The Truth About Cars » Dodge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:47:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Dodge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/dodge/ Have You Seen Grandmaster Flash’s Dodge Charger? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/seen-grandmaster-flashs-dodge-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/seen-grandmaster-flashs-dodge-charger/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 20:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125929 Legendary DJ and hip-hop artist Grandmaster Flash is asking fans for help in finding his Dodge Charger that he said was “given away” at a New York parking garage July 16, ABC News is reporting. Grandmaster Flash, whose real name is Joseph Saddler, asked for help Sunday on his social media accounts, saying he dropped his white […]

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Grandmaster Flash Dodge Charger

Legendary DJ and hip-hop artist Grandmaster Flash is asking fans for help in finding his Dodge Charger that he said was “given away” at a New York parking garage July 16, ABC News is reporting.

Grandmaster Flash, whose real name is Joseph Saddler, asked for help Sunday on his social media accounts, saying he dropped his white Dodge Charger off and returned two hours later July 16 to discover a parking attendant had given the car to someone else who looked like Saddler.

According to ABC News, Saddler reported the car as stolen to the NYPD on July 16, three hours after the incident happened. Saddler said the car was full of vinyl records and equipment.

Saddler said the parking lot attendant released the car without a parking stub or identification.

The owner of the garage said the attendant who mistakenly gave away Saddler’s car has been fired.

On Sunday, Saddler said the car has not yet been returned.

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Dodge Doubling Hellcat Production, Taking Orders in August http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/dodge-doubling-hellcat-production-taking-orders-august/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/dodge-doubling-hellcat-production-taking-orders-august/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125697 Dodge will roughly double the number of Charger and Challenger Hellcat models it makes next year and will significantly change the way dealers can order the 707-horsepower model in the future, the company announced Monday. Dodge also announced that it would be cancelling nearly 900 unfulfilled 2015 orders and honoring those prices for 2016. Dealers […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Dodge will roughly double the number of Charger and Challenger Hellcat models it makes next year and will significantly change the way dealers can order the 707-horsepower model in the future, the company announced Monday. Dodge also announced that it would be cancelling nearly 900 unfulfilled 2015 orders and honoring those prices for 2016.

Dealers will begin taking new orders for the super-performance cars sometime around Aug. 10 and will only be allowed to order their specific allocation. According to Automotive News, reports surfaced last year of Dodge dealers accepting deposits for many more Challenger and Charger Hellcat models than they were allotted.

Dealers will begin receiving Hellcats in September through February.

Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis told Automotive News that customers learning Monday that their order has been cancelled “is probably not what they want to hear, but we’re going to do it so that we have a fresh, clean slate going forward with everything that we learned in 2015.” Dodge said they’ll begin today calling customers who won’t receive 2015 models.

Initially, Dodge anticipated building 1,200 Hellcat-powered models last year. Initial orders topped 4,000 and eventually reached 5,000.

Dealers who don’t sell their allotment of Challenger or Charger Hellcat models right away — if they’ve raised the price far beyond the MSRP, for example — may have future allotments of the model restricted, the automaker said.

Dodge has not yet announced pricing for the 2016 Charger and Challenger Hellcat models.

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2016 Dodge Viper ACR Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/review-2016-viper-acr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/review-2016-viper-acr/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 15:15:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118353 You know what a Venn diagram is, right? It’s one of those drawings where you have two or more circles representing the members of different groups, and the area where the circles overlap shows common members of those groups. One of my favorite jokes goes like so: “The Venn diagram of people who care about […]

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2016 Dodge Viper ACR

You know what a Venn diagram is, right? It’s one of those drawings where you have two or more circles representing the members of different groups, and the area where the circles overlap shows common members of those groups. One of my favorite jokes goes like so: “The Venn diagram of people who care about font choice and people who care about food trucks is a single circle.”

Here’s another Venn diagram for you: the circle of people who have the talent and training to drive the new-for-2016 Viper ACR to its limits, and the circle of people who can afford the $117,500 plus-tax-and-title MSRP on the window sticker. How much overlap do you think there is between those circles?

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

Nominally speaking, this is the third performance variant of the current-generation Dodge (nee SRT) Viper, following on the heels of the Viper TA and the pylon-wing Viper TA 2.0. But that’s like calling Led Zeppelin “the last of the Yardbirds lineups with Jimmy Page.”

So how do you take a car that is already significantly faster around a track than pretty much everything else on the market and cut laptime further? Well, you could increase power, but Dodge didn’t bother to do it. The 8.4L V10 is already putting out 645 naturally-aspirated horsepower, delivered with the kind of brute force and persistence typically associated with 1300cc Suzuki sportbikes, as so the sole change to the motor is to fit low-restriction exhaust tips. No, the ACR isn’t a Z06 wannabe. Let’s see what you do get for your money.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

Carbon-ceramic brakes, 390mm in the front, with six-piston calipers, both fitted to a Viper for the first time.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

Bilstein shocks. The aluminum bodies cut 14 pounds from curb weight. The adjustable collars allow the car to have its ride height adjusted to just over four inches. It’s also possible to corner-balance the car for a particular driver, just like you do with real race cars. The damping is adjustable for both compression (how fast the shock absorbs pressure) and rebound (how fast it relaxes once the pressure’s off).

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

Kumho V720 tires. Designed from scratch to meet the needs of this car by the fellow who arguably invented the “DOT-R” concept of sticky race rubber with street-legal construction, these Kumhos are worth a couple seconds a lap all by themselves. SRT’s Erich Heuschele notes that they are designed to maintain a constant grip and heat dispersion over the course of multiple sessions. “Some of the competition has tires that drop off after a few laps,” Heuschele notes, before tactfully declining to comment on the Viper’s ability to maintain engine performance over a long track run without supercharger-induced “heat soak”. These tires are 200-treadwear and they can reportedly handle damp roads as well. Standing water? Better call your girlfriend and ask for a ride home. The front tires are an outrageous 25 aspect ratio so the Viper can use 19″ front wheels — all the better to clear the big brakes. Potholes should be avoided at all costs. At. All. Costs.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

One of the rear diffusers, with replaceable rub strips because — you’re going to hit them on the track surface sometimes.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

Removable fender vent, part of the Extreme Aero Package. Placement of American flag in background strictly on purpose.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

Removable, adjustable front splitter, made of carbon fiber and reinforced with aluminum. Double “dive planes”, patiently wind-tunnel refined so you don’t lose as much front-end grip if the back end steps out a bit and changes the angle at which the planes meet the wind.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

The full rear diffuser.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

And that monstrous rear wing. The sum total of all the aero modifications, refined over hundreds of “CFD” iterations on a computer and hundreds of hours in a wind tunnel, is nearly one ton of downforce at the Viper’s top speed. Which drops from 206 mph to 177, courtesy of all of the wings and things. Think of the amount of wind pressure it takes to cut nearly 30 mph from a car’s speed. Now apply it on the tires. That will help you understand why this car can do what it does.

To counteract the weight of all that carbon fiber, the ACR goes on an interior diet as well.

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

The stereo loses nine of its twelve speakers. Interior trim panels in the cargo area are dispensed with. The quilted leather you’d get in a Viper GTS is replaced by Alcantara, and the power assistance for the seats disappears. Sound insulation? It’s gon-WHAT DID YOU SAY THEY DID WITH IT I CAN’T HEAR. Carpeting? Not much. But if, like me, you want a full helping of pimp juice in your track rat, you can restore every single interior appointment through the Viper “1 of 1″ program. On the way to VIR, I drove a 1-of-1 with a full GTS interior, big-watt stereo, and TA 2.0 aerodynamics. Hell of a car. Like a Shelby Mustang with the interior of a Mark III.

The bare-bones ACR retails for $117,500 plus tax, title, and (can you believe it?) a gas-guzzler charge. That’s a lot of cash over and above the $84,995 you’d pay for a base Viper GT that will disappear into the distance should your ACR challenge one to any straight-line race lasting more than a few seconds. So what do you get for the money?

The below video won’t answer your question. It’s a 2:59 lap of the VIR Grand Course. Strictly speaking, that’s hauling the mail — but it’s really maybe fifteen seconds slower than what the car can do. To prevent anyone from pulling an Aaron Gold in one of just five pre-production ACRs available for the program, SRT gave us each some very nice instructors and asked us to leave some room on the track for mistakes. They also limited each drive session to just one full lap of the course. So what you see is your humble author trying to play by the rules.

Even at that relaxed pace, however, the ACR is simply the most brilliant street-legal car I’ve ever driven on a racetrack. Prior to this week, my benchmark for on-track behavior in a dead-stock supercar was set somewhere between the Viper TA 2.0 and the Ferrari 458 Speciale. (The McLaren 650S needs more front tire, in my not-so-humble opinion.) Compared to the ACR, the aforementioned cars might as well be base Mustangs.

To begin with, the ACR has all the good points of the current Viper. There’s enough room for me to swing my elbows a bit. The six-speed transmission has positive detents, reasonable throw length, and — oh yeah — it’s not some pansy-ass dual-clutch stockbroker special. Control efforts are heavy enough to communicate but not so much that it’s tiring to drive the car. Furthermore, the brakes, clutch, and steering all feel “organic”, not computer-controlled. The electronic stability control has a usable track setting and a usable sport setting and although it won’t babysit you the way Porsche’s PSM will, it can help you fix a mistake if you make one. Visibility is acceptable. Interior heat and airflow, the most miserable point of the original Viper GTS coupe and not entirely fixed in the last Viper to bear the ACR badge, is now okay if not outstanding.

I’ve said before that the Viper feels like a big Miata. You can trust it to do exactly what you ask, and then you need to be prepared for the consequences of your actions. The only worrying thing is that all of this happens at speeds much higher than what you can achieve in a Miata, so your margin for error is smaller. This ACR feels like a very big Radical. The aero grip is as real as a 747-800’s ability to leave the ground and it’s apparent in nearly every turn of the VIR Grand course layout.

