Replacing a defective factory navigation radio in a 2012 F-150 with Kenwood’s DDX9902s

Kenwood DDX9902s installed in a 2012 F-150 that came equipped with stock navigation, Sync and reverse camera.

Kenwood DDX9902s – What you buy when your factory 2012 F-150 navigation radio craps out

A couple months ago, a long time customer of mine came into the shop with his 2012 F-150 in need of a new stereo. I asked him why he was considering upgrading and he sheepishly explained to me the stock “POS” navigation screen had stopped functioning properly and shortly thereafter it had an unfortunate encounter with his fist and it now definitely needed to be replaced.

Kenwood DDX9902s installed in a 2012 F-150 that came equipped with stock navigation, Sync and reverse camera.
Kenwood DDX9902s installed in a 2012 F-150 that came equipped with stock navigation, Sync and reverse camera.

Aside from needing a working radio, the customer was interested in Apple CarPlay and didn’t necessarily need on board navigation since he would have access to Apple Maps. His 2012 Ford F-150 was equipped with the following features that would need to be integrated with or retained:

  • Sync
  • USB and Line Input (Aux)
  • SiriusXM
  • Reverse Camera
  • Steering Wheel Controls

Additionally, his factory navigation screen had been the display for all climate control information. Luckily, there is a very cool company out there that specializes in this type of integration and feature retention called iDatalink.

DDX9902s Ford iDatalink Integration Features
DDX9902s Ford iDatalink Integration Features

Kenwood was the first to partner with iDatalink.  iDatalink is a pretty cool company that specializes aftermarket automotive electronics integration. As a result of this early partnership, Kenwood stereos tend to have more advanced integration features compared to other brands out there like Alpine and Pioneer. Although I had not sold a Kenwood DDX9902s yet, I knew this was really the best solution for this 2012 Ford F-150 and for the customer’s needs. At the time, the Kenwood DDX9702S and DDX9902s were the only two head units on the market that offered the advanced iDatalink integration capability (including climate control ability) and Apple CarPlay (Kenwood has since also introduced the DDX6702s and DDX6902s).

DDX9902S - Tire pressure monitor display 2012 F-150
DDX9902S – Tire pressure monitor display 2012 F-150

Although there is technically no installation dash kit for this vehicle (2012 F-150 with the OEM navigation), we were able to mount the aftermarket double din DDX9902S in the factory navigation radio opening. After we installed this stereo, I was pleasantly surprised to find the OEM volume knob controlled the new Kenwood radio. This install was accomplished using the iDatalink Maestro RR and FO1 harness. For anyone considering doing this work themselves, please keep in mind you need to set up an account with iDatalink and you will also need an iDatalink weblink programmer and access to a PC with Internet Explorer.

DDX9902s with OEM reverse camera 2012 F-150
DDX9902s with OEM reverse camera retained 2012 F-150

The factory reverse camera was retained by identifying factory Video +/- and shield and hard wiring these connections to the Kenwood’s reverse camera input. Combining the Kenwood DDX9902s along with the iDatalink Maestro RR and FO1 harness, we were able to retain the factory amplifier, factory Sync USB and line input, factory steering wheel controls and climate control information.

DDX9902S with Ford F-150 climate controls integrated using iDatalink Maestro
DDX9902S with Ford F-150 climate controls integrated using iDatalink Maestro

Additionally this interface allowed us to display vehicle gauge information and access additional helpful vehicle information. Although the iDatalink Maestro RR did not retain the factory SiriusXM in this particular vehicle (if memory serves me correctly, there was actually an issue with the OEM sat tuner, otherwise I think it would have actually been retained), we were able to simply install the SXV300 tuner and retain the OEM SiriusXM antenna using the iDatalink SAT1 adapter.

DDX9902s Gauge Display 2012 F-150
DDX9902s Gauge Display 2012 F-150

After getting an estimate from the dealership to replace the stock navigation, I probably would have punched my dash too. Thankfully, in the end the customer was able to upgrade his seemingly proprietary stock stereo to an aftermarket stereo that will essentially never be outdated (assuming you always have an up to date iPhone or Android phone). Although this customer had an iPhone, the Kenwood DDX9902s is also Android Auto compatible.

DDX9902S - Replaces defective OEM navigation in a 2012 F-150
DDX9902S – Replaces defective OEM navigation in a 2012 F-150

What if you don’t have the factory Ford navigation radio? No problem, you can still enjoy this kind of seamless integration using the iDatalink Maestro interface. Visit to see what kind of integration features are available for your vehicle.

