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. Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:10:49 +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 Piston Slap: TIPM and the Freemont’s Enlightening Journey Down Under http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-tipm-freemonts-journey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-tipm-freemonts-journey/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125289   Thanks to the 40+ people who sent queries to Piston Slap over the week. I’ve insisted the satisfaction derived from our interaction is why I keep writing, that everything else is merely gravy. Delicious gravy, but just that. You’ve once again validated that fact. – SM Bob writes: Good Morning Sajeev, I am asking a question about the […]

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Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit (photo courtesy: blog.fiat.com.au)

Thanks to the 40+ people who sent queries to Piston Slap over the week. I’ve insisted the satisfaction derived from our interaction is why I keep writing, that everything else is merely gravy. Delicious gravy, but just that. You’ve once again validated that fact. – SM

Bob writes:

Good Morning Sajeev,

I am asking a question about the headlights of my 2015 Fiat Freemont, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder variety. In particular, replacing the globe in the left headlamp assembly. In the manual it states to move/relocate the TIPM. On the forums there is nothing mentioned about how to remove this particular item, plus I read all the horror stories about the TIPM, unreliability, etc.

As getting to the globe without removing the TIPM looks like an exercise in British engineering — “if you can make something important inaccessible, please do” — is it safe to (1) remove it? (2) how? and (3) what are the consequences if various things have to be disconnected?

The reason for changing the headlights so early (it’s only been in possession for a week) is that down under these headlights are not very effective. Stock standard halogens do not cut the mustard when you are at 110km/h surrounded by ‘roo’s, goats and other livestock. I would like to see them a bit further down the road, rather than right next to me on the shoulder of the road, before deciding whether to ruin my day and theirs.

Sajeev answers:

G’day, mate! Nice to see you’ve moved from German underengineering to one of Fiat’s finer works of underengineering! Not that the Dodge Journey is a terrible vehicle, even in Italian badge-engineered form.

The forums agree with the factory manual’s assessment of moving the TIPM to access the headlight bulb. It’s not a cause for worry, even if TIPM boxes are rather fragile. If so inclined, disconnect the battery for an hour (so the system will drain out) before starting disassembly. How do you remove the TIPM? Maybe this Jeep thread helps. After that, the process seems easy.

To be fair, I worry about upgrading headlights on a TIPM-controlled Chrysler Fiat product and burning out the damn module…then voiding parts of your warranty. And whatever bulb you install won’t be a good fit to a lighting pod designed for #9005 or #9006 halogen bulbs — perhaps a moot point, as you won’t blind other drivers in the middle of nowhere. (Who cares if the ‘roos get a little blind, right?) But if you must, avoid the radioactively bright, high-kelvin HIDs, install headlight relays and an inline fuse going to the TIPM. That fuse might rescue the TIPM, saving you hundreds.

I’d rather avoid it all via aftermarket driving lights from a big name company certified legal in Australia. Run them near/in place of the bumper mounted fog lights, wiring them directly to the battery. Then run a TIPM-free switch directly from the wiring to the interior. Install the switch under the dash or inside the center console, as to not upset the interior’s fine Italian design.

Possibly mediocre US-spec headlights possibly redesigned for Fiat’s global needs? Dubious conversions to stronger headlights with glare galore? TIPM failure issues? Warranty concerns?

Just skip it all and go aftermarket.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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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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Chart Of The Day: The Dodge Brand’s Decline Can Not Be Surprising To You http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-dodge-brands-decline-can-not-surprising/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-dodge-brands-decline-can-not-surprising/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1110281 Dodge’s share of the U.S. market has been sliding with great consistency for years. Much of the blame for the dramatic drop-off in 2009 — Dodge’s market share fell from 5.9% in 2008 to 3.1% the next year — was a direct result of losing Ram trucks to a self-titled Ram division. But even the […]

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Dodge market share chart June 2015Dodge’s share of the U.S. market has been sliding with great consistency for years. Much of the blame for the dramatic drop-off in 2009 — Dodge’s market share fell from 5.9% in 2008 to 3.1% the next year — was a direct result of losing Ram trucks to a self-titled Ram division.

