A little over 4 years ago I installed a top of the line Kenwood Excelon DNX-892 into my truck, and it’s been great. However the interface started to look a little dated, I never liked the resistive touchscreen, and I wanted some new features – specifically Apple CarPlay. With that in mind I took a look at what was on the market from Alpine (overpriced) and Pioneer (clunky interface IMO), but in the end I stayed with Kenwood.

I ordered the Kenwood XR Excelon DNX-995S Double-DIN head unit w/Navigation, which is their latest flagship and part of their top-tier “eXcelon Reference Series” line up. I chose this head unit because it had most of the same features the old DNX-892 gave me, but with current and/or upgraded tech: newer, crystal clear full HD high-definition capacitive touchscreen, built-in improved Garmin navigation, dual camera connections, hands-free Bluetooth phone integration, dual USB ports, A/V input, SiriusXM-ready, customizable color scheme and wallpaper slideshow, selectable on-screen compass, nice easy to read clock, and of course – the Apple CarPlay compatibility that I wanted. With Apple CarPlay I could seamlessly use Apple Music, Waze and/or Apple Maps, YouTube, Spotify, podcast streams, hands-free messaging, and Siri voice control.

New head unit. Woohoo!

Another reason why it was a good idea to stay with Kenwood was because aside from swapping the old main stereo harness with the new stereo harness, practically everything else I already had stayed in place and was 100% compatible with the new head unit. I’m still using the same bluetooth mic, the same GPS antenna, the same SiriusXM tuner, and (most importantly) I didn’t have to touch the Axxess ASWC-1 steering wheel interface. From the moment I turned the new head unit on all of the outboard peripherals (with one exception) were working perfectly – including all of my steering wheel controls, the factory rear backup camera, and the OEM Nissan center console USB port. That one exception? My Super Nintendo Classic game console. The new head unit did not have an HDMI input, so since the game console was HDMI only I had to pickup a couple small items – an HDMI to composite converter and a matching A/V cable:

Simple solution for a small problem.

I’m not going to bore you with install photos, because I didn’t take any. Instead, some pics of the various features, like:

Apple CarPlay: probably the main reason why I decided to upgrade the head unit in the first place.
Waze: Yes, the head unit has built-in Garmin navigation, but depending on where I’m going I like to switch back and forth between Waze and regular nav. Also, the Garmin nav doesn’t rely on my phone having signal – which happens in some spots in the mountains when I’m mountain biking.
I usually listen to SiriusXM to hear some new music…
…which I could then add to my Apple Music custom playlists.
The new head unit also has Spotify for when my niece wants to hear her music.
The Super Nintendo Classic is now on an HD screen (LOL) and ready for gaming.
Lots of adjustments I won’t use (because of the TWK-88 DSP), but if there’s some minor EQ adjustment I want to make on the fly, I have the functions available.
Last but not least, just one of the practically endless custom wallpapers that the head unit can display in a custom slideshow (reading the images off an SD card).