Beats and Branding - 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test

2013 Dodge Dart: Beats and Branding

May 1, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

When I saw the Alpine badges in the Dart, I remembered having a conversation more than 10 years ago with Alpine's marketing vice-president. I asked why the company didn't brand the audio systems it provided (through its parent company, Alps Electronics) to automakers like Honda. I argued that the Civic, or at least Civic Si buyers, would pay extra to own that sound and that logo on their head units.

The VP countered that the OEM systems weren't exactly premium setups and that a mediocre Alpine-branded factory system could do more harm than good to the aftermarket product image. A fair point. Honda says "we need an audio system built to these specs for this much money," so Alps might use lesser material for the speaker cones or lighter magnets. They won't devote too many man-hours for cabin-tuning the system.

Not long after, Rockford Fosgate branded a system in the Nissan Frontier. Not surprisingly, it was loud and bassy, not exactly audiophile but it fit the truck's image. Then Scion offered a Pioneer-branded system in the first xB, and since then you've seen plenty of branded systems showing up on the options list.

I realize these weren't the first examples. I think Lexus marketed Mark Levinson systems before that, but Levinson wasn't much of a name in the car audio aftermarket. I believe the dealer could equip your new Porsche 911 with a Blaupunkt deck back in the mid-80s, although this was often more of an expedited job, and not a cohesive factory option.

I take the Dodge Dart's branding with a grain of salt; this ain't like no Alpine system I've ever heard (having owned a few and heard several more). There's simply not the body, depth or power here that you might find in a similar aftermarket system. Alpine isn't the be-all, end-all, but I've always found their gear consistent, built with quality components, and competitive on all the important specs.

But if the Dart's branding gets in its owner's head and helps sell a better Alpine system in a Charger or Durango — or even an aftermarket preference — then mission accomplished.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor


  • I replaced a factory installed Blaupunkt AM Radio in my 1967 Mercedes 230S with an Alpine aftermarket system, in 1985. My sister's 1981 VW Scirocco had a Blaupunkt factory system, so the Germans have been branding their systems for a long time. Actually, my 1990 Grand Caravan had an Infinity branded system. That vehicle spoiled Dodge, Mopar and Infinity brand names for me. It was a good idea, but the execution was unbelievably sloppy.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Nissan offered a very good sounding Bose system in the redesigned 1989 Maxima. That's the first 'designed for the car' premium branded stereo system I can recall.

  • oxmead oxmead Posts:

    We had an Infinity system an our '88 dynasty that was ok. Also had Bose in two caddy's and an Infinity G20 that I liked very much. The JBL in a solara sucked!

  • bc1960 bc1960 Posts:

    The first branded audio system as we know them today was probably the Delco-Bose in 1982 premium GM models--Seville, Eldorado, Toronado and Riviera.

  • My friends and I have had a few cars with Bose branded stereos and have had mixed feelings. The one in my RX-8 was ok but it didn't have a lot of punch and I felt like it was lacking in power. The one in my friends Miata is just weak, partially because it only has the 2 speakers in the doors. The one in my C5 Z06 was the best of the three (in my opinion) because it had decently clear sound while being powerful enough to overcome the engine, even with both windows down.

  • siscogator siscogator Posts:

    im pretty sure Jeep in the late 90's and 00's would flip flop between infinity and Boston acoustic sound systems. I have an 05 grand cherokkee with the base sound system but i could have upgraded to an Infinity sound system. (i dont know this part for sure but i think the base sound system was just cheaper infinity's they didnt want to brand, but it sounded good for a base model. friends have been surprised at how good my base stock system sounds and i tell them its base stock with 6x9's in the front and 6" in the back doors with tweeters on the dash. more than one have asked if it has a stock sub hidden somewhere)

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