But even the post-Ram Dodge of today owns a significantly smaller portion of the market than the post-Ram Dodge of, for instance, 2013. Although America’s midsize car market is declining, it certainly does Dodge no favours that the brand now possesses no midsize car. The Chrysler 200 is now left to avenge the Avenger’s blood.

The fifth-generation of Dodge’s minivan has been around, albeit updated, for eight model years. A shutdown at the Grand Caravan’s plant in Windsor, Ontario, earlier this year hampered volume further.

The brand’s two most talked-about products, the Challenger and Charger, are on the upswing, but they compete in relatively small product categories. [Dealers won’t let you actually buy one, either. -Mark] The Dodge Dart is a low-volume compact. In a thriving SUV/CUV market, Dodge Durango sales are down 6% this year. It’s the Journey, in fact, that’s Dodge’s best-selling product so far this year.

2015 Dodge Journey Crossroad

Put it all together and you have a brand, which a decade ago generated 6.9% of the U.S. auto industry’s volume, now, on occasion, generating less than 3% of the market’s sales, as Dodge did in March, May, and June.

Dodge sales have fallen below 50,000 units in each of the last twelve months after topping the 50K mark four times in the first-half of 2014 and five times in 2013. Year-over-year, Dodge sales in the U.S. have decreased in each of the last five months and in nine of the last eleven months.

Dodge sales are down 16% so far this year, and sadly for Dodge fans, the reasons are not difficult to decipher. Only Scion and Smart are sliding more rapidly. Fortunately for FCA, Jeep and Chrysler are among the five fastest-growing brands in America.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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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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Junkyard Find: 1976 Dodge Colt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1976-dodge-colt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1976-dodge-colt/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1096361 We’ve seen plenty of front–wheel–drive Colts in this series, but (prior to today) the only example of the rear-wheel drive Dodge-badged Mitsubishi Colt Galant we’d seen was this lichen-covered ’72 wagon. On a recent trip to California, I spotted this coastal-rusty example of tape-striped Malaise Mitsubishi glory. Obviously, this car sat outdoors and neglected for […]

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23- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

We’ve seen plenty of frontwheeldrive Colts in this series, but (prior to today) the only example of the rear-wheel drive Dodge-badged Mitsubishi Colt Galant we’d seen was this lichen-covered ’72 wagon. On a recent trip to California, I spotted this coastal-rusty example of tape-striped Malaise Mitsubishi glory.
17- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Obviously, this car sat outdoors and neglected for decades.

08- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The severity of the top-down rust indicates that it lived near the ocean, or maybe under a leaky tarp in a shaded Bay Area yard.

11- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Someone took the cylinder head off and said “To hell with it.”

01- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Still, you can always find something useful on a car like this. The instrument cluster would be useful for a Colt restorer.

18- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Ah, Malaise.


Hemi engine!


This appears to be the same car, down to the blue tape stripes. Look, adjustable steering column!

15- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Dodge Grand Caravan Continuing Into 2017 Model Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dodge-grand-caravan-continuing-into-2017-model-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dodge-grand-caravan-continuing-into-2017-model-year/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 18:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097873 Mourning over the loss of the Dodge Grand Caravan? You won’t need to pour a 40 out for your homie yet, as production will go on through the 2017 model year. Per an internal document unearthed by Automotive News‘s sources, FCA will continue production of the minivan alongside the redesigned Chrysler Town & Country set […]

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2015 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Blacktop Package

Mourning over the loss of the Dodge Grand Caravan? You won’t need to pour a 40 out for your homie yet, as production will go on through the 2017 model year.

Per an internal document unearthed by Automotive News‘s sources, FCA will continue production of the minivan alongside the redesigned Chrysler Town & Country set to hit the line February 29, 2016. The 2017 model — bearing the same code as the 2015 edition — will join the T&C August 23 of the same year.

