After nearly a month with the 2013 Dodge Journey with the touchscreen Uconnect 8.4 the jury is in. And the verdict is its guilty. Guilty of being one of the easiest stereos to use, and some of the best sound quality available outside of building your own system. With the package on the Journey SXT, the Dodge is a jukebox on wheels. The Uconnect interface mated to 6 Alpine speakers and a 368 watt amplifier. The head unit can play a variety of media types. In the dash there is an SD card reader, and a CD/DVD slot. In the center arm rest is a hidden USB and 3.5mm headphone jack. The USB can recognize phones as well as thumb drives or USB hard drives. With the MP3s in the correct format the CD cover and song information is displayed on the screen.

The Uconnect is available across the entire lineup of Chrysler Dodge and Jeep. Each one is a little different, not only between makes but models as well. The Uconnect is arguably the most advanced in-dash infotainment system on the market. Aside from all the music abilities for controlling music, movies, and removable storage devices. In performance models it can also be used to monitor air temperature and other performance factors for the SRT lineup. Before if you wanted most of this information you had to either install aftermarket gauges or a bluetooth OBD2 port reader. Now you get to keep a complete stock look.

With available navigation, back up camera, and in vehicle WiFi hot spot. The factory radio has a laundry list of peripherals previously only available to aftermarket head units. With Uconnect bluetooth is a standard feature for making calls and streaming music as well.

With the help of an aftermarket adapter Coastal LockPick C8 you can unlock so many extras the factory does not allow. Features like watching video while driving by tricking the radio into thinking you are going 0-MPH. You can also add rear cameras without needing to have the dealer reprogram your stereo. This also opens the ability to play video from mobile devices as well as removable memory. The kicker is all these features are available from the menu screen that is already installed in the middle of the factory dash cluster and adds access to the LockPick menu from the buttons on your steering wheel.

As with any item that “unlocks” the hidden potential of your electronics be it cell phones, tablets, car stereo,s or home computers. Keep in mind that the Uconnect is linked directly in the vehicles “brain” and has access to the hidden diagnostic tools the dealer can access from your stereo. The touchscreen is also where you change all of your stereo inputs, control the heat and air conditioning for all three zones in your vehicle(SUV’s and van’s). It also controls your navigation, bluetooth, garage door openers and many other things. So if you hack your stereo exercise caution.

My first impression for this stereo after a brief 3 weeks of use are as follows. The sound quality is impeccable, and with the sub-woofer and amplifier the bass is fantastic and I have felt no desire to add AEM speakers. Bluetooth works perfect for making and taking calls, but sometimes there are slight hiccups when connecting the iPhone 5 for streaming music. Once connected it is seamless. A free years Sirius satellite radio subscription is seriously competing for play time with my podcast addiction(pun intended). Changing through all the menus with the buttons on the front and rear of the steering wheel is intuitive and makes sense. Talking to the stereo to make it change apps or find a specific song or artist is awkward and has a learning curve to get used to talking to no one as well as the key phrases to access your media. The stereo is great, user-friendly and looks amazing. With the DVD player I am looking forward to a drive in date one night with the wifey.