Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Yelp ratings.

The Pioneer double din AVH-X2700BS is by far the best value double din touch screen head unit I’ve seen so far for 2015

In terms of double din touch screen head units, it’s quite common for manufacturers to try and pack as many possible features and attractive logos on the box in an attempt to entice as many customers as possible.  Marketing gurus think “Who cares how well the feature works?  Just get the label on the product!”.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Apple Maps.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Apple Maps.

In the case of the Pioneer double din AVH-X2700BS, the long list of features and functions are not only impressive, they’re actually quite useful and functional!  What a refreshing surprise.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been disappointed by a label or logo on a product box or advertisement only to find out when the product arrives you need a very specific application, device and accessory to make it work and even when you do all that, it works miserably. Thankfully, you can forget all that with the Pioneer double din AVH-X2700BS.

Check out this long list of features and functions that actually work QUITE well:

  • 6.1″ Resistive Touch Screen
  • Bluetooth audio streaming with Pandora control for iPhone and Android
  • Bluetooth handsfree has clear call quality, phone book access, call history, number pad and includes Voice Activation button that works with Siri and Google Voice on select Android devices (Note: This is not a feature Pioneer advertises or guarantees because it does not work with all Android devices and they are unable to test and verify compatibility on all Android devices.  You may have to disable S Voice on certain Samsung Devices – try it on a store display model with you’re own phone if this is a must have feature) 
  • SiriusXM Ready – requires SXV300 or SXV200 tuner
  • Standard steering wheel control input – requires Metra ASWC-1 or PAC Audio SWI-CP5
  • iDatalink Maestro ready (advanced steering wheel control integration for select vehicles – see for details and vehicle compatibility)
  • 4 Volt Preouts for Front, Rear and Subwoofer
  • Built in crossovers for Front, Rear (HPF) and Subwoofer (LPF) with selectable frequency (50 – 200 Hz) and slope adjustment (- 6 dB to -24 dB).
  • 13 Band EQ
  • Digital time alignment
  • Multicolor display with advanced customization options (multiple themes to choose from, upload your own background image or keep it simple and clean with no background at all – 5 display colors, 112 key colors, 13 background/splash images to choose from)
  • App Radio One integration – this is cool – offers easy integration of iPhone or Android via USB connection.  Allows access to Maps, Music, Weather and Notifications – Oh, and you don’t need any special adapters!  Just a free software update and a free app.
  • Reverse camera input
  • Rear A/V in
  • Rear USB port

App Radio One

Okay – the name sucks and Pioneer has gotta know it’s hella confusing.  First we had the stereo model called App Radio (1st edition) and it required the App Radio App.  Then there was the subsequent App Radio 2 and then the App Radio 3 and now there’s an App Radio 4.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays App Radio Live interface.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays App Radio Live interface.

After pissing everyone off with compatibility issues and inherent quirkiness on their previous App Radio models and modes, Pioneer now has a whole new line of double din DVD stereos that feature a NEW App Mode and it requires the use of two apps and a free software update:

However, it’s really nothing like the old App Radio Mode.  Once you get past the name you’ll find It’s responsive, accurate and aesthetically pleasing.  It has a totally different layout and user interface than App Radio Mode.  It’s what App Radio Mode should have been.  So they’re calling this new app feature App Radio One. Confused yet?

The “One” is referring to the simple connection.  One cable.  No ugly adapters and HDMI connections.  iPhone users simply connect their USB to 30 pin or USB to lightning to the USB input on the stereo (Even though Pioneer doesn’t list the iPhone 4 as compatible, I did try and test it and it works).  Select Android users can connect using a USB to micro cable like the CD-MU200 – please check the compatibility chart for your phone and software.

What App Radio One Does Do

App Radio One allows you a really clean way to access Media, Maps, Events and Calendar all from one screen. If we tap the navigation icon on upper left quadrant from the App Radio Live home screen, we will be shown our current position with a space on top enter an address or point of interest.  Let’s see how it fares trying to find me the Cheesecake Factory (not really a fan of the food, but I am a fan of Big Bang Theory).

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Apple Maps in App Radio One mode.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Apple Maps in App Radio One mode.

Initially it tried to search for Cheesecake road until I tapped the POI icon on the bottom right of the screen.  After selecting POI, it brought up a list of restaurants nearby with *GASP* Yelp ratings. How COOL is that?!

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Yelp ratings.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Yelp ratings.

Interestingly enough, when you select a restaurant you do see the option to “Read Reviews”, however it doesn’t appear to work.  It launches the browser on screen and you see the request from Yelp recommending you use their app, but nothing works when you tap anywhere on the browser screen.  Maybe eventually?  Not that you should really be reading Yelp reviews and driving at the same time ANYHOW, but that’s besides the point.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS shows you the weather in App Radio One mode.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS shows you the weather in App Radio One mode.