The continuation of the Grand Caravan — originally slated to end in 2016 — may be a hedge against losing market share over the T&C’s new look, and would also meet demand in Canada and from fleet owners.

A representative reiterated the Grand Caravan would eventually be discontinued, adding no further details on the continuation could be given at this time.

(Photo credit: Dodge)

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FCA Defects from Takata, Finds Solace with TRW for Airbag Inflators http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-defects-from-takata-finds-solace-with-trw-for-airbag-inflators/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-defects-from-takata-finds-solace-with-trw-for-airbag-inflators/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097793 FCA, looking a 4.1 million unit recall in the face thanks to defective Takata airbag inflators, will source replacements from a rival, ZF-owned TRW Automotive. The Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram parent will be the first company to refuse to toe the line. While the announcement has not yet been made official, The Detroit News obtained “copies of the written […]

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FCA US HQ

FCA, looking a 4.1 million unit recall in the face thanks to defective Takata airbag inflators, will source replacements from a rival, ZF-owned TRW Automotive.

The Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram parent will be the first company to refuse to toe the line.

While the announcement has not yet been made official, The Detroit News obtained “copies of the written testimony from the executives ahead of Tuesday’s hearing” before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Scott G. Kunselman, FCA U.S. senior vice president and head of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance, said in written testimony the company is “replacing all driver-side inflators involved in the recall with an alternate and permanent design provided by TRW,” effective June 8.

That does not mean FCA is leaving Takata full stop. The two companies are working together to improve passenger airbag inflators, says the report.

A total of eleven automakers have been affected by the recalls.

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Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Shelby CSX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/crapwagon-outtake-1987-shelby-csx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/crapwagon-outtake-1987-shelby-csx/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095521 I grew up thinking – nay, knowing – that Mopars were crap. What can I say? I’m a child of the Eighties. A kid that grew up in an import household. All of the Chrysler products I ever saw were causing headaches for their hapless owners. Most were unremarkable, unmistakable derivations of the venerable K-car […]

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1987 Shelby CSX

I grew up thinking – nay, knowing – that Mopars were crap. What can I say? I’m a child of the Eighties. A kid that grew up in an import household. All of the Chrysler products I ever saw were causing headaches for their hapless owners. Most were unremarkable, unmistakable derivations of the venerable K-car platform, seemingly built in endless minor variations to minimize the time spent on engineering.

For whatever reason, I didn’t “get” the hype around Carroll Shelby, either. Whatever his racing/engineering genius, he seemed to be a publicity-hungry blowhard who would put his name on anything for a massive pile of cash. Again, this was a time before televised classic-car auctions, where anything with Shelby’s name requires a massive pile of cash.

So, when I surreptitiously took my dad’s Car and Driver and Road & Track in my backpack to school, to read at lunch or on the toilet, the waves of Turbo Dodges spilling from the page made little impression. (Thanks to the excellent Shelby-Dodge.com for the reprinted road test.) These cars were seriously quick for the time, putting out 175 hp or more with decent (if harsh) handling for the time. They actually threatened pony cars on the track!

This car for sale in South Dakota, #359 of 750, looks rather clean, save some needed detailing. Under seventy thousand on the odometer looks impressive, too, though I’d be concerned about deferred maintenance on a car that’s likely been sitting a good bit. I wonder if these will ever command big money like Carroll’s Ford-derived specials do. At $9,000, this doesn’t look like too much of a gamble.

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FCA Delaying Dozen Model Introductions, Redesigns Across Product Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-delaying-dozen-model-introductions-redesigns-across-product-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-delaying-dozen-model-introductions-redesigns-across-product-range/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 16:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1082089 Suppliers close to FCA and its plans say production for a dozen new and redesigned models have been delayed, including key Jeep and Ram offerings. While high-margin products like the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Ram 1500 wait for their redesigns, Alfa Romeo may be the only brand in FCA’s portfolio to receive its awaited […]

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2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition

Suppliers close to FCA and its plans say production for a dozen new and redesigned models have been delayed, including key Jeep and Ram offerings.

