With cruising (and overlanding) season in full swing, now is a great time to replace that dated, weary old Jeep Wrangler radio with something better.
Jeep Wrangler owners benefit from having access to one of the most expansive automotive aftermarkets, and no surprise, that extends to Jeep Wrangler stereo head units. There are loads of Jeep Wrangler radio upgrade options available, from model-specific units that preserve the Wrangler’s factory dash appearance with specially designed bezels and carefully selected screen sizes, to universal aftermarket head units that can easily be adapted with a little bit of work. And if you’ve been craving features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and even 3D topographic maps, good news: it’s all on offer.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best Jeep Wrangler stereo units on the market today, incorporating a little bit of everything: simple single-DIN units, double-DIN touch screen stereos chock full of modern features, and even Wrangler-specific head units that look almost like they came pre-installed from the factory.
Table of contents
- 1. Best Simple Head Unit: Pioneer MVH-S310BT
- 2. Best OE-Looking Unit: VDO Continental TR712UB-BU
- 3. Most Rugged: Insane Audio JK2001/JL3001 Head Unit
- 4. Just For The JK: Stinger STH10JK
- 5. Just for the JL: Citreal LinksWell TS-JPJL12
- 6. Best Universal Double-Din: Sony XAV-AX7000
- Bonus: TJ Wrangler Double-DIN Install Kit
- How Do You Find The Stereo Code For A Jeep Wrangler?
- How Do You Remove The Radio From A Jeep Wrangler?
1. Best Simple Head Unit: Pioneer MVH-S310BT
Perfect for owners of older Jeep Wrangler models who are just looking to add modern features like Bluetooth phone connectivity to their vehicles, the Pioneer MVH-S310BT is a simple, single-DIN head unit with a monochrome display and a clean interface. It’s a bit flashy and futuristic looking for an old, dated dash like the YJ’s, but if you can get past that, it’s a great option, imbued with Pioneer’s first-rate audio quality and some of the hottest modern features like Pandora and Spotify app control. Naturally, Bluetooth also allows you to connect your smartphone for wireless handsfree phone calls and audio streaming, including turn-by-turn navigation commands from a suitable app – a good thing, because without an integrated CD player, your media options might otherwise be pretty slim.
2. Best OE-Looking Unit: VDO Continental TR712UB-BU
If you’re the sort who’s put off by the flashy, colorful, light-up head units that have come to dominate the market – the kind that look like they’ve come out of an alien spacecraft – you’re not alone. That’s why numerous collector car communities have started turning to head units like this: the VDO Continental TR712UB-BU. Boasting an attractive but decidedly un-flashy blue backlight, an old-school digital display, modern electronics, and Bluetooth phone connectivity, this VDO Continental head unit is the perfect Jeep Wrangler radio upgrade for the discerning TJ or YJ owner who wants to keep things looking at least close to period-correct. And sure, it’s a bit expensive for a relatively basic Jeep Wrangler radio with no integrated CD player, but you get a 2-year warranty and OEM build quality for the money.
3. Most Rugged: Insane Audio JK2001/JL3001 Head Unit
If you’re looking for the most rugged, overland-ready Jeep Wrangler radio that won’t demolish your checking account, try turning to Insane Audio. Whether it’s the Insane Audio JK2001, made for JKs from 2007 through 2018, or the JL3001, made for the 2018-2021 JL and the JT Gladiator, these Jeep Wrangler touch screen radio units are IP66-rated for dust- and water-resistance, and they pack the Insane NavEngine – a satellite navigation system that boasts full 3D topography for powerful off-road navigation. They also boast full-color capacitive touch displays, lightning quick processors, advanced digital audio processing, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, with compatibility with Waze navigation, Spotify, Pandora, GoPro, and literally countless other apps.
4. Just For The JK: Stinger STH10JK
Ready to upgrade your JK Wrangler’s tired, dated-looking stereo head unit with something a bit more modern? We’ve got just the thing for you: the Stinger STH10JK. This aftermarket Jeep Wrangler touch screen radio can instantly spruce up the interior of your 2011-2018 Wrangler JK, with a sleek, thin-frame 10” full-color screen and an attractive gloss black button panel. More importantly, it will instantly give you access to modern features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, four live camera feeds, and HDMI input. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? The screen itself represents a significant upgrade over the stock unit, and most important of all, it looks like it belongs there, with OE-level fit and finish.
5. Just for the JL: Citreal LinksWell TS-JPJL12
Always wanted a big, Ram 1500-sized screen in your new JL Wrangler? Check out the LinksWell TS-JPJL12 from Citreal. The JL Wrangler and the new JT Jeep Gladiator have proven somewhat difficult to design larger screens for on account of the center stack design. This Jeep Wrangler stereo gets past that by including an OE-looking replacement bezel that yields more space for the large, tablet-style portrait screen. Naturally, this system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity, and it even comes with the Google Maps app pre-installed for cellular data-based navigation. Other awesome features include Bluetooth, USB, video playback capability, and 64 GB of built-in memory.
