Aftermarket CarPlay Headunits

Add CarPlay to a Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson recently announced last year that they’d include Apply CarPlay in their Boom! Box GTS Infotainment System, which began with Harley Davidson’s 2019 models. That’s exciting news for motorcycle enthusiasts that want CarPlay’s safe, easy-to-use infotainment system on their screens as they drive their bikes. Since CarPlay is so safe to use, many Harley owners have been wanting to install the system on their bikes. The good news is that Harley is now offering an infotainment system that will work with Apple CarPlay on their 2019-2020 model bikes.

The system comes standard on a few Harley models, including:

  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited Low
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davison Road Glide Special
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Street Glide Special
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson CVO Limited
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Tri Glide

There are also factory-installed options for other bikes, including:

  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Street Glide
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Road Glide
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Electra Glide
  • The 2019-2020 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic

The Cost

If you are purchasing a 2019+ Touring Harley Davidson, then you get CarPlay on it from the factory. If you want to add the Boom! GTS Infotainment System onto your bike if it doesn’t come standard, then you’ll have to pay an additional $1899.99, which would be added onto the total price of whatever bike your purchase at your Harley-Davidson dealer.

CarPlay on a Harley
CarPlay on a Harley

Unfortunately, for anybody that owns a 2018 or older model of a Harley Davidson, they are left out by their manufacturer. Plenty of people with older model bikes still want to get Apple CarPlay installed into their bike’s infotainment system. That’s because the Boom! GTS System isn’t available to use on Harley’s older model bikes.

Luckily, there’s a solution for these older Harley bikes that are in the range of 1996-2019. You’ll be able to add Apple CarPlay and other audio improvements onto your bike now if you’d like.

The DIN Slots

One of the problems with the 1996-2013 Touring family of bikes has to do with head units and your DIN slots. If you have a 1996-2013 bike, then you only have one DIN slot, and most CarPlay options require two. So, what can you do since you need two DIN slots?

If you want to solve this problem, consider a new Inner Fairing offered by Metra, which is called the 95-HDIF. This particular fairing system is made to perfectly fit onto a 1996-2013 Touring model, and it also works with a Double DIN head unit. So, the problem has already been solved for you.

The Metra can be used with the Sony XAV-AX5000 plug and play bundle. This system is so easy to install, many Harley owners are capable of doing it themselves. However, if you aren’t comfortable with that, te installation can also be done in a shop. Below we’ve listed what the bundle will cost.

  • Sony XAV-AX5000 (retail: $399.99)
  • Metra 95-HDIF Replacement Inner Fairing (retail: $599.99)
  • Metra HD-ASWC-1 handlebar control integration module (retail: $89.99)
Aftermarket CarPlay Headunits

Add CarPlay to 2014-2019 Mercedes

Do you have one of the following Mercedes that didn’t come from the factory with CarPlay? Feel left out? Now you can get CarPlay in:

  • Mercedes C-Class W205 2014-2018
  • Mercedes A-Class 2014-2018
  • Mercedes B-Class W246 2014-2018
  • Mercedes GLA 2014-2018
  • Mercedes GLE W166 / W292 2016+
  • Mercedes GLS X166 2016+
  • Mercedes CLA 2016+
  • Mercedes CLS W218 2016+
  • Mercedes V-Class W447 2016~2018

Here’s what you need

The W205 Carplay for Mercedes is a box and cables that you have installed by a pro, or do it yourself if you’re good at setting up electronics. According to the manufacturer, you don’t need to cut existing cables. It’s a matter of plugging in the connections and securing the box under the dash. Then voila, you have CarPlay in your MB!

The upgrade supports several car models featuring NTG5.0 and NTG5.2 infotainment, including the 2014-2018 C-Class W205 and the 2014-2018 A-Class.

NOTE: You may need to go to your MB dealer to activate an AUX menu, otherwise the CarPlay kit would have no sound. It depends on the audio system on your Mercedes.

Aftermarket CarPlay Headunits

Get Into CarPlay for $259

Dying to get CarPlay in your ride? Die no longer. Here’s the least expensive head unit with CarPlay we’ve seen in a while? Maybe ever?