Without getting too much into the details of shock/spring behavior (delightful, like smooth butter on top of a first-rate steak) or the frankly amazing ability of these Kumho tires to resist overheating, the best way to describe the ACR’s behavior on track is… cultured. It responds to the steering wheel in a way that only real race cars can. When it slides a bit, it gives you plenty of warning and all the time you need to fix the problem. It’s probably the least stressful supercar I’ve ever driven on a racetrack and it utterly outclasses the competition.

In the second half of the day, the SRT engineers gave me a small aero adjustment to the front and rear spoilers that balanced the car a bit more towards “neutral” behavior (neither understeer nor oversteer) and caused me to fall in love even farther. You can adjust your ACR any way you like in minutes, in the pit lane, and as you get used to a new track you can progressively sharpen the saw until you’re four-wheel sliding your way from every exit.

I took every lapping session I could in the ACR and got a total of five “hot laps” behind the wheel. It was far from enough. Oh, it was enough to see that the car is everything I’d wanted it to be, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy my explicit desires. I’d love to put a ten, fifty, two hundred laps on it in the course of a weekend. I can’t see getting tired of it. The beauty of the ACR is that it’s so capable and so transparent that it helps you learn more about your own abilities.

In a perfect world, these cars would be distributed the same way the aliens in “The Last Starfighter” chose their human champion: by finding the most talented drivers and making sure they each had one in the garage, along with a big stack of Kumhos to burn. In this world, it’s back to that Venn diagram and the vanishingly small group of people who can write the check and walk the walk. If you’re one of them, you shouldn’t hesitate.

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I Tried to Buy a Charger This Weekend and Failed Miserably http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/i-tried-to-buy-a-charger-and-failed-miserably/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/i-tried-to-buy-a-charger-and-failed-miserably/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 16:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109033 We just had a fight. Scratch that. We were still having a fight. This was just the tense calm between volleys of verbal mortar fire. I won’t even tell you what we were fighting about. The subject was so stupid it would make my girlfriend and I both look like utter idiots — like those times when you shout at a […]

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2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (9 of 13)

We just had a fight.

Scratch that. We were still having a fight. This was just the tense calm between volleys of verbal mortar fire. I won’t even tell you what we were fighting about. The subject was so stupid it would make my girlfriend and I both look like utter idiots — like those times when you shout at a character in a TV show to grow up and “just say you’re sorry already!”

Instead of doing what any rational human would do, I figured my only chance of peace was to escape the waves of relationship-drama ordnance. I grabbed the keys to this week’s Charger along with my vaporizer and fled the front line to regroup and regain my sanity.

This is nothing new for me — or us, really. We are both passionate people, even if our ancestors are from some of the most stereotypically dispassionate of Western European countries.

Over the years, I have learned to control my anger and one of my methods is to go for a long, highway-bound drive where hooning is virtually impossible. Parking lots also provide that calming effect, but my times spent in empty areas of tarmac are usually followed by repair bills and/or a visit from the local constable giving my still-sticky, partially-molten tires a long, deep sniff along with the associated hand-on-the-hood, warm-engine inspection.

Also, this isn’t my car, so I am not going for rear-wheel-peel therapy on this particular evening. A highway drive it is.

It took about 20 minutes to get from my driveway to Nova Scotia’s Highway 101 that runs from Halifax all the way down to Yarmouth at the southern tip of the province. The cruise control was set. I put the 8-inch uConnect in navigation mode. Music turned off — mostly because I left my iPhone jukebox back at home and partly because all I wanted to hear was the air rushing past the partially opened driver’s side window as I blew vanilla-flavored vapor into the atmosphere.

I could finally “space” and think about what had happened between her and I; how I could fix the situation but not look like a pushover at the same time. However, I was still angry as hell and the last thing I wanted to do in that moment was forgive her. I’m sure she still felt the same at that very moment back at home.

Highway 101 is a mix of 100 km/h highway interspersed with lower limits near towns and other areas where the blacktop narrows. It’s also quite deadly as accidents along the 101 are common and usually tragic due to a lack of division between the two directions of traffic over some stretches.

Even though my mind was elsewhere while the cruise control and lane departure system were doing exactly what they were engineered to do, I was still vigilant of the road ahead and behind. Instead of doing 120 or 130 km/h like the top 10 percent typically do along this road, I set my speed to 110 km/h to make sure the bright-red Charger would not capture the radar-measured attention of patrolling Mounties.

I was nearly 100 km (62 miles) away from home when something struck me.

For a province with an underfunded road system, I couldn’t remember hitting a single bump or pothole during the entire drive. I knew I drove the Charger’s 19-inch tires over at least a couple dozen moderate to severe “road imperfections” since starting out on the journey to sanity, but I didn’t remember them. There was no major jostling about in the seat by way of a pothole or major undulation. The Charger just plodded along, soaking up anything that would dare take my mind off driving and the relationship predicament in which I currently found myself.

It wasn’t like the car was completely transparent to the process of driving, either. Unlike the Toyota Avalon, a car that’s nearly transparent to everyone — including driver, passengers and anyone else on the street who might catch a glimpse of its Camry-esque sheetmetal — the Charger still had enough presence to keep me engaged.

“Damn, I want this car.”

What?

Did I just think that?

I have never thought that — ever — in a press car. Sure, I’ve thought, “This is a car I’d like to have if I was in the market for a crossover/sports car/minivan/family sedan/etc.” But, not once — not ever — have I thought “I want this car. For me.”

Head cleared, I turned around and made my hour-and-a-half long drive back toward home, promptly said what I needed to say and listened to what she needed to say, and went to bed for the night.


The next day started like any other — except this new “fever” remained. I looked out the front window at the Charger sitting in my driveway.

“Damn, I really want this car.”

Okay, so not this car. I want a V8. I want rear-wheel drive. I want something that this car foretells could be good.

Ready for our day, my girlfriend and I head downtown to do errands. I needed a haircut because I’m starting to earn some unwanted hippy cred. She wanted a smoothie.

Hair freshly mowed and smoothies in hand, she asked, “Do you want to go for a walk around downtown for a little while longer?”

“No, not today,” I replied. “I want to go to the Dodge dealer.”


We arrived at the local purveyor of automotive goods from Auburn Hills. The lot was stacked with minivan upon minivan, truck upon truck, CUSW upon CUSW. I parked the press fleet Charger and went inside, finding a salesman on the opposite end of the showroom looking over his inventory of Grand Caravans and Rams like a hawk that had just set out bait for a common vole.

I snuck up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned.

“Hi. Do you have any V8 Chargers?” I asked. Wow, I already felt incredibly vulnerable.

“Let me look,” he said with a grimace, probably thinking I was taking him away from good minivan-and-truck-and-Jeep selling time.

“We have a few used Chargers, but nothing new.”

“Not a single one?”

“Nope.”

He didn’t even attempt to get me in a Ram or minivan or Jeep — probably for the best.


As soon as I arrived home, I made a beeline for the computer to search for all the Chargers within a 500 km radius.

There was not a single Charger in the whole city. Halifax has three separate Dodge dealers and not a single one had a Charger. One, however, did have a V6 Challenger with an automatic transmission.

I had to search the boonies to find the first LX four door. Another V6. More Chargers popped up the further away I looked and they were all V6 powered. Except for one. It was 416 km (258 miles) away. And it was a 2014. I’m not even going to bother calling.

Just like Jack mentioned a short time ago, I am not the customer. The dealer is the true customer of the automaker. If the dealer doesn’t want to stock V8 Chargers, they aren’t going to stock V8 Chargers.

It’s also made even more difficult because nobody here buys a V8 outside of a pickup and all three dealers in my area care only about volume sellers. Additionally, timing throws another wrench into the mix.

Daniel Labre, product public relations spokesman said in an email: “It’s that time of year where we do transition from one model year to the next … so if they sold out of Chargers in that area, we do have to wait for the 2016 models.”

Considering the above, I can’t see any dealers here bringing in V8 Chargers — even for 2016.

And this is where I either fail or win, depending on your perspective: I absolutely refuse to put down over $40,000 on a car I cannot test drive first. I don’t need to drive the car I want to buy, but I am not about to take a V6 for a test drive, assume everything will be better with the V8, and plunk down tens of thousands of dollars.

So, I sit here Charger-less and waiting for the 2016 model year to roll around, hoping one of the dealers here will order up a V8 Charger so I can take it for a spin like anyone else looking to buy a new car.

It will be mine. Eventually. Hopefully. Maybe.

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2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Review — Four-Door Pony Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-dodge-charger-v6-awd-review-four-door-pony-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-dodge-charger-v6-awd-review-four-door-pony-car/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1110169 Looking at all the full-size sedans available in America is certainly a case of “one of these things is not like the other.” Dodge’s latest iteration of the LX-platformed, rear-wheel drive sedan sticks out like a sore thumb covered in beer and barbecue sauce. The freshly facelifted, second-generation new Charger (it’s the seventh generation overall to use […]

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2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (2 of 13)

Looking at all the full-size sedans available in America is certainly a case of “one of these things is not like the other.” Dodge’s latest iteration of the LX-platformed, rear-wheel drive sedan sticks out like a sore thumb covered in beer and barbecue sauce.

The freshly facelifted, second-generation new Charger (it’s the seventh generation overall to use the nameplate) is exactly what I want in a pony car with four doors: mean looks, lots of power and a suspension more tuned for going in a straight line than around corners.

But, I am not going to say its better than the new Maxima — another full-size(-ish) sedan that makes a sporty claim. Actually, it’s definitely not as good as the Maxima.