Kenwood CarPlay & Android Auto – DDX9902s & DDX9702s

Kenwood DDX9902s - Spotify on display at CES 2015

Kenwood reveals two new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible models at CES 2015 – DDX9902s and DDX9702s

My first stop at CES 2015 was over at the Kenwood booth in the North Hall and my timing couldn’t have been better.  I wandered into the unattended room which was displaying the DDX9902s and DDX9702s, Kenwood’s new Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible models.  I would later find out this room was normally closed off to attendees and only accessible via supervised demonstration by appointment.  Luckily I snuck in before their first appointment of the day and I was able to sit in on the demonstration and ask questions.

DDX9902s - Home screen CES 2015
DDX9902s – Home screen CES 2015

Kenwood has two versions of this stereo.  The regular Kenwood model is the DDX9702s and the Kenwood eXcelon model is the DDX9902s.  The stereo menu and user interface is essentially the same as last year’s DDX8901.  I was concerned about processing speed as it was always lagging a bit on the DDX8901, Kenwood was unsure at this time whether or not the processor has been upgraded over last year.  For what it’s worth, I did not see any lag time in any operations in either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Kenwood DDX9902s - CES 2015
Kenwood DDX9902s – CES 2015

The DDX9902s will include the standard Kenwood eXcelon 13 band EQ, digital time alignment, built in crossvers, 5 volt preouts, high quality digital to analog convertor.  The regular Kenwood version, the DDX9702s will still have 4 volt preouts and most likely come with a more basic EQ like what we saw in last year’s DDX771.  The exact details of the EQ are still to be determined.

Kenwood DDX9702s - CES 2015
Kenwood DDX9702s – CES 2015

You have to keep in mind, these models are prototypes.  Often what vendors display at CES are products they are still developing that are about to go into production. Because these products are still being developed and they are not finished samples off the production line, there were some questions I had that were left with open ended answers and flat out, “We don’t know yet” responses.

Here is what I do know about the DDX9902s and DDX9702s

  • Compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but not at the same time.
  • Both models include a separate GPS antenna designed to work with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto devices.  The stereo takes information from both the external GPS antenna and the information from the phone for the best GPS coverage.
  • When using Android Auto – the phone is locked, everything must be accessed from the stereo (not the same for Apple CarPlay).
  • You can access music from other sources such as HD Radio or SiriusXM while accessing Google Maps from Android Auto or Apple Maps from CarPlay.  The audio prompts from the navigation are overlaid and reduce volume on whatever media source is playing.
  • Android Auto relays traffic information when using Google Maps app.
  • There is no on screen phonebook access – Android Auto really wants drivers to rely on Google Voice and this feature encourages them to keep their eyes on the road.
  • Connection for Android Auto through USB to micro.
  • Connection for CarPlay through USB to lightning.
  • Probably will have two USB ports, but not positive at this time.
  • Will have HDMI input and can use new optional Miracast adapter KCA-WL100 to wirelessly mirror audio and video from phone (kind of like Airplay from Apple)
  • Will support iDatalink Maestro integration
  • Samsung phones will still most likely need a tip adapter.
  • Android Auto requires Lollipop 5.0 or higher.
  • You still can’t have more than two phones paired at the same time for BOTH handsfree and audio – you can have one paired for music and one paired for phone calls, but that’s it.
  • Estimated release date May 2015

Whether you’re using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, there is a huge push by developers to get drivers to rely on their smartphone’s voice control.  Android Auto’s voice control function was impressive.  Not only can you tell it what artist to play, but you can tell it which app to use to do so.  In all verbal test commands, Android Auto obliged. See image below, this is from the command “Play artist Maroon 5 on Spotify”.  It was spot on (LOL – I couldn’t resist).

Kenwood DDX9902s - Spotify on display at CES 2015
Kenwood DDX9902s – Android Auto voice commands responding at CES 2015

What we don’t know and won’t know until we try it

I have concerns about Samsung devices running Android Auto.  I have seen charging issues with the more popular Samsung devices such as the Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3 running through a USB to micro while running navigation apps, music apps, making and receiving phone calls and received social media and email alerts.  Usually the charge supplied by standard car stereo USB (like Pioneer, Kenwood or Sony) is usually not enough to keep up with the phone.  Kenwood’s technical rep stated that charging is .5 amp on their USB while their white display board shows 1 amp charging.

