After announcing earlier this year that it wanted someone else to take care of its problem patients, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is performing surgery on the slow-selling Dodge Dart lineup.
The Fiat-based compact will be pared down from five offerings to three, outfitted to offer the features customers want at a strategic price, with no engine overlap between models. It also means the end of the “Obama Dart” — the high-mileage Aero edition produced to satisfy the U.S. government’s bailout conditions many years back. More on that later.
Pulling up to the intersection of Flower Shop Lane, Contractor Boulevard and Utility Road is the Fiat Doblò-based 2015 Ram ProMaster City, the second van to emerge from Ram’s relationship with Fiat Professional.
The folks at Jeep have known for some time that high volume on-road models have to be part of the mix to keep low volume off-road models viable. From the 1946 Willys Station Wagon and the original Wagoneer, to the Grand Cherokee and the Compass, Jeep has been on a steady march towards the word no Wrangler owner wants to hear: “crossover”. Their plan is to replace the off-road capable Liberty and compete with the RAV4, CR-V and 20 other small crossovers with one vehicle: the 2014 Cherokee.
With two ambitious (and contradictory) missions and unconventional looks, the Cherokee has turned into one of the most polarizing cars in recent memory. It is therefore no surprise the Cherokee has been getting mixed reviews. USA Today called it “unstoppable fun” while Consumer Reports called it “half baked” with a “choppy ride and clumsy handling.” Our own Derek Kreindler came away disappointed with its on-road performance at the launch event, though he had praise for the Cherokee’s off-road capabilities. What should we make of the glowing reviews, and the equally loud dissenting voices?
TTAC’s Alex Dykes didn’t fall in love with the Dodge Dart in his initial meeting, although he did refer to it as “class competitive”. In its first half-year on these shores, the Alfa-Dodge has struggled to keep inventory levels down despite great advertising.
Ten or twenty years ago, Chrysler might have let this state of affairs continue for a year or two before adjusting the product mix and/or changing the marketing approach, but in the lean-and-mean era they don’t play that game. The Dart GT is meant to restart the model’s momentum, and it does it the old-fashioned way: with high content and reasonably aggressive pricing.