By on September 21, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

We all know minivans bring out a driver’s inner beast. Here at TTAC, hardly a day goes by where we’re not discussing which minivan is best suited for an impromptu spin around the track. Seriously.

However, if exploring the limits of your minivan’s handling abilities tops your short list of things to do today, Chrysler Pacifica drivers had best hold off — at least if you’ve got a crowded backseat. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles doesn’t want owners driving aggressively until they’ve taken their van in for a voluntary recall. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2017

FCA sign, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

It’s been two months since federal investigators blew the lid off a years-long corruption scheme between certain Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives and counterparts at the United Autoworkers Union, but a new court filing shows some of the funnelled money took an unusual path.

We’re not talking about the Ferrari, the pool, or the fancy purses and pens. Not even the shotgun. After leaving the account of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, a corporation designed to give workers a leg up, investigators claim cash made its way to a former UAW vice-president’s personal foundation and then to two apparently fake hospices.

The kind that don’t perform any hospicing. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2017

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 - Image: FCAIf you’ve got it, flaunt it. Go ahead and shake your money maker.

Or not.

After reports surfaced at Automotive News earlier this week that the 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 from the Dodge Charger Hellcat, Dodge Challenger Hellcat, and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk would appear in a Chrysler 300 next year, Motor Authority has heard from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on the subject.

It’s not going to happen. (Read More…)

By on September 18, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

If Chrysler’s model lineup was a parade, you wouldn’t have to wait long before crossing the street. With just two models on offer — the Pacifica minivan and elderly 300 full-size sedan — following the ill-fated 200’s demise, the Chrysler brand’s U.S. sales volume has fallen to a six-year low.

Plans are afoot to repopulate the meager stable, but the first of two new models — both crossovers — won’t arrive until the end of the decade. In the meantime, the only “new” product you’ll see is a refreshed 300. After a $3,345 price cut for 2018, the 300 appears destined for more buyer enticements in 2019. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2017

20-2014-jeep-cherokee-chrome-grille

Lucky is the new car buyer who isn’t saddled with a trip to the dealer for recall work within the first few years of ownership. The modern age provides us with a great many wonderful things — avocadoes year-round, transmission cogs we can count on all 10 fingers, UberEATS — but it hasn’t turned the average vehicle into a paragon of reliability.

Last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a recall for 323,400 2014 and 2015 Jeep Cherokees, as well as 2015 Renegades, Chrysler 200s, and Ram ProMasters. FCA threw the 2018 Fiat 500X in there for good measure. The problem stemmed from the automaker’s finicky nine-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to insufficient crimps in the transmission sensor cluster’s wire harness (and the subsequent trouble code sent to the vehicle’s diagnostic system), some owners suddenly found their Jeep, Chrysler or Ram coasting along in neutral — a default position — instead of drive. Can’t have that.

The recall — a minor fix — didn’t seem like a big deal. The vehicles would normally be drivable (for a time, anyway) after the engine was shut off and turned back on again, making a trip to the nearest certified FCA dealership relatively trouble-free. For one Cherokee owner, however, the repair work stood to cost him $2,000 more than what he paid for the vehicle. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2017

2018 Chrysler 300 Limited - Image: FCAOnly two models remain in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ U.S. Chrysler lineup, but both models will benefit from dramatic price cuts for the 2018 model year.

The 2017 Chrysler 300 was marketed with a U.S. base price of $33,435. That car, the Chrysler 300 Limited, will be renamed for 2018 as the Touring L, CarsDirect reports, one notch above the 300 Touring. Meanwhile, the Chrysler 300C loses its standard V6 engine and is now sold exclusively with the 5.7-liter V8 and rear-wheel drive.

As for the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica, a new Pacifica L below the Pacifica LX allows the 2018 Pacifica to sit well below the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna in the minivan price hierarchy.  (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

2017 Jeep® Cherokee Trailhawk - Image: JeepAugust 2017 represented the twelfth consecutive month in which U.S. sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles declined on a year-over-year basis.

FCA volume slid 11 percent in August, a loss of nearly 21,000 sales, as retail and fleet volume declined. The decreases were most keenly felt at Jeep and Chrysler, which tumbled 15 percent and 33 percent, respectively. But Dodge, Ram, and Fiat sales also reported losses compared with August 2016.

More troubling than the poor August results, however, is the predictability of August’s results. FCA’s disappointing trendline began in September 2016. Year-over-year, FCA lost 187,000 sales over the last 12 months. (Read More…)

By on September 2, 2017

2017 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Sahara - Image: Jeep

He came to watch a race, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne took some time out from a busy Saturday at the Italian Formula One Grand Prix to squash some rumors.

You know the ones. Reports emerged last month that Chinese automakers were hanging around FCA’s door, just waiting for a chance to sweep the company off its feet. An unnamed company pitched a buyout offer, the story goes. Not high enough, FCA allegedly responded. Another company, Great Wall Motors, isn’t interested in FCA, just its lucrative and growth-poised Jeep division.

Is a Chinese-Italian-American automaker in the works? Will the buck one day stop in Beijing or Shanghai, instead of at the desks of Auburn Hills executives? Hardly, says Marchionne. No one wants to dance with FCA. (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2017

2007 Jeep Liberty, Image: Wikimedia Commons

It’s the same safety issue that saddled Ford’s Pinto with a notorious legacy that continues to this day, and Jeep can’t seem to put it in its rear-view.