Pioneer MVH-1400NEX Digital Multimedia Video Receiver Apple CarPlay with Bluetooth — Right now it’s $259.99 on Amazon.

  • 800 x 400 resolution, clear-resistive touchscreen, 24-bit True color panel, display & color customization, dedicated Spotify app control a/V source controls content from iPhone & Android devices
  • Multilanguage display (attention/SP/Fr/chi), hands-free calling & audio streaming, Dual phone connection, DVD/DVD-R/RW/did-video/MPEG-2/MPEG-1/MPEG-4/favorite/DivX/WMV video playback
  • Cd/CD-R/RW/WMA/WAV/MP3/AAC/FLAC audio playback, 1. 5a USB port, aux input, composite a/V input, backup-camera input, wired remote input, composite video output
  • Mistral takes the music from iPhone/iPod, USB device or certain Android devices & plays it back with added transitions & effects to create a virtual DJ inside the PIONEER receiver
  • Requires the Android Auto app on Google play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android 5. 0 Lollipop or higher. Includes wiring harness, USB extension cable, Bluetooth microphone and manual
Aftermarket CarPlay Headunits

Stereos With CarPlay

The latest stereos (aftermarket head units) with CarPlay:

Aftermarket CarPlay Headunits

Sony’s New XAV-AX8000 Apple CarPlay Compatible Receiver

In early August, Sony announced the release of its new XAV-AX8000 Apple CarPlay compatible receiver. Along with the XAV-AX8000 model, Sony also announced the release of three other models. However, the model that everybody is interested in is AX8000 since it offers something new from Sony. Most people considering the AX8000 are attracted to it because of the innovative display Sony built into this infotainment unit.

Are you wanting to get into CarPlay but don’t have a CarPlay radio? This is the way!

The Sony XAV-AX8000 is the latest CarPlay and Android Auto receiver made to fit into a smaller, single-DIN space. It comes with an 8.95-inch anti-glare display which goes over the dashboard. You can mount this screen in three different directions including forwarding, backward tilt, and vertical height and depth. Because the AX8000 is so flexible when it comes to fitting space inside any car, you should be able to get the unit installed the way you like in any vehicle you might happen to own.

So, when will the AX8000 be available to buy? You’ll find this model hitting the market right around Christmas, which shouldn’t be surprising. The holidays are typically a great time for new technology products to be released, and the AX8000 is no different. So expect the AX8000 to start hitting stores right before Christmas. Sony anticipates the unit’s suggested retail price will be set at $599.99 in the United States.

Can I Use the AX8000 with an Older Vehicle?

If you are looking for an aftermarket receiver that will work with an older car, then the AX8000 does provide that option. Since it’s an aftermarket receiver, you can have it installed into an older vehicle.

With the AX8000, you’ll be able to easily access CarPlay’s wide range of apps like Messages, Apple Maps, Apple Music, Spotify, Podcasts, Pandora, and plenty of great navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps. The AX8000 is also designed to support both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

And while the AX8000 offers plenty of great options at a great price, you’ll have to decide if it’s the right upgrade for your older model car. If you want a wireless CarPlay receiver, then this might not be the option that’s best for you.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the AX8000 is a wired CarPlay receiver. That means you’ll have to have your iPhone plugged into your car with a Lightning USB cable. If you are looking for a wireless CarPlay receiver, then you might want to look into something from  AlpineKenwood, and JVC

Some Criticisms of the AX8000

While the AX8000 will give you an affordable CarPlay receiver even if you’ve got an older model car, there are still a few things we don’t like about it. While we really do like the price and the fact that the product will give many more people access to CarPlay, there are plenty of drawbacks to this item.

The USB out is at the rear with this system, which is a bit annoying. Also, you won’t get wireless CarPlay support with this option, which is a bit of a disappointment. Also, while you are getting a large display with this product, the resolution of 800×480 leaves much to be desired. If you prefer a higher level of resolution in your screen, Kenwood has some great options.