And I couldn’t care less.


The Tester

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD SXT w/ Rallye Pack

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6, direct injection (292/300 [Rallye Group] horsepower @ 6,350 rpm, 260/264 [Rallye Group] lbs-ft @ 4,800 rpm)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 18 city/27 highway/21 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 21 mpg, approx. 75 percent highway

Options: RALLYE Group, AWD Premium Group, Technology Group, Navigation/Rear Back­-Up Camera Group, Redline Tri­Coat Pearl exterior paint, Black Painted Roof.

As Tested (U.S.): $45,570 (sheet)
As Tested (Canada): $48,975 (sheet)


While the 2015 Charger is considered by most to be a facelift and not another notch on the generational headboard, the latest iteration brings with it enough change to completely ignore the 2014 model year should you find one of that particular vintage new (or used with 10 miles on the clock) hanging around a local Dodge dealer. Even with a steep discount, I’d be hard-pressed to spring for the previous model.

In addition to the wildly different front-end design, all Chargers now get an 8-speed, ZF-sourced automatic transmission as standard no matter the driveline or engine choice. From SE to Hellcat, everyone gets an 8-speed transmission — unless you’re a cop. Inside, materials are improved along with upgrades to the three-spoke steering wheel and 7-inch, IP-mounted display.

This is as close as you can get to a whole new generation. The only thing missing is a new platform. That isn’t due to arrive until 2018.

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (3 of 13)

Exterior
Ditching the mildly dumpy headlights of the pre-facelift models, the Charger now sports some sharp eyeliner in the form of LED strips following the edge of the housing. The new lights, along with an updated grille and surrounding sheet metal, finally give the Charger a refined front fascia.

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (7 of 13)

The rear offers up Dodge’s signature racetrack lighting — which would still be cool if designers at FCA didn’t stick the same element on the lowly Dart (I can forgive them for the Durango). A tail end that tapers inward the lower you look doesn’t give the Charger the most menacing look from behind, at least in this tester’s AWD configuration. Also, if you look closely at the picture above, you can plainly see some panel misalignment going on. I’d love to say the Charger is a quality product — because it feels it and looks it almost everywhere else — but misaligned panels are something that should have been eliminated eons ago with robots and lasers. This is just sloppy work. Damn Canadians.

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (10 of 13)

However, those aren’t the worst parts of the Charger’s design. When you get to the side profile, you are greeted by what looks like a Chinese-knock-off Nike swoosh molded into the sheet metal. I think the Charger would look a lot better with a simple body line — or, better yet, nothing at all — to eliminate distraction from a silhouette that easily casts the meanest shadow in the segment.

Another thing you will notice as you stare at its side: the wheels and fender-to-wheel offset. On all-wheel drive models, the Charger is shod with 19-inch wheels instead of the 20 inchers seen equipped with many other trims. Sadly, 19s almost look too small on the Charger, and the fender gap and body offset at the rear looks … weird.

Even with all its foibles, it somehow works together — but only just. It’s like a collection of Lego pieces from different sets being used to build something with a modicum of imagination. And it looks angry — as it should for a car that’s available with a 707-hp supercharged V8.

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (12 of 13)

Interior
At first glance, our tester’s interior is downright garish. The leather seat and door inserts are colored a faded red that doesn’t match in the slightest with the shade of red worn by the car’s exterior panels. The leather itself, while it might be high quality, looks downright cheap due to the color. Thankfully, this particular interior is a Rallye Group option and can be replaced with simple black.

However, what’s not so good is a sense of cheapness exacerbated by certain leather panels that fit a bit looser than they should. I’ve seen this particular issue with leather in modern Chrysler products before — specifically the much-improved Chrysler 200 — and it makes the seats look like they’re wearing clothes one size too big.

Beyond the leather, the seats themselves offer significant support at this trim level, providing comfort for short city jaunts and long, cross-country drives. As I plodded my way down the highway on a late-night drive I took last week (which you will learn about a little later today), there wasn’t a single moment where I thought to pull over and take a break to stretch. Even the sole stop on the drive was of the drive-thru variety (you better believe it was Tim Hortons) and not a park-get-out-and-walk stop.

Aside from the seat and door leather, the look and the touch of the materials are high quality and there didn’t seem to be any fitment issues. My only complaint — if you can even call it that — is whatever material and pattern used for the dash topper seems to attract and holds on to dust like it’s a precious mineral. Wiping the dash with a microfiber cloth makes the issue worse as the soft-touch plastic grips to the cloth and holds onto its fibers.

Controls are well laid out thanks to large knobs and buttons for primary HVAC and audio controls, such as temperature, fan speed and stereo volume. It even has a tuning knob like the good ol’ days of 13-channel television sets.

The rear of the Charger offers just enough room to be borderline comfortable for full-sized adults. With myself plunked in the driver seat and my similarly-tall roommate sitting just aft of me, we had not an inch to spare between us, but I didn’t have to sacrifice my driving position either.

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (11 of 13)

Infotainment
I like almost everything about uConnect — except for the name. Chrysler’s infotainment system, with its large navigational icons placed at the bottom of an 8-inch touchscreen, is one of the best in the business and easily beats those found in the new Maxima, non-Classic Impala and beige-a-tron Avalon.

The Charger also features another high-resolution display sitting between the speedometer and tachometer, offering up vital information for fuel economy, audio, navigation and a multitude of other pages you aren’t likely to spend much time using. The controls for navigating the pages displayed on the IP screen are mounted on the steering wheel and are dead simple to operate — just four arrow buttons and an OK button in the middle.

The tester also came equipped with the optional Beats by Dr. Dre 10-speaker audio system. When you are listening to audio from SiriusXM or your iPod over USB or Bluetooth, you aren’t going to hear much difference between this and other “premium” branded systems from competitors, but if the audio system is the deciding point of buying or not buying a Charger, you’re doing it wrong. That said, my untrained ear didn’t complain about the quality of tunes emanating from the system’s speakers.

Drivetrain
Considering the Charger can be had with the iron sledgehammer that is the 6.2-liter Hellcat V8, choosing a V6 to power your Charger seems like it might not be quite enough to motivate the large sedan. However, at least with our up-rated Rallye Group model, the 300-hp V6 was quite capable of throwing me back in my seat. While the Maxima might have more power thanks to its 3.5L V6, the Charger V6 sends its power to the back — or front and back, in this case — of the car through a real transmission with actual gears.

That transmission — the eight-speed ZF automatic — is great for fuel economy, but it isn’t the best when it comes to drivability. If you want a truly smooth transmission in your next large sedan, get an Impala. If you want a little kick in the backside as you hold mid-throttle going down the highway, stay with the Charger.

You’d think because the Maxima’s V6 is attached to a CVT that it would be the worse sounding option. Yet, thanks to the jesters at Bose, the Maxima pipes a nice engine note into the cabin. The Charger relies on a good, old-fashioned exhaust note to deliver the noise through all its sheet metal. With the Pentastar V6, the audible theater is somewhat underwhelming when at full trot. The engine itself even sounds a little tiny and rattly. I’m sure that can be easily remedied with two extra cylinders, though.

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (4 of 13)

Drive
Since the re-emergence of the Charger during the days of Daimler’s rein, Dodge’s go-to for easy fleet sales has slowly improved to become a valid contender for your hard-earned retail dollars.

To make sense of it, you really need to put it up against the Maxima — even if Nissan doesn’t think they are head-to-head competitors.

For one, the Nissan is the more sporting offering, at least when you are pitting apples-to-apples with available V6 models. While the Maxima will hug a turn and is not likely to get upset by road imperfections during your apex, the Charger still delivers a significant amount of rear suspension judder when passing over expansion joints and the like. You can easily feel the rear of the car come around in those events, albeit slightly, and it is only unsettling until you get used to it and know nothing will happen to you.

Also, Nissan brings all the Maxima’s handling prowess to the table thanks to some well-programmed computers monitoring your every input so it can make active adjustments to brakes and other control systems. The Charger: a sport button that changes the shift mapping and some other simple things easily handled by the ECU. There’s absolutely nothing fancy going on here, and it shows in the handling.

If you are looking for a driver-oriented cockpit, the Maxima wins this round as well, with an interior feeling very similar to the CTS Vsport in the way it encapsulates you. The Charger is much more open up front and lets you put your hand on the leg of the lady next to you.

But, there is no final nail in the coffin in this Charger vs. Maxima debate. The ride in the Charger is much more plush, though that might be down to the high-sidewalled tires of our tester. Also, infotainment and other controls are much more easily learned and utilized in the Charger. It’s certainly a get-in-and-go kind of car as every control is exactly where you think it should be … except the truck-style footwell emergency brake.

The final verdict: if you want a “four-door sports car”, get the Maxima. If you want a “four-door pony car” with a comfortable ride and minus all the technological gimmickry, go with the Charger.

I know I will.

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (1 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (2 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (3 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (4 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (5 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (6 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (7 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (8 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (9 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (10 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (11 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (12 of 13) 2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (13 of 13)

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More Corporate Average Horsepower, Hellcat Production Going Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/more-corporate-average-horsepower-hellcat-production-going-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/more-corporate-average-horsepower-hellcat-production-going-up/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 15:51:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107873 Nothing is more American than a high-horsepower V8 in a muscle car. Thanks to increased demand, roads are going to feature more of that familiar V8 rumble as Dodge ramps up Hellcat production. According to Automotive News, FCA has produced approximately 4,000 Hellcat engines so far this year, even as the company stopped taking orders for […]

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Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine produces 707 ho

Nothing is more American than a high-horsepower V8 in a muscle car. Thanks to increased demand, roads are going to feature more of that familiar V8 rumble as Dodge ramps up Hellcat production.

