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Rob Hephner

Professional Auto Sound Expert

Best car Navigation Sound System & Car Navigation System

Featured On:

  • Car Sound Performance
Full-fledged in-dash navigation systems are the aftermarket answer for a vehicle that did not have a premium audio offering. Not only do these systems include navigation, but typically are the center for a full vehicle entertainment system, including satellite radio options and DVD audio and video offerings.

As with any control center, it is important to spend some time hands on with these units as ease of use for the driver is important in eliminating driver distractions. While not all features are enable while driving, it is also important to understand how the system works before heading out on the road with one. For this reason, it is usually better to buy a system like this from an Authorized and Trained installation shop as one-on-one training is available.

Most of these units will work with an existing factory system, but it is important to make sure they will before purchase, as some will require the additional purchase of amplifiers to operate properly. Also, the addition of modules and service plans are sometimes required to enable all the features, check on this to be sure of the details before your final decision.

Picking the best car navigation sound system usually includes a full vehicle entertainment system with radio and DVD audio and video offerings. When buying the best car navigation system, make sure it's easy to use.

Best Auto Sound Navigation Systems by Rob Hephner

The Best You Can Get

  • Pioneer AVIC-Z2

    Rob says: The AVIC-Z2 from Pioneer is so chocked full of features that it will take at least a week of using the unit to truly appreciate them all. For this reason the AVIC-Z2 is my top pick. Not only does Pioneer has the largest screen size offering at seven-inches but the well thought-out, easy-to-use graphic user interface makes perfect use of that screen size. The Pioneer unit is also unique in the fact that is uses a hard drive for the storage of the navigation information and can also hold digital music in that same hard drive.

    Standard features include, but are not limited to:

    Seven-inch 16:9 aspect ratio touch screen
    Built in 30 GB HDD
    Voice control for navigation and HDD music access
    DVD/CD player
    AM/FM Radio
    50 watt x4 power output to play speakers

    Options are almost limitless with this unit and that is just what comes in the box. With the addition of even a few of the accessories, this unit becomes the center of an entire vehicle entertainment and information system.

    Just some of the options are:

    XM Satellite Radio with TrafficNav (This allows traffic data regarding traffic flow to be displayed on the navigation system and will allow rerouting based upon better routes.)
    Sirius Satellite Radio
    iPod Interface
    Backup Camera


    • 7-inch 16:9 aspect ratio touch screen
    • Built in 30 GB HDD
    • Voice control for navigation and HDD music access
    • DVD/CD player
    • 50 watt x4 power output to play speakers
  • Kenwood DNX7100

    Rob says: Instead of developing a complete navigation software package and support network, Kenwood partnered with one of the top experts in the navigational field, namely Garmin. The Garmin partnership allowed Kenwood to deliver an exceptional navigation product coupled with their expertise in the DVD entertainment field. This partnership is the reason that the DNX7100 is my number two choice. The Kenwood DNX7100 uses a 6.95-inch touch screen to access a rich array of user screens. Some of these can be customized by uploading the users own photos via a USB port.

    Standard features include but are not limited to:

    6.95-inch 16:9 aspect ratio touch screen
    Hard Drive based navigation software
    SD Card Upgrade capability
    DVD/CD player
    AM/FM Radio
    50 watt x4 power output to play speakers

    Much like the other offerings in this category, the DNX7100 has plenty of inputs and outputs and also has many optional modules to increase its usefulness as a complete media center for a vehicle.

    Just some of the options are:

    Bluetooth Hands-free Option
    Sirius Satellite Radio
    HD Radio
    iPod Interface
    Rear Set Video (with optional control of front DVD player)


    • 6.95-inch 16:9 aspect ratio touch screen
    • Hard Drive based navigation software
    • SD Card Upgrade capability
    • DVD/CD player
    • 50 watt x4 power output to play speakers
  • Alpine IVA-W205 - Blackbird

    Rob says: My number three pick from Alpine differs from the first two in the fact that the navigation portion of it is a stand-alone unit which actually docks into the vehicle unit. The stand-alone navigation unit is called the Blackbird and operates just like any other portable unit. Outside of the primary vehicle the Blackbird can be used just like any other portable, but the real benefit is the fact that a route can be input into the unit and then transferred to the 6.5-inch touch screen of the primary vehicle unit by docking the Blackbird and closing the screen. The flexibility of this system allows for more use of the navigation unit.

    Standard features include but are not limited to:

    6.5-inch 16:9 aspect ratio Pulsetouch screen (simulates the feel of buttons)
    Removable Blackbird navigation system
    RDS traffic data
    Bluetooth Interface
    DVD/CD player
    AM/FM Radio
    50 watt x4 power output to play speakers

    Much like the other units, this Alpine unit has many optional features available. One such feature that the others do not share is a 5.1 module which allows for the full movie sound experience and many 5.1 DVD audio titles as well.

    Some of the other options are:

    Bluetooth Hands-free Option
    XM Satellite Radio
    Sirius Satellite Radio
    HD Radio
    iPod Interface
    USB input for digital files


    • 6.5-inch 16:9 aspect ratio Pulsetouch screen (simulates the feel of buttons)
    • Removable Blackbird navigation system
    • RDS traffic data
    • Bluetooth Interface
    • DVD/CD player
  • Eclipse AVN2210p mkII

    Rob says: Eclipse is well known for excellent sounding head units and this unit is no exception. While this category is dominated by DVD players, I still place this unit at number four because of the fact that most people using and installing navigation systems also add satellite radio or use digital files and don’t use the screen as a video player. This unit is probably the best choice for someone that wants to use a navigation unit portably or switch from vehicle to vehicle a lot. I rank this unit highly because of Eclipse’s choice in partnering with the well-known navigation company Tom-Tom. This way Eclipse provides stellar audio performance and highly respectable navigational assistance.

