2007 Dodge Charger SRT8: Exploring Apple CarPlay (With Videos)
by Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor on September 15, 2015
The new Pioneer head unit lands like an alien monolith into the interior of our 2007 Dodge Charger SRT8. What was once a tired-looking relic of last decade's tech is now a beacon of modernity amidst the wasteland that is this late-2000s Dodge interior.
Seriously, before this stereo, the interior would've looked at home in a Dodge Caravan.
The large, comparatively high-res Pioneer unit comes with a host of features, but crucially it supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. I still soldier on with an iPhone — as tempting as Android devices look — so we'll be exploring CarPlay in this post.
See the video below for an overview and the text beneath for some more thoughts.
The Pioneer unit has an environment all its own, and it's somewhat confusing if you're expecting an iOS or Android style experience. When you plug in your iPhone, CarPlay boots quickly and presents you with a very familiar looking screen.
The benefit to this familiarity is a lower learning curve. You don't have to fiddle around with a slow, alien interface. The home screen and gestures are close enough to what you have on the device in your pocket. The screen even reacts to inputs about as quickly as it does with my phone, which is something that can't be said about the systems in many new cars.
The screen hosts CarPlay-enabled apps on your phone and I found no issues during testing with Apple's Podcast app and various music apps. The only pain is that satellite and FM radio must be accessed through Pioneer's environment, so you have switch between that and CarPlay to control audio. The Pioneer environment works, but isn't as familiar or intuitive as the iOS-style layout.
The other disappointment is that Google Maps doesn't support CarPlay (or vice versa). The navigation app is Apple's own, which I've had bad experiences with. What's worse is that the Apple Maps on CarPlay doesn't support the pinch and drag gestures you're accustomed to. Instead, it has buttons for panning and zooming.
While these are minor problems, a bigger one looms: Data usage.
Driving around with your phone pumping navigation and music or podcasts is a quick way to eat through your monthly data allocation. Until more major wireless carriers offer unlimited data plans, this could end up being a costly way to drive.
Fun fact: AT&T offered exactly this in 2007, the same year our Charger was new.
Also, dead zones still exist. When you hit one, your entertainment and navigation options are reduced back to 2007 levels.
The future isn't perfect yet, but it is funny. CarPlay's text-to-voice can read your text messages out loud. You can also dictate messages to the system. Most of them look like this:
The system also reads Emojis, which can lead to this:
Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor @ 71,091 miles