The control center and user interface for an automobile's information and entertainment center, which typically resides in the center of the dashboard. Also called a "receiver," the head unit provides the main controls for the radios (any combination of AM, FM, SiriusXM, HD Radio) as well as a CD/DVD player, GPS navigation, Bluetooth cellphone integration and music storage. In new vehicles, several head unit controls, such as volume, answer/hang up and switch channel are duplicated with buttons on the steering wheel.
The head units have their own amplifiers for powering the speakers, but may have optional outputs for more powerful, stand-alone amplifiers. They may also have inputs for smartphones (see CarPlay
and Android Auto
). See in-dash navigation
Aftermarket Head Unit
This Pioneer model Z110 replaced the original head unit in a 2008 Honda, but the speakers were not changed. The Z110 added navigation, DVD and iPod playback, hands-free phoning and several other features.
Out of the Vehicle
The Eclipse aftermarket navigation system on the left replaced the factory head unit on the right.
No Compromise Head Unit
Unlike any other automobile, the 17" touchscreen in a Tesla is quite extraordinary. More like a laptop computer than a head unit, it displays a huge range of information as well as navigation.