6 Best Touch Screen Car Stereos ( Reviews + Buyers Guide)
Best Touch Screen Stereos
It’s been a few years since touchscreen phones became the norm for everyone. Now, you’d have to search high and wide to find someone with a flip phone. Heck, the only people you can count on to have flip phones these days are people in movies who pull out burner phones to do their shady business.
Soon, we’re going to have touchscreens in every car. They are definitely not new by any stretch of the imagination, but there are still plenty of vehicles out there not utilizing touchscreen technology. Paired with a new set of 6×9 or 4×10 speakers and a good multichannel amp, this can be the start of a killer sound system.
Touchscreens are an easy way to control your car’s stereo, built-in phone options, and other features all with the light push of a finger.
If you’re looking at making an upgrade for your vehicle, then going with a touchscreen might be one of the ways to go. Below, we’re going to look at some of the best options on the market and find one that is right for your vehicle and your situation.
When it comes to car audio, Kenwood has been and is one of the top names in the business. They’ve long carried a reputation for making some of the best products out on the market and this product doesn’t do anything to knock down their stellar reputation.
The first thing you’ll notice is the big screen, measuring out at seven inches. This is larger than other units and makes viewing and choosing items easy. The image is crystal clear and looks great no matter where you’re sitting in the vehicle.
It works for your AM and FM radio, has a Bluetooth receiver, and can also play any CDs and DVDs (assuming you still own some). It also comes ready to be hooked up to a backup camera that automatically turns on the minute you put your vehicle in reverse.
One interesting feature it had was the “display off” button. You can hold down the mute button to turn off the display lights but leave everything working. It’s great if you’re driving at night and you don’t want that extra brightness in your vehicle.
While being a touchscreen, it does have buttons on the bottom of the display which is a nice little touch. We found the screen to be quite responsive and you didn’t need more than a light touch to make sure everything was working properly.
On the downside, this Kenwood is a victim of its own success when it comes to the size. The 7-inch screen is nice, but the unit itself is almost 16 pounds, much heavier than the other items on this list.
It doesn’t work too well with glare and we found it takes a bit of time for Bluetooth to connect to your devices and when it does, it’s not as clear.
- Responsive touchscreen
- 7 inches is plenty
- Display off function is a nice touch
- Bulky and heavy
- Bluetooth connectivity not very clear
Another veteran to the car stereo game, Pioneer makes plenty of products that have been helping improve people’s audio quality for years. In fact, if you go to Amazon or Google and type in “Pioneer stereo”, you’re bound to be hit with too many results to count.
This car stereo is a fantastic product, plain and simple. The screen is 6.2 inches and is quite clear and easily readable. The screen itself is backlit so while it may not look as flashy or high-tech as other touch screens, you’re still going to get a great picture from it.
What we really like about this car stereo is the 13 channel graphic equalizer. For those who have installed their own sound system or look to fine-tune their speakers, your factory-issued stereo just isn’t going to cut it. You can adjust the basics, but anything more and you’re out of luck.
With this, however, you can adjust the music to your liking and find that perfect sweet spot. That’s why we recommend this unit to those who are audiophiles and looking for the perfect music. You’re not going to be disappointed with the options here.
This touchscreen can also play CDs and DVDs and the Bluetooth receiver can support up to two phones at once, something that’s not too common among units. It also comes with a SiriusXM tuner for those looking to expand their radio capabilities.
We found that the hands-free calling and audio streaming both worked flawlessly and it was a breeze to hook up a backup camera (which is sold separately). It comes at a moderate price and you won’t have to waste your whole paycheck on it.
Our complaints are few here, as we found video playback to be a bit buggy and stuttered more often then we would like. The dimming feature was also pretty inconsistent, but not that big of a deal.
- Easy Bluetooth hookup and flawless audio
- Audio-tuning options
- Ability to hook up two phones at once
- Video playback is not smooth
- Inconsistent dimming feature
This compact DVD monitor form Kenwood looks great, right from the stat. This Kenwood model is just 6.2 inches wide and fits in just about any car out there. We found installation to be a breeze, much easier than other products and would say the beginner DIYers might be able to give it a shot.
It comes with built-in Bluetooth technology for clear audio streaming and calling. We didn’t notice any hiccups like with the other Kenwood model and were pleased with the overall quality. You can hook up your backup camera as well if you have one.
