What’s Old is New Again: Adding a Kenwood Car Stereo & Backup Camera to a 2008 Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Slk 350

I love my fun little roadster, but she needed a modern makeover.

When we inherited a 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 last year, and I convinced my husband we needed to keep it. We even sold our family sedan to make room in the driveway for this two-seater roadster, which may sound a bit crazy considering we’re a family of five. But I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.

Disclosure: Kenwood provided the car stereo with Apple CarPlay and backup camera featured in this story, though I did the research and provided some of the technology myself to ensure it was done right. We may earn a commission from purchase links in this story.

Even though it’s a luxury car, and has a lot of premium features because of that, like heated seats, neck warmers (Mercedes-Benz Heat Scarf), leather interior and sport mode, it lacked a backup camera, touchscreen, Apple CarPlay connectivity and the speakers were crackly even when playing CDs. Can you imagine, playing CDs in your car in 2023? Well, we were. It was time to update it with a Kenwood Car Stereo.

I started to research after market stereo and head unit systems and narrowed it down to the Kenwood eXcelon Reference DMX957XR digital multimedia receiver and CMOS-740HD high definition Camera. I also upgraded my speakers, though Kenwood provided the head unit and installation to facilitate this review.

Related: Your Car Emergency Kit: 100 Things You Should ALWAYS Keep in Your Car

Why Should You Upgrade to an Aftermarket Car Stereo and Backup Camera

For me, the number one reason was safety. When the top is down, as it is a convertible, rear visibility is amazing. But when it’s closed up, rear visibility wasn’t very good. This car is driven by my husband and I, as well as our 19-year-old. My 17-year-old is also learning to drive in it right now, so I felt very strongly that we needed a backup camera in our family car.

Backup cameras became legally required equipment on all new vehicles in 2018, so that’s why this 2008 didn’t have one factory installed. This alone is reason enough for me to spend money on an aftermarket system.

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Slk 350

To make the drive even more fun, I can now select Apple CarPlay, turn up the sound on my new car stereo, and sound just like Christina Aguilera. Or not. Photo: Connie Peters

Driving and Listening to my favorite Songs go Hand in Hand

I love going for joyrides. I can put the top down, listen to my favorite songs, maybe sing a little (alone since nobody needs to hear me sing, I promise), and feel the wind in my hair. Music is incredibly important to me. I use it as self-care time when I go for joyrides, just to listen to my favourite playlist and drive. I love it loud, and some might say, annoyingly so: I will repeat the same song over and over just because I enjoy it so much.

Kenwood After Market Stereo And Backup Camera Mercedes Slk 350

The finished product looks and functions like a new car! Photo: Connie Peters

We thought that all the speakers were going to need to be replaced as the sound with the radio or CDs played was awful, crackly and sometimes totally unbearable. The experts at Sounds Good Auto, who installed the system, reassured us that we should wait to determine which speakers needed replacing (if any) until after the system was fully installed so we did, skeptically. But they were right on. Only two of the speakers in the car needed replacing, and we kept the old factory amplifier and the sound is better than ever.

Now the self-care, er, drive, is extra enjoyable in our fun little roadster.

Related: Hit The Road With This Moody Winter Driving Playlist

Cameras are Must-have Technology for 2023

One of the cool things is the customizable camera view. It’s an HD camera so it’s crisp and clear, but at first, the guidelines on the screen were not in line with the car. This can be customized–thankfully–to fit the car so that it’s accurate, providing an all around safer reverse drive.

In addition to the camera, which is wireless, there’s a touchscreen, providing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, also wireless.  When I hop in the car it automatically recognizes and connects to my iPhone and starts Apple CarPlay. This is tech I have come to expect in new cars and it’s amazing to have in my older car.

Speaking of Which: How Does this Tech System Compare to New Cars?

I test drive new car models every week, having to learn and use new technology, screens and cameras on new cars. The Kenwood system is comparable to new car technology in general. The sound quality, the screen clarity, response time for wireless connection and customization options are all spot on with even the top systems in new cars.

The experts at Sounds Good Auto truly know their craft, they pulled apart so much of the car to get the wiring in just right, installing the camera so that it looks completely factory installed, there are no wires visible anywhere. They even put a USB charge point inside the centre console and you can’t tell that it’s aftermarket. This process takes time, it’s worth noting that we had to leave our car overnight because it can take upwards of 8 hours for installation of the Kenwood Car Stereo. This type of system can start around several hundred dollars; ours including installation was CAD $3,875 or approximately $2,900 USD.

Disclosure: Kenwood Canada provided eXcelon Reference DMX957XR digital multimedia receiver and CMOS-740HD high definition Camera high definition Camera   and installation; I paid for replacement speakers. All opinions are my own.


Connie Peters is a mother of 3 girls in suburban Vancouver, Canada and has been an online entrepreneur since... More about Connie Peters