Kenwood DDX9902s - Android Auto Phone Menu
Kenwood DDX9902s – Android Auto Phone Menu

Kenwood was running their Android Auto display with a Nexus phone and the stereo alone was maintaining the phone’s battery over the course of CES 2015.  When asked about what we could expect to see with the more popular Samsung devices, their guess was as good as mine.  It hasn’t been tested, so they simply don’t know at this point nor do they have plans to test every Android phone model and relay to consumers the efficiency or lack of efficiency a particular phone has.

Kenwood DDX9902s - Google Maps
Kenwood DDX9902s – Google Maps

It amazes me how car stereo is really moving into sort of a software and hardware industry.  Kenwood has built Android Auto compatibility and hardware into their products and cell phone manufacturers build phones that support Android operating systems.  Cell phone manufacturers still build their own cell phones.  Some cell phones charge more efficiently than others.  The stereo is just a portal at this point so we really don’t know how any one particular phone will respond until we try it.

Other new Kenwood models revealed at CES 2015

Aside from the DDX9902s and DDX9702s, Kenwood revealed an overwhelming amount of new stereo models, many that look a lot like last year’s models with subtle differences.  One model worth mentioning is their new flip out 7″ touch screen model, the KVT-7012BT.  Kenwood had discontinued their flip out style touch screen a couple years ago, but have brought back an option for those limited to a single din stereo opening.

Kenwood KVT-7012BT
Kenwood KVT-7012BT

The new Kenwood flip out DVD features:

  • Three 5 volt preouts
  • Bluetooth for handsfree and audio streaming
  • 5 Band EQ
  • Pandora, iHeart and Aupeo compatibility
  • Waze compatibility – I’ll believe it when I see it.  They did this last year – slapped a label on a product and then legitimized it by saying, well technically using an iPod 30 pin adapter to audio and video into the Kenwood’s A/V in you could mirror Waze on screen.  The only Waze control I saw over at the Kenwood booth was on the JVC side and I wasn’t impressed.  It was very laggy, unresponsive – it just didn’t work well.  I did not see a Kenwood radio with this function set up for demo, but it’s possible I just missed it.

New Navigation Models

The DNX691HD, DNX891HD and DNN991 have been replaced by the DNX692HD, DNX892HD and DNN992.  On first glance, they look a lot like their predecessors.

Kenwood DNX692 CES 2015
Kenwood DNX692 CES 2015

And after browsing through the menus and sources of these new Kenwood models they appeared to be exactly like their predecessors.  Even their responsiveness which was a bit disappointing.  I was hoping Kenwood had improved the processing speed in these models, but it really seemed exactly like last year’s models.  Interestingly, their non navigation models did appear a LOT faster in processing.

Kenwood DDX272 & DDX372BT - CES 2015
Kenwood DDX272 & DDX372BT – CES 2015

I inquired if the Bluetooth handsfree profile had been upgraded over last year’s version as bluetooth handsfree sound quality has always been an issue for my customers on their non navigation and non eXcelon double din touch screen head units.  I was told that it had not been upgraded.  So even though processing has been upgraded and responsiveness has improved, handsfree call quality could still be an issue on Kenwood’s DDX372BT, DDX392, DDX492 and DDX672BH.

New single din Kenwood Excelon models

Kenwood introduced 3 new single din head unit models, the KDC-X399, KDC-X599 and KDC-X799 and they carried over two models from last year (the KDC-X898 and KDC-X998).  The KDC-X399, KDC-X599 and KDC-X799 essentially look the same and have very similar features and a few subtle differences.  Pictured below is the KDC-X599.

Kenwood KDC-X599
Kenwood KDC-X599


  • AM/FM CD Player (open CD slot – no dust cover)
  • Front USB/AUX
  • Three 4 volt preouts
  • 5 band EQ
  • High pass and low pass filter starting at 100 Hz (kind of high I think)
  • Variable color illumination
  • Pandora compatible
  • iHeart Radio compatible


  • Adds dust cover
  • Adds Bluetooth Audio and Handsfree Calling
  • Adds SiriusXM Ready (requires SXV300 tuner)


  • Adds HD Radio

Conclusion CES 2015 at the Kenwood booth

By far the most exciting additions to Kenwood’s line this year will be the DDX9902s and DDX9702s featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  However, we will have to be patient and wait another 5 months or so until they actually begin to ship. Estimated retail price on these models will be $700.

Kenwood DDX9902s - Android Auto
Kenwood DDX9902s – Android Auto