Sony XAV-AX150 Review

Sony XAV-AX150

Is the Sony XAV-AX150 the best value Apple CarPlay and Android Auto radio for 2022?

Now more than ever, consumers can appreciate the great value of the Sony XAV-AX150. As we hurtle towards a dystopian new normal, consumers are waking up to the greater effects of high gas prices, limited resources compounded by the weakening dollar. Inflation has entangled its tentacles into nearly every facet of our lives. Car stereo is in no way immune to this ugly beast. In 2019, the best value Apple CarPlay and Android Auto stereo that I sold was the Alpine iLX-W650. Just 3 years ago, you got a lot for your money with the iLX-W650: 4 Volt pre-amp, glass capacitive touch screen, 9 band parametric EQ and more. That deck is a work horse and is still a staple product at our shop. Yet, in the past few years, we have seen the price of that model climb from $299.99 to $349.99 and then to $399.99. Next week it will be $449.99. Yikes!

Sony XAV AX150
Sony XAV-AX150 – Best value Apple CarPlay Android Auto 2022

In this day and age, deals are harder and harder to come by which is why I love the Sony XAV-AX150. When consumers are getting hammered by inflation everywhere in their lives, I love seeing a quality brand like Sony hang in there and continue to offer consumers an awesome value.

This deck is perfect for someone who has purchased an older vehicle and looking to upgrade the tech features. It’s extremely difficult to buy a new vehicle right now. So many of our clients are buying used (and paying dearly for it I might add). On top of the inflated used car price, they are spending additional cash up-fitting to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sony XAV-AX150 won’t be right for everyone, but it’s a perfect fit for anyone with a basic used vehicle simply looking to add modern features.

Why the Sony XAV-AX150 is awesome

This deck has a ton of great features for the money. It’s super easy to use and super reliable. What you see is what you get. You’re not paying extra for features you don’t want or need.

  • AM/FM Radio (NO SiriusXM compatibility)
  • Resistive touch screen
  • Bluetooth
  • Wired connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (rear USB)
  • Reverse camera compatible
  • Steering wheel control compatible
  • 10 Band EQ
  • Front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp (2 Volt – not the cleanest on the sub channel though)
  • Built in crossovers – adjustable HPF and LPF

This unit is mechless so no CD player. Although it is meant for double DIN ISO mount installation, the rear chassis is only single DIN which leaves you some room to work with in the dash in case your installation involves a large module to retain things like Onstar/Bose or steering wheel controls.

Sony XAV-AX150 - buttons on the lower lip.
Sony XAV-AX150 – mostly touch screen but with hard buttons on the lower lip

In addition to the 6.95″ touch screen, this unit also has a small lower lip with hard buttons. Here you find functions like Volume up/down, Track up/down, Home screen and an Option button which doubles up as a shortcut to source/audio settings OR as a voice activation button (press and hold to prompt Siri or Google Voice). You cannot rearrange the icons on the home screen, but I don’t see a need to – they are laid out in a nice logical, easy to see manner.

Sony XAV-AX150 background color options.
Sony XAV-AX150 different wallpaper options.

The bottom lip buttons will always illuminate in a neutral white tone. The background color can be changed, but you cannot upload your own. I don’t think the background color will matter for most clients as they are purchasing this unit for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. These interfaces appear exactly the same regardless of what model radio you are using.

Sony XAV AX150 - Apple CarPlay Android Auto
Sony XAV AX150 – Apple CarPlay Android Auto

Who this deck is for

The Sony XAV-AX150 is perfect for anyone looking to upgrade an older basic vehicle with a name brand Apple CarPlay/Android Auto stereo that won’t break the bank. Examples of vehicles this would work well with include 2012 Honda Civic, 2013 Toyota Corolla, 2011 Subaru Legacy or a 2014 Chevy Express Van. Mostly older Japanese vehicles without integrated electronics or basic GM or Ford models without things like a rear seat entertainment system.

Sony XAV AX150 EQ section
Sony XAV AX150 EQ section

Who this deck is NOT for

I wouldn’t recommend the Sony XAV-AX150 for anyone looking to build a full aftermarket audio system with amplifiers. It does have a front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp, but it’s low voltage. Plus the signal on the sub channel is not clean. I measured it with an oscilloscope which you can see in the video. Regardless of volume level or sub level, the signal was not a uniform wave. There is definitely some distortion there, perhaps just harmonic distortion. Either way, between the low voltage pre-amp and funky sub level signal, it’s not an ideal deck to build a system with. It’s perfect for clients looking for a great value, easy to use, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto head unit for their older, used vehicle.

Additionally, I would not use this in any vehicle that would benefit from an iDatalink Maestro compatible radio. For example, I wouldn’t use it in a 2015 Silverado or 2016 Ford Edge or 2018 Ram Promaster. All of these vehicles have data flowing through the factory radio. In other words, the radio is part of the operating network in the car. In situations like that you’re best off using an ADS-MRR and iDatalink Maestro compatible radio to retain vehicle features, access to vehicle settings and in general keep information flowing through the network in the car. To check iDatalink Maestro compatibility, check out this product feature look up page where you can plug in your vehicle info and radio info to see what features would be lost or retained.

My only complaint

The only thing that is a bit quirky about the Sony XAV-AX150 is the way that Sony maps their steering wheel control functions. They sort of lump functions together. Although there is an option in the radio to remap these functions, I’ve had hit or miss results with that.

Best Apple CarPlay Stereo 2019 - Sony XAV-AX1000 Steering Wheel Control Functions
Example of Sony steering wheel control functions mapped out for a 2014 Wrangler

The default option for the “Source” button is a double function. Tap “Source” (or “Mode” on your steering wheel) to cycle between sources like Bluetooth, AM/FM Radio or CarPlay/Android Auto. If a call comes in, pressing “Source” rejects the call. If you have a “Phone” button that button does 3 functions: Voice activation or if a call is coming in it will be “Answer call” and when you want to end the call, you press the same button again. This means if your vehicle has a separate “Phone”, “Answer” and “Hang up” button, they will not function that way anymore. The “Phone” button, would do everything. Which is not a big deal, but it’s just something to keep in mind for finicky type A people like myself.

Sony XAV-AX150 Best Value CarPlay Android Auto stereo 2022

Current pricing on the XAV-AX150 ranges between $248.99 – $299.99 which is a great deal IF you can get your hands on one. No telling how long Sony will keep this model at that price. If you can find one and you’ve got an older, basic vehicle, this is a great option for anyone looking to upgrade their vehicle with modern technology at an uninflated price. Do you have the Sony XAV-AX150 in your vehicle? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below.

Sony XAV-AX150 - Best value Apple CarPlay Android Auto stereo 2022
Sony XAV-AX150 – Best value Apple CarPlay Android Auto stereo 2022