2009 Dodge Viper Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2009 Dodge Viper Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Audio Review

October 20, 2010


Having a premium branded audio system in our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 is the epitome of putting lipstick on a pig. While the Viper can't be considered porcine performance-wise, its 600-horsepowerpower plantmakes such a raucous grunt even at idle that any improvement in sound quality the Alpine components can muster is effectively drowned out and muddied. And when the tires start to squeal, forget about it.

I put the Viper's stock Alpine system through a full audio eval nonetheless. But I may have well just left it on the Sirius E Street Radio channel that was tuned in when I fired up the engine. Hmmm ... wonder who on the staffhas such an affinity forThe Boss?

The Setup
The Alpine system is standard on the $94,130 car, but our Viper is also equipped with the $1,700 AM/FM CD GPS Navigation Radio option with Sirius satellite radio. The audio system consists of seven speakers powered by 310 watts. The speakers include a 6.5-inch woofer in each door, a 1-inch tweeter at each end of the dash, 2.5-inch midranges behind each seat and a 6.5-inch subwoofer in a vented enclosure between the seats.

The Sound
Same with every audio system I sound check, I listened to about a dozen musical tracks in the Viper to analyze clarity/lack of distortion, tonal balance, timbre, tonal accuracy, soundstaging, imaging and dynamics. I also used non-musical tracks to further gauge soundstaging and imaging and to test for linearity and absence of noise. For more details on the audio-system testing process and the tracks used, click on the Edmunds.com article Sound Advice.

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, the Viper's extreme exhaust note while sitting still makes null any significant sound-quality improvement of the Alpine setup. Plus, the subwoofer between the seats creates such in-your-face low frequency that I turned the bass on the head unit's tone control almost all the way down -- once I figured out how to do it via an irritating interface and a tiny screen that looks straight out of the late '80s.

But even with the bass lowered to near zero, low frequency still overwhelmed the system and skewed tonal balance. And the bass was mostly boomy and distorted, which also took away any true timbre and tonal accuracy and dulled dynamics. Soundstaging and imaging didn't fare much better; the stage was severely constricted in width and had no real depth, and imaging was seriously side-biased. Linearity was poor at low- and mid-volume levels, but at least the system passed the absence-of-noise test.

The Sources
The available media options are as limited as the system's sound. As the name implies, the AM/FM CD GPS Navigation Radio option tunesin terrestrial radio, and our Viper also has Sirius sat radio. The only other music source is old-fashioned CD. But if you also want to be guided by the nav system, you have todecide between directions or music since the head unit's disc drive doubles as home to the mapping DVD. If you're looking for iPod integration, don't forget your FM transmitter. And for Bluetooth, you better bring along a headset or speakerphone. Better yet, leave those at home and concentrate on just driving this beast.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Hello from San Diego

August 26, 2010


I've taken our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 to San Diego. I'm here to drive a minivan (first letteris "h," last letter is "y"), so the comparison is apt, no?

Actually, I know some minivans with better off-the-line torque response than our Viper, but I digress. The Viper is not an ideal heavy-traffic car, but you knew that, and as expected, it bucked over the expansion joints and rain grooves that define LA's freeways. Once we hit South Orange County, though, the pavement smoothed out and the Viper mellowed out in the ride quality department.

It's also a relaxed cruiser in its tall 6th gear. Once you're up to your65-70-75-80-mph pace (take your pick), the fact that you can't really accelerate in-gear doesn't matter. But I went down to 5th and often 4th whenever I wanted to pass, or when traffic slowed, or when I just wanted to remind myself that I was in the most fun car on the road. Heel-and-toe downshifts aren't that fun to execute with the Viper's six-speed, but the resulting exhaust sounds of asmooth shift downare a decent reward.

It was a hot day, but the air-conditioning kept my hands icy while engine heat permeated the firewall and made my feet sweat. Yum, eh? Also, the not-quite-Z06-toasty transmission tunnel kept my tall coffee (secured in its cozyin the half-holder) warm for the duration of the drinking experience.

The traffic and the constant A/C use relieved the car of fuel at a rapid rate, but there's a still quarter of a tank in case the valets at my hotel want to do burnouts tonight.

After the jump, spotted on I-5: the most unusual Prius I've ever laid eyes on... and undoubtedly a kindred spirit to the Dodge Viper.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Directions or Music

July 22, 2010

Viper nav.jpg

That's not a bad picture, the resolution on our 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10's optional($1,790 bundled with a'better'-- read: bassier-- stereo)navigation really is that bad.The system is DVD based, which isn't necessarily bad, but whatit means is that if you want to listen to a CD, you have to remove thenav disc in favor of your favoritemusic CD.

And then hope you don't get lost.

But, really,with that crazy knob/button combination to the right that 'controls' the thing, the nav is only really good for desperatesituations where your map's blown out the window andBlackberry/iPhone/Garmin has blacked out due to solar flare.Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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