It also has a SiriusXM tuner, a nice touch that allows you to keep the radio on no matter where you are in the country. It’s quite light as well, just two pounds.
We found that many had small complaints about this Kenwood model. For example, the USB is on the back of the stereo meaning that the majority of people aren’t going to be able to reach it in order to plug a device in.
People also reported that it didn’t work with all their streaming apps. While some said it worked fine with Spotify and Apple Podcasts, others claimed they had trouble getting streaming set up or the device would simply stop pairing or lose connection at random.
These complaints didn’t litter the reviews, but we found them pop up enough where we felt like they were worth mentioning.
- Easy installation
- SiriusXM Tuner
- Backup camera ready
- Phone pairing issues
Once again, Pioneer comes through with a car stereo aimed to improve your car’s audio experience. It’s an easy addition to make and you’re going to notice the bump in quality immediately. While just a 5-band, equalizer, you are going to get much more control over your sound than you would with your factory issued stereo controls.
Besides the bump in audio quality, we really enjoyed how responsive and easy-to-use the touchscreen was. We found that you didn’t have to use much pressure at all, about the same amount you would use while navigating the web on your phone.
Phone connectivity is easy and flawless, as you can even browse through your music collection on your phone wirelessly, making it ideal for someone in the passenger seat who is in charge of music.
If you’ve got an Apple device, then this is a great product for you. You can take direct control of your iPhone or iPad through the device, a nice little addition to an already fantastic touchscreen.
The Bluetooth connectivity was quick and smooth, we never noticed a dropoff or had difficulty connecting while using it.
What really stood out for us was the clarity of the hands-free calling. We are generally used to the quality taking a step down when going from the phone to the stereo unit, but it was hard to tell a difference here.
The touchscreen was incredibly responsive as well, not needing anything more than a light touch to get things working. If you’re still using CDs, then you’re going to notice a boost in that quality as well. It was pretty amazing to hear our old music being played at such great quality.
Plus, it’s an absolute bargain so if you’re someone looking for quality on a budget, then you should go with this Pioneer model.
The complaints we have are small and we weren’t impressed with DVD playback, but you can’t really get frustrated about an audio-centric unit not being able to play DVDs flawlessly. We found some users claim the microphone stopped working after a few months, but those were few and far between.
- Responsive, easy-to-use touchscreen
- Fantastic audio quality
- Easy phone pairing and great quality
- DVD playback is just so-so
- Microphone issues
It’s hard for us to stay away from Pioneer because all of their products have been stellar from the start. This unit comes at a bit of a higher price than the other Pioneer models but if you’re willing to spend a bit of extra cash, you’re going to notice the different benefits that come with such a great unit.
The phone connection is easy and quick. You can stream just about anything flawlessly and not lose any audio quality. Of course, Pioneer makes their units for those who want to embrace all the beats and various levels their music has to offer and you won’t be disappointed by the quality.
The display is quite big, 6.8 inches, and the HD screen looks amazing. The screen is quite responsive and you won’t be repeatedly pressing your finger on something to get it to work.
This unit comes with HD radio, Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM (assuming you have such subscriptions). You won’t notice any lag or hiccups when streaming these apps through your phone and into the stereo unit.
It offers CD and DVD playback as well as MP4 playback through the USB port. Installation is pretty easy but if you’re a beginner you might want to go ahead and take it to a mechanic instead of trying to do it on your own.
The unit is back up camera ready as well and it’s displayed perfectly on the HD screen. We also found that it handles glare just about as well as any other screen out there on the market.
On the negative side, we found some users said the radio signal was weak at times and didn’t sound as clear as they would like. The USB is a little funky and took some time to read whatever we were plugging in.
In the end, this is a great product that will do you wonders if you’re willing to spend a little extra.
- Amazing touchscreen, incredibly clear
- Streams just about any music app
- Plays any type of media
- USB is a little wonky
- Radio signal weak at times
Last on our list is another item from Pioneer. It comes loaded with a whole host of interesting features and is incredibly easy to use. If you’re looking for a basic but solid touchscreen unit, then you can’t go wrong with this Pioneer.
Plus, it’s quite affordable for all of the features and extras that it offers.
The screen is quite responsive and you only need a light touch in order for it to follow your commands. It’s also got a crystal clear image that is one of the better ones we took a look at, despite it coming at such a low price.
Bluetooth connectivity was easy and flawless. We didn’t have any issues connecting our phone or other devices to the unit and never experienced any dropping out while listening to music or using the call feature.