Aftermarket CarPlay Headunits CarPlay News

Wired vs. Wireless CarPlay

We all knew it was coming, and after several months of hearing about its upcoming release in 2017, the first wireless CarPlay receiver arrived. The Alpine iLX-107 digital media receiver started shipping during the summer of 2017. While this new Alpine product comes without a CD player, it does bring users a built-in WiFi network that can be used with Bluetooth to work with an iPhone and CarPlay. Once you’ve got the initial setup and pairing process with your phone completed, you’ll be able to use CarPlay on the Alpine’s stereo system without having to touch your phone for any reason each time you enter your car. Since the Alpine’s release, several other stereo systems began offering these options. You can check out the full list of aftermarket stereos with Apple CarPlay as well as testing to see if your car will work with wireless CarPlay by going here.

Before wireless CarPlay hit the market, and still for most users, CarPlay requires a USB-to-Lightning cable connection between the CarPlay receiver and a person’s iPhone. With wired CarPlay, users do not need any other type of wireless method of data transfer.

When Alpine first introduced its wireless CarPlay receiver, one of the biggest concerns about the product was its lack of Bluetooth. However, since Alpine’s introduction of their wireless receiver on the market, they’ve since revised the product to include Bluetooth. Rumors about wireless CarPlay have been flooding the market since the software’s ability to create a wireless connection was included with the first introduction of iOS 9. But since then, no official hardware had been introduced as a standard feature of wireless CarPlay.

What Vehicles Offer Wireless CarPlay?

There aren’t a lot of vehicles currently offering wireless Apple CarPlay, but we anticipate that this list will grow in the future. For now, however, here is today’s list:

  • BMW 2017 5 Series
  • BMW 2018 3 Series
  • Audi 2019 A6 (unconfirmed)
  • Audi 2019 A7
  • Audi 2019 A8
  • Audi 2019 Q8 (unconfirmed)
  • Audi 2020 e-tron SUV
  • Lamborghini Urus
  • Mercedes 2018 A-Class (Q3 2018)
  • Mercedes 2019 GLE (MBUX system)
  • Mini 2018 LCI Hatch & Convertible range
  • Toyota 2020 Supra

So while you can see that this is a short list, we do have some good news. Harman, a company that works on connected devices for several different car manufacturers, has come up with a wireless CarPlay solution that many car makers are interested in. So, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before this list grows.

How Wireless CarPlay Works

Wireless CarPlay means you don’t need to plug in your iPhone when you get in your car. Keep your phone in your pocket, purse or backpack… and go!

Wireless CarPlay works without a USB wired connection. So, with wireless CarPlay, the data transfer between the iPhone and receiver would usually take place with the use of Bluetooth, WiFi, or a combination of both of these options. We recommend finding a solution that works with just WiFi, or a combination of WiFi and Bluetooth, since Bluetooth alone is probably not strong enough to keep the data transfer speed at a fast, useable rate while drivers are on the go.

Aftermarket CarPlay Headunits CarPlay Product Reviews

Best Headunits with Apple Carplay

Aftermarket stereos with Apple CarPlay come with a wide range of price tags. How do you choose the right one?

If you’re dying to use Apple CarPlay, but your current vehicle doesn’t support this awesome tech, you’ve only got two options. You could buy a new car, but that seems excessive for what equates to basically just a new tape deck.

Instead, why not consider simply buying an aftermarket headunit with Apple CarPlay? It’s much cheaper than purchasing a new vehicle and with a fascia kit, no one will ever even know your cool new receiver didn’t come stock!

To help you decide which headunit makes the most sense for you, we’ve hand-picked the best headunits with Apple CarPlay. Scroll on for these awesome options as well as some tips to make the purchase and installation even easier!

Best Headunits with Apple Carplay

The Sony XAV-AX100 wins our best all-around award. (Image: Amazon)

There are quite a few aftermarket headunits that support Apple CarPlay and, for the most part, they all have pretty similar features. Bluetooth comes standard, screens are all touchscreen and range from 6 to 7 inches. All can support rear cameras and steering wheel controls (though you’ll need to buy or already have a rear camera and steering wheel controls, obviously).