While high-margin products like the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Ram 1500 wait for their redesigns, Alfa Romeo may be the only brand in FCA’s portfolio to receive its awaited models much sooner than planned, Reuters reports.

The suppliers stated a number of reasons behind the delays, including last-minute design and engineering changes, especially those whose changes could reduce the automaker’s overall investment in its products in the short-term as CEO Sergio Marchionne continues seeking a partner for consolidation. FCA held a net debt of €8.6 billion ($9.6 billion USD) at the end of Q1 2015, while cash and marketable securities fell €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) over the same period.

Despite the automaker’s focus on updating its most profitable models, redesigns of said models are being pushed back. The redesigned Ram 1500 was to hit production by the middle of 2017, but the suppliers say the pickup will begin its trip down the line in November 2017. Meanwhile, the Jeep Wrangler is set for a July 2017 introduction instead of earlier in the year, the Grand Cherokee may be delayed by as much as a year from its autumn 2017 launch, and the Grand Wagoneer — which is expected to share its underpinnings with the Grand Cherokee — may not make its autumn 2018 production date.

Other models to see delays in introduction or redesign include: a Jeep compact crossover to replace the Patriot/Compass siblings (pushed back six months from spring 2016); Dodge Dart and Journey (full redesign set for 2019-2020); Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger (new designs to now come in 2019 or later); and Chrysler full-size and mid-size crossovers (postponed/shelved from 2017 and 2018 introductions).

[Photo credit: Jeep]

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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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FCA US Reducing Powertrain Warranty To 60K Miles For 2016 Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-reducing-powertrain-warranty-to-60k-miles-for-2016-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-reducing-powertrain-warranty-to-60k-miles-for-2016-models/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 19:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077546 Those shopping for a new Charger, 300, Wrangler or 1500 because of the powertrain warranty may need to pull the trigger soon due to an upcoming mileage cut. According to the following statement, FCA US is cutting the warranty down from the current 5-year/100,000-mile guarantee to a new 5-year/60,000-mile term for the 2016 model year, […]

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21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Exterior-007

Those shopping for a new Charger, 300, Wrangler or 1500 because of the powertrain warranty may need to pull the trigger soon due to an upcoming mileage cut.

According to the following statement, FCA US is cutting the warranty down from the current 5-year/100,000-mile guarantee to a new 5-year/60,000-mile term for the 2016 model year, Automotive News reports:

Following changes already made by competitors, FCA US is adjusting powertrain warranty coverage for 2016 model year vehicles to be more consistent with industry practices. For 2016MY, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck vehicles with gasoline engines will be covered by a 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

An FCA representative says the company’s 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty will remain unchanged, while diesels, Alfas and Fiats are not affected by the policy change; Fiat has its own 4-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The move follows General Motors’ decision in March 2015 to cut-down its 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for its Chevrolet and GMC products to a 5-year/60,000-mile policy.

[Source: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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Chart Of The Day: What If Dodge And Ram Were Still Just Dodge? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/chart-day-dodge-ram-still-just-dodge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/chart-day-dodge-ram-still-just-dodge/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 12:45:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072834 As recently as 2009, Dodge was the sixth-best-selling auto brand in the United States. But through the first four months of 2015, Dodge is the tenth-best-selling auto brand in America. Granted, Dodge volume has fallen 15% year-over-year, but the real reason for Dodge’s lower ranking is that the Dodge of today isn’t the Dodge of […]

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Dodge Ram sales chart

As recently as 2009, Dodge was the sixth-best-selling auto brand in the United States.

But through the first four months of 2015, Dodge is the tenth-best-selling auto brand in America. Granted, Dodge volume has fallen 15% year-over-year, but the real reason for Dodge’s lower ranking is that the Dodge of today isn’t the Dodge of yesterday. 

Ram, formerly part of the Dodge division, is the twelfth-ranked auto brand in America so far this year.

