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Top 5 Premium Android Auto Head Units

Third-party head units have been around for many years, but the emergence of Android Auto and CarPlay produced a significant makeover from a feature perspective.
Five of the most expensive Android Auto HUs today 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Kenwood DNR1008RVSPioneer DMH-WT8600NEXAlpine Halo11 iLX-F511Sony XAV-9500ESJVC KW-Z1000W
With an aftermarket media receiver, customers can install Android Auto and CarPlay in their older cars, especially if the vehicles haven’t been fitted with such capabilities from the factory.

Both apps started gaining traction in the automotive market in 2016, and they are considered must-have systems for the majority of new car buyers. Thanks to mobile devices connected to the head unit either wired or wirelessly, the smartphone UI is mirrored to the larger screen in the cabin.

The benefit is obvious. Users can run navigation and media apps, as well as handle phone calls and messages, from the display on the dashboard. The distraction level is significantly reduced, and the added convenience means drivers have everything they need on a bigger screen.

While a standard media receiver is the right choice for the majority of drivers, more expensive models come with various benefits, including larger displays. Here are some of the best and most expensive Android Auto head units available today.

Kenwood DNR1008RVS

This is by far one of the best head units you can buy right now. With a 10.1-inch touchscreen and a floating panel mechanism with three-way position adjustments, Kenwood’s head unit is the right choice for drivers who want a large screen in their vehicles.

The feature lineup of Kenwood DNR1008RVS is also impressive. In addition to wired and wireless Android Auto and CarPlay, the Kenwood media receiver also sports Garmin navigation for RVs and trucks. This means you don’t even have to connect your phone to be provided with navigation guidance. If you plan to install the head unit in an RV or a truck, this media receiver comes with extra benefits, as Garmin’s navigation system was specifically built for larger vehicles.

Kenwood’s head unit sports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as support for 4 camera inputs. The device allows you to connect both front and rear cameras to keep an eye on what’s happening around the vehicle.

Kenwood DNR1008RVS can be yours for about $1,600.

Kenwood DNR1008RVS
Photo: Kenwood

Pioneer DMH-WT8600NEX

This head unit from Pioneer comes with a similar feature lineup, also boasting of 10.1-inch floating display packed in a single-DIN chassis.

The floating design model comes with added benefits in terms of adjustability, as the driver can control the horizontal, vertical, and tilt angle of the device.

In terms of smart features, the Pioneer media receiver sports built-in Alexa support, as well as two camera inputs. Just like in the case of the Kenwood unit, Pioneer’s media receiver allows both a backup and a second camera. Hands-free calling, audio streaming, USB input with FLAC file support, and wired and wireless Android Auto are among the top highlights.

Pioneer DMH-WT8600NEX can be had for about $1,500.

Pioneer DMH\-WT8600NEX
Photo: Pioneer

Alpine Halo11 iLX-F511

Part of the Halo lineup, Alpine Halo11 iLX-F511 is an impressive media receiver. It also sports a floating display, but thanks to an 11-inch panel, it offers even increased screen estate.

This time, only Android Auto wired is supported, but if you’re an Apple user, you can run CarPlay without a cable as well.

The media receiver features two camera inputs, two USB ports, Bluetooth, HDMI, and AUX connectivity.

Alpine’s flagship model is available for about $1,400.

Alpine Halo11 iLX\-F511
Photo: Alpine

Sony XAV-9500ES

Sony’s XAV-9500ES is one of the most premium models on the market. It offers a 10.1-inch display and supports wireless versions of both Android Auto and CarPlay.

The hefty price tag comes with important benefits, so the single-DIN unit supports LDAC support for high-quality Bluetooth audio. This comes in handy particularly if you don’t want to run Android Auto and stick with music streamed from your mobile device.

There are three camera inputs, and Sony can automatically retrieve images based on the vehicle’s turn signals or other sensors. A USB Type-C port is also installed in the back panel for charging and connecting your mobile devices, while the mass storage device option allows you to play media stored on a flash drive.

Customers can purchase the Sony XAV-9500ES for $1,400 as well.

Sony XAV\-9500ES
Photo: Sony

JVC KW-Z1000W

As one of the leading brands in the aftermarket media receiver market, JVC also has a head unit that sells at a premium.

JVC KW-Z1000W sports a 10.1-inch screen and supports both wireless Android Auto and CarPlay. This time, you get not one, not two, but four different camera inputs.

With high-resolution audio and 13-band EQ, the quality of the sound should be top-notch, but it also depends on the stereo system in the car. Bluetooth is there for phone calls or music streaming from a mobile device, but the USB port allows drivers to play their own tunes from a USB flash drive as well.

JVC KW-Z1000W typically sells for $1,2,49, but you might be able to get it for about $1,000 with a massive Black Friday discount.

JVC KW\-Z1000W
Photo: JVC
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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