Navigation Pros & Cons

In their infancy, navigation systems were an expensive option reserved for luxury cars. Today, navigation systems are nearly ubiquitous, even on economy cars. Furthermore, there are now lots of alternatives, ranging from portable systems to smartphones to aftermarket stereo systems with nav.

Which one should you buy? What are the advantages of each setup? Which is less expensive? Do you even need one given that your phone probably has one or more navigation applications? Here are a few things to consider so you can choose the system that’s right for you.

Aftermarket In-Dash Navigation Systems

More features: These are geared toward techies and audiophiles who want additional features while maintaining the sleek appearance of the factory unit. These aftermarket navigation systems have entertainment features that you might not find on most factory systems, such as DVD video playback, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Pandora streaming.

Better screen: Compared to older vehicles with more basic stereo systems, aftermarket navigation screens are a significant improvement. Many systems will have higher-resolution screens with animated menus and flashy colors.

Customizable: An aftermarket navigation system is designed to be the centerpiece of an upgraded audio system that allows for user customization. Some models allow you to customize the menu icons, colors and backgrounds. You can also add extra equipment, such as a backup camera or Bluetooth capability, if your vehicle didn’t already have it.

Price: An aftermarket in-dash nav system can sometimes cost as much as the factory unit. The prices start around $250 and can go over $1,000, plus at least another $250 for the installation.

Theft prone: Thieves know how much these units cost and how easily they can be removed.

Not fully integrated: Although the system sits in the dash and is thereby more integrated than a portable unit, it will never look exactly as if it were part of the car’s original design. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view. And while you’ve gained new features, you may lose steering-wheel functions such as music volume and track controls. Some companies sell a special adapter that can restore that functionality. The part costs about $40, plus installation.

Smartphone Navigation Systems

You already have one: Factory-navigation skeptics argue that smartphones are an alternative to an expensive factory system, noting that phones already have a map application, and that’s all you really need. Given the quality of the maps from Apple and Google, we’re inclined to agree that they are good enough for most people. That said, there are a few limitations to keep in mind. More about those later.

Traffic data: In many cities, the fastest way to get from A to B isn’t necessarily the shortest path; it’s the one with the least traffic. Smartphone apps have excellent traffic data and access to Waze, the community-based traffic app. Factory nav systems may have live traffic data, but you have to pay for a subscription once the trial has ended.

Current maps and points of interest: Smartphone maps will never be out of date, and any updates are always included. The same goes for the names and addresses of any points of interest you want to visit.

Convenience: Smartphones let you input an address as you walk to the car, leverage your contacts for their addresses, have a calendar app to remind you that you need to leave at a certain time, and then route you there. All those things happen in a faster interface with typing that’s easier than the input method required by other systems.

Integrated smartphone options: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto offer the convenience of smartphone navigation with the integration and safety of a built-in system. They offer the convenience of smartphone navigation but with a larger screen display. That reduces the potential for distraction.

Distraction: Unless you have Apple CarPlay or purchase a car mount for the phone, it will most likely sit in a cupholder. And since you’ll have to take your eyes off the road to check the directions, this can be just as much of a distraction as texting while driving. The mount itself can cost from $20 for a basic unit to $100 for a do-it-all mount that will charge the phone and boost the audio and GPS signal.

Spottier reception: Most of the native map applications rely on a cell signal for their map data. If you lose cellular coverage, you may find yourself unable to use the maps and directions. Apple and Google offer the ability to download certain maps for offline use, but it takes more preparation and hard-drive space on your phone (up to 1.7 GB on Google Maps). And without a cellular signal, you won’t have access to traffic info, alternate routes or lane guidance.

Battery drain: Running a navigation application on a smartphone can sometimes take a toll on its battery, which makes carrying a phone car charger more important. It can also be an added cost if you don’t already have a charger.


Remote Start season has arrived!

Finally, the 80 plus degree weather seems to have retreated, making room for the crisp fall air. Premier Car Audio is ready too! Check out our new lineup of Remote Starts! We’ve added some familiar brands like Audiovox, and beefed up our selection of remotes to upgrade your Compustar or Arcticstart unit.

All of our remote starts are installed by MECP certified technicians, and our installations come with a lifetime warranty. Call us today to find out what we can do for you! (734) 369-3408

We’ve Moved!