So how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Well, you need to look at:

  • Cost – Some are much more expensive than others. As with most things in life, higher cost means better quality.
  • Reviews – The cheaper units generally see more mixed reviews.
  • DIN – You’ll be limited to your car’s existing DIN, so keep that in mind (If you don’t know what DIN is, read the last section to find out exactly what this is).
  • CD/DVD – Most of the receivers below don’t support CD/DVDs. We’ve noted whether each headunit supports this or not.
  • Wireless CarPlay – There’s only one aftermarket receiver that supports wireless Carplay, and it’s the most expensive on our list.

Decide what considerations are the most important to you and then move forward from there. To help you out, we’ve chosen the best aftermarket CarPlay stereo for each category above.

Ready? Let’s take a look, starting with the best all-around option.

CD/DVD Compatible: Pioneer AVH-2300NEX

Price: $$ out of $$$$

Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Pros: CD/DVD compatible, Good Price, Great Reviews, Large Screen

Cons: None

If you’re looking for a receiver that both is CarPlay compatible and can play CDs/DVDs as well, take a look at the well-priced Pioneer AVH-2300NEX. This double-DIN unit comes CarPlay-ready and can also play CDs/DVDs – a great deal at just over $300.

Buyers report absolutely incredible audio as well as excellent usability and aesthetics. A handful of user report lower screen quality than other units, but at this cost and considering the features that come with the unit (we did mention it supports CD/DVDs, right?), that’s to be somewhat expected.

If you want a great aftermarket receiver that supports both CarPlay and CDs, with great sound to boot, look no further.

Single DIN: Pioneer AVH-3300NEX

Price: $$$ out of $$$$

Pros: Great Reviews, Only Single-DIN with CarPlay, Large Screen, CD/DVD compatible

Cons: Higher Price than Comparable Double-DIN units

If you’re looking for an aftermarket, single-DIN receiver that is CarPlay compatible, your choices suddenly drop significantly, as most Carplay compatible units are double-DIN.

However, you’re not completely out of options! The Pioneer AVH-3300NEX is a single-DIN unit with a 7” flip out touchscreen that includes Carplay and Bluetooth. Like the Pioneer unit above, this receiver comes with a CD/DVD player so you can still play that Best of Loretta Lynn album you got from that garage sale.

Users report that the unit works and sounds great, with both the Bluetooth and CarPlay working smoothly, without lag or any other problems. Just like the other units on our list, this one is rear camera ready and comes with a small microphone as well.

If you’re limited to single-DIN only, this unit meets all your needs at a mid-range price.

Wireless CarPlay: Alpine ILX-107

Price: $$$$ out of $$$$

Pros: Only Wireless CarPlay unit, Great Reviews, Large Screen

Cons: Expensive, No CD/DVD

Currently the only aftermarket receiver that supports wireless CarPlay, the Alpine ILX-107 includes a 7” VGA capacitive touch display and is ready for steering wheel controls and rear cameras. The unit also comes a physical Siri button for ease of use.

The beauty of a wireless option should be obvious: Just jump in your car and turn on Spotify or text a friend, all without taking your phone out of your pocket. The unit also comes with the lightning cord, useful on longer trips when you also want to keep your phone charged as well.

As you’d expect for a premium product, customers report that the unit – including the wireless CarPlay capability – work great with no real issues to speak of.

At just under $700, you’ll be paying for the privilege to leave your phone in your pocket, but if you’re looking for the future of car/phone integration, the Alpine ILX-107 is definitely it.

Cheapest: Boss Audio BVCP9675

Price: $ out of $$$$

Pros: Low Cost, Good Features for Price

Cons: Mixed Reviews, No CD/DVD

Where once Carplay was limited to higher-priced aftermarket headunits, today you can find quite a few deals!

For just over $200, you can purchase the Boss Audio BVCP9675. This double-DIN unit features a 6.75” capacitive touchscreen, Bluetooth, USB, and of course, Carplay compatibility. While you still need to plug your phone in to use Carplay, with the Bluetooth you can make/receive calls and listen to music wirelessly. The unit comes with inputs for USB, AUX, steering wheel controls, and a rear camera.

