2009 Dodge Nitro

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Tech Review: 2007 Dodge Nitro

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2011.
By Doug Newcomb of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.5

Bottom Line:

The 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T is agile and stylish, but its high-tech, hard-drive head unit makes this midsize SUV special.
Pros:
  • Easy and flexible transfer of music files to a built-in hard drive
  • Superb sounding premium audio system
  • Fast navigation processing and useful traffic information
Cons:
  • Music ceases when copying files or folding down the screen
  • No steering-wheel audio controls
  • Cumbersome navigation interface

I value a vehicle's performance prowess and style, but covering cutting-edge technology is my gig. With a 260-horsepower V6, and sport-tuned suspension, I was impressed with the 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T 4X2 when driving it on the twisting canyon roads that surround Los Angeles. So were the jaded locals, thanks to the small SUV's Electric Blue paint and 20-inch chrome wheels. But my time in the vehicle was to focus on MyGIG.

Hard Drivin' Tunes
The MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment Radio includes a 20 gigabyte (GB) hard disc drive (HDD) that multitasks between housing the database and software for an integrated GPS navigation system, and providing storage for roughly 1,600 CD-quality MP3 and/or WMA music files. MP3 and WMA files can be ripped to the HDD from CDs inserted into a slot behind the MyGIG's 6.5-inch fold-down touch screen, or from a flash-memory drive plugged into a USB port on the right side of the head unit. JPEG picture files can be also be uploaded via the USB slot, and used as a screensaver.

Interestingly, you can copy files from a CD to the HDD while the vehicle is in motion, but not from a USB drive. And while transferring files is fairly quick either way, it seems longer because music is paused during the process. Plus, in any mode when the screen is folded down to insert a disc, the music also ceases.

Mobile Jukebox
Once the HDD is loaded with tunes, you can organize them into playlists using MyGIG's Jukebox Mode. As on a portable media player, you can sort files by playlist, artist, album, genre and even year. If that's not enough music, you can always plug a portable player into the auxiliary input on MyGIG's front panel. The system even switches to aux mode automatically when you do so. For even more tunes, the Nitro comes with one-year subscription to SIRIUS Satellite Radio and, of course, it also sports AM and FM.

It all sounded superb on the Infinity Premium sound system, which has one of the best-sounding subwoofers I've heard in an SUV. Even though the sub is installed in the back of the vehicle, its output was a powerful and cohesive part of the sound from the driver's seat. My only complaint was the lack of steering-wheel controls for the audio system.

Rear-Seat Review
Also onboard our Nitro R/T was a Vehicle Entertainment System (VES) for rear-seat passengers, consisting of a ceiling-mounted, 8-inch, fold-down LCD screen, a remote control that detaches from a dock just behind this screen, and two pair of wireless headphones. Back seat passengers have several source options via VES beyond the DVD/CD slot tucked behind the MyGIG screen.

The headphones offer two channels on which to receive audio. One channel tunes in audio from the DVD player, while the other can receive alternate sources: music from the HDD, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, FM or AM. In addition, the VES comes with an auxiliary RCA-type input (red and white for audio and yellow for video) so that a separate A/V source, such as a videogame console, can be added. A 115-volt/150-watt AC plug adjacent to the input provides juice for portables.

Swift Nav System
Because the nav system is HDD-based, processing time is swift, but the user interface slowed me down. I knew how to get to my hotel in West Hollywood from the airport, but I punched it in anyway to find the fastest route. Whereas many systems sense where you are, the MyGIG nav had me starting out in Michigan and I had to tell it I was in California.

There's a "Where Am I Now" button that let me quickly pinpoint my location, but I didn't want to scroll through hundreds of hotels between LAX and my destination using a Point of Interest search of the vicinity. Inputting the name of the hotel by city and name also took way too long, so in order to beat rush hour I just took the route I knew without relying on the nav system.

The Traffic Message Channel provided by SIRIUS came in handy while navigating LA's congested roadways. It provides alerts in more than 75 major metropolitan areas, on everything from accidents to construction, and it can be set up to either give all messages for an area or those specific to a chosen route. It will also automatically adjust your route based on traffic information, or give you the choice to manually change it for each incident.

MyGIG: Great Capabilities at a Cost
You usually find this sort of advanced technology on cars costing twice as much as the Dodge Nitro R/T, which has a base price of $22,635 but rose to $32,055 on our test vehicle with all the bells and whistles. MyGIG doesn't come cheap, however, as it's a $1,700 option, which doesn't include the Infinity Premium audio upgrade ($595), or the rear-seat entertainment system ($1,300). But when you consider that it buys a nav system, HDD-based music system, and a UConnect Bluetooth hands-free phone system, it's not that bad a deal. And the "Nitro" carrying case is pretty sporty and stylish too.

Doug Newcomb has been writing about car electronics since 1988, as editor of Car Audio and Electronics, Car Stereo Review, Mobile Entertainment, Road & Track Road Gear and as a freelance writer. His new book, Car Audio for Dummies, is available from Wiley Publications. He lives in Hood River, Oregon.

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BB01 - 7/29/2014 2:16:07 AM