In the 50s German company Blaupunkt (Blue Spot in German) gave us the first AM/FM radio for cars. Things moved fast as we got 8-tracks and then cassettes and finally, Japanese company Pioneer gave us the first CD player for the car. Soon it was CD’s only but technology was still racing.
Displays became more sophisticated and so did the connections. It wasn’t long before the head unit was now an all bells and whistles system. It harnessed the power of GPS navigation. And we had not only CD players but video on the screen, and connections to our phones. It would even take us to the nearest coffee shop. Crazy technology.
The first touch screen was in a Buick in 1986. Now they are not exactly standard on all cars quite yet, because you have to pay extra for them. But you can have these all-powerful head units simply by requesting one when you buy your new car. Some second-hand cars also may have them.
So, let’s go through the Best Android Head Units for your car currently available and find the perfect one for you…
- Top 9 Best Android Auto Head Unit In 2021 Reviews
- 1 Pioneer AVH-3300NEX 7″ Flip Out DVD Receiver
- 2 Sony XAV-AX5000 7” Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 3 Alpine ILX-207
- 4 PIONEER AVH-W4500NEX Double DIN
- 5 BOSS Audio Systems BVCP9675A Car Multimedia Player
- 6 ATOTO A6 Double Din Android Car Navigation Stereo
- 7 Kenwood Excelon DDX9905S Multimedia Receiver
- 8 Sony XAVAX210SXM 6.4″ Apple CarPlay Android Auto CD /DVD Receiver
- 9 Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver
- Best Android Auto Head Unit Buyers Guide
- Need Even More Choice Of Head Units?
- So, What Is Best Android Auto Head Unit?
Top 9 Best Android Auto Head Unit In 2021 Reviews
1 Pioneer AVH-3300NEX 7″ Flip Out DVD Receiver
Let’s start with the company that gave us the first in-car CD player. The Pioneer AVH-3300NEX is a fully retractable unit with a seven-inch screen that folds away at the touch of a button. It is a compact unit which means it will fit most car dashboards. The interface is through a touch screen which makes it convenient to navigate through the operating options.
Its DIN factor makes it a unit that will fit a variety of car stereo sizes.
It has been given some nice built-in features. The touch screen can be adjusted to make navigation easier and there is a Mixtrax feature. This lets you set up your own playlists as you want them. It has a built-in microphone to enable voice commands and also for hands-free calling. And the faceplate is detachable so you can prevent theft.
Controls are quite easy to manage via the touchscreen with some of the functions having a one-touch control. You can connect to Bluetooth for hands-free calling or for using your phone’s other functions. Smartphones, both Android and Apple can utilize the major touch facilities by using the AppRadio mode. It can be used for VCD, DVD and DVD-R and RW and the radio will store up to six frequencies for use when you want them.
It has a VGA (Video Graphics Array) that allows you can set the home screen up as you wish. And the Pioneer AVH-3300NEX will be compatible with the majority of steering wheel controls straight out of the factory.
The screen size is 7 inches in width, with the display area being approximately 6 inches by 3 and a half inches. The power output is 22 watts RMS on all four channels.
What makes this unit stand out, making it possibly the Best Android Auto Head Unit is its Apple and Android CarPlay options. You can access anything that is on your devices and with the AppRadio operational you have access to WAZE. You also have access to SiriusXM and of course Bluetooth. And it comes with a remote control.
You might expect quality innovation and a system packed with features from Pioneer, and that’s exactly what you’ve got with this system. And at a price point that makes this a very attractive option. If we are to find something we don’t like it is only that the control buttons are quite small. This makes them a little difficult to operate while driving sometimes.
- Well-made unit with good features.
- Lots of connection options at a very affordable price.
- Some control buttons are rather small.
2 Sony XAV-AX5000 7” Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
The Sony bandwagon rolls into town and we all know what that means. Good quality, some innovative features, and all at an attractive price point.
The Sony XAV-AX5000 is an auto head unit with a lot of features. Measured diagonally the full-color screen is 6.95 inches. It is from here that you can control just about everything. It is a touch screen operation where you can get maps, make and answer calls, go through your playlists and a lot more. All with a simple tap on the screen.
The impressive screen is laid out a bit like some computers. Clear options with the control keys at the bottom of the screen. These provide you with access to some of the important basic features including phone connections. The controls are well-sited and easy to use.
You can connect to AppleCarPlay where some of the functions are managed. Android auto will let you connect a compatible Android device for access to that device’s music, phonebook, or other stored information.
