The low-riding, mean-looking, top-of-the-line Chrysler 300C SRT8 feels like a mature high-performance luxury sedan—big 6.1-liter V-8 under the hood; rich-sounding audio system inside, backed up when you need it by a punchy Kicker sub in the trunk; and classy, supple black leather seats with grippy, ventilated suede inserts.
Seems about the most refined and adult you can get without a walnut-trimmed drinks cabinet, cigar case, and Jeeves, right?
How about [drum roll] satellite TV entertainment?
Sirius Backseat TV - ChryslerEnlarge Photo
Just when it seemed to good to be true, it was. You see, all that would tune in inside this sophisticated, high-performance, very adult sedan were three channels with Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Powerpuff Girls episodes.
Well, two and a half channels actually. Disney and Nickelodeon are the real thing, but the Cartoon Network feed is instead a 'Cartoon Network Mobile' version that airs shorts from just a few select shows.
Turns out that's all the Sirius Backseat TV service offers. Admittedly, Chrysler probably aims the service mostly toward the rugrats set in Dodge Grand Caravan minivans and Dodge Journey crossovers, but the automaker now offers the service on a host of Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles.
Although other automakers offer sound systems that are competitive with this one, along with comparable hard-drive music storage built into the nav system, Sirius Backseat TV could still be a boon to parents, whether you're on a cross-country road-trip or just waiting for dinner at the drive-through. You can go full screen on the front (instrument panel) display when you're not moving, or listen to something else in front while rear passengers are watching TV with headphones on. All this is accessed through intuitive touch-screen menus.
Through either of the screens, display quality wasn't quite as crisp as we'd expected from a digital setup, with some ghosting and very compressed sound quality. HD it's definitely not. But integration in the car is great; the rear screen stows neatly into the center console better that the screen in an airline seat and feels, as it is, like an original-equipment factory option. There's even a recessed, rattle-free spot for the remote.
On our test Chrysler 300C, the uconnect studios package, which includes Sirius Backseat TV and a year's subscription, cost $1,460; after that, a subscription is $6.99 a month in addition to satellite radio. It should be noted that there are now several aftermarket options, including KVH (TracVision) and AT&T (CruiseCast), that cost about the same to install and provide a full range of channels; however depending on the vehicle installations might feel very much like an add-on and not be as integrated with the vehicle's entertainment system.
About the only feature that our test car didn't have is uconnect web, another Chrysler standout feature that essentially transforms the car into a hot spot, with a router capable of connecting multiple devices in and near the vehicle.
If you're shopping for a minivan or family hauler and want a simple, well-integrated entertainment option for the kids other than the same old batch of DVDs, Sirius Backseat TV and the uconnect nav option is a well worth getting. But if you're getting a serious adult ride like the 2010 Chrysler 300C SRT8, look elsewhere for the real thing.