In 2013, at the urging of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a recall for 1.56 million Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs to correct a serious flaw. The vehicles’ gas tanks, located between the rear axle and bumper, had proven especially vulnerable to rupturing in rear-end collisions. A total of 26 deaths were recorded at the time of the recall.

After installing trailer hitches on each affected vehicle, FCA felt it had the issue well in hand. Unfortunately, the fires continued, as did the deaths. Now, it’s happened again. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD, Image: FCA

There was quite a debate occurring in TTAC’s private Slack channel yesterday — a conversation sparked by knowledge of a new discount from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles extended to those who lost insured vehicles in Hurricane Harvey.

The timing of the offer — CarsDirect  claims the deal was valid as of August 28th, even as images and video of the waterborne and helicopter rescues of Houston-area residents filled television screens and social media — raised an eyebrow. How soon is too soon? It would seem the main concerns of impacted residents over the past couple of days included finding food and shelter, reconnecting with loved ones, and perhaps picking up the pieces in both flood- and wind-damaged communities. Not shopping for a new vehicle online.

The nature of the offer sparked further debate. Affected residents in certain Texas and Louisiana counties can show a copy of their insurance claim form to receive $500 off the purchase or lease of a new FCA vehicle, certain models (like the Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler 200, SRT models, and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio) not included. Buyers can combine the offer with other applicable discounts.

$500 off that new Grand Cherokee? Whoo-wee, you might say. At what dollar amount does a post-disaster offer change from feeling like an opportunistic sales grab and more like a gesture of kind-hearted humanitarian assistance? Or is this just cynical thinking — should we regard any offer as a sign of generosity? It’s certainly not a new practice for any automaker. On and on it went.

Of course, any conclusion comes down to the individual. But this morning we heard FCA isn’t alone in offering deals to Harvey victims.  (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Amarok, Image: Volkswagen

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the manufacturer currently at the center of rampant speculation over a possible Chinese buyout and a spin-off of its Italian luxury brands, is reportedly in early talks with Volkswagen over the joint production of certain light utility vehicles.

Volkswagen, which has made crystal clear it wants nothing to do with a merger, might have products the Italian-American automaker could find beneficial. Despite the awkward back-and-forth between FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and VW Group chief Matthias Müller earlier this year, the German automaker didn’t rule out discussions with FCA.

According to a source close to the issue, the discussions include future versions of VW’s small commercial van and, interestingly, a midsize pickup truck. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2017

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

Dodge is recalling Charger and Challenger Hellcats due to faulty engine oil cooler lines which may result in a rapid, catastrophic loss of fluids. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filed a recall request earlier this month, saying 1,207 vehicles assembled between February and May of 2017 may be affected.

According to the recall information, the issue stems from rubber used in the oil cooler line. Chrysler’s testing revealed that the rubber doesn’t meet the company’s usual criteria. Substandard materials can allow the hose to separate from a crimped aluminum portion of the line, letting oil gush out as if someone unscrewed a drain plug. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass Limited - Image: Jeep

So, a Chinese automobile manufacturer, Great Wall Motors, would totally love it if Fiat Chrysler Automobiles flung the Jeep brand its way. Who wouldn’t? In the mid-1980s, Jeep was the ruby in AMC’s crown, and its new (and highly profitable) Cherokee line had Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca salivating at the thought of where he could take the brand if given the chance.

Three decades later and Jeep is FCA’s biggest asset, not just due to current volume, but future volume in untapped markets. CEO Sergio Marchionne wants people the world over to drop what they’re doing and buy a Jeep. Having global Jeep models that are popular in numerous regions would act as a hedge against trouble in, say, North America, where its Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands aren’t exactly setting sales charts on fire.

Too big to spin off? Perhaps, but other brands in the FCA fold aren’t nearly as indispensable. With no corporate sugar daddy waiting in the wings with a checkbook, the automaker is reportedly considering spinning off a couple of brands, a new report claims. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass Trailhawk - Image: FCAIn what is almost certainly going to be little more than a faint memory in the minds of devoted readers at AmericasJeepLovers.org, the potential relationship between Wang Fengying’s Great Wall Motors Co. and Sergio Marchionne’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has taken a turn for the less likely already.

It seems like years ago — no, wait, it seems like yesterday — that Great Wall Motors Co. publicly declared its viability as a suitor for FCA Jeep, the most important, highest-value, primary source of desirability within the FCA family. Jeep, you’ll recall, is likely worth substantially more on its own than the whole of FCA, Jeep included. This explains why it came as no surprise that Great Wall Motors or any other automaker would express an interest in purchasing Jeep from FCA. With huge global potential for a hugely popular brand that hasn’t yet tapped many open markets, Jeep has reach.

But does Great Wall even have the money? Would FCA even entertain the idea of selling off its most valuable component? And is there even any hope of negotiation? (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

2017 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Great Wall logo - Image: FCA/Great WallIn the week that’s elapsed since initial reports surfaced of a Chinese automaker planning a takeover of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Geely, Dongfeng, and Guangzhou Automobile Group have all taken themselves out of the running.

Automotive News now reports, however, that the seventh-largest automaker in China, Great Wall Motors Company, has a keen interest in FCA, which has long courted unwilling suitors.

There’s one outstanding issue. Great Wall Motors Co. is open about its desire to acquire Jeep as part of a mission “to become the world’s largest SUV maker,” but Great Wall doesn’t want FCA’s other, far less valuable entities.  (Read More…)

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