Despite the low price, buyers report good screen quality (both in resolution and color), clear call quality, touch capabilities, and good aesthetics. However, others note some functionality issues and poor customer service. While you’ll probably be alright, don’t forget that you usually get what you pay for.

While this unit seems to suffer from poor usability more than others, at that low price you really can’t go wrong.

Best All Around: Sony XAV-AX100

Price: $$ out of $$$$

Pros: Bluetooth, Excellent Reviews, Mid-Range Price

Cons: Smaller Screen, No CD/DVD

Sony’s XAV-AX100 comes right in around $350, half the price of more expensive units, but with much better reviews than its cheaper cousins.

The unit comes ready with Bluetooth (though you still need to plug your phone in for CarPlay), touchscreen and physical dial/buttons, and rear camera compatibility.

This unit gets fantastic reviews from customers, where they praise the interface, clear audio, and bright screen. The only consistent issue reviewers brought up? A warning message that you must accept each time you start the car. Somewhat annoying, but by no means a deal breaker.

While the screen is only 6” – a bit smaller than the others on our list – no reviewers pointed this out as a bad thing.

The standard unit isn’t able to play CD or DVDs, but for $100 more you can add that capability, as well as satellite radio.

Overall, this is a great unit with excellent reviews, all at a mid-range price.

Hot Tips to Help You Find the Right Head Unit

The Boss BVCP9675 makes our list for best affordable CarPlay headunit (Image: Amazon)

Before you choose your new CarPlay stereo, we’ve got a few hot tips to help you out.

Bluetooth vs Wireless

You probably noticed that all the headunits above come with Bluetooth, but you still need to plug your phone in with a physical wire to use CarPlay (except for the Alpine unit). Like me, you’re probably wondering what gives – Why do we have to use an old school wire to use Carplay?

Here’s the rundown: CarPlay doesn’t  work over Bluetooth. You need Wi-Fi. Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly play music, listen to audiobooks, and use Siri, but with most headunits you can’t use CarPlay via Bluetooth.

Instead, you most plug your phone into the lightening cord attached to the receiver, which allow you to both use CarPlay and charge your phone as well. As we mentioned, Alpine currently produces the only aftermarket headunit that supports CarPlay wirelessly, via Wi-Fi built into the headunit.

Single-DIN vs Double-DIN

An unfamiliar name for a very familiar concept. Have you ever noticed that all in-car head units are the same width, but some are short and some are tall? That’s the DIN standards at work, which specifies the height and width of standard head units. A single DIN unit is 2” tall. A double-DIN unit is 4” tall.

Which DIN you need depends on your dash. It can be somewhat difficult to see exactly which part of the dash is the headunit, as components in modern cars are very sleek and integrated, but just take a look at your dash or do a quick search online. If it looks like its 4” tall – that’s a double DIN and you’ll have many more options for CarPlay headunits with this size. If you’ve only got a single-DIN receiver, don’t worry! You’re still covered.

Just Buy the Wiring Adapter

Unless you’re an expert installer of car audio equipment, simply buying the adapter for connecting your new receiver to the car’s existing wiring can save you major time and frustration. Take it from me, this can be a frustrating process – sweat pouring down your forehead, hands getting cut up from the metal, all why trying to splice together wires that don’t quite stick out far enough from the back makes for a very long day. It might cost a little more to buy that adapter, but your nerves will thank you.

If you’ve got steering wheel controls, don’t forget to buy that wiring adapter as well, which can be separate from your main wiring adapter.

Consider Buying the Fascia Kit

If you want your headunit to look stock, buy the cover designed for your specific car and headunit. Obviously, this is another expense that isn’t absolutely necessary, but why spend bookoo bucks on an awesome headunit, only for it to look terrible in your dash?

Buying an aftermarket stereo with Apple CarPlay can make your driving experience easier and safer, all without the expense of buying a totally new car. If you’ve installed an aftermarket headunit with CarPlay in your own car, tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Image Credits: CC Karlis Dambrans via Flickr, Product Photos Courtesy Amazon