By on September 1, 2016

2017 Jeep Wrangler boasts LED headlamps.

Upgrades are coming to several Fiat Chrysler Automobiles models, with the automaker announcing it will ditch some of the worst headlights in the industry.

No previously unannounced products are mentioned in FCA’s 2017 model year changes, but many models will receive new equipment. In the case of the Dodge Grand Caravan, which soldiers on in the shadow of the new Chrysler Pacifica, the new year comes with a new price.

Jeep scored plenty of failing grades back in July when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested small SUV headlights. The Wrangler, Renegade and Patriot all scored “poor” ratings from IIHS, but that could change next year.

LED headlamps appear in the Wrangler lineup for 2017, as well as new foglamps. The new lights are optional on Sport and Sport S models, and come standard on Sahara and Rubicon models. Late in the model year, the Renegade adopts high-intensity discharge headlamps. Nothing changes with the Patriot because that ancient model is awaiting the executioner.

Chrysler’s Pacifica minivan wowed us with its level of technology and creature comforts, but shocked us with its sticker price. At the opposite end of the minivan price scale is the Dodge Grand Caravan, which FCA just made more affordable by knocking $1,100 off the price of a base SE. The lineup shrinks to four trim levels ahead of the model’s death, but there’s a chance the automaker might keep it around for longer than just a year.

Changes to FCA’s rear-drive trio amount to a next-generation Uconnect infotainment system and 8.4 inch touchscreen in the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Charger. Sport appearance packages are available on the aging 300.

Nothing changes at Fiat, but Ram sees the addition of the brawny, manly, macho (are we forgetting anything?) Power Wagon to the 2500 Heavy Duty pickup line. The Power Wagon adds blacked-out trim, oversized badging and graphics, and a host of cherry-picked accessories. It’s an over-the-top hair metal band on wheels.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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75 Comments on “Jeep Wrangler Ditches (Awful) Old Headlights for 2017, Dodge Caravan Heads Downmarket...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Dodge Caravan Heads Downmarket…”
    This is like saying a president in his last few months in office is a “lame duck” My thoughts are NS people.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I wonder what the 4 trim levels will be?

      SE, SXT, ?, & ? – I’m sure that there will no longer be an RT “Man Van” since we’ve got Jim Gaffigan desperately trying to tell us how cool the Pacifica is.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I was thinking the same thing. The Caravan has the “cheap as possible minivan” market sewed up, how much further down can it go? Ohh, I could think of some ways: steel wheels painted silver with center caps only, rubber floor, vinyl seats, aircon delete…the rest would require an investment in the model, which defeats the purpose (manual trans mated to an I-4, manual windows, reintroducing the shorty model, etc).

      “Introducing the new $14k base msrp Caravan LE!” Canadians would go nuts for it.

      I miss Plymouth. It should be FCA’s global cheap mainstream brand. But, Dodge is already established, and elsewhere (south of the Rio Grande) its still a mainstream brand with loads of cheap models. Yes, it should have some attitude, but trying to make it a performance-only brand is stupid. Look how great that turned out for Pontiac (and, to a lesser degree, Scion).

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Reintroducing the SWB Caravan would be an exercise in futility. Very few people bought the last ones, and that’s even before we factor in CAFE footprint. Nobody bought the first-gen manual Caravans, either, and today that would also require additional MPG/emissions tests for more powertrains, as well as gumming up the production line for a low-take model. The first job of the Grand Caravan is to be a competent, value-packed family hauler, which means even a turbo I4 is right out. Putting crank windows on the rear doors would be counterintuitive to that first mission too (you can’t make the weakest, smallest passengers crank down the largest windows).

        Rubber floors and steelies, that’s not a bad idea. But that would make it a Ram C/V, which has already been replaced by the ProMaster City. The Grand Caravan can only drop downmarket so far before it starts to overlap with that “mini-van.”

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          I had already dismissed the powertrain/body/crank window changes as counter-intuitive since the idea is to squeeze every drop out of the current model.

          Idealy, the crank windows would only be on the front. The Aerostar did very well with manually operated (sliding) window for the rear (2nd row) passengers. I doubt it would work here, but its an example of a non-power solution. Kids too small/weak to operate a crank window shouldn’t be trusted with the privilege anyway. In my limited experience of hauling kids in a base model vehicle with crank windows, they tended to abuse their access by opening the window with the A/C on, in the dead of winter, in the rain, etc, just being kids who will do any and everything they can get away with.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I meant more that in this case, you’d be putting cranks on possibly the largest operable windows on any vehicle sold in the U.S. I wouldn’t expect an adult to be able to roll them down with any immediacy.

          • 0 avatar
            rudiger

            FWIW, the base Grand Caravan models only have roll-down windows on the front doors. Roll-down windows on the sliding doors are extra-cost or you have to move to a higher trim level. Marchionne is wise to keep it around for at least another year (or two), particularly if the planned replacement Dodge cross-over is going to have a big price increase like the Pacifica.

            The same is true of the wheels: base trims ‘already’ have steelies and wheel covers. Likewise, ‘Stow ‘n Go’ seating isn’t on the base trims: the second row seat is the same, tried-and-true, heavy removable bench that was on the very first minivan introduced in 1983 (but you do get nice second row floor storage compartments where the ‘Stow ‘n Go’ seats would normally have went).

            Nor do you get rear privacy glass. It’s just the normal, lightly tinted glass the same on the windshield and front windows that really doesn’t look tinted, at all.

            There really isn’t much else they could delete to get the price lower. A Grand Caravan sans stuff like A/C, carpeting, and/or cruise control would be a tough sell, even if it was a couple grand less. As is, the base Grand Caravan isn’t a bad ride for those on a budget but with a growing family. Yeah, the rest of the minivans are better (even the Kia) but you’ll pay a bunch more, too. At least the Grand Caravan is certainly an all-around, much better choice than an SUV for a family.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        Brown paint

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Dodge Caravan Heads Downmarket”

      Scary thought.

      What is “downmarket” from customers buying due to deep discounts and long finance terms?

  • avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    A pair of round 7″ JW Speaker 8700 LED headlights are on my wish-list for my TR6. Less amperage draw on the original Lucas alternator and no need to run a relay wiring kit for more powerful incandescent units. Downside is that they’re nearly $300 – each.

    For anyone who remembers LED’s as the dim red digits on James Bond’s Pulsar watch, it’s hard to imagine that they now blindingly illuminate our world.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I think those were LCD’s, but I may be wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Most LCDs have LEDs providing the light these days. Not sure what the light source was on those old red displays maybe early LEDs or just a more standard lamp with a red filter to improve night vision. Your standard Casio / Timex watches have no light source, the LCD just bounces back available light from the environment which gives that black/