2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: A Touching Interface

May 03, 2010


When you drive a different car homealmost every day it can be tough to remember exactly how each one works.

"Where's the E-brake release on this thing?"

"How do I get the fuel door open?"

"Why does the seat position change every time I start it?"

Certainly asmall price to pay for such a vast array of driving options,and a side benefit is how this constantexposure to multiple vehiclesallows our staff to quickly discern which systems work best among the various manufacturers' designs. And in the case of LCD screen interfaces, our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T confirms the obvious:touch screen worksbest.

Sure, there can be some variation in touch screen interfacedesign, and some are better than others. But all of them are better than the ol' "wheel-and-button" control system. Simply put, it's more intuitive to press on a screen with your finger than to try and navigate it via a mechanical middleman.

When I got in the Challenger recently and wanted to change audio settings it was refreshingly easy to tap the screen a few times and be done versus twisting a knob while hitting a button. Anyone who has used those systems knowshow frustrating it can beto keep missing your intended setting because you turned the knob a tad too far or didn't hit the button at the right moment.

No, the world is moving away from mechanicalinterfaces and rushing toward interfaces that work directly with our fingers. If you don't agree, maybe you missed a little technology intro a few weeks ago. It's the one surpasssing all sales expectations and likely to redefine how information is gathered/transmitted.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large @ 24,255 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Sirius Traffic

April 08, 2010

NavTraffic 007blog.jpg

I got in the car this morning and tried to see what sort of traffic was in my path to work. Wait, why isn't there any traffic displayed? Oh, yeah. Sirius traffic expired along with our Sirius satellite radio subscription that John DiPietro discovered a month ago. Good thing my phone has Google maps with traffic.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 22,695 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Satellite Radio is Out, iPod is In.

March 01, 2010

challenger sirius radio.jpg

Over the weekend it happened,radio silence in the Challenger.Or more accurately, theSirius satellite radio subscription in our belovedDodge expired.Bummer!But it turns out the Challenger's tour of duty is just about over too, so we won't be renewing it. Having left my iPod at home,it got me to thinking how much I don't like regular radio and lovesatellite radio.

When satellite radio debuted, I remember thinking "Who in their right mind would payfor radio?"Then I experienced it.No commercials, thedecades stations (gotta have the '60s through'80s), artist-specific/thematic stations (Bruce, old Motown)andreception no matter where you are in the country (except maybe in a tunnel or under a large bridge). All that instantly won me over.One of the biggest draws was/is the lack of commercials. Like anyone else, I hate 'em, especially the ones where some phone number or website is rapidly repeated manytimes at the end of the ad. And what about self-indulgent yammering DJs?Before satellite radio,I'dchannel surf my presets for a good song only to hearannoying adverts or obnoxiousDJs on nearly all of them at once. Trust me,if you have to give up four or fiveStarbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffeesa month tospring for satellite radio, do it.

Having said all that, the next time I took the car out, I just employeditsuser-friendly iPod hookup and was once again enjoying uninterrupted music.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 20, 708 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Maintenance Reminder and Startup

January 18, 2010

Note the chime, the extended display and the two-stage reminder system. The 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T does maintenance reminding well.

Oh, right, it's in for service for this and the key fob. Will post results next week.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 18,670 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: I can find the fob

January 17, 2010

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I can find the key fob. Can you find it? Our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T can not.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: You Talk, It Listens

December 06, 2009


I test a lot of Bluetooth hands-free phone systems. I also test a lot of voice-activation systems. But few work as well together as the uconnect and Voice Recognition systems in our long-term Challenger R/T.

It's a snap to pair a phone, all using VR and even while the car is moving. And no matter what name I throw at it, the VR system gets it right almost every time -- unlike systems in cars costing much more.

I typically test a voice-activated Bluetooth system using names in my address book that I think will trip it up, and usually end up calling Edmunds exec ed Paul Seredynski. While in the Challenger last week, several times I'd just hit the uconnect phone button on the right side of the radio and say, "Call Paul Seredynski, mobile." The VR system would then ask, "Call Paul Sere-dine-ski, mobile. Is that correct?" I'd say yes and the next thing I'd hear after a ring is Paul asking "What do you want?"

I wish all BT/VR systems worked this well and were this easy. And were standard equipment like uconnect on the Challenger.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology, Edmunds.com

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Not So Serious Traffic

December 03, 2009


Driving to the L.A. Auto Show yesterday in the 2009 Dodge Challenger I hit stop-and-go traffic on the 10 freeway. No surprise there. But while sitting still with everyone else I noticed the real-time traffic icon on the top right corner of the screen and thought I'd get a report. As you can see from the photo above, there was plenty of congestion all around me, and on both sides of the freeway.