As a unit, Dodge/Ram is currently – you guessed it – the sixth-best-selling auto brand in America, ahead of FCA’s top-selling Jeep brand. Ahead of Hyundai, too.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Piston Slap: Minivan or SUV to Take the “A” Liner? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-10/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-10/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 11:30:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074810   Clark writes: Sajeev, We plan on buying a hard-side folding camper (a.k.a. an Aliner) with a dry weight of about 2,100 lbs. Which minivan or SUV would you recommend? Sajeev answers: I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I kinda want a pop-up camper to tow behind my Ranger. Kinda the same thing…sorta. Anyway, if […]

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Get to where you’re goin’ in a hurry. (photo courtesy: roamingtimes.com)

Clark writes:

Sajeev,

We plan on buying a hard-side folding camper (a.k.a. an Aliner) with a dry weight of about 2,100 lbs. Which minivan or SUV would you recommend?

Sajeev answers:

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I kinda want a pop-up camper to tow behind my Ranger. Kinda the same thing…sorta.

Anyway, if you stick with an Aliner and don’t totally overload both the trailer and exceed the tow rig’s GVWR, almost any late-model V6 powered CUV or minivan is fine. I’d go vanning, for practicality and stretch out comfort; ideal for a small family, a couple, or just one person with mucho outdoor stuff. And their boxy shape (usually) punches a larger hole in the air for the trailer to “rest” inside.

Consider these minivan parameters, in no particular order:

  1. The option for a large, standalone, transmission cooler. And maybe the same for power steering. Or, as previously discussed, a super trick bolt-in setup in the aftermarket. Or perhaps give up and get the largest universal-fitting tranny cooler you can slap in. The latter could be the best and most affordable alternative.
  2. Size of brake discs and, to a lesser extent, any variance in caliper surface area between manufacturers. While I’m not holding my breath for a minivan with 4-piston front calipers, that would be sweet.
  3. Towing Capacity: checking the manufacturer websites, Chrysler wins the minivan towing race for MY 2015. Not only does it have available trailer sway control, there’s an extra 100 lbs of tow rating beyond every 3,500 pound rated minivan. But is that extra rated 100 lbs a tangible improvement?
    1. Another option: The Nissan Quest offers the same 3,500 pound towing capacity, but is the CVT gearbox is a good or bad thing? Good: CVTs work so well to put down power with efficiency, no steps for downshifting must be nice with the extra demands from towing. Bad: well, who here actually knows people who tow with CVT gearboxes over long periods of time?
  4. Tires: with all that load, finding the van with the most tow-worthy rubber is also important. Or switch to LT tires.
  5. Ease of adding aftermarket camping accessories: if you want it, can you get it for non-Chrysler minivans?
  6. U-body with LS4-FTW. Obviously, the rightest of the most righteous answers, if not the easiest to acquire. How sad for everyone!

What say you, Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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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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Brothers Bid For Piece Of Father’s Legacy, Win Despite Losing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/brothers-bid-for-piece-of-fathers-legacy-win-despite-losing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/brothers-bid-for-piece-of-fathers-legacy-win-despite-losing/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 18:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069218 Five years after losing their father in the line of duty, Tanner and Chase Brownlee did their best to win his retired squad car at auction. Weld County, Colo. Deputy Sheriff Sam Brownlee was on duty when he lost his life in 2010 at the end of a police chase, KMGH-TV reports. Five years later, […]

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Weld County Dodge Charger Retired Squad Car Set For Auction Circa May 2015

Five years after losing their father in the line of duty, Tanner and Chase Brownlee did their best to win his retired squad car at auction.

Weld County, Colo. Deputy Sheriff Sam Brownlee was on duty when he lost his life in 2010 at the end of a police chase, KMGH-TV reports. Five years later, the Brownlee brothers set out to claim his father’s work vehicle, a Dodge Charger, at auction Wednesday evening.

