No More Cutouts: Where Do Aftermarket Stereos Go?

Getting an aftermarket stereo used to be straightforward. Head down to the electronics store, pick a new unit, yank out your old stereo and install the replacement in a same-size dashboard cavity. Installation professionals could do it in a jiffy — and the resulting unit fit snugly, looked OK and brought you up to speed with the latest technology: a tape deck, a CD player and eventually an MP3 jack.

That's hardly the case today. Cars from the Ford Fiesta (above) to the Honda Accord integrate cutout-free stereos into ever-more seamless dashboards, but audio technology continues to improve faster than car companies update models. Market researcher NPD Group reports nearly a third of people already listen to music in their cars off a smartphone or MP3 player, and near-future systems boast complete smartphone integration. Today's new-car buyers don't have the easy ability to upgrade their stereos like they once did.

By Kelsey Mays | November 7, 2011 | Comments (17)

Navigation Systems Put to the Test: The Results

On Wednesday, we laid out plans to take several navigation systems — the pricey factory systems in an Acura TSX, a BMW 3 Series and an Infiniti G37, plus a $180 handheld Garmin Nuvi 255W — and see how they dealt with a range of simple and challenging routes. We started easy, then threw in everything from pit stops and missed exits to recently constructed highways and brand-new housing developments.

The results were illuminating. By day’s end, each of the systems had stumbled at least once. But when we tallied the evaluation, BMW’s Harman-supplied system won the day.

We’ll explain.

By Kelsey Mays | September 2, 2010 | Comments (10)

Navigation Systems Put to the Test

One of the most popular options available for new cars is a navigation system. Often these add $1,000 to $3,000 to the sticker price and can even be wrapped into more expensive packages.

It’s certainly easier to swallow that slightly higher monthly payment if the navigation system you just paid for works the way you think it should. But after testing hundreds of cars over the years, we know they don’t all deliver.
By Kelsey Mays | September 1, 2010 | Comments (12)

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