If you have a satellite tuner you can connect to SiriusXM radio. This will give you full access to news, sports, free music, and other entertainment. The satellite tuner is an optional extra. There are also USB ports to connect your devices if you wish to utilize their information that way instead of Bluetooth.
We can only say that it is an impressive system, but then it is Sony. Set at a realistic price point, it is an option worth considering.
- Very nice screen layout and easy to use.
- Plenty of features at an affordable price.
- There appears to be an issue with Android Auto occasionally.
3 Alpine ILX-207
This is a receiver with a built-in HD AM/FM tuner for great reception and a built-in amplifier. The amp generates 18 watts peak power across four channels. It has a full-color seven-inch touchscreen operation and is designed to allow you to use Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There is also Bluetooth connectivity built-in, as well as a USB port to allow the use of devices and thumb drives. It is also MP3/WMA compatible.
The USB is situated on the rear of the unit. There is also an HDMI and an auxiliary input located at the back. And it will operate a Sirius XM satellite tuner but this is not included. There is also a rearview camera included for reversing.
It is set up for use with most audio controls located on the steering wheel. Although you may though need an adapter in some circumstances.
It has been given some other interesting features as standard. It works with iDatalink Maestro and in the case of some vehicles will display engine performance on the screen. There is also a microphone included.
It is a waterproof color camera with a wide 170-degree angle and a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels. It is a universal fitting so it is going to fit all vehicles. This is a great addition if your vehicle hasn’t already got one.
This head unit has some interesting features and also allows you to access apps by speaking. The screen is a decent standard size, however, when compared to other units it is rather cluttered up with possibly too much information. This makes it quite hard to read especially at night.
Also, it doesn’t have a CD player which we think is negative. And it is quite expensive.
- Some very good built-in features for sound and screen management.
- A rear-view camera with universal fitting.
- No CD player.
- Quite expensive.
4 PIONEER AVH-W4500NEX Double DIN
When we were growing up if you had Pioneer audio at home you felt very special. But, if you had their equipment in the car you must be a rockstar. But that was at a time when there weren’t many options. However, of the options available, Pioneer really stood out.
In today’s world where the audio market is saturated at every level, they still hold a respected place. Quite simply because they still produce quality gear. The Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX is a good example and is amoungst the Best Android Auto Head Units currently available.
It is a double-DIN design, which is a description of the size of the unit in height. It is a German abbreviation. Singe DIN is the usual car radio eight. Double DIN is twice the height for larger screens such as this.
This unit has a lot of bells and whistles and so to ensure we get most of them mentioned we will have to be quite brief.
It seems to have just about most things including Apple Carplay and Android Auto, HD radio, and FM, and it will operate with Sirius XM. Also, it features a DVD and CD player and is fitted with two cameras – reversing cam and also a dashboard cam. Located on the rear of the unit are two USB ports.
It has hands-free operation of your devices of course. Answering calls and making them as well as listening to any text messages and replying. This all comes under the Bluetooth connectivity. There is a touchscreen operation which is WVGA so not the best you can get, but still very efficient.
Editing facilities are excellent which includes modifications to your home screen. You can even use personal photos from your phone. It has a dimmer switch for night driving.
The majority of the screen has large size control pads for easy use but some of the touchpads are quite small and not so easy to use.
The sound, of course, is Pioneer so it is very good and if you want it for music and entertainment this will be a superb choice. It has a built-in amp with four channels giving 50 watts RMS.
It is a great piece of kit with about everything you need for total communication and entertainment. Good screen size and easy to manage. Not on the cheap side but you only get what you pay for.
- Great system with just about every feature you will need.
- Cam links and good solid connections.
- Some of the operating buttons are rather small.
5 BOSS Audio Systems BVCP9675A Car Multimedia Player
Design-wise, this is not unlike the Pioneer we just reviewed, in fact, almost a clone in many respects but with one major omission. More on this later…
This too has a lot of excellent features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will allow you to integrate your phone with controls that are built-in to this unit. The Bluetooth connection allows you to receive calls and also to make them and also to receive and send messages.
You can access your music and manage it and play your playlists. You can also connect to streaming sites like Pandora and Spotify.
It has USB ports and an aux for MP3, as well as an AM/FM radio. The system works well from audio out from your phone or other devices like your MP3 player. It has a USB and Aux-in and is fitted with a rear camera facility. Controls can be managed from the steering wheel for some vehicles. On others, you may need an adapter.
