The Dodge Dart Stereo Is Almost Perfect


There is nothing that can salvage a brutal commute to work like a good "shuffle" from your iPod. It can be even better when piped through a great car stereo. And lately vehicle multimedia systems let you view album artwork and change tracks by using voice commands.

The 2013 Dodge Dart I recently tested surprised me with just how good even a compact sedan can sound today.

Everything I could throw at it from my digital music collection sounded robust, whether it was punk rock, heavy metal or alt-country. Even more surprising is that this six-speaker system is standard in all trims from the $18,790 SXT up to the $20,790 Limited model I drove. Both prices include the $795 destination charge. The 8.4-inch Uconnect display with navigation is a reasonable $495 option.

There were two tiny flaws that drove me nuts, though.


The Uconnect system uses Gracenote, a technology that reads music and attaches data to it. The problem is Gracenote overwrites the data you have on your device, like album covers. So for a majority of my music — I have somewhat eclectic tastes but it's not like I'm listening to avant-garde jazz — no album covers show up on that dazzling display.

Then there's the most atrocious Gracenote atrocity. It cuts off the final three seconds of every song when you're listening to a list of songs via shuffle or even alphabetically. Some songs naturally fade at the end, but a three-minute punk song could pack a lot into the final three seconds.


For the rest of the songs' elapsed time I was in aural heaven, at least for a rock 'n' roll fan.

I tested the similarly sized 2013 Buick Verano the next day. It featured a nine-speaker Bose system, which is standard on higher trim levels like the 1ST I sampled ($29,105, not including the $885 destination charge). The difference in sound quality was stark.

The Bose system made metal band Pantera sound gutless. My favorite kick-you-in-the-pants Rancid track — "Lock, Step and Gone" — sounded listless. Don't even get me started on how Pearl Jam was treated. Turning the bass levels up didn't do much to help things.

The only tracks that did resonate in the Bose system were softer, acoustic-driven songs like something from Wilco's last album. But those sounded terrific in the Dart, too.

However, the Buick's MyLink multimedia system — that also uses Gracenote — didn't mess with my album artwork and certainly didn't cut off the last three seconds of each track.

If Dodge can fix Gracenote in its system it will indeed be perfect.

Update: To be fair and balanced, last night I tested a new 2013 Toyota Avalon. It did not display a single piece of album artwork from my iPhone.

*Editor's Note: I tested both systems using the custom equalizer setting with bass, midrange and treble set identically.

Research the 2013 Dodge Dart
Research the 2013 Buick Verano
Naughty or Nice: Multimedia Systems




Why no diatribe on how touchscreen interfaces are the devil?


Bose is absolutely terrible. All audio engineers worth their weight in salt know the adage, "no highs, no lows; must be Bose."

Joe S

If you plug your i-pod or I-phone directly into the usb in the console you get album artwork and a lot more.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App