Best Aftermarket Radios: Rock Out in Your Ride

Install an aftermarket radio and enjoy all of the modern features

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If the radio in your car lacks in features, then it’s time to upgrade your radio with an aftermarket one. You can replace your stock radio with one that has all of today’s modern features and capabilities. You could buy one that has smartphone connectivity or enables you to listen to satellite radio. Look for one that will fit into the original stock radio space with minimal effort required at installation. Check out these three aftermarket radios and their many features.

  • Best Overall
    Alpine Single-Din Car Stereo
    Summary
    Summary

    You can have full iPhone connectivity with this single DIN detachable radio. It has a dedicated subwoofer output, LCD text display, and optional remote control.

    Pros
    Pros
    This stereo comes loaded with options including SiriusXM, Bluetooth, HD radio, and iPhone and Android connectivity. It also has a bright display that you can see in direct sunlight.
    Cons
    Cons

    The biggest problem is the Bluetooth failing after a few months of use. If a feature fails, you’ll need to send your unit into Alpine for repair.

  • Best Value
    Kenwood Car Media Player
    Summary
    Summary
    This radio from Kenwood has an AUX and USB ports for smartphone connectivity. You can use Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, and iHeartRadio through this device.
    Pros
    Pros
    There is an app that you can download to control your receiver. It also comes with a full wiring harness to make installation easy.


    Cons
    Cons
    You may have some issues with the Bluetooth and USB ports, where they intermittently cease working. It also only supports USB 2.0, and not USB 3.0.


  • Honorable Mention
    Pioneer CD Digital Music Player
    Summary
    Summary

    You can have it all with this radio since it has a CD player, AM/FM tuner, Bluetooth, AUX jack, and a USB port. The radio also comes with wiring, frame, and remote.

    Pros
    Pros

    You can plug your phone into this radio, and it will quickly charge. The brightness is adjustable to make viewing easier in both day and night.

    Cons
    Cons
    The display can be hard to see when bright sunlight is shining on it. It may also have some connectivity issues with Bluetooth and USB ports.


Tips

  • Look for a radio that has the features you need, such as Apple or Android connectivity, Bluetooth, or SiriusXM radio. You should also pay attention to the ports so you can plug devices directly into it. 
  • Measure the space your stock radio takes up in your dash. Then look for a radio that will fit in that space. This will make for a direct replacement and the easiest install. 
  • Plan for the future and expanding your car’s stereo system beyond the radio. Look at the back of the unit for audio jacks for connecting additional speakers and a subwoofer. 

FAQs

Q: Won’t an aftermarket radio attract thieves?

A: Not necessarily. You can buy an aftermarket radio that has a detachable faceplate and security codes. You can then detach your radio and hide it away when you park. This will deter thieves from breaking into your car. 

Q: What’s the difference between single and double DIN?

A: Single DIN radios are about 2 inches tall and won’t have a touchscreen. They typically fit into the same space as your stock radio. A double DIN unit can be anywhere from 4-8 inches tall. Modern double DINs have a touchscreen. 

Q: Can I buy an aftermarket radio on a limited budget?

A: You can buy a quality unit for an affordable price. You may find low-cost units have reduced sound quality and usability when compared to more expensive units. However, that doesn’t mean that the unit is bad. 

Final Thoughts

The Alpine Single-Din Car Stereo has several modern features to produce high-quality sound. 

If you’re on a budget, then the Kenwood Car Media Player is a quality radio from a reputable brand.