There are some decent sound control management options with Speaker balance and fader. There are also controls for treble and bass and an EQ with some presets.
Well, there is no CD player or DVD player. We cannot understand that. How a company can design an entertainment system and exclude them is a little beyond us. Probably someone sat in a focus group saying he doesn’t use CDs anymore. He or she might not but a lot of people do. The lack of it reduces its value in our opinion.
- A good screen with easy to use touchscreen operations.
- Some good features and connections built-in.
- No CD or DVD player.
If anyone has got any hangups about buying Chinese made equipment, and there are a lot of you out there, you’d better move on to the next review. You won’t like to read about a China-made product that excels.
There have been some very poor audio products made there. Just like there have been in every, and we mean every other country in the world. This though is an exceptional piece of kit and must be thought of as what could be the Best Affordable Android Auto Head Unit.
And what is surprising is that it is from a company that is not the first name to roll off the tongue!
It has Apple CarPlay and Android Audio support, two Bluetooth connections, and built-in WiFi. There is no HD for the AM/FM radio and no Sirius XM. The latter only works of course with an extra purchase with all systems.
Music and movies, audiobooks, podcasts though are all here. It is, of course, hands-free. It has a great feature whereby rotating your hand in front of the screen allows you to adjust the volume. How Back to the Future is that?
Crystal clear and with a brightness that doesn’t hurt the eyes. We are not sure what the resolution is but it is way better than the standard 480 pixels. And any app can be downloaded to work via the Google Play Store.
No problem, it will let you create a hotspot from your phone. This will get you up to date traffic information as you drive.
Sound-wise it is excellent with a built-in amp from Toshiba with four channels. generating 29 watts per channel RMS. However, it has no links to your steering wheel controls, so you’ll have to use the physical buttons on the unit.
It’s a great little unit at a price that defies logic.
- Stunning screen and visual layout.
- Packed with great features at a more than affordable price.
- When fitting it may not fit exactly flush on your dashboard as most do.
7 Kenwood Excelon DDX9905S Multimedia Receiver
Kenwood needs little introduction as a major player in the audio market. They were times when they were at the very top of the tree. Maybe not so much now but the quality is still very evident in what they manufacture.
This unit is a DoubleDIN display that has stunning visuals. The High Defenition 6.75-inch screen is very impressive and has a glossy style to the touch panel. The screen is able to be tilted to get a good line of sight position.
It has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is available trough a USB, Waze is usable through Weblink as are connections to Youtube and Yelp.
It has a CD and DVD features using DVDR/RW and there are connections for MP3. The Peak output power is 50 watts over four channels. On the rear, there are an AV input and AV output. Also RCA inputs for a front camera and the reversing camera. There is a 13 band graphic equalizer for sound management as well as a bass boost or loudness button.
The tuner is Sirius XM ready and has HD radio. There are 15 presents for FM stations and five for AM with a seek facility. It comes with RBDS built-in.
It also has Bluetooth built-in with automatic pairing. Using your smartphone you can utilize Voice control. This also allows you to control your music with voice commands, and it has a microphone for calls, etc., but it is a separate unit and not built-in, so has to be mounted separately. It does not have WiFi but you can connect two phones at the same time.
Set at a reasonable price point.
- Good visuals on a glossy screen.
- It has some very nice features.
- Good sound management options.
- Having a separate mic is a bit cumbersome.
8 Sony XAVAX210SXM 6.4″ Apple CarPlay Android Auto CD /DVD Receiver
Back to Sony again for another Best Android Auto Head Unit with CD/DVD. This receiver is an easy to use entertainment system that includes iDatalink Maestro which provides complete integration with your vehicle’s basic features. It is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which offers all the functions on your phone to be used hands-free.
Navigation is made easy with a full-color 6.4-inch touchscreen which offers full directions in real-time. It can also provide convenient stopping points or other requirements during the journey.
There are plenty of built-in options for sound management which allows you to listen to music the way you like. There is plenty of volume on hand if you want it as well. The built-in amp providing four channels at 55 watts per channel peak power rating. And all the navigation, communication, and music functions will operate with voice control.
It is a easy unit to control and use, and the screen is clear and not cluttered with too much information. The options are clearly labeled and easily accessible. It bears the Sony hallmark of simple efficiency without being too adventurous which many will appreciate. It, as they say, it ‘does what it says on the tin’. And it does it rather well.
You can usually rely on Sony to provide quality audio at a decent price and this is no exception. An excellent price point makes this unit a tempting option.
