Best 3.5-Inch Car Speaker Reviews & Buying Guides

There’s one thing pretty much all cars have in common regardless of the price tag…

The stock sound system usually sucks.

You don’t need to be an obsessive audiophile to see the merit in uprating the factory-issue audio and today’s you’re in for a treat.

If you’re just starting out and fancy making some small tweaks, you’ll love these 3.5-inch car speaker reviews.

After we explore 5 of the best speakers up for grabs, we’ll break down what you need to think about when you’re in buying mode.

5 Best 3.5-Inch Car Speaker Reviews

Check out our recent articles on subwoofers, shallow mount subwoofers and amplifiers if you want further ideas for the best car audio.

First in line in our best 3.5-inch car speakers reviews are some capable and agile performers from the industry giant Kicker.

Are you looking to enhance your factory-issue audio without spending a fortune? If so, these diminutive speakers pack a surprisingly heavy punch.

RMS and max power are more than you could expect from a smaller speaker with 20 watts of continuous power and a peak of 80 watts per speaker.

Build quality is everything you could hope for and these speakers are not just incredibly affordable but should stay the distance as well.

Although you’ll get more than enough firepower, the Kicker don’t take up much interior real estate and the narrow mount lets you slot them into small cars or trucks without too much difficulty.

For a great meeting point of affordability, ease of installation and overall sound quality, these 3.5-inch Kicker are tough to beat. Check some out and kick your stock system to the curb.

Pros.

  • Impressive RMS and peak power
  • Narrow mount means they work well in small cars
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Very cost-effective speakers
  • 1-year limited warranty

Cons.

  • Treble is a bit too lively

Next up in our 3.5-inch car speaker reviews is the classic Punch from the ever-present Rockford Fosgate.

Offering a broad spectrum of speaker sizes in their well-stocked range, these nifty little 3.5-inchers come in at the low end.

Don’t let the size fool you, though. 20 watts of RMS power per speaker is about as good as it gets in this size bracket. It’s not just volume you get since these speakers serve up a degree of clarity surprising at this price point.

Construction is impeccable and components built to last. With a molded cone and heavy-duty tweeter, these speakers can handle some serious punishment.

The only notable drawback is an underwhelming low end. If you love bass-heavy tunes, you might want to consider something more heavyweight.

Installation is as simple as it gets so you’ll be up and running in no time even if you’re not too experienced. The concealed crossover means the end result is a lean and mean aesthetic that outflanks your stock system in every respect.

For a well-rounded and affordable 3.5-inch car speaker at a reasonable price point, check out these neat Rockford Fosgate ASAP.

Pros.

  • Fantastic build quality and durability
  • Wide frequency range gives complete sound
  • More than capable power handling
  • Compact speakers considering power
  • Frequency response and sensitivity lead to clear, detailed soundscape

Cons.

  • Not the best with lower frequencies

At the midway point of our 3.5-inch car speaker reviews, we’ve got some nimble and pocket-friendly units from the always-reliable Pioneer.

These speakers are specifically designed for Fords, GMCs and VWs so make sure they’ll fit if you don’t own one of those vehicles.

For speakers with such a small footprint, you’ll get an astonishingly deep and rumbling bass. With dome tweeters helping to really pick out the high range for a complete soundscape.

If you’re not a car audio pro, you don’t need to worry about installation. You’ll be up and running pretty much directly out the box, wondering why you took so long to replace that shoddy stock audio system.

While these speakers are no substitute for the best subwoofer, if you want to enjoy loud but accurate low ends without sacrificing the rest of the sound spectrum, these 3.5-inch beauties from Pioneer make the ideal choice as long as they’ll fit in your car.

Pros.

  • Great bass for small speakers
  • Remarkably simple installation
  • Dome tweeters for outstanding high range
  • Unbeatable value for money
  • Perfect for GMC, Ford, and VW

Cons.

  • Don’t fit all vehicles so do your compatibility research

As we near the end of our best 3.5-inch car speaker reviews, it’s impossible not to mention the KFC835C from Kenwood. If you’re looking to buy into a brand you can rely on but you don’t want to spend the earth, these small but capable speakers will make you kick yourself for not upgrading sooner.

As long as you understand the limitations of smaller speakers upfront, you should be bowled over by the richness and volume delivered by the Kenwood. Sound is crisp and precise across the whole spectrum. Sensitivity ensures you won’t need too much power to enjoy the volume you want.

You might find the Kenwood lacking with ultra-lows but if you listen to music mostly in the upper frequencies, sound is beyond reproach.

The only real niggle aside from that bass issue is that installation can be pretty awkward in some vehicles. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might need a trip to the auto shop.

For a bargain method of revamping your factory sound system, these 3.5-inch speakers from Kenwood make a great starting point to build from.

Pros.

  • A brand you can trust
  • Lively sound across frequencies
  • Built to stay the course
  • Noticeable improvement over stock speakers
  • Unbeatable value for money

Cons.

  • You might struggle with installation in some cars

Bringing up the rear in our 3.5-inch car speaker reviews is another solid choice from BOSS Audio, a brand with a well-deserved reputation for producing innovative car audio at reasonable prices.

You need to be aware off the bat that these speakers are small and inexpensive. If your intention is to get a slightly better sound than the tinny and imprecise stock system can deliver, you’re in luck. If you’re expecting speakers to slot into a pro-grade system, you’ll obviously be disappointed.

