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Review of the Alpine WRA-X109 installed in a 2012 Jeep Wrangler

Posted in How To: Electrical on March 31, 2017 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Courtesy of Alpine

For those of us who enjoy listening to our tunes topless and on the trail or highway know that the factory “premium” head unit on the ’10-current Wrangler JKs are lacking. Adding the hardtop back on makes a marginal improvement, but even then the head units are dated now, lacking many features of modern vehicles and the sound just isn’t all that great.

So if it is better sound and a whole lot of features you are looking for, then look no further than Alpine’s X109-WRA direct-replacement 9-inch Restyle dash system. Sporting a massive 9-inch anti-glare capacitive touchscreen display that has 41-percent more surface area than the Wrangler’s optional 430N or 730N touchscreen head units, the X109-WRA is designed to integrate seamlessly into the Wrangler dash with a special bezel that makes it look like it came straight from the factory. In fact, the bezel is made with OE-quality and color-matched plastic to match the factory dash as close as possible.

The Alpine WRA-X109 is designed to seamlessly integrate into your Wrangler dash, using OE-quality plastics and matching backlighting.

Flanking the 9-inch screen are buttons that control main functions of the system, such as volume, phone access, favorites, and navigation. These hard keys are backlit with lighting that matches the Wrangler’s dash lighting for the ultimate in seamless integration.

As a music player, the X109-WRA is a pretty good one. Featuring, of course, AM and FM with an HD radio receiver, it comes satellite-ready for SiriusXM via an optional add-on module. It also has USB inputs and the ability to stream music wirelessly from your smartphone and even allows you to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on Pandora directly from the screen. An optional Alpine app gives further access to streaming services, such as Spotify and iHeartMusic. Alpine provides an HDMI input for the DVD player, but with Alpine's KCX-630HD HDMI switcher, an extra HDMI input is available for smartphone mirroring or using the screen as an external monitor (when parked, of course). The X109-WRA can even run rear seat screens if one so desires, and audiophiles will rejoice at the impressive controls one has over audio settings with the Visual EQ screen.

Included with the X109-WRA is the iDataLink Maestro Interface, which allows the Alpine unit to interact and retain all the factory functionality of the EVIC display, UConnect (using the factory microphone), steering wheel controls, and adds a customizable vehicle information screen that displays a host of different parameters from speed and tire pressure to fuel range and engine temp. Siri Eyes Free also works with the X109, and pairing a phone and managing calls through Bluetooth is as simple as it gets.

Navigation is one of the best features of the WRA-X109 and is generally very good. With plenty of room on the 9-inch display, you can even select a split screen view of music and navigation.

In addition to music and providing an interface for vehicle features, the X109-WRA is a full-fledged navigation unit. Loaded with HERE map data for the US and Canada (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), the X109-WRA offers more than 7 million points of interest. The turn-by-turn navigation provides detailed directions on the screen, including lane selection, signposts, speed limits, and additionally offers voice guidance. The map screen can be set in 3D, 2D, 2D North Up, or even split screen so you can see your music at the same time. As an added bonus, free lifetime traffic is included with each purchase.

For those who like to roam off the beaten path, we’ve found that many off-road routes appeared in the unit during our testing. However, your experience may vary based on where you are traveling. And when you find yourself off the beaten path, the unit will display (and navigate to) latitude and longitude points, and will show current elevation. You can also enter coordinates as waypoints.

The included trip computer is a useful tool during long trips, as the unit can record and display start and end times, average and maximum speeds, total time driving, total distance, and minimum and maximum altitudes. You can even choose to display a secondary set of gauges that display additional information that includes function such as range, intake air temperature, and speed.

At the heart of the X109-WRA is an innovative user interface that allows the user to swipe right and left, or up and down for various functions, and a customizable favorites screen that allows quick access to the functions you use most.

Because the WRA-X109 links to your factory system, it can provide monitoring for a host of configurable vehicle parameters, such as speed, intake temp, trans temp, and fuel range.

These features alone are pretty impressive in and of themselves, but Alpine takes the Wrangler to a whole new level with the addition of available modules that can run cameras or aftermarket products. The KCX-C250MC Multi-Camera Selector module can control multiple cameras that can help the driver with placing the vehicle in technical sections of the trail without a spotter, while the spare-tire-mounted HCE-TCAM1-WRA rearview camera system, as seen in this story, is perfect for those who just require additional rear visibility. The backup camera takes advantage of the extremely high-definition screen and gives an unrivaled picture in terms of quality and detail, even in low light situations. Meanwhile, Alpine’s KAC-001 module that allows you to manage up to 8 different relay-controlled accessories, can be set for pulsed, latched or momentary outputs and different icons can be used to label each functions, such as lighting, lockers, and winch controls. Essentially, this unit replaces any need for an external switch module for all of your wired accessories and keeps your interior clean by housing it all in the X109’s touchscreen interface. Very cool.

If there are any complaints, they are small. We think the screen could be a bit brighter in direct sunlight, especially with polarized sunglasses, and we do miss our volume knob, as the rocker switch isn’t as easy to find when you are bounding around off-road. Lastly, despite all of the onboard technology, the X109 will still allow someone to intentionally play Nickelback -- not that we know anyone who would want to.

The Alpine X109-WRA doesn’t come cheap. It is a high-quality, high-feature media center for your Jeep and with a retail price close to $4,000 (street pricing is less), it will keep this head unit from being for everyone. However, for those who like flexibility, state-of-the-art technology, and the ability to open up a whole new feature set in your JK, the X109 can’t be beat. After several months of testing and living with the system, we are still discovering new capabilities all the time and it gets our recommendation for those looking to improve more than just their audio experience in their Jeep Wrangler.

Alpine offers a variety of add-on modules from camera control to accessory control, and of course satellite radio. The KAC-001 module shown here allows you to plug in and control up to 8 aftermarket accessories.
With the KAC-001, you can use graphics and labels to identify your accessories. Activation of lockers, lights, air compressors, or whatever it is that you have switched, is as simple as pressing the icon on the touch screen.
The HCE-TCAM1-WRA rear camera system is both a third brake light and a backup cam. It has water and dustproofing rated to IP66, and mounts to the lugs on your spare tire carrier. A small LED illuminates when in reverse for better nighttime visibility.
Image quality is exceptional for a backup camera, and the reverse view uses the entire 9-inch screen so you are sure to see all of the obstacles behind you.
Thanks to an additional LED and good low-light sensitivity, even the nighttime view with the Alpine rear camera offers good clarity.

Amazon Affiliate links are our attempt to show you real-world pricing and availability for the products we review and install, and while the Amazon links are separate from editorial and advertising, the Four Wheeler Network may receive a commission on purchases made through our posts.

Sources

Alpine
Torrance, CA 90501
310-326-8000
http://www.alpine-usa.com

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