Here in Connecticut, I never know when we’re going to get hit with a freak snow storm or arctic blast so I think it’s pretty handy that I can pull up the latest forecast.  Not that the forecast is ever that accurate anyways.  I took this picture Thursday.  Yeah, it didn’t even get CLOSE to 25 on Saturday.

While driving around in single digit weather, I like to crank up the heat and crank up the tunes and forget how frighteningly cold it really is outside.  I try to let my mind escape into the music.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS genre search in App Radio One mode.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS genre search in App Radio One mode.

Not sure what you’re in the mood for?  Do a Genre search.  Have something particular in mind?  Try an Artist search.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Artist list with album art.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays Artist list with album art.

Once you’ve put on some soul soothing Adele, you can enjoy the album art displayed by the Pioneer double din AVH-X2700BS.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS now playing screen in App Radio One mode.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS now playing screen in App Radio One mode.

Can’t remember if you have an important meeting or concert to attend?  Take a quick peek at the events tab to see what’s coming up.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays upcoming events from your calendar.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS displays upcoming events from your calendar.

What App Radio One Does Not Do

  • App Radio One will NOT do video from your phone.  

The lack of HDMI means no streaming YouTube videos from your phone (do you really need that feature anyways?).

  • App Radio One will NOT provide turn by turn voice guidance.

Hey, they can’t give it all away for free.  Pioneer may add this feature at a later date at an additional cost.  My guess is they will charge a monthly fee for a premium version of the app.

Did I mention I love the customizable display?

This might seem trivial to some, but for me, this is one of the things that makes this stereo a great option for everyone. You can customize the look to your own taste.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS has multiple splash screens to choose from.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS has multiple splash screens to choose from.

There are multiple background images to select from and you can even upload your own image if desired – Or leave it completely blank with a plain, black background.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS display customized in plain, non flashy manner.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS display customized in plain, non flashy manner.

There are 112 key colors to choose from and 5 background illumination options to choose from. You can keep the look plain jane with no background and white lighting like you see above.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS has a highly customizable display.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS has a highly customizable display.

Or you can add some color and zest to your life with blinky backgrounds and vibrant navigation themes.

Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS display customized in a colorful and flashy way.
Pioneer Double Din AVH-X2700BS display customized in a colorful and flashy way.

What doesn’t it do?

There are a few reasons to step up from this Pioneer double din model.  If you want voice recognition and access to multiple apps (think Siri and you own an iPhone 5 & up) then you should consider the Apple CarPlay compatible App Radio 4 or Alpine iLX-007.  These models will allow you to use Siri to tell the stereo what music to play: “Hey Siri, play artist Death Cab for Cutie”. They also allow access to other CarPlay compatible apps – scroll to bottom of this link to see latest apps.

If you want Android Auto integration you’ll want to check out the new 2015 models that feature Android Auto integration from Pioneer, Parrot or Kenwood.  These models integrate with Google Voice for more than just handsfree functions: “Hey Google, play artist Death Cab for Cutie using Spotify”.

So if you’re looking for more advanced cell phone integration like more voice control and the ability to have your text messages read to you and allow you to dictate a response back – then you want to save up a few more bucks and go for an Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatible model.

For those of you interested in using your cell phone for GPS you will also have to consider how and where you will be using this feature.  When you’re relying on your cell phone, you’re relying on good cell service and data usage.  If you travel into areas with spotty cell service or no cell service and you need consistently reliable GPS, then you may want to consider a double din with built in GPS.

If you are an audiophile and appreciate subtle nuances, details, depth, clarity and you can differentiate between the quality of one head unit’s digital to analog convertor and another – you will want to step up to something like the App Radio 4 or Sony’s XAV712HD.  You won’t get the same App Radio One integration with either model, but you will get great sound quality and excellent audio control tools.

At the end of the day, unless you design and build your own double din stereo, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find one that has EVERY feature you’re looking for.  However, chances are pretty good the Pioneer double din AVH-X2700BS will have most of the features you’re after.


What is the best cheap double din head unit?

Double Din - Bigger is Better

UPDATE – 2/8/2015 – Looking for the best cheap double din head unit for 2015?  Consider the Pioneer AVH-X2700BHS.  You can read more about this model in my review here.

Double Din Touch Head Units with Value – When bigger is better

Double Din - Bigger is Better
Double Din – Bigger is Better

What is the best cheap double din head unit? Read on to find out.