According to Automotive News, FCA has produced approximately 4,000 Hellcat engines so far this year, even as the company stopped taking orders for the Charger and Challenger models in an effort to get caught up with demand.

“We’ve sold 88,000 muscle cars [this calendar year], Challengers and Chargers, and 4,000 of those have been Hellcats. It’s a small sliver of what we sell, but it really creates a halo for the rest of the lineup,” Tim Kuniskis, head of Dodge and SRT, told the trade publication. “For example, the next highest car, the Scat Pack Challenger, I have essentially a zero-day supply. It’s sold out.”

So, if you’re looking for a Hellcat in the near-ish future, you may be in luck. What’s more American than a muscle car assembled in Canada with an engine from Mexico?

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The Night That Danger Girl Stole A Black Challenger From The Airport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/night-danger-girl-stole-black-challenger-airport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/night-danger-girl-stole-black-challenger-airport/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 17:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077714 “Let me show you how this works,” Danger Girl laughed, as we descended the stairs in the airport parking garage. I call her Danger Girl because 0. I keep putting her in danger, sometimes mortal; 1. She soloed in a Cessna before she turned seventeen; 2. She has certain other dangerous habits that, this being […]

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chally1

“Let me show you how this works,” Danger Girl laughed, as we descended the stairs in the airport parking garage. I call her Danger Girl because

0. I keep putting her in danger, sometimes mortal;
1. She soloed in a Cessna before she turned seventeen;
2. She has certain other dangerous habits that, this being a different kind of publication than it was in days past, cannot be discussed in the full and frank fashion with which it was once my delight to oppress our more delicate readers.

She’d told me that we were renting a Camry. I was happy about this. I like renting Camrys. But as we walked towards a line of cars that clearly included Camrys, Danger Girl took a sharp right turn towards a black Challenger in what I was pretty sure was the rental return lane. “I can take any car I want,” she informed me, “so I’m going to take this one.” I loaded our luggage into the wide, flat, Seventies-style trunk as she fired up the Pentastar and adjusted the seat. “Off we go!” she laughed, and we drove up two levels of a circular ramp and out into the warm California night.

As we entered the freeway, something occurred to me.

“Hey… aren’t you supposed to, like, tell somebody you’re taking this car?”


Danger Girl’s response was measured. “I… suppose… that maybe we should have passed some kind of security gate. But I do this all the time. I just take whatever car I want and then my company pays for it.”

“Have you ever just driven a car out without talking to anyone?” There was a long pause.

“Maybe, possibly, not.”

“Should I call the rental agency?”

“If you want.” I called the rental agency. There were three options in the automated system. None of them corresponded to reporting a self-stolen car. So I pressed the third option.

“Blah-blah Car Rental, this is LaQueesha speaking.” I’m not making that up; it was her name.

“Yes, ah, I picked up a rental car from the airport and nobody asked me for any ID or had me sign anything.”

“Can I get the identifying number on the car?” I read it to her.

“Sir, I’m showing that car as being in our inventory.”

“Well, that’s because I drove it out and nobody stopped me.”

“Well, I am showing that we still have it.”

“Well, I,” I responded in somewhat irritated fashion, “am showing that it is driving down the 405.”

“What do you want me to do about that, sir?”

“Could you, I don’t know, maybe put it in your computer that it wasn’t stolen? That we’re bringing it back?”

“I’ll have to connect you to the rental office to do that.”

“Then connect me.” And the phone promptly bleeped to inform me that the other party had hung up.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Danger Girl said, “it’s a black Challenger, they won’t be looking for it.”

“Baby,” I whined in response, “cops like pulling over black Challengers so much they don’t even care which one it is!

“I don’t know what you’re moaning about. I’m the one driving, not you.”

“I’m an accomplice! Plus, this is California! They’ll arrest me for stare-raping you into doing it or something!”

“This thing’s pretty fast,” Danger Girl noted, as the speedometer swung past ’70’ on the four-lane surface street. “But I can’t see out of it at all.”

“Then why are you going so fast?”

“In case they’re looking for us.” I dialed the rental car company again. And got Omar. Who also hung up on me.

“Well, I want to have a drink,” Danger Girl exclaimed, “so I think we should give it to these valet people.”

* * *
In the morning, we fetched the Challenger back from the valet. There were no cops waiting to bust us. Having spent half of my life in imminent expectation that either the police or the film crew from “Cheaters” would appear around the next corner, I didn’t truly relax until we were away from the hotel and back on the freeway, where Danger Girl accelerated to a steady eighty-in-a-fifty-five.

“You cannot,” I explained, as if to a child, “operate a stolen car with this degree of recklessness.”

“Hey!” she exclaimed. “It’s another Challenger just like us!” And in truth I’d seen four black rental V6 Challys that day already.

chally2

This one was being driven by a Hispanic fellow with a face tattoo. I instructed DG to stick close to him as we traveled to the parking garage where my car was stored, figuring that the LAPD, given the choice between pulling over a blonde girl in a North Face jacket or a Mexican with a face tattoo, would choose the latter, even if the license plate on the APB matched the former.

We retrieved my car without difficulty and Danger Girl had an idea. “Hey. There’s an airport here, too,” she said, with the same kind of wonder a child might display while playing SimCity. “Let’s leave the car at the rental office.” We pulled up in convoy and she drove in without me. Two young black women awaited her.

“Girls,” DG chirped, “this car is from another airport. They just let me take it. I’m giving it back.”

You just took it!” responded the lot attendants, in tuneful unison. I could read their minds from a distance. This is what these blonde bitches get up to! They steal cars! And don’t nobody stop them!

“I just took it!” DG responded. “Would you like it back?”

“Well,” one of the attendants responded, scanning it half-heartedly, “It don’t be showing up in the system.”

“So,” DG prompted, “it’s like this never happened! Do I have to pay you anything?”

“I guess not,” the taller of the two replied.

“Well then. Goodbye!”

“Goodbye!” the lot girls said, again in tuneful unison. DG hopped into the passenger seat of my car. Behind her, I could hear one attendant say to the other,

“She just took the car.”

“Surely,” I opined, as the three-cylinder engine roared to life behind me and we pulled away, “there will be consequences for this.” And yet there were not.

THE END.

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NYT: GM’s Barra Declined Meeting with FCA’s Marchionne to Discuss Possible Merger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 18:21:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075162 Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra […]

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sergio-marchionne

Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra would hear of Marchionne’s merger desires.

That’s the story being told by the New York Times today, detailing the lengths to which Marchionne is going to trigger consolidation within the automotive industry.

During a routine analyst conference call on April 29, Marchionne brought his plea to other executives through the media with a 25-page PowerPoint presentation.

“I think it is absolutely clear that the amount of capital waste that’s going on in this industry is something that certainly requires remedy. A remedy in our view is through consolidation,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne’s overture of a merger with GM includes no less than 14 brands between North America and Europe, not including the many other brands each company markets in China and other emerging regions. But, to date, the overture has been played to an audience wearing earplugs.

Even with the vast number of brands, that isn’t what bothers Marchionne. Instead, it’s the amount of money poured into redundant R&D work that could be shared by multiple automakers.

“It’s fundamentally immoral to allow for that waste to continue unchecked,” he said.

[Source: New York Times]

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2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road and Track Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-dodge-charger-rt-road-track-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-dodge-charger-rt-road-track-review-video/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 11:18:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071058 The first car I bought new was a 2000 Chrysler LHS. (I single handedly lowered the model’s average age demographic.) It was the very pinnacle of Chrysler’s Iacocca turn-around. It was large, competitive and made from Chrysler’s universal parts bin. Then Mercedes came on the scene promising to “synergize” product development with their luxury brand. The […]

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21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Exterior

The first car I bought new was a 2000 Chrysler LHS. (I single handedly lowered the model’s average age demographic.) It was the very pinnacle of Chrysler’s Iacocca turn-around. It was large, competitive and made from Chrysler’s universal parts bin. Then Mercedes came on the scene promising to “synergize” product development with their luxury brand. The plan had a promising start with the 300 HEMI C concept, but the production reality was a big sedan with a plastacular interior and Mercedes hand-me-down parts.

Now that Mercedes and Chrysler have divorced, we’re starting to see what a real German-American synergy looks like. For 2015, the Dodge Charger has gone under the knife to look leaner and meaner with a new German transmission. Like my 2000 LHS, this may just be the pinnacle of the Marchionne turn around. It’s big, it’s bold and it’ll make you forget why you stopped to look at that Toyota Avalon last week.

Identify the Competition
The Charger is a segment oddity because it’ll be the only four-door muscle car after the Chevrolet SS drives into the sunset. No, the Hyundai Genesis doesn’t really count – that’s a luxury entry and it’s American cross-shop would be the Chrysler 300. That leaves the Charger to battle the Avalon, Taurus, Impala, Cadenza, Maxima and Azera. (Or, if you buy the Hellcat, a ballistic missile.) Sure, you can compare anything to anything, but the Charger is tough to categorize, so I’ll just focus on this main segment.

Exterior
As the only RWD entry in this segment, the Charger has very different proportions than the rest of the crowd with its ever-so-long hood. Since 2015 is a refresh rather than a redesign, the hard points remain the same as before but the style has been significantly altered and essentially every panel has been changed. I’m not entirely sure that the “Daddy Dart” look up front is the style I would have chosen, but it looks far more grown up than the 2014 model. Out back we get better integrated exhaust tips and a refinement of the Dodge “race track” light strip.

21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Interior-003

Interior
While the engineers touched every panel on the outside, interior changes are minor. The same 8.4-inch uConnect touchscreen is still nestled in the dash (SE models get a 5-inch screen) and the style is still decidedly retro. On the driver’s side we get a new 7-inch color LCD between the speedometer and tachometer in all models. There are still some hard plastics to be found and the dashboard is a little rubbery, but that places the Charger on equal footing with the Impala while the Avalon and Cadenza have slightly nicer interiors.