- An excellent screen that is clear, uncluttered, and easy to read.
- Some good built-in sound management options.
- Some may find it a little basic.
9 Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver
Let’s now return to the company that many would agree is where the idea of serious-sounding music in cars began.
This multimedia center from Pioneer is a Double DIN unit that has a 7-inch WVGA screen that is rather impressive. It boasts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is Sirius XM ready with Bluetooth built-in. Both the Apple and Android functions bring the platforms from those devices into the car.
Pioneer has also included its own AppRadio mode. This takes any information that you decide you may require on your journey and combines it all into a simple to read interface.
Spotify is a dedicated source of music on this unit. And you can control the music on the Spotify app using your connected device. You can play and skip tracks, pause, look at playlists and albums and perform a host of other functions using the controls on your Pioneer AVH-2300NEX.
This is a very advanced unit with a screen that offers a wide range of options to customize the unit. To use all the capabilities of your phone you just connect it up. And it is then all displayed on the screen in front of you. It is voice-activated, so you don’t actually need to touch it except to pat it and say well done.
However, you might need to get used to the touch screen, it takes a very light touch. If you are one of these people that touch it too hard, it is not going to be your friend. Softly, softly is the key.
This is an excellent receiver with very good features and an excellent easy to use screen. It is set at a very attractive price point and will be one to look for as the Best Touchscreen Android Auto Head Unit.
- A very clear and well-designed screen that is uncluttered.
- Good built-in features at an affordable price.
- None really.
Best Android Auto Head Unit Buyers Guide
Getting The Most From Your Head Unit
Technology these days has made it possible to get most kinds of information not only when we need it but where we need it. The thought of being able to plan a journey using maps and distance calculations, and of checking traffic reports. But added to that you might want a stop on the way which it can help you with. Maybe find a cash machine or a coffee shop.
A quality head unit in your car will do it all. Used correctly they bring great benefits to us all.
But more than this. While you are on your journey you can stay in touch through phone or messaging and have access to all your contacts and information that is stored on your phone.
But What Do You Actually Need?
It is nice and quite impressive to have every bell and whistle available, but do you actually need them all. The more you have, the more the price is likely to rise, which is a waste if you are never going to use them.
If you are never going to travel anywhere far from home, sophisticated navigation systems are not needed. A basic extension from your phone will be sufficient.
CD or No CD, That Is The Question
Many manufacturers have stopped including a CD in the basic design. The idea is that we don’t use them anymore and use playlists. Yes, we will use playlists from our phones and devices but some will also want the luxury of playing a favorite CD. With some albums, it is a given that you put it in and let it run its course.
Many listeners will want that facility and we would agree.
Do You Need a DVD?
Often with the CD comes a DVD player as well. You might not need it. Especially as you can’t, quite rightly, look at a movie on when you are driving. But you’re passenger can, which is especially useful if they are a child. It is useful though when you are stationary. Though being stationary long enough to watch a movie is unlikely, unless you have some serious traffic issues?
Bluetooth compatibility is a given as are connections to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Some go a stage further and include a WiFi connection as well. And some have USB and Aux sockets for other devices like MP3 players. These though are often located at the back.
Others will have access to ‘Assistants’ and operate through voice control. This could be an attractive option if you are on the road a lot.
This is supposed to be a sound system at the end of the day. But it appeared to us, that for some units, the sound came way down the ‘important list’. Not so for many people we think. The sound and control of that sound are important. That is what it is. A sound system. Therefore sound is important.
As we said, the more technology it features, the more expensive it is likely to be. There are some great bargains to be had though with great features that are priced attractively. There are also the better-known names which are a little more expensive. Decide how much you are willing to spend and stick as close to it as possible.
There are lots of things to consider but there is plenty of real quality out there to choose from at all levels.
Need Even More Choice Of Head Units?
If so, check out our reviews of the Best Single Din Head Units, the Top 5 Best Flip Out Head Units, the Best Double Din Head Units, and if you prefer a Head’s Up Display? The Best HUD for Car currently available.
You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Bluetooth Headsets for Drivers on the market.
So, What Is Best Android Auto Head Unit?
We don’t want too many unnecessary bells and whistles but we do want a DVD, CD, and of course hands-free use. We’d also like to be able to modify the home screen and it to have a great sound for the music. We have therefore chosen the…PIONEER AVH-W4500NEX Double DIN.
It has all this and more, making it our choice for the Best Android Head Unit for your Car.