Although bass could be deeper and louder, you’ll still find the BOSS provide a decent overall sound.

35 watts of RMS power is more than you’ll get with many comparable speakers so you won’t be missing out in terms of firepower or stamina.

If you’re still in any doubt, the 3-year limited warranty is a nice touch and gives you that extra peace of mind.

 

Check out these 3.5-inchers from BOSS Audio today and kiss goodbye to that lame stock stereo.

Pros.

  • 35 watts RMS power
  • Commanding design
  • Dependable and durable
  • Aluminum voice call withstands high temperatures
  • 3-year limited warranty

Cons.

  • Quality control questionable so check your package carefully
  • Bass is underwhelming
  • No grilles provided

Right…

Now you’ve got a solid idea of the best car speakers on the market, what things are worth taking into account to help you get the right speakers for your needs?

What To Look For In The Best Car Speakers

Don’t shy away if you find car audio confusing.

We’ll strip down all you need to know into plain English…

Power Handling Ratings

You’ll see the power of speaker expressed in terms of RMS power and peak power so what does that mean?

  • RMS Power: This continuous power rating is measured in watts and reflects the power of your speakers at a reasonable, listenable volume. This is the figure that counts on the power front as it indicates the kind of treatment your speakers can handle on a continuous basis
  • Peak Power: The peak power is the absolute maximum you can get from your speakers so a vanity metric not relevant under real listening conditions

With lower-powered systems, you won’t need to worry too much about your speakers handling too much power.

If, on the other hand, your car is packing some potent external amps, you need to make sure you speakers are up to the job to avoid an expensive blowout.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity refers to how much sound your speakers can get from the power they receive.

Speakers with higher sensitivity ratings of over 90 decibels make the best fit with lower end systems.

You can cut back on the sensitivity as your system becomes more elaborate for best results.

Speaker Shape and Size

If you’re simply looking to replace existing speakers, the easiest thing is to remove and measure them so you know exactly what you’re looking for.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the size but for the purposes of today’s article, we’re focusing purely on much smaller 3.5-inch speakers. If you want to make more of a statement with your car audio, you’ve got plenty of beefier alternatives.

Full-Range or Component Speakers?

You’ve got 2 main options with car speakers:

  • Full-Range Car Speakers
  • Component Car Speakers

Full-Range Car Speakers

With full-range speakers, you’ll get everything you need in one basket. Full-range speakers are sometimes called co-axial speakers.

The woofer deals with the lows, a tweeter serves up the highs. These are sometimes supplemented with mid-range drivers.

If you want to swap out your factory speakers with the minimum of fanfare, full-range speakers are the obvious choice.

Pros
  • Least expensive option meaning there’s something for all budgets
  • Very easy to install even for beginners
  • A significant upgrade from stock speakers is easily achievable
Cons
  • Lack of customization available
  • You won’t get the rich depth of the soundscape you hear with component speakers

Component Car Speakers

With woofers, tweeters and crossovers separated, component car speakers offer a bespoke solution to car audio.

You’ll end up with livelier and more direct music but this comes at a cost.

Pros
  • Offer a unique and fully tweakable listening experience
  • Higher quality overall soundscape
  • Better quality materials improves performance and lifespan
Cons
  • Much more expensive so tricky to stay on budget
  • Fairly complicated to install so you might need professional help
  • Repairs are awkward and can be costly

There’s no best fit here simply what works best for you and your situation.

Materials

What your speaker is made of will dramatically impact both sound quality and durability so pay close attention to materials.

  • Tweeter: Tweeters made from softer materials yield a mellow sound while if you want a harder soundscape, graphite or metal tweeters will deliver
  • Woofer: Woofers should be made of stiff, lightweight material so you can get the best from those low notes. Synthetics like polypropylene work well. Some woven fabrics and coated metals can also perform strongly
  • Surround: Rubber remains the firm favorite when it comes to the surrounds of the best car speakers.

Extra Features

Rather than chasing down extra features like it’s a video game, think about what you really need and what you’ll actually use.

Are detachable tweeters really essential?

Will pivoting tweeters allow you some value maneuverability or are they a waste of money?

Only you can answer these questions so double down on your strategy for your car audio and decide what’s worth seeking out and paying out for over and beyond regular functionality.

Price

Price should always be a factor in your buying decision but never the prevailing factor.

Set your budget in advance which will instantly whittle away your options and simplify your buying decision.

Buy the best you can afford without overextending yourself and you’ll be amazed at the difference in the way your favorite tunes sound as you make your next road trip.

Is It Really Worth Upgrading My Stock Speakers?

In a word, yes!

The beauty of small 3.5-inch speakers is that you can get hold of some great examples at very keen prices. Coupled with such quick and easy installation, it means you can ditch those disappointing factory speakers and notice a distinct uptick in sound quality without overextending yourself financially.

Once you’ve wet your whistle with some tweaked speakers, there’s every chance you’ll start considering further upgrades like a subwoofer or external amp. Check out our recent articles for more great ideas on building out your car’s sound system.

A Final Word

We very much hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through the best 3.5-inch car speakers currently available.

If you have any queries or just some general feedback, feel free to get in touch any time. We love to hear from our readers and we’re here to bring you exactly what you want so don’t be shy!

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