    Standard features include but are not limited to:

    3.5-Inch Monitor
    8 Digit LCD, 4-Direction, Rotary & Push Knob
    Removable Tom-Tom Navigation Unit
    CD player
    USB media input
    AM/FM Radio
    Bluetooth Hands-free
    50 watt x4 power output to play speakers

    This unit is obviously focused strongly on navigation, which in part is why I rate it highly on this list, but even so, it still has many optional accessories that it will suit as well as an entertainment system.

    Just some of the options are:

    Sirius Satellite Radio
    iPod Interface
    Tom Tom PLUS services including weather and traffic


    • 3.5-inch Monitor
    • 8 Digit LCD, 4-Direction, Rotary & Push Knob
    • Removable Tom-Tom Navigation Unit
    • USB media input
    • Bluetooth Hands-free
  • Panasonic CN-NVD905U

    Rob says: While I pick the Panasonic as number five, it by no means makes it a last choice. The CN-NVD905U is a robust unit that features a strong hard drive based navigation unit. With an easy to use touch accessed graphic user interface the seven-inch screen provide an easy to see and use display.

    Standard features include but are not limited to:

    Seven-inch 16:9 aspect ratio touch screen
    Built in 30GB HDD
    SD Card Upgrade capability
    DVD/CD player
    AM/FM Radio
    50 watt x4 power output to play speakers

    Optional features can be accessed with the addition of modules. Like the other offerings in this category the NVD905U has plenty of inputs and outputs and also has many optional modules to increase its usefulness as a complete media center for a vehicle.

    Just some of the options are:

    Satellite Radio
    iPod Ready
    Bluetooth
    Backup Camera


    • 7-inch 16:9 aspect ratio touch screen
    • Built in 30GB HDD
    • SD Card Upgrade capability
    • DVD/CD player
    • 50 watt x4 power output to play speakers

You will be happy with any of these

  • Alpine IVA-W205 - Blackbird

    Rob says: I move the Alpine from the number three position in the best of the best list to the number one position in the best buy list for the reason that it is the only unit that can combine superior audio and video performance with portability of its navigation system.

    When this docking system was introduced, it changed the way that navigation could be purchased and used.
    Previously, a consumer had to choose between complete integration or the mounting of a portable unit in the vehicle. While a portable unit offers flexibility, it is not the best integration within an automobile. Additionally, a portable cannot integrate with the features of an audio system and therefore directions can be missed or misunderstood.

    As an overall system the Alpine IVA-W205/Blackbird combo offers all of the best compromise, with all of the best flexibility.


  • Pioneer AVIC – D3

    Rob says: A few years ago, before the introduction of hard drives in vehicle based navigation systems, most were DVD based. The Pioneer AVIC-D3 is such a DVD based system and shares its DVD drive for navigation and video/audio playback use.

    As I stated before in the top five, since most use satellite radio or digital audio as an audio source, I don’t have much issue of the DVD being used as the navigation source. If a compromise must be made for value, this comes at a low cost.

    Much like the bigger brother to this unit in the Pioneer line, the AVIC-D3 can be upgraded with a similar list of choices including satellite radio and traffic alerts as well.


  • Eclipse AVN2210p

    Rob says: At first glance this unit looks almost exactly like the AVN2210p mkII found in the top five list; basically the only obvious differences are red backlighting versus blue backlighting and gold plated outputs on the mkII. Even the description on the Eclipse website offers nearly identical description of both.

    However after closer inspection, it can be found that the mkII option includes the Tom Tom travel kit, which allows the detachable unit to be used as a portable and in other vehicles with the needed cables and mounts.

    If a person doubts they will even need the travel kit and red is OK for their dash, then the savings will make this unit a best buy in their eyes.


  • Kenwood DNX7100

    Rob says: The Kenwood unit drops down in my best buy list simply because the music interface is not as strong as it could be. I rated the top five based upon the strength of the navigational offerings of each unit. Those ratings place the Kenwood high on the best of the best because the Garmin interface is so strong.

    The music interface on the DNX7100 needs some work, and, while not impossible to understand it could be better. This drops it in this list, but not so far that it should not be considered for purchase.

    If a person is looking for solid performance from their navigation system, does not need portability and will not be switching audio sources frequently, this is a unit that should be considered. It does offer customization at a level that others do not by allowing photos to be used as custom wallpaper.


    • Allows photos to be used as custom wallpaper
  • Eclipse AVN6610

    Rob says: In the value department, the AVN6610 offers a good performing navigation system with a high level audio/video system.

    Eclipse offers a hard drive based in-dash navigation system as well, but I place this DVD based unit on my best buy list because the navigation interface is nowhere as good as the other offerings. While it is accurate and contains good information, the support system to upgrade it is not as good and the overall ease of use is not that great.

    While the navigation is the weakest part of this offering, the audio and video are first rate, which is why I place this unit in the best buy rankings. Be aware that the cost is higher than most, which places it low on this list but overall performance makes the purchase reasonable.

    If you want audio and video over navigation consider this unit, because the A/V does overcome the shortcomings of the navigation.


Related Articles

When choosing the best car navigation sound system, you want to make sure it works with your existing system. These car navigation system choices usually include full vehicle entertainment systems with satellite ratio, DVD audio and video offerings. Always the best price, our best car DVD navigation system recommendations should always be purchased from authorized dealers who can install and train you on the system.