FCA reps said that no changes were made to the seat cushion design for 2015, but our tester lacked the pronounced hump found in the 2012 model we last tested, an issue that make me feel like I was sitting on a very large gumdrop.

In a car this big, you’d expect a big booty, but the smallish trunk lid foreshadows the decidedly mid-size trunk at 15.4 cu-ft, 7 percent smaller than a Ford Fusion’s cargo spot and only 15 percent bigger than that of the compact Ford Focus. In general, the full-size car label no longer guarantees large luggage capacity. So, on paper, the Charger’s smallish trunk is fairly competitive with the likes of the Toyota Avalon (14.4) but the Taurus’ ginormous booty will schlep 25 percent more warehouse store bagels. The rear seats fold down to reveal a large pass-thru and the wide and fairly flat rear seats make three baby seats across a tight but entirely doable adventure.

21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Engine

Drivetrain
SE and SXT models use the familiar 3.6L Pentastar V6 tuned to 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Adding the $1,495 Rallye Group on the SXT adds eight ponies and four lb-ft. This puts the Dodge right in line with the front wheel drive competition in terms of power.

Unlike the competition, the Charger offers some more powerful engines to choose from. Scroll down the spec sheet and you find not one, not two, but three different V8s on offer. R/T and R/T Road and Track trims get the popular 5.7L V8 good for 370 hp / 395 lb-ft, R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 models make do with a 485 hp / 475 lb-ft 6.4L V8, and if you want to throw caution to the wind there’s a 6.2L supercharged V8 making a whopping 707 horsepower.

8HP

Last year most models had the old Mercedes 5-speed automatic with just some trims getting the new ZF-sourced 8-speed. This year every Charger gets the 8-speed and the difference is eye-opening.

For those of you unfamiliar with the transmission world, ZF is a German company that makes transmissions and licenses transmission designs for a wide variety of performance and luxury cars. You’ll find ZF transmissions lurking under the hoods of twin-turbo V12 Rolls Royces, inline-6 BMWs and AWD Audis, so the Charger is rubbing elbows with some classy company.

21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track uConnect 8.4.CR2-001

Performance
Not only does the new 8-speed have a lower first gear for improved acceleration, it also has a taller top gear for improved highway economy. If you ever wondered how much difference a transmission alone can make, the Charger is a perfect test case. Last year, the V6 with the 5-speed needed 8.5 seconds to run to 60, this year it’s 7.0 flat, making the V6 Charger competitive with the pack. The 5.7L V8 model was about as fast as the last Maxima at 6.1 seconds. This year, the same engine will do it in 5.0 seconds with the Road and Track rear axle ratio and 5.1 seconds without it. That means the Taurus SHO competitor is no longer the 6.4L V8 but the 5.7L model we’re testing.

Let’s tally this up so we keep this in perspective. The V6 is now competitive with the competition and the 5.7L V8 is now a hair faster than the SHO. What makes the Charger crazy is  we still have two engines left. Add the Scat Pack to the R/T, or choose the SRT 392 and acceleration drops to 4.2-4.3 seconds as long as the tires can find grip. The Hellcat, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is the fastest production sedan with a blistering 2.9 seconds to 60 if you are willing to wear racing slicks and put your life on the line.

An interesting note of trivia is that Charger Pursuit police cars still get ye olde 5-speed with both the 3.6L and 5.7L engines. The reason likely has more to do with the 5-speed automatic’s column mounted shifter in Pursuit guise than any durability benefit.

21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Exterior-001

Drive
In many of the trims the Charger comes across as “under-tired.” Before you get your flamethrowers out, allow me to explain. The Charger SE is a 4,000lb vehicle riding on low rolling resistance 215/65R17 tires; handling isn’t its forte. The SXT gets 235/55R18 all-season performance tires with a 245-width option. Handling is easily equal to the Avalon despite weighing 500lbs more due to the Charger’s near perfect weight balance. The R/T gets 245/45R20 rubber, which honestly feels a little skinny for 370 hp, especially if you get the Road and Track. On the flip side, it’s easy to smoke your tires if you’re into that. The Scat Pack feels as under-tired as the SE because it adds 115 horsepower, some curb weight and changes essentially nothing else. If you like a car that has a very lively rear end, this is your car. The SRT 392 significantly upgrades the brakes, tires (275/40R20), and suspension and I found it to be well balanced in terms of power vs grip. Then the Hellcat comes along with 222 extra horses and no extra grip. You get the picture.

Under-tired doesn’t translate to less fun – quite the opposite in my book. In fact, the Charger reminded me of the base Mustang and FR-S. Confused? Toyota’s mission with the FR-S was supposed to be a car to explore RWD dynamics without breaking the bank. Know what? That’s actually the Charger. Starting at $27,995, it’s only $1,000 more than an automatic FR-S and $2,000 more than a V6 Mustang with the auto. Unlike the FR-S, you get a power seat, dual-zone climate control, the 7-inch LCD in the gauge cluster, a much snazzier radio, three extra gears in your transmission and usable back seats. Will it dance around an autocross track like an FR-S? No, but you have almost as much fun and still use the car on the school run. Our R/T Road and Track tester was the same sort of thing taken to the next level.

21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Exterior-003

All versions of the Charger deliver a civilized ride thanks to the well designed suspension and a long wheelbase as much as the size and weight of the vehicle. As with all modern cars, electric power steering sucks some of the fun out of the RWD platform, but the boost is adjustable. And because the front wheels are only responsible for steering, you get considerably more feedback than in the FWD or AWD competition. Despite the heft, braking fade was well controlled, although distances are a little longer than I’d like due mostly to the tire sizes involved.

Compared to the SHO, the Charger has a more polished ride. The SHO has an enormous trunk and a more accommodating back seat. The SHO is all-wheel-drive which gives you better traction, but the Charger has better weight balance and more accurate feel on the road. Compared to the FWD competition, the Charger feels more substantial out on the road, more precise and certainly handles the corners with less drama. There’s no torque steer and surprisingly neutral handling even in the heavier 6.4L models.

21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Exterior.CR2-005

At $42,265, our model as tested managed to be $1,000 less than a comparable Avalon Limited, $2,000 less than a Cadenza Limited and, although it was slightly more expensive than the Taurus SHO, it had about $1,800 more equipment. The Charger’s discount price tag honestly surprised me. I had expected our tester to be a few grand more than the SHO.

What should you buy?
I’m glad you asked. Skip the V6. What’s the point of going RWD if you’re going to get the V6? I wouldn’t get the 5.7L V8 either. If you like the 5.7, buy the Chrysler 300. It has a nicer interior, a few extra available features and I think the front end is more attractive. I wouldn’t buy the Hellcat either, because I know I’d be “that guy” who wrapped it around a tree 5 minutes after driving it off the dealer lot. I am, however, eternally grateful the engineers created the bat-shit-crazy 6.2L engine because it makes the 485 hp 6.4L HEMI seem like a rational and practical engine choice. When driven very gently on level highway at 65 mph, the 6.4L V8 can deliver 28 mpg thanks to cylinder deactivation. My fuel economy in the 6.4L engine hovered around 18, just 2 mpg shy of the last Avalon I tested (the 5.7L scored 19.5 over almost 700 miles). When driven like you stole it, massive wheel spin, effortless donuts and 4.1 second runs to 60 with one of the best soundtracks money can buy are the order of the day. When your maiden aunt asks why you needed nearly 500 horsepower, you can safely say you didn’t get the most powerful one. With logic like that, how can you go wrong?

FCA provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of fuel for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.05 Seconds

0-60: 5.0 Seconds

1/4 mile: 13.3 @ 114

Average fuel economy: 19.5 MPH over 678 miles

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Marchionne: AWD Minivan Will Lose Stow ‘N Go or Gain Electric Motor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-awd-minivan-will-lose-stow-n-go-or-gain-electric-motor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-awd-minivan-will-lose-stow-n-go-or-gain-electric-motor/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 17:45:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072338 Move over, Toyota. You won’t be the only automaker hocking an all-wheel drive minivan when the new Town & Country arrives next year. According to Sergio Marchionne, the next minivan will get all-wheel drive, but something’s gotta give. Packaging constraints as they are, and the Town & Country’s features as they are, the next generation […]

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2015 Chrysler Town & Country

Move over, Toyota. You won’t be the only automaker hocking an all-wheel drive minivan when the new Town & Country arrives next year.

According to Sergio Marchionne, the next minivan will get all-wheel drive, but something’s gotta give.

Packaging constraints as they are, and the Town & Country’s features as they are, the next generation minivan can only bring all-wheel drive to fruition in one of two ways: ditch Stow ‘N Go to free up space under the passenger floor or implement a hybrid system with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. “It’s not that complicated. We’re exploring both,” said Marchionne, Automotive News reports.

Considering the popularity of Stow ‘N Go for Chrysler’s minivan twins, the latter option seems most likely, and it isn’t without precedent.

Starting with the second-generation Cube in Japan, Nissan offered a system called “e4WD” that sent power to the electrically-driven rear wheels when the front wheels slipped. It also eliminated the need for a center coupling and reduced parasitic loss typically associated with mechanical all-wheel drive systems.

The new Chrysler minivan will debut at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in January before heading off to dealers later the same year as a 2017 model.

[h/t AutoGuide]

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BREAKING: Worker Crushed To Death At Grand Cherokee, Durango Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/breaking-worker-crushed-death-grand-cherokee-durango-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/breaking-worker-crushed-death-grand-cherokee-durango-plant/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 13:23:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062082 UPDATE: Previous incident at Jefferson North included at bottom. UPDATE 2: Added name of worker and clarified details. A worker was crushed and ultimately succumbed to his injuries this morning at Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango plant. At around 6:30 a.m., 53-year-old Donald Megge, of Sterling Heights, was crushed in a press and declared dead […]

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Jefferson North Assembly Plant

UPDATE: Previous incident at Jefferson North included at bottom.