At the time the auction began, Tanner planned to use funds from his GoFundMe page to bring the car home, only to find himself severely outbid as the auction wore on.

However, the winning bidder — Steve Wells — quickly handed over the keys to Tanner seconds after putting $60,000 on the car, catching him off-guard.

Both proceeds from the auction and the GoFundMe page will go to Concerns of Police Survivors, an organization providing services to survivors of LEOs killed in the line of duty.

[Photo credit: KMGH-TV]

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Dodge Burnishes Viper’s Halo With New ACR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/dodge-burnishes-vipers-halo-new-acr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/dodge-burnishes-vipers-halo-new-acr/#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 14:58:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064402 When Chrysler invited the media to an event at the Conner Avenue assembly plant where the Dodge Viper is put together in Detroit, it was rumored they’d use the occasion to reveal a 700+ horsepower Hellcat Version of Dodge’s sports car. After all, how could the Challenger and Charger have more powerful engines than the brand’s […]

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When Chrysler invited the media to an event at the Conner Avenue assembly plant where the Dodge Viper is put together in Detroit, it was rumored they’d use the occasion to reveal a 700+ horsepower Hellcat Version of Dodge’s sports car. After all, how could the Challenger and Charger have more powerful engines than the brand’s King of the Hill? Over at GM, even Cadillac’s V cars don’t have as much power as the Z06 Corvette.

It happens Dodge did reveal a new version of the Viper – but it isn’t a Hellcat. Instead, they introduced what they billed as “the fastest street legal Viper track car ever”, the all-new Viper ACR.

When the acronym was introduced, ACR stood for American Club Racer. As you would expect from a suffix like that, the Viper ACRs have been more focused for track use than regular Viper roadsters or coupes.

As quick as the Hellcat versions of the Charger and Challenger are, they are muscle cars, not track cars. Chrysler isn’t ashamed to say they weren’t meant to take on the Z/28 Camaro or Boss 302 Mustang on a road course. The Hellcat V8 is based on the iron block HEMI and those cars are a bit noseheavy and prone to understeer. Don’t get me wrong, I had a Scat Pack Challenger for a week more than a month ago and it’s not a bad handling car. The steering is quick enough to balance the drift happy rear end with a flick of the wrist, but the big Hemi powered sedan and coupe were consciously designed to do well on Milan’s quarter mile drag strip, not so much Waterford Hills’ tight road course.

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The Viper, on the other hand, is Dodge’s track car. It’s the one they’ve used to set the Nurburgring lap “record” and to race at LeMans. (The Hellcats, though, can do 200 mph just like the Viper.) It has been Dodge’s halo car for more than two decades. When cars below it in the brand’s hierarchy have gotten the attention that the Hellcats have gotten, it was natural for people to speculate the Viper would eventually get the 707 hp Hellcat HEMI V8. That speculation has proven to be unfounded.

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Tim Kuniskis, Dodge’s president and CEO, said that putting the Hellcat engine in the Viper was never really considered. While the Viper has a bigger displacement engine with more cylinders than the Hellcat V8, the Viper’s all-aluminum V10 actually dresses out about 200 lbs less than the Hellcat HEMI. Since the 645 hp base Viper already has a better power to weight ratio than the Hellcat cars, dropping a Hellcat in a Viper would actually make it slower than it is. It would also upset the weight balance and likely make the Viper less competitive on the track.

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So the Viper ACR won’t be getting its speed from raw power. Instead, the ACR gets suspension, brake and aerodynamic upgrades. Fully adjustable coilover shocks are at all four corners. Ride height can be adjusted up to 3 inches. More negative camber is allowed. Some bushings have been replaced by more rigid joints. Brakes have been upgraded to six piston Brembo calipers with carbon-ceramic rotors. An aero package has been added that doubles downforce at speed to almost a ton. And special Ecsta V720 tires developed just for the Viper ACR are claimed to have the largest contact patch of any production car. Dodge claims the combination will allow the Viper ACR to sustain lateral acceleration levels of 1.5g, something pretty much unheard of with street legal cars.