In case you’ve been looking for us- we’re here!

Our new location is 5060 Jackson Avenue Suite E, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

We had an unfortunate circumstance that forced us to move from our original location without notice. Luckily, the guys at Meineke on West Stadium Blvd. were kind enough to invite us in for a couple months. Thanks to their hospitality, we’re still here!

Our new shop is bigger (we can now fit excursion vans!) and better, and we have plans for some exciting additions. Check in with us, and we’ll keep you updated on the progress.

In the meantime, feel free to call or stop by the shop. We’re there 6 days a week, and always happy to help!

Kenwood Ships 7-Inch Flagship Radios


KENWOOD USA is about to ship its 7-inch all-wireless CarPlay/Android Auto radios, originally delayed by the bankruptcy of a major LCD panel supplier out of Taiwan.

Five of the 7 new models are among the first from Kenwood to include both Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto Wireless.

The products were announced in January and scheduled for March release. However,  the bankruptcy of LCD maker Chunghwa Picture Tubes, CPT, forced Kenwood to delay its radios with 7 inch panels until June.  The company said it is happy to be shipping slightly ahead of schedule in time for the summer selling season.

“We are extremely pleased to ship these multimedia receivers ahead of schedule,” said Scott Caswell, senior marketing manager for KENWOOD USA. “…We are eager to get them on the shelves of our retailers so they can meet the heavy summer autosound demand.”

All seven models allow screen viewing angle adjustment, onboard control of Spotify and Pandora, and the ability to connect up to two smartphones via Bluetooth.  They work with Maestro interfaces and are SiriusXM ready.

Two of the models are mechless (without CD or DVD)—the KENWOOD DMX7706S (MSRP$ 599.95) and eXcelon DMX706S ($649.95). They also have a new shorter chassis to fit more vehicles.

The other three new models in the KENWOOD line are all wireless with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, connectivity and control over the KENWOOD DashCam, 3 camera inputs, the ability to “mirror” the screen of an Android-powered smartphone on the receiver’s screen, customizable screen widgets, and a second USB port.

The DDX8706S ($899.95) includes a CD / DVD player and the DMX9706 ($799.95) adds HD Radio and gold-plated 5.0-volt pre-outs. The DNR876S ($1399.95) also includes HD Radio and Garmin navigation.

The two full-size KENWOOD eXcelon multimedia receivers have enhanced screen quality with a capacitive touch panel, as well as providing all the features from the other models, excluding navigation. The eXcelon DMX906S ($849.95) is mechless but the eXcelon DDX8906S ($949.95) includes CD and DVD playback.

KENWOOD USA reps will provide exact dates as the models ship.

For more information visit


99% Invisible podcast causes strange problems on car stereo

Ever had a strange tech problem that you couldn’t figure out? The podcast Reply All strives to solve these problems in a regular segment they produce. The most recent issue involved a car stereo refusing to play any episodes from another podcast, 99% Invisible. The gang at Reply All follow hunches, talk to experts, and finally arrive at the conclusion.

No spoilers here- go download episode 140: The Roman Mars Mazda Virus. If you’ve never listened to a podcast, and are from this planet, where have you been?? Either way, I’m betting you’ll enjoy this segment, and perhaps you’ll become as addicted to podcasts as I am. You’re welcome.

SiriusXM Adds 100 Channels to App

SiriusXM Thursday debuted 100 new commercial-free music channels as part of its streaming app.

In some cases, the new channels combine music from two or more traditional SiriusXM stations, or they include newly created formats.

For example, SiriusXM offers Channel 8 for 80s fans.  New streaming channels include a Top 100 for the 80s, 80s on 8 Workout and 80s on 8 Party.  Country music fans now get Prime Country Top 100, Prime Country 80s Hits and Prime Country Party; and BPM listeners who follow dance music now have options including BPM Top Hits, BPM Discovery and BPM Workout.

A full list of new channels may be viewed at

Called Xtra Channels, the new stations are available to SiriusXM All Access and SiriusXM Premier Streaming subscribers via the SiriusXM app, web player, and select connected devices. Trail subscribers can also receive Xtra Channels.

Subscribers can also preview some of the Xtra Channels on SiriusXM Spotlight (channel 4) on SiriusXM radios in their vehicles through March.

With the new Xtra Channels, the SiriusXM app now offers more than 300 channels.