Kenwood DNX 6160 Review and Installation

Writing by on Wednesday, 25 of August , 2010 at 12:59 am

I recently got a Kenwood DNX 6160 Bluetooth/Navigation system installed in my wife’s Toyota RAV4 and this is an initial review after using it for a few days.

Things to know, before buying an expensive in dash navigation system

  • The Kenwood DNX 6160 costs about $800 and comes with Garmin Navigation (which has it’s own antenna) and Parrot Bluetooth (which comes with an external microphone). It plays DVDs, MP3z. Has an AUX input on the front, supports USB, iPod/iPhone. It is HD Radio and Satellite Radio ready, which means you will need to buy the Tuners and pay for Satellite Radio subscription. It also supports backup camera.
  • The mircrophone is usually placed just above the driver between the visor and the mirror
  • The Garmin’s navigation antenna is usually placed near the front windshield so that it can pick up the satellite signal
  • I don’t think you can hack it and get to the Operating System, though I’ve seen some stereos support Windows. When is Android coming to an in-dash system?
  • You could buy it from Crutchfield and attempt to install it, but IMO it’s better to have the folks at Fry’s or your local Best Buy insall it. Especially, if your car is new.

Things to buy along with the stereo (prices may vary)

  • Dash Kit to get the stereo mounted on your dash ($40)
  • Wiring Harness that acts as an adapter to the factory cables ($25)
  • Recommended: Installation by an experienced technician ($100)
  • Optional: iPod interface cable ($20)
  • Optional: Steering Wheel Interface so that the steering wheel buttons work ($70) + installation ($50)
  • Optional: Backup Camera ($100) + Installation ($100)

After using it for a few days here are initial thoughts.


  • Garmin Navigation is awesome. It even tells you the speed limit and your current speed.
  • Bluetooth integration is flaky, but once paired with my Blackberry it works pretty well.
  • DVD support, MP3 support, Backup Camera support, USB, AUX support. HD/Satellite Support. What else do you need? A browser would have been good. :)
  • The color of the lighting on the buttons can be changed to match the lighting on your car.
  • CD or DVD can be loaded directly, without tilting.


  • Boot up time is at least 10 seconds. Which means only 10 or more seconds after starting your car, will you hear the radio.
  • At high speeds, the microphone sometimes picks up disturbance and the caller might not hear you clearly.
  • iPod integration is not easy. I’ve been able to see the music but not play it.
  • AM reception is terrible (but it’s probably a lose connection) and I’m taking it back to the installer to get it fixed. It’s supposed to use the car’s antenna.
  • User interface is hard to use and most of it has to be done from the UI.
  • I would have liked physical source select buttons on the side instead of having to do it through the UI. So far I see only 3 buttons Nav, Tel and Src along with a Volume knob. I would have liked the Seek to be a knob as well.

Overall, its pretty nice for what it does and the plethora of devices it supports, but it’s still very expensive. Not to mention the other costs (dash-kit, harness etc.) of getting it set up in your car – you’re looking at $1200 easy. Earlier, I was too tempted to buy a Factory-Fit Chinese Navi/Bluetooth stereo from eBay and install it myself, but then I thought I’d take the safe route and go with a reputed brand.

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Shivdev Kalambi's Blog

Shivdev Kalambi is a Software Development Manager, previously a Principal Software Engineer at ArcSight/HP. With over 16 years' experience in software development, he's worked on several technologies and played different roles and contributed to all phases of projects. Non-tech activies include Ping-pong, Rock Climbing and Yoga at PG, Golf, Skiing, Swimming & a beer enthusiast.