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The Extreme Aero Package deserves some attention in particular, though admittedly it’s a bit hard to miss. In the front is an aggressive and adjustable splitter that’s removable so you don’t damage it when using the car on the street. Also removable are the strakes for the rear diffuser that extend far under the ACR’s smooth belly pan. They’re meant to be installed when you get to the track. One part is intended to be removed when you get to the track: the under-fender panel that blocks off the hood louvers intended to extract air from around the front wheel. The ACR gets even more aggressive front dive planes than the Viper TA. Dominating the back end of the car is an enormous adjustable dual-element rear wing that’s wider than most men are tall.

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While the new ACR is said to be the fastest track oriented street Viper yet, and the base ACR comes with a somewhat stripped out interior and a modest three speaker audio system, buyers can participate in the Viper “One of One” customization program. Even though it is track focused, it can be equipped with the panoply of luxury options. If you want to luxuriate in leather with the A/C and stereo blasting while you set a new lap record at your local track, you can do that, (if your driving skills are up to it). In any case, Chrysler will build your ACR the way you want it. They’ll even deliver it in your team colors.

The last of 13 pilot ACRs was going down the assembly line as we took the plant tour, so production on the retail Viper ACRs should start as soon as sales being in the 3rd quarter of this year. You can assume the price will be somewhat north of the base Viper’s $87K.

Photography by Ronnie Schreiber. For more photos of the vehicles in this post, please go to Cars In Depth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

 

one of one

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Buick Regal Tops Among Those Traded-In After One Year Of Ownership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 19:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062954 In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership. Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes […]

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2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Exterior-003

In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership.

Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes reports, with trade-in rates as high as 11 percent for a specific model.

The models brought back to the sales lot run the gamut, from $18,000 subcompacts to $45,000 luxury sedans. The Regal tops the list with 10.7 percent of owners exchanging their keys after a year, the Chevrolet Sonic takes second with 8.9 percent, and the BMW X1 at a close third with 7.8 percent. The Dodge Charger, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Frontier also make the list.

As for why the sudden change of heart, quality or the perception of quality played a key role; the aforementioned models were rated poorly by owners surveyed in J.D. Power’s 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Survey. ISeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly says those issues usually involve technology, such as connected-vehicle systems, voice command, and Bluetooth connection, and aren’t so much “problems” as they are difficulties with said technologies.

Those looking for a deal on those models will likely be happy with what they find on the used lot, though. The 2014 Regal with average mileage comes with a price tag 32.2 percent less than new, while the C-Class and Charger lost 31.0 percent and 28.4 percent in new-car value after a year, respectively.

[Photo credit: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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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 Adds 1,000 Hellcats To The Assembly Line http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-adds-1000-hellcats-assembly-line/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-adds-1000-hellcats-assembly-line/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032625 Not too long ago, Dodge had to curb new orders from dealers for both the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats. As of now, 1,000 more on on their way. According to Jalopnik, an anonymous source relayed the news to Hellcat.org forum, though how many of each was not mentioned: For those of you still waiting […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Not too long ago, Dodge had to curb new orders from dealers for both the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats. As of now, 1,000 more on on their way.

According to Jalopnik, an anonymous source relayed the news to Hellcat.org forum, though how many of each was not mentioned:

For those of you still waiting on your VIN’s, you just may be receiving a nice little surprise in the coming days. An anonymous source tipped us this morning and said that Dodge has just scheduled an additional 1,000 SRT Hellcat’s to be built. Of those 1,000 new schedules, we did not receive any hard numbers on how many were Challengers or Chargers, but it’s definitely a huge step in the right direction and looks like Dodge is listening.

Right now, 2,200 Hellcats left the assembly line since early March. The duo have proven to be popular among those plunking down over $60,000 for the opportunity to wrangle the 707-horsepower monsters, with dealers taking so many orders that the brand had to tell them to stop until the current orders were fulfilled.

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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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