It comes back up camera ready as well as having a whole other host of inputs, from USB to Aux and just about everything in between. What we don’t understand is why all of these are on the back of the device, meaning that many people will have trouble reaching them after installation is complete.
This Pioneer unit plays CDs and DVDs but like its predecessors, it doesn’t shine quite as bright when playing DVDs. The video quality leaves something to be desired but that’s not really the end of the world when you’re wanting pure, crisp audio.
Our biggest gripe is that the device is listed at being close to seven inches but in reality, it was much closer to six inches. Not really a big deal, but it’s something to take into consideration if you’re buying it for the size.
Installation can be a bit tricky and we say you’re definitely going to have to take this into a mechanic to make sure you’ve got it installed correctly.
- Responsive, clear touchscreen
- Great sound quality
- Plenty of inputs for your devices
- Installation was a pain
- Smaller than advertised
Touch Screen Stereo Buyer’s Guide
Below, we’ll run over some of the reasons you should consider purchasing a touchscreen and some of the main things you’re going to want to take into account before making your final purchase.
Simply put, car touchscreen stereos give you more convenience when it comes to changing music, making calls, or switching on the radio. Instead of going through multiple devices to do so, a car stereo is going to put all of those in one, easy place.
We know that having your phone next to you is temptation for many things. Even if you’re not checking messages, you may be answering a call or trying to skip through to the next song. One small mistake could be trouble for you.
All the units listed above have Bluetooth connectivity and voice control. Instead of fumbling around, trying to find your phone on the passenger seat or in a bag, you can now simply press a button on the screen and talk while keeping your hands and eyes on the wheel.
Plus, many units have the option to add a backup safety cam, which only makes things safer when you’re parking or pulling out of a driveway.
You never want to turn on your light while driving, as that suddenly makes everything on the outside more difficult to see. With your touchscreen, you’re going to get a bright screen that is quite easy to read.
Plus, they can be dimmed during times when you don’t need them or even turned off and on with ease. These units were all made with easy readability in mind, so it shouldn’t matter where you are in the car.
While glare might affect some of the screens, many have built-in glare-resistant technology to make sure your screen is super easy to follow and read.
When you’re looking for your ideal unit, you want to make sure it’s something that is going to connect with your device. Typically, people either choose between an Apple or Android product and some of these units are better suited for one over the other.
Many will flawlessly connect with both, but it’s a good idea to read up before you decide to make a purchase on your unit. You may also want to check if the unit can connect to multiple devices at once, especially if you have multiple people using your car.
Steering Wheel Controls
You know what’s even better than using a touchscreen to make changes to your car stereo? Using your steering wheel. This assures that your hands are going to stay on your steering wheel at all times, ensuring the utmost safety.
Depending on the unit, some will have steering wheel connectivity and some won’t. Whether or not that’s a deal-breaker is up to you. Personally, we like having those extra set of controls to change the volume or switch between tracks on the fly.
This, once again, is largely up to you on whether or not it’s important. Equalizers are going to help you adjust your audio to the perfect settings. If you’re someone who doesn’t really care about making their songs sound perfect, then you don’t need to look for an equalizer.
But, if you’re someone who can’t get into a car without fine-tuning the audio, then you’re going to want to make an equalizer a top priority.
As we saw above, many of these units can read different types of music, ranging from MP3 to various video files. If you have a lot of your music stored as MP3s, then you’re going to want to make sure that your unit is able to read those file types.
If it’s unable to do so, then you’re going to be out of luck when it comes to listening to your favorite tunes.
One of the most important things to check for your unit is the size. As we saw above, the majority of these touchscreen stereos vary between 6-7 inches. Although that may not seem like a huge difference, that is quite important when you’re working with limited space.
Also, many newer cars have oddly shaped dashes which makes installation quite tricky. Just make sure you’ve looked at the dimensions of your dashboard and the unit before buying.
At the end of the day, it’s vital that you make a list of what’s important to you. Do you want one with a backup camera? What about steering wheel controls? Can it even fit on your dashboard?
Just make sure you have your priorities straight before making a purchase. There isn’t one unit that’s perfect for everyone and you should do your homework until you find the ideal one for you, your situation, and your vehicle. So read reviews and ask around while you’re out browsing. If you are searching for this as part of your overall sound system build, be sure to check out our reviews of the top class D amplifiers, best car speakers, and best subs to find the perfect combo for your goals.