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Update by Chris Tropea to the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner project car
Feb 28, 2024 | head unit, Radio, infotainment, Frontier, Nissan Frontier

What is the biggest thing that makes our 2015 Nissan Frontier feel old from the driver's seat? The factory radio. Sure, it all still functions as it should, but it’s a bit outdated.

Most modern cars we drive nowadays have a nice big touchscreen infotainment system and the ability to connect a phone through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto–features our truck was missing.

Are these things necessary? Around town, it’s not a big issue. But after our most recent road trip, an 8 ½-hour drive each way to and from Barber Motorsports Park, we quickly realized we missed some of the more modern creature comforts that those new infotainment systems offer. It was finally time to splurge and get ourselves an upgrade.

[Live Thread: GRM at 24 Hours of Lemons Shine Country Classic]

What option would fit all the criteria we had for the perfect head unit? On our list, we had two things we absolutely had to have.

First, we wanted a name-brand head unit. Not that cheaper options have not proven themselves over the years, we just wanted something that looked as close to a factory part as possible with no shiny plastic bits.

Second, we wanted a physical volume knob. Sure, we’ll still have the factory steering wheel controls, but we also wanted a physical knob because only having a button to click for volume control isn’t great for those quick adjustments.

With those two things in mind–and after asking for some opinions on our forum–we came up with the Sony XAVAX1000 for our perfect head unit. Not only did it have everything we were looking for, but it has been installed in a few other cars in the fleet over the years and has performed flawlessly. So, we hit the order button from Best Buy and waited a few days.

The installation was relatively simple and took us a little over 2 hours. The total cost for the upgrade was right around $450, including the head unit and all the pieces necessary to complete the installation.

We could have opted for the free install offered from Best Buy, but we wanted to install it ourselves so we could route the wires the way we wanted behind the dash. (Plus, installing new car parts is fun, right?)

One thing that we did not do was hook up a backup camera to our new head unit. We already have one integrated into the rearview mirror, and we’ve gotten used to using it as is. Plus, it saved us a bunch of time not having to run cable from the back of the bed all the way through the cab. We might hook it into the head unit in the future, but, for now, our current setup works just fine.

First impressions are positive, and we are happy with how the unit looks installed in the dash. By the time you read this, we’ll be taking the Frontier on another trip, the Classic Motorsports Orange Blossom Tour, where we can enjoy having the bigger screen to easily select music, see maps and easily reply to texts with Siri.

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Comments
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
2/28/24 4:03 p.m.

Agreed 100%. One of the first mods I do is install a Double DIN touch screen head unit and install a bluetooth mic + backup camera. Oh, and LED bulb replacements.

JThw8
JThw8 UltimaDork
2/28/24 5:27 p.m.
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) said:

Agreed 100%. One of the first mods I do is install a Double DIN touch screen head unit and install a bluetooth mic + backup camera. Oh, and LED bulb replacements.

Same, there's nothing in my fleet from without it anymore.  Even the beater I bought for a roadtrip last year immediately got the cheapest CarPlay compatible unit I could find in Crutchfield's bargan bin.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/29/24 9:24 a.m.

CarPlay is the best. 

The end. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/29/24 9:48 a.m.

Precisely why I did the OEM Audio+ upgrade in the BRZ. The factory speakers were awful.

prodarwin
prodarwin MegaDork
2/29/24 10:00 a.m.

Its a shame the adapter kits are still so ugly.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/29/24 10:08 a.m.

Yep, one of the first thing I did to the Mustang was install a Android Auto/Carplay compatible radio. Which is kind of ironic, since now my 2005 Mustang has better infotainment than my 2015 Expedition, which is blessed(?) with MyFordTouch. You can install aftermarket, but since the factory touchscreen controls the HVAC and a bunch of other stuff, it doesn't work all that well. These trucks started getting Sync 3 (which includes AA and Carplay) in 2016, and it is possible to retrofit that system into a 2015, but it's expensive and somewhat complex, so I've been gunshy about it.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/29/24 10:29 a.m.

Looking at doing this soon for wife's 2014 Subaru. Crutchfield seems to be a good site to order from. Any other reputable suppliers to look at?

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/29/24 10:34 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

100% agree. The first time I got to drive a car with Andriod Auto/Apple CarPlay was an absolute game-changer.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/29/24 10:38 a.m.
maschinenbau said:

Looking at doing this soon for wife's 2014 Subaru. Crutchfield seems to be a good site to order from. Any other reputable suppliers to look at?

Probably. But I've been buying from Crutchfield since the 80s, and they've never let me down. And recently I've found that, once you include the install kit and wiring harness adapter that they throw in, their prices are very competitive.

ross2004
ross2004 Reader
2/29/24 11:12 a.m.

Crutchfield is great. We're lucky enough to have a local store, and I recently did a head unit/speaker upgrade on my truck. One thing to be aware of with the head unit is wired vs wireless CarPlay (Andriod too I assume?). 

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