UPDATE 2: Added name of worker and clarified details.

A worker was crushed and ultimately succumbed to his injuries this morning at Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango plant.

At around 6:30 a.m., 53-year-old Donald Megge, of Sterling Heights, was crushed in a press and declared dead at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit. The accident happened during the day’s first shift, confirmed a FCA spokesperson speaking with CBS affiliate WWJ in Detroit. He was performing preventative maintenance duties at part of the first shift of the day starting at 5:30 a.m.

“A plant employee was killed at the waste water treatment plant. The company is currently working with local officials to investigate the incident. All of the FCA family extends its deepest sympathies to the employee’s family during this difficult time.”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

This isn’t the first time a death has befallen Jefferson North in recent years. As Automotive News reports, a worker was stabbed by another worker at the plant in 2012 during a dispute over a woman. The attacker later took his own life off-site.

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Dodge Restricting New Hellcat Orders Until Older Orders Are Fulfilled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-restricting-new-hellcat-orders-older-orders-fulfilled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-restricting-new-hellcat-orders-older-orders-fulfilled/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023097 Clamoring for a Dodge Challenger or Charger Hellcat? You’ll have to take a number to order one, as the brand is restricting new orders until it catches up. MotorAuthority reports the brand is doing this because so many customers want to throw down behind the wheel of the 707-horsepower, $60,000-plus boulevard bombers. Per a representative: […]

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2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Clamoring for a Dodge Challenger or Charger Hellcat? You’ll have to take a number to order one, as the brand is restricting new orders until it catches up.

MotorAuthority reports the brand is doing this because so many customers want to throw down behind the wheel of the 707-horsepower, $60,000-plus boulevard bombers. Per a representative:

Due to unprecedented demand for the 2015 Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats, we are temporarily restricting orders while we validate current orders that are in the system.

As of now, over 9,000 orders have been placed for the Hellcats; over 2,200 have been delivered thus far.

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Review: 2015 Dodge Dart Fleet-Spec http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-dodge-dart-fleet-spec/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-dodge-dart-fleet-spec/#comments Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017490 It was one of those weekends where nothing went quite right. The first rental car I got was pretty banged-up on all corners, and the interior reeked of menthol cigarettes. Worst of all, it wasn’t even a Mopar, and since I was on the way to Thunderhill so I could race a Neon with famous […]

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It was one of those weekends where nothing went quite right. The first rental car I got was pretty banged-up on all corners, and the interior reeked of menthol cigarettes. Worst of all, it wasn’t even a Mopar, and since I was on the way to Thunderhill so I could race a Neon with famous Mopar engineer, Hellcat inventor, and Viper-related head-shaver Erich Heuschele, I decided to Gold Choice my way into a Dart. Both Erich and I are still awfully passionate about Neons despite the fact there hasn’t been a Neon for sale for quite some time now, and I thought that the Dart, as the Neon’s authentic successor, would be a good choice.

The first thing I noticed about the Dart was that it had nearly 35,000 miles on it. The second thing was that someone had swapped the front tires out for astoundingly noisy, unbalanced cheapo replacements. The third thing I noticed was that it did not have cruise control, and by then it was too late to turn back.

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The question for me was: Could I still review the Dart fairly despite the hideous howling coming from the front end? I decided I’d try to edit it out, the same way some of my contemporaries edit out the interior of the Cadillac ATS when they’re busy vomiting praise for that vehicle onto the printed or virtual page. So let us go then, you and I, when the Sacramento evening is spread out against the sky.

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The oddball spec of our rental car appeared to be basic SE with some extra-cost aluminum wheels. It’s not a bad-looking car, you know. Compared to most of its competition it’s very attractively proportioned, with none of the tippy-toe tall-and-narrow aesthetic that characterizes the Elantra and Corolla. It doesn’t look like anything in particular, and the Alfa Romeo underneath is spectacularly well-disguised, but at least it’s not ungainly.

While the Dart is, nominally speaking, a compact car, it’s even larger than the Chevrolet Cruze, which itself is larger than the rest of the class. The not-so-small-Dodge comes within an inch or two of the 2002 Honda Accord in most dimensions, if that helps put it in perspective. No surprise, then, that I had plenty of room behind the wheel and that all of my luggage, including my 49.5-pound Samsonite race-gear hardshell monster, fit in the trunk.

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The interior feels deliberately cheap, but there are a few metal accents to relieve the cave-like aesthetic. The USB port in the center console will charge most devices and will play music from a recent iPhone. If you want Bluetooth, however, you’re out of luck. The same is true for cruise control, which is not standard on the Dart SE or even on the SXT in some configurations over the past few years. It’s a forty-two dollar install after the fact, which just points out how weirdly cheap FCA can be sometimes. All the cruise-control programming is there, you just don’t get the switch.

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The combination of two-liter, 160-horsepower engine and six-speed automatic is not rapid by any stretch of the imagination, and there’s a surprising reluctance to rev. It’s been twenty years since the two-liter, three-speed automatic Neon, and if this new car isn’t actually slower against the clock, it sure feels like it is. Power is only ever adequate and calling for a late pass results in a mildly alarming case of distraction from the transmission. which clearly dislikes the idea of grabbing a lower gear and will punish you for suggesting it.

The chassis, on the other hand, is clearly better than what you get in an Elantra, Corolla, or Civic. It has the responsiveness and roll control of the Focus, which is kinda the class leader here, but it doesn’t ride nearly as harshly. As a highway proposition, it’s remarkably livable, assuming there isn’t some sort of terrible howl coming from the front tires. Those front tires also drove a stake through the heart of anything like lateral grip, but the Dart is certainly well-behaved while it’s communicating the lack of cornering traction. Like the Cruze, the Dart has a mid-sized presence on the road. Never did I hear a random squeak or rattle despite the high mileage of our rental example.

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HVAC performance was strong and relatively silent. Observed fuel economy hovered in the 32mpg range, but I should point out that the Dart spent a few hours idling in the chilly NorCal mornings to warm up the pit crew and power a few cellphone chargers. There just isn’t too much to complain about with this car, but neither does it possess much in the way of singular virtue. Most cheap European cars are just like this, you know. They handle okay and they work okay but they are neither Bimmers nor Yugos.

As a six-speed manual-transmission car with decent tires and the cruise control installed, this would make a better than decent car for anybody with under twenty grand to spend. I preferred it to the Cruze, mostly on the basis of looks and dynamic cornering behavior. The problem is that the Dart just isn’t that far away from the Camry and Accord in pricing. With automatic transmission, this is nearly nineteen grand. A Camry LE is $22,970 and nowadays Toyota piles the incentives on just as thick as Chrysler does.

After a race weekend that got progressively worse as time went on, I was happy to steer the Dart back towards the Sacramento airport. With cruise control, it would really be almost the perfect rental car. Nothing wobbled or fell off and I never felt cramped. The question is: why buy it over a Civic? Well, it’s bigger and roomier and different, but those qualities don’t mean much to the typical Civic buyer. Still, if you’re willing to look past the Civic to cars like the Elantra or Forte, you should give a look to this one as well. I wonder, however, if people will be as passionate about the Dart twenty years from as some of us still are about driving, and racing, Neons.

Scratch that. I don’t wonder about it.

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Windsor Assembly Plant Readying For Extensive Renovation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/windsor-assembly-plant-readying-extensive-renovation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/windsor-assembly-plant-readying-extensive-renovation/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996594 FCA US’ Windsor Assembly Plant is about to undergo the most extensive renovation since the 1980s, all to ready the plant for the automaker’s new minivan. Detroit Free Press reports the plant will be shutdown for 14 weeks between mid-February through late May so that 1,500 employees and 50 contractors remake 80 percent of the […]

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30th_Anniversary_Minivan_Windsor_Assembly_Plant

FCA US’ Windsor Assembly Plant is about to undergo the most extensive renovation since the 1980s, all to ready the plant for the automaker’s new minivan.

Detroit Free Press reports the plant will be shutdown for 14 weeks between mid-February through late May so that 1,500 employees and 50 contractors remake 80 percent of the 4.4-million-square-foot facility prior to the June 2015 pilot production of a next-gen Chrysler minivan that will carry on the minivan legacy once the Dodge Grand Caravan is discontinued.

Supply of current-gen minivans are expected to last until production resumes later this spring, the result of a six-day-a-week run during the second half of 2014 per plant manager Michael Brieda. As of December, FCA US has a 78-day inventory of the Chrysler Town & Country and a 67-day inventory of the aforementioned Grand Caravan.

Renovations include 822 new robots and a “skillet” line that allows floor workers to bring a body shell down or up to their height. The overhaul is part of a $2 billion investment meant to bolster the fortunes of both the automaker and the city of Windsor, Ontario, where the iconic vehicle has been assembled since 1983.

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Dodge Unveils 1-of-1 Program For New Viper Owners http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dodge-unveils-1-1-program-new-viper-gtc-owners/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dodge-unveils-1-1-program-new-viper-gtc-owners/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974282 Is the standard color palette for the 2015 Dodge Viper not enough for you? Have you looked at your child’s Twilight Sparkle and Sonata Dusk brushables and thought to yourself, ‘Those hair colors might look good on on a Viper’? Dodge has a program just for you. New Dodge Viper owners can get a lot […]

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2015 Dodge Viper

Is the standard color palette for the 2015 Dodge Viper not enough for you? Have you looked at your child’s Twilight Sparkle and Sonata Dusk brushables and thought to yourself, ‘Those hair colors might look good on on a Viper’? Dodge has a program just for you.

