Yeah. You're right. Can easily go way overboard. Probably the first thing is just the speakers. Coming from home audio experience, speaker upgrades are much easier to appreciate than just electronics.
At gray market on Amazon, even higher end drivers having amazing discounts. It's debatable whether new Headunit versus dedicated amp +stock. I didn't care for the noise level on my factory unit. It looked like a pioneer unit too. I really wanted to just keep budget close to 1.5k and originally any touchscreen non-Nav DDin would do.
I really want to do this. Do you know how to install this? I am planning on going with a 6.1 inch of something. Do you know which harness I need for the CT? After having this for a while, would you recommend it?
The Alpine DD was a tight fit as it is. It sits flushed to the dash on the top portion but I had it tilted, with the bottom more receded, for a couple reasons. First, it'll be tough to get a dvd into the darn thing if it sits perfectly flat as the dvd will hit the dash above when it pops out. Second, the left part of the faceplate is removal ( I guess it's a security feature, lol). Also, the right console panel actually curves into the right lower hand corner of the face plate. I don't think any dd with a removable faceplate will work. Smaller DD will need to have bigger gaps around the faceplate filled in, larger screens will be an even tighter fit. The Alpine does have a matte black custom plate to go around the faceplate but that's another little project when there's time.
Why Alpine? i think it fits better. Originally, i wanted a Pioneer one without Nav. The Kenwood might work but it's pretty wide.
The way it is now, the DD is actually in the middle with a 2-3mm or so gap on the left and on the right so it's symmetrical in the middle. If you recede the unit deeper, then you can completely flush the right vinyl console panel more but it'll develop a bulge in the middle. The right side will always have a gap as that's the width of the metal cage that behind the DD. Psychologically i like it balanced on the right with a same size gap too. But there's plenty of matte plastic ( faceplate) panels out there to customize the way you like it.
The guy who did my install is pretty amazing. Even though I had the service manual and watched along while he literally took apart the car, he actually never read any manual and intuitively knew which clips were where, etc. I don't even know how he knew what harness went with the receiver. The steering wheel control is a bit odd so i decided not to start cutting any wires to experiment. Nothing was irreversibly modified in the car except for a small hole inside the armrest console.
Overall, it's the speaker and the amp install that was the more labor intensive. I become pretty fond of JL Audio. The XD700/ 5 channel amp would be a great choice. The Morel speakers sound so sweet. Ditto on the focal ones.
The ct200h has a fairly tiny battery. So would a larger amp put that much more stress on it? I noticed with all the new hardware, there seems to be a 2-3mpg hit. But then, it might be just me as I've only put 900 miles on the car.
The whole goal was to just replace the speakers. But the factory headunit just couldn't cut it. So the whole thing ended up gutted I suppose.
I really didn't expect that much improvement but I'm glad to be wrong. Still, it was cheaper than adding just the Nav I guess.
If everyone on this forum calls or email Metra, maybe we'll get that Steering Wheel control soon!