But you'd never know it from the Sirius Traffic service that's part of the Challenger's nav system.

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Fake-Time Traffic

December 02, 2009

Challenger Nav Screen With Traffic

According to the nav screen's traffic report, this strip of eastbound I-10 is suffering from "yellow" traffic conditions. However,according to me, it was suffering from "red" traffic conditions. At least that's what stop-and-go traffic seems like to me. There was also no mention of the eight-car fender benderold enough thatall the cars had been moved off to the side, or the stalled Toyota Celica a mile back further mucking up traffic.

Later in the week, I was sitting in stop-and-go "red" traffic south of Palm Springs, yet the nav traffic screen was still showinggreen lines. Later still, a portion of the westbound Highway 60 was showing green, but it was yellow at best. Laterer still, the 60 was showingyellow, yet I decided to take my chances that the system was full of crap. Sure enough, I cruised through yellow at75 mph. A call to a friend confirmed there was nothing reported on Google Maps or SigAlert.

In the above paragraph's cases, Sirius' LA traffic station wasn't reporting any issuesin the described areas, which leads me to believe thisunreliability is caused by the source rather thanDodge's navigation system.However, past cars' systems seemed reliable enough and I have to wonder how long before an OEM utilizes Google for real-time traffic rather than satellite radio given its superior perceived reliability (according to me) and its coverage of surface streets.

Whatever the reason, though, there was absolutely nothing real aboutthe Challenger's real-time traffic.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,562 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: iPod Facepalm

November 21, 2009

For a while now I've criticized the iPod interface in Dodge products as being acceptable, but lacking in one critical feature: A way to scroll to higher letters without having to navigate through 100 pages of artists.

challenger iPod.jpg

Well, turns out Dodge has been ahead of me this whole time. While my attention has been focused on the up/down arrows that scroll four artists at a time, there, between the arrows was a button I wasn't aware of. Hitting that A-Z tab brings up a full keyboard that lets you pick artists, but only by the first letter. Z brings up Zox first, which is one of four "z" artists I have on my iPod, so there is still some scrolling, but this is helpful.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Baby Steps and Leaps

November 09, 2009

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If Goldilocks happens to score the keys to our Challenger, she could be bumming. Sometimeswith theChallenger's navigation system, the "just right" setting on the map scale is elusive. Case in point: although the system offers more than enough increments on the low (zoomed in) end (e.g. you have 150 yds and then250 yds), the midrange adjustment is lacking. It jumps from 1/2 mile to 2 miles.

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Distance to Empty? Wouldn't You Like to Know...

November 02, 2009


Over the weekend, I ran into the same issue on our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T that we've had with our Evolution X MR and Evo GSR. The "distance to empty" meter stops counting down the miles once youdrop belowa certain threshold.

In our Challenger R/T, that threshold is 30 miles, and it seems to be timed with the low fuel warning light. That light (off to the left) came on at the 347.5-mile mark in this trip.

On the upside, the lack of DTE functionality isn't such an annoyance in theDodge, which actually has some fuel range, thanks to its 19-gallon tank and respectable 25-mpg highway rating (though of course it rates only 16 in the city).

I ended up with 19.8 mpg on this 365.8-mile tank and I put in 18.468 gallons. I have to think, though, that the 19-gallon "capacity" is a rounded-down estimate. Hard to believe I was really a mere half-gallon from running dryfewer than 20 miles after the low-fuel warning light illuminated. Still, this tank bodes well for my upcoming road trip in the Challenger: Our longesttank so far is 396.8 miles (as driven by Brent Romans), so 400 should be attainable.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,007 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: For Those Who Actually Listen to the Radio

August 26, 2009

challenger radio.jpg

I have an issue with the radio controls in our 2009 Dodge Challenger. I know, I know. Who needs a radio when you have a perfectly good V8 to listen to? But for those times when you want to switch it up, wouldn't you want to be able to scroll through the radio stations or satellite channels? For some reason I can't figure out how to do that here. The radio controls only offer a knob for volume and sure there are seek buttons, but on the display you can't tell which channel you're landing on. Aarrrrgh!

The steering wheel controls offer the same seek buttons and at least you get the display with station names on the screen behind the steering wheel but what if your passenger wants to be the dj?

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