New Dodge Viper owners can get a lot more for the $94,995 base price with the brand’s 1-of-1 customization program, which is set to open in February. Owners who place their order with their dealer will have the following to consider:

  • 24,000 hand-painted custom stripes
  • 8,000 hand-painted exterior colors
  • 16 interior trims
  • 10 wheel options
  • Six aero packages
  • A wide array of standalone choices

With every possible option under the sun, over 25 million unique build combinations can be had from the program, which also includes a concierge service throughout the build, a new mobile-friendly website to track the build process, personalized plaque and instrument panel with “the customer’s chosen name to commemorate their design,” and a complementary 1:18 scale replica to confirm color selection.

The program also allows Dodge and SRT to demonstrate the full capabilities of the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, where the Viper is assembled. Brand president Tim Kuniskis explains:

Because every Viper is hand crafted with such an extreme level of detail, we have the unique opportunity to make each one even more special by giving buyers the opportunity to customize each vehicle to their exact specifications. Now, Viper owners will be able to say their Viper is truly one of a kind.

Delivery options include rapid transport in an enclosed carrier, or, for those wanting to visit Detroit, picking up their new Viper at Conner Avenue following a tour of the facilities.

Production of the first 1-of-1 Vipers will begin in Q2 2015.

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Capsule Comparison: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 Vs. 2014 Chevrolet SS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-comparison-2015-dodge-charger-srt-392-vs-2014-chevrolet-ss-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-comparison-2015-dodge-charger-srt-392-vs-2014-chevrolet-ss-2/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:16:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964130 (Please accept my apologies for this long-ago-promised and painfully overdue comparison. -DK) With the demise of the Chrysler 300 SRT, Americans are limited to two choices for a domestic sports sedan. And neither of them are built in America. The Chevrolet SS, as we all know, is built in Port Elizabeth, Australia. Based on the […]

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(Please accept my apologies for this long-ago-promised and painfully overdue comparison. -DK)

With the demise of the Chrysler 300 SRT, Americans are limited to two choices for a domestic sports sedan. And neither of them are built in America.

The Chevrolet SS, as we all know, is built in Port Elizabeth, Australia. Based on the Holden VE Commodore, the SS gets the best of what Holden has to offer: a rear-drive Zeta platform, an LS3 V8 engine and styling that many find to be far too restrained and understated – to me, that’s a big part of the appeal.

When Bark M drove this car a year ago (to help kick off our Reader Ride Review program), he was diplomatically lukewarm about the car, praising the small-block V8 and the 7/10ths handling prowess, while criticizing the car’s balky gearbox and Bridgestone Potenza RE050 tires. I was dumbstruck. As a big fan of the Pontiac G8 (and Australian rear-drive sedans), I wanted to believe that Bark’s impressions of the SS were colored by the fact that he drives a Boss 302 on a daily basis. It turns out he was right.

While GM nominally describes the SS as a limited production sports sedan, it’s easy to understand why sales of this car are in the toilet, marketing support or no marketing support. The G8 was a brilliant last stand from a dying brand when it was introduced in 2009. Driving the SS today just shows how the competition has moved on.

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Yes, the interior with the big MyLink touch screen and the heads-up display is a vast improvement over the old G8. There’s lots of space for passengers both fore and aft. Flimsy paddles aside, everything is high quality, pleasing to the touch and sufficiently upscale – if you can ignore the bright red “SS” emblems stitched into the seats. The trunk is made for an Australian family, which is to say, it’s huge.

I wanted to like this car so, so badly, but the driving experience fell utterly flat. Yes, you get big thrust and a nice small-block soundtrack from the LS3 (finally a proper LS, unlike the 6.0 mill in the old G8). A naturally aspirated V8 is fast becoming an endangered species, and this is one of the best. But the transmission can’t keep pace.

Nor could the rest of the car, for that matter. On the winding backroads around Summit Point Raceway, the SS just didn’t feel that special. At a hair under 4000 lbs, it’s lighter than the Charger SRT, but you’d never know it. The SS isn’t as buttoned-down in turns as the Charger, while the uncommunicative steering doesn’t flatter the car’s size or heft. In the brilliant shade of metallic black, the SS seemed to be the closest thing available to an old moonshiner’s hot-rod. It also drove like one too.

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If you want the top-performing American sports sedan, you’ll have to opt for the Charger SRT 392, which is actually built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. It’s not as elegant as the SS, though I bet that many people will prefer its more aggressive looks. The new for 2015 restyling tones down some of the overly-aggro snout on the outgoing car, but there’s no mistaking it for the V6 SXT you’ll find on the Avis lot.

At nearly 4400 lbs and just under 200 inches long, the Charger is, as they’d say in the Antipodes, “a big fucker”. The lighter SS makes do with less power  – 6.2L and 415 horsepower versus the Charger’s 6.4L and 485 horsepower -, but the seemingly minor differences are deceptive on paper. Sort of like how there is but a mere millimeter difference between a 9mm and a 10mm handgun cartridge, but one is used by police forces while the other can stop a grizzly dead in its tracks.

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The SRT V8 is not as refined or as smooth as the storied LS3, but the extra output, combined with the utterly brilliant 8-speed automatic means that the Charger 392 has the Chevrolet beat hands down for aural drama and straight line performance. The soundtrack is a masterpiece of pyrotechnic sounds that mimics the AMG 6.2L V8s NASCAR-esque notes, and the engine is as strong between 60 and 100 mph as it is from a dig. If that weren’t enough, the 2015 SRT adds the Hellcat’s massive Brembo brakes (15.4 inch rotors up front, 13.8 inches in the back) and a whole suite of adjustable driving modes for the suspension, throttle, gearbox and traction control. There’s also an updated interior with better materials and the excellent UConnect/Alpine stereo system – I concur with Baruth when he says it might be the best mainstream audio system in the business.

With the SS getting a 6-speed manual and an updated suspension for 2015, a rematch is only fair. But driving the two cars back to back opened my eyes to the possibility that, aside from CAFE and a shrinking market for full-size cars, there’s a reason we’ve never gotten the Commodore as a mainstream Chevrolet product: it’s just not good enough to compete. Right now, FCA has the full-size rear-drive mainstream sedan segment all to itself, and its sales are still strong, even after all these years. For an Americanized-Commodore to steal sales away from the LX cars – and the Taurus, and Avalon and Azera and the Impala- it would have to be extraordinarily compelling. Right now, I can’t say that about the SS, no matter how much I like the idea of it.

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Shimizu: Takata Hasn’t Found The Cause Of Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955722 Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls. Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That […]

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Shimizu, Takata's Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, testifies before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington

Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls.

Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That said, Shimizu said his company was of “the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.” He also claimed the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags was safe and stable, though he admitted replacements weren’t coming fast enough.

Meanwhile, competitor Autoliv announced it would supply replacements to Honda for vehicles in the United States. The automaker had mentioned before Congress it was in talks with the supplier and another, Daicel, regarding expanded production to replace modules in a nationwide recall. Autoliv will add capacity in its existing plants, with deliveries to come after six months.

Among the other affected automakers, Chrysler, Toyota and Mazda have stepped up their individual recall efforts. AutoGuide says the subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has called back 149,150 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models from the 2003 model year, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated the move wasn’t enough, and is looking at what action to take next.

Over in Japan, Bloomberg reports Toyota is recalling 190,000 affected vehicles in its local market and in China. The recall comes on the news of a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard of a Takata airbag inside a 2003 WiLL Cypha; the detonation was part of the procedures outlined by Japan’s Automobile Recycling Law, which also requires dismantlers to report any problem to the automaker to determine if a recall is necessary.

Finally, The Detroit News says Mazda is recalling 40,000 more vehicles — including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV and 2004 B-Series — in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Alabama. The automaker previously recalled 44,000 units in the U.S. and 2,600 in Puerto Rico.

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Grand Cherokee, Durango Going Grayscale Until February 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949153 Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months. Automotive News reports […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months.

Automotive News reports the grayscale look will be in until at least next February due to upgrades at Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North Assembly’s paint shop in Detroit. The upgrades would allow the shop to paint vehicles with more complex colors than it could prior to the changeover.

The changeover, which follows those at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ subsidary’s Warren Truck and Sterling Heights facilities, will also shut production down for three weeks beginning December 22, the first time the plant has been shut down for that long in several years.

Until then, shoppers can comb through the lot to find a red or maximum steel SUV of their dreams: around 19 percent of 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees and 8 percent of 719 unsold Dodge Durangos come in colors outside of the grayscale range.

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Dodge: Over 5,000 Challenger Hellcats Ordered Since October http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dodge-5000-challenger-hellcats-ordered-since-october/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dodge-5000-challenger-hellcats-ordered-since-october/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940297 Since the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat roared at the 2014 New York Auto Show, enthusiasts have been waiting for the day the big cats would enter the showroom. When ordering opened in October, so did the floodgates. According to Allpar, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis reported over 4,000 orders for the $60,000 707-horsepower musclecar were taken […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Since the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat roared at the 2014 New York Auto Show, enthusiasts have been waiting for the day the big cats would enter the showroom.

When ordering opened in October, so did the floodgates.

According to Allpar, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis reported over 4,000 orders for the $60,000 707-horsepower musclecar were taken as soon as ordering came online, with an additional 1,000-plus entered since then.

The brand knew demand would be strong, but it had no idea it would come in hot, too; Dodge initially planned to build just 1,200 units annually. There’s also a dealer incentive to get the Challenger Hellcat into customers’ hands as soon as possible so that more can be delivered to the showroom as production moves forward.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2015-dodge-charger-hellcat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2015-dodge-charger-hellcat/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:30:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937274 It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not long ago, we were told that gas was going to $6 a gallon, maybe even higher. CAFE, crash safety regulations and government interference would force us all into autonomous, emissions-free transportation pods. How lucky am I to be filling up a 707-horsepower rear-drive sedan with 93 Octane? […]

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photo (4)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not long ago, we were told that gas was going to $6 a gallon, maybe even higher. CAFE, crash safety regulations and government interference would force us all into autonomous, emissions-free transportation pods.