Estimated read time: 7 minutes 17 seconds.  Want to read later?

In this particular write up I am focusing on VALUE.  There are a lot of double din head units out there (and I have a full write up on 7 different models between Kenwood, Pioneer and Sony found here), but in this particular post I am really looking at bang for buck, features and quality.

The majority of double din head units sold in my showroom are either the Pioneer AVH-X2600BT or Kenwood DDX371 and both get the job done very effectively.  These are our two main entry level double din touch screen head units to choose from and I will tell you the pros and cons of each just as if you were in my own shop.

Why go double din?

With the price of these head units coming down each year, it becomes a better option for more and more people that may not have originally entertained the idea of a double din head unit for their car.  I say if you have the room in your dash, go for it.  You can check and follow their application guide to see if there is a double din kit for your car.

Search phone contacts easily on a nice double din touch screen head unit.
Search phone contacts easily on a nice double din touch screen head unit.

It is just so much easier to access your music files, search your iPod, search your phone contacts from a large touch screen vs a tiny one or two line dot matrix single din display.  There is also the added benefit of having the option to add a back up camera too!

The Pioneer AVH-X2600BT and the Kenwood DDX371 are both considered slightly above entry level in the double din line up.  Both come with bluetooth whereas truly entry level double din head units typically do not even come with bluetooth.

Both the Pioneer double din and Kenwood double din discussed here come with a lot of features for your money.  Despite their similar features, there are some additional costs to the Pioneer that you would probably have been largely unaware of until it came time to install the unit.

The Pioneer does not come with a mounting sleeve and trim ring.  This is an additional part with an additional cost IF your vehicle requires it.  That’s the ADTVA133, not every car requires it – check your dash kit and see if there are side mounting arms like those pictured in the 2006 up VW Jetta Kit here.

Do you need a mounting sleeve?
Do you need a mounting sleeve?

Both products feature an App Mode, however both require additional parts and a compatible phone and each has their own limitations.

Pioneer’s App Mode in this case is specifically for iPhone users.  A quick visit to Pioneer’s website will show you which apps are compatible with which iPhones and Android (in this case you want to look at iPhone only as that is all this model will support in App Mode).

Pioneer App Mode shown on AVH-X2600BT
Pioneer App Mode shown on AVH-X2600BT

With the AVH-X2600BT and the necessary adapters (listed below in bullet points), iPhone users can launch compatible apps on screen in App Mode and alternatively have the option to mirror their iPhone when selecting iPod as a source and selecting the hands on icon on the lower right.  In this mirroring mode, you must launch and control the app from the iPhone itself, but audio will be heard and video will be displayed on screen.  Depending on which iPhone you have, the cost of these additional cables and accessories can quickly add up.

Pioneer also offers Mirrorlink capability which requires a Mirrorlink compatible phone and additional adapters (CD-MU200).  Additionally, in this model, Mirrorlink is only listed as supporting USB MTP music playback.  Mirrorlink compatibility seems to be hit or miss.  Sometimes phones that are produced as Mirrorlink certified can end up becoming incompatible after something as simple and common as a software update to the phone’s operating systems.  So although the feature is listed, it’s not one I would count on working.  There are too many variations and too little standardization on Mirrorlink phones for Pioneer to really ensure compatibility.

Kenwood’s app mode is limited to iPhone 4/4s users and a Garmin Navigation app priced at $49.99.  It also requires an additional cable, the KCA-ip202.  Another slight limitation, if you’re running IOS 5.1.1 or greater you will be limited in search and control of music or video stored on your iPhone to things like pause/play, track forward/back.  However if you just use a standard apple to usb cable and connect for music purposes, you have full search and control capabilities.

With both models, if you choose to utilize their respective app mode, you’ll either need to have the parking brake engaged or you need to find another way to address the video safety bypass.  With Kenwood, you can simply ground out the parking brake wire.  With Pioneer on the other hand, you will either need to rig up a switch that you’ll have to flick every time you start it up OR you can purchase a PAC Audio bypass called a TR7.  I highly recommend the TR7 if you go with the Pioneer.

Confused yet?  Here’s the easy breakdown to summarize the difference between these two decks.  Depending on what features are important to you, you will find one is more suitable over the other.

Pioneer AVH-X2600BT Best Double Din for the Money?

