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Sony's $499 infotainment system packs Apple Carplay, Android Auto

While Sony is late to the game in releasing a head unit like this, its price point should give it an advantage in the marketplace.

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Lack of a front-facing USB port or AUX input is kind of a bummer.


Aftermarket head units don't often have good names. Sony's new XAV-AX100 doesn't have a good name. But what it lacks in that arena, it makes up for it with an affordable price and the latest phone connectivity options. It's not the first head unit to debut with this tech, but the first one out the gates doesn't always win the race.

Phone connectivity is the XAV-AX100's big selling point. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay bring the mobile experience to your car, mirroring phone functionality and voice commands on the XAV's 6.4-inch screen. AA and ACP are supported by a number of car manufacturers, but it's far from ubiquitous, and most older head units can't be retrofitted, so it's useful to have this option for older cars.

Sony's bolstering its head unit's street cred with a number of non-phone-related tricks. It's packing Bluetooth, input for a rearview camera, triple pre-out expandability and a 10-band graphic equalizer. However, it lacks an AUX input, and its only USB port is in the back, so it lacks some of the functions you'll find on a head unit built into a modern vehicle.

Its release is late, compared to offerings from Kenwood, Pioneer and Alpine -- the XAV-AX100 won't be available in the US until late November. But that $499 price tag gives it a decent advantage over the competition. To compare, Kenwood's cheapest CarPlay unit, the DNX573S (seriously, terrible names) costs upward of $700, and Alpine's iLX-007 runs about $800.

The UI is actually pretty slick.