How lucky am I to be filling up a 707-horsepower rear-drive sedan with 93 Octane? More shocking than an auto journalist paying for his own gas is the fact that 13 gallons of the good stuff cost me about $45.

A sudden plummet in the price of crude oil was a lucky break for enthusiasts. The origin of the Dodge Charger Hellcat isn’t quite as serendipitous. For the Hellcat program to exist, there had to be multiple nameplates to help amortize the cost of development. After the Challenger, the Charger was the next logical step. Don’t be surprised to see this engine wind up in another FCA vehicle, even if it’s not the Viper.

photo (5)

There are few visual differences between the SRT 392 (aka the former SRT8 Charger) and the Hellcat – the most obvious one being the subtle, stylized feline “Hellcat” badge on the front fender. The same wheel and tire package, red Brembo brakes and rear wing can be had on both cars. Inside, the supple leather, UConnect 8.4 infotainment system and sport seats are present as well. With the programmable SRT Performance Pages (read, adjustments for the suspension, traction control, gear changes and access to the full 707 horsepower) set to “Street”, this car is as sedate and docile as the rental-spec V6 Charger SXT we drove earlier that day. On the highway, the blown V8 spins at just a tick over 1200 rpm. At 70 mph, we saw an indicated 22.4 mpg, while the plush, heated seats, XM Radio and solidly soundproofed cabin made the Hellcat an effortless cruiser.

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If you desire a bit of the old ultraviolence, simply go back to the Performance Pages and change everything to “Track” (you did keep it at full power, rather than limiting it to just 500 horsepower, right?). In the same way that the right combination of settings transform the Jaguar F-Type  from Jamie Oliver on wheels into Harry Brown, inputting the proper cheat codes unlocks the full potential of the Hellcat.

Without having driven the Challenger version, it’s tough to draw comparisons between the two Hellcats. Nevertheless, the straight-line performance of the Charger Hellcat is literally violent. Nothing more needs to be said, and even the most floral Dan Neil prose cannot do it justice. At 1200 rpm, the supercharger 6.2L engine makes as much torque as the old 6.4L SRT V8, which led to a rythmic ritual on the damp backroads of West Virginia: gently press the throttle, wait for the rear tires to lose grip, wait for TCS to kick in, rinse and repeat until you are breaching triple digit velocities. In a Nissan GT-R, you have an army of driver aides and all-wheel drive to help keep you on the pavement. On a Suzuki Hayabusa, you have a motorcycle jacket and a pair of Levis (hopefully more than that) to keep the pebbles and broken glass from tattooing themselves into your posterior. In terms of sheer acceleration and wet weather traction, the Hellcat sits between the two.

The ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox is the gold standard for longitudinal automatic gearboxes, but the reworked edition for the Hellcat manages to make even greater improvements. In track mode, gear changes are executed are faster than a Parisian pickpocket, taking just 120 milliseconds. Only the briefest of pauses in the Hellcat’s .50 BMG exhaust note lets you know that an upshift has occurred. In Street and Sport modes, they help keep the car humming along. It has all the best qualities of a dual-clutch, with none of the drawbacks, and I think that it might be the most significant advancements in modern performance cars.

Lacking an ample supply of sunshine, dry roads and extra-absorbent adult diapers, I was unable to properly put the Hellcat to the test on the track or the street, but its dynamic characteristics will be familiar to anyone who has driven prior LX-chassis SRT cars. Steering is heavy but not exactly the last word in communicative. The big Brembos bring the car to a halt with a consistent pedal feel. The ride is firm without being overly punishing. There is room for five adults and all of their stuff. In Jazz Blue with the saddle leather interior and the dark wheels, it looks less like a photo-enlarged Dart, and more like something that will cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block for the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $1 million at some future date.

In the grand scheme of things, the Charger Hellcat is an irrelevant, low-volume marketing exercise. Most of them will sit in climate-controlled garages, snapped up by dealer principals, waiting for that financially fruitful day under the big tent in Scottsdale. A few will be wrapped around telephone poles mere weeks after they were presented as 16th birthday presents to select members of America’s overindulged youth.

What I love about it can’t be quantified by sales volume, P&L statements or performance data. I love it because no matter how many times we are told by malcontent motoring writers that cars are lack “soul”, or that profligate performance cars are a dying species, we seem to get yet another crop of American muscle car that is exponentially more belligerent and incrementally more efficient. Underneath it all is a statement, a crass, puerile one at that, for which the Charger Hellcat happens to be a vessel. And that vessel is a very good, very grown up car.

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Dodge Viper Assembly To Resume Mid-November http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934754 After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you. Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount […]

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2015-SRT-Viper-Anodized-Carbon-Time-Attack-Edition-3

After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you.

Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount to help move unsold 2013 and 2014 stock, as well as an additional $15,000 off via a coupon given to over 1,000 customers that will remain good until January 2, 2018.

In the aforementioned month, 108 Vipers were dusted off and sent to a good home after buyers paid $86,880 for them, besting August 2014’s 38 and September 2013’s 45. Dodge chief Tim Kuniskis said October sales are also turning out to be strong, helping to bring inventory down to appropriate levels.

Speaking of inventory, dealers have ordered 200 2015 Vipers, which will only be assembled once more older stock heads out onto the highway. Once assembly starts, only the GT and base SRT trims will come down the line at first, with the more upscale TA and GTS trims following after inventory becomes reasonable.

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Chrysler Recalls 349K MY 2008 Units Over Ignition Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920002 Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall. Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario […]

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2008 Chrysler 300 LX With A Hint Of Pimp

Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall.

Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario cuts power to the engine, steering and air bags.

The affected were assembled before May 12, 2008, and consist of the following:

  • Dodge: Charger, Magnum
  • Chrysler: 300
  • Jeep: Commander, Grand Cherokee

The recall covers 292,224 units in the United States, 18,976 in Canada, 4,947 in Mexico and 33,295 around the globe. Chrysler recommends removing everything from the ignition key, as well as confirming the switch is in the “ON” position after starting their vehicles, until affected owners are able to bring in their vehicle for free servicing.

A similar recall issued earlier this year affected 890,000 vehicles made between January 2007 and June 2010, where the switches also could slip from “ON” to “ACCESSORY.”

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2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat Delivers EPA-Rated 22 MPG Highway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-challenger-srt-hellcat-delivers-epa-rated-22-mpg-highway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-challenger-srt-hellcat-delivers-epa-rated-22-mpg-highway/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914234 Most customers purchasing a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat aren’t likely considering fuel economy as a reason for wanting one of the most brutal machines ever assembled. That said, the pony car is fairly efficient on the highway in comparison to more exotic fare. The lieutenant to the Charger Hellcat’s general, the Challenger Hellcat delivers […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat

Most customers purchasing a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat aren’t likely considering fuel economy as a reason for wanting one of the most brutal machines ever assembled. That said, the pony car is fairly efficient on the highway in comparison to more exotic fare.

The lieutenant to the Charger Hellcat’s general, the Challenger Hellcat delivers an EPA rating of 22 highway via its eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic, losing only a single mpg for those who opt to row their own boats through a six-speed manual. Chrysler notes the highest rating comes from the auto’s 7.03 gear ratio spread, allowing the elephant to be that efficient on the highway more often.

In comparison, exotic beasts like the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, Aston Martin Vanquish and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT deliver similar amounts of firepower to the battlefield, but only manage to put out 18 mpg to 19 mpg in so doing.

Furthermore, unlike the six-figure price tags for said exotics — of which only the Aventador comes closest in matching horsepower with the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat, the others falling just under 600 horses — the Challenger comes in at just under $60,000. Not a bad place to be, one would suppose.

Figures for city and combined mpg were not announced as of this writing.

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Kuniskis: Dealers Must Prove Themselves Worthy Of Selling Hellcat Challenger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/kuniskis-dealers-must-prove-worthy-selling-hellcat-challenger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/kuniskis-dealers-must-prove-worthy-selling-hellcat-challenger/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910074 Dodge dealers wanting to help their customers destroy wannabes with the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat will themselves need to prove their worth to the brand before a single car leaves the carrier. Automotive News reports allocations of the 707-horsepower war machine will be based on the total number of all Dodges sold during the past […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat

Dodge dealers wanting to help their customers destroy wannabes with the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat will themselves need to prove their worth to the brand before a single car leaves the carrier.

Automotive News reports allocations of the 707-horsepower war machine will be based on the total number of all Dodges sold during the past 180 days, according to brand chief Tim Kuniskis, with a second allocation in December will focus on the previous 90 days of such sales and the traditional 30-day inventory turn.

Further, Dodge will measure how many days each Hellcat remains on the lot after the initial allocation, with the goal of moving them off the lot as quickly as possible if more are to be delivered later on. Kuniskis acknowledges this may be a headache for those who opt to make a market adjustment similar to the one performed at a recent Los Angeles Chevrolet dealership, where a Camaro Z/28 was priced to move at $106,165:

If you want to market-adjust the car, that’s your right. But if your days-on-lot goes above what the other guys that are selling them at MSRP is, they will end up earning the allocation because their days-on-lot will be lower. Some dealers are going to have heartburn with that.

Kuniskis adds that he wants to see each Hellcat out there on the road for all to enjoy instead of sitting in a showroom “with a rope around it” like the Viper, and that his brand “worked hard” to price the beast at an attainable $60,990 with shipping included.

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

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