6. Best Universal Double-Din: Sony XAV-AX7000
Even earlier Wrangler models like the YJ and TJ can have a modern, full-color touch screen display, thanks to head units like the Sony XAV-AX7000. The unit occupies two standard DIN-sized slots in the dash, and while a bit of work – and maybe an aftermarket center stack panel – is required for proper fitment, there aren’t too many model-specific Jeep Wrangler touch screen radio units on the market for pre-JK Wranglers. The Sony XAV-AX7000 gives you a crystal clear full-color 7” display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual USB ports, and even a 3-year warranty – in case Sony’s reputation as a global leader in consumer electronics isn’t peace of mind enough.
Bonus: TJ Wrangler Double-DIN Install Kit
No, this isn’t a Jeep Wrangler radio. Instead, it’s a dash kit for installing a double-DIN head unit in the Jeep Wrangler TJ. Two versions exist – one for TJs from 1997 through 2002, and another covering 2003 through 2006 – and both spare you having to hack up your factory center stack to accommodate a big double-DIN unit like the Sony XAV-AX7000. The seller, Custom Install Parts, has been sure to note that additional parts and modifications are still needed for installation, even with this kit, but the end result is a clean, tidy, OEM-quality Jeep Wrangler radio upgrade that blends in seamlessly with the rest of the dash – provided you know how to wield a drill.
How Do You Find The Stereo Code For A Jeep Wrangler?
Swapping original equipment Jeep head units used to be a far simpler matter, but starting around 2012, Chrysler introduced a new anti-theft system to OE Jeep Wrangler stereo units which ties each radio to a specific VIN. If you just bought a secondhand Jeep Wrangler radio, or you plan to sell yours to another owner after upgrading, the head unit will require a security code in order to function.
The easiest way to obtain the necessary Jeep Wrangler stereo code to make an OE head unit work in a different vehicle is to simply phone their local dealership. Any Jeep dealership has the capability to look up the security code for the stereo’s new owner, provided that they are given 1) the serial number of the head unit, commonly found on a sticker hidden somewhere not normally visible on the stereo housing, and 2) the VIN of the original Jeep Wrangler that the head unit came from. The dealer might also request another alphanumeric sequence found on another sticker on the stereo housing.
Given these pieces of information, the dealer can look up the security code for the OE stereo, which can be entered by depressing the Power/Volume knob with the vehicle started and waiting for the appropriate prompt.
How Do You Remove The Radio From A Jeep Wrangler?
Any backyard mechanic can remove the factory Jeep Wrangler radio with a few simple hand tools and an afternoon to burn, but the exact procedure will vary depending on which generation of Jeep Wrangler you own. Naturally, the current JL Wrangler is one of the more complicated models.
To remove the JL Wrangler head unit, you must first remove the HVAC trim bezel, using plastic trim removal tools (like these) to carefully pop one side off and working your way around gently until it releases from every clip. The HVAC control unit itself can either be removed by undoing the clip-in wire connection on the back side, or carefully dangled out of the way. Two Phillips head screws should now be visible at the bottom edge of the radio trim panel; remove these, and then gently pry on the edges of the panel until it releases from the dash. Now, the head unit can be taken out after simply removing the four screws affixing it to the dash – one at each corner – and subsequently removing the numerous electrical connections from the back. The exact number of clip-in connectors will vary based on equipment level: items like the reverse camera, power/speaker connections, AM/FM antenna, satellite radio antenna, etc. each have their own connection.
Early JK Wranglers – those from 2007 to 2010 – benefit from a much simpler radio removal. To remove the head unit in those models, start by prying the flat plastic panel in the center on top of the dash by its rear edge until it pops out, and then disconnect the compass electrical connector before setting the panel aside. Next, pry out the panel at the bottom of the center stack, working along the top edge until it pops out of position, and set it aside. Now, you should have access to the four screws holding the center stack bezel in place. Undo those fasteners, carefully pry the bezel out of the dash, and leave it hanging out of the way by its electrical connectors. With these steps completed, you should now have access to the four screws – one in each corner – holding the Jeep Wrangler radio to the dash.
Probably the most complicated removal procedure is for later (2011-2018) Jeep Wrangler models. That process involves releasing three HVAC vents by finding and aligning square holes inside the vent and inserting a screwdriver to spin them out counterclockwise, prying out the window switch cluster from the center stack and undoing the wiring harness, prying out a panel on the top dash center and another one underneath the steering wheel, and undoing all of the exposed 7mm bolts holding the instrument/center stack bezel to the dash. With that out of the way, the fasteners holding the head unit in place should now be exposed, allowing the unit to be removed normally. The video below does a good jo of explaining the procedure in more detail
No matter which generation Jeep Wrangler model you have, we recommend procuring a set of plastic trim removal tools like these ones, and relying on your favorite internet search engine to point you toward a more thorough Jeep Wrangler radio removal procedure. Wrangler owner forums and YouTube are invaluable resources when it comes to finding more detailed procedures.
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