Pioneer AVH-X2600BT Pros

  • Excellent Bluetooth Handsfree call sound quality
  • Mutlicolor illumination, various background illumination/graphic choices
  • Esthetically attractive home menu and user interface (it’s pretty)
  • Relatively intuitive and easy to use
  • 3 Preouts for Front, Rear and Sub
  • App Radio Mode Feature (For iPhone 4/4s users requires CD-IUS201s, for iPhone 5 users requires CD-IV203, an Apple Lightning to VGA Adapter)
  • Mirrorlink Capable (CD-MU200 required and Mirrorlink phone required – According to Pioneer, this allows you to access music and phone from your stereo)

Pioneer AVH-X2600BT Cons

  • Only 2 Volt Preout (not good for sound quality if you’re adding amplifiers)
  • Requires tricky parking brake bypass or additional TR7 interface
  • No Volume Knob – Volume rocker instead, however this double din is Steering Wheel Control ready.
  • Does not come with Double Din Sleeve and Trim ring, designed for iso mount only – if your car does not have iso mount kit option you will need additional parts (think VW Jetta 2002 – 2005).
  • NO SiriusXM compatibility – This unit is not Sat Ready and I know that can be a deal breaker for some, but you can stream Bluetooth Audio with your phone using Pandora or other music apps that sound WAY better anyways – SiriusXM is majorly compressed audio, like 32 kbps (yuck).  That compression rate is fine for talk/entertainment, bad for music.
DDX371 - Best Double Din for the Money?
DDX371 – Best Double Din for the Money?

Kenwood DDX371 Pros

  • Volume Knob – Many consumers find this much easier to use even if their car is equipped with Steering Wheel Controls (which by the way both radios support with additional SWC interface)
  • 4 Volt Preouts for Front, Rear and Sub (Provides better sound quality when using external amplifiers connected through RCA)
  • Easy Parking Brake Bypass
  • Comes with mounting sleeve and trim ring if needed
  • Multicolor illumination
  • SiriusXM Ready! (Requires SXV200 tuner)

Kenwood DDX371 Cons

  • Poor Bluetooth Sound quality for handsfree calling – Kenwood has not updated the Bluetooth processor or mic in this unit – it’s the same as last years model and if you’re on the phone a lot, the Pioneer definitely has better sound quality for handsfree calling.  You may get complaints like “you sound like you’re under water”, “are you in a tunnel or something?” or plain old and pissed off “I can’t hear/understand you, call me later” Click.  If you’re using the Bluetooth mainly to stream your music, this may not be a concern.
  • Slower searching on iPod when connected to USB compared to the Pioneer – not by a lot, maybe 1-2 seconds, but for many consumers every second counts and when I show them the difference on our display, that makes their decision. If you’re the type of consumer who will just leave their iPod on random anyways and skip tracks, that won’t really effect you – same if you’re using Bluetooth audio as you’ll mainly be controlling/selecting music from your phone and just streaming it wirelessly to the stereo.
  • Extremely limited App Mode Feature – designed only for iPhone 4/4s users, mainly for Garmin app priced at $49.99, requires KCA-ip202 accessory – limited music search and control if operating on anything newer than IOS 5.1.1

My thoughts on Pioneer’s App Mode with the AVH-X2600BT

App Radio Mode isn’t perfect.  It’s kind of quirky and if you have an iPhone 5, the end result of all those required adapters is a pretty ugly looking pigtail.  The end coming off the required VGA adapter is so short, that you usually can’t avoid seeing it and the bulky connector attached to two other cables.  If you can hide it in the glove box or center console, that’s great.

Most customers are interested in App Mode for the navigation purposes.  In most cases, my customers feel they are better off investing that accessory money in a nice cell phone mount.  This way they can glance at their cell phone for a visual map while hearing the audio prompts through their stereo via Bluetooth Audio.  This is also a more esthetically pleasing option as this can be done without unsightly wires and the other route cannot.  Panavise makes some great vehicle specific brackets and to those brackets, you can add a nice phone specific holder from Pro Clip.

For the best phone mirroring, I will discuss several options on the market and the soon to be released software update for select Pioneer double din radios (AVH-4000NEX) that will be featuring the much anticipated Apple Carplay integration.  Check here for the latest update on Pioneer Carplay.

In Summary

App Modes aside – If you are concerned about sound quality and plan on using external amplifiers go with the Kenwood DDX371.  Additional features that may sway consumers to Kenwood would be the volume knob and ability to add SiriusXM.  Also – If you don’t give a damn about people trying to call you when you’re listening to your tunes – the Kenwood DDX371 may be the better choice for you.

If you have to talk to people on your cell phone while you’re driving, the Pioneer AVH-X2600BT is the better choice for you, it is much more functional in this aspect.  Additionally, if you can benefit from App Radio Mode and enjoy browsing for music quickly and easily – go with the Pioneer AVH-X2600BT.

If you’ve found this article helpful and plan on buying either model, please support Car Stereo Chick by purchasing through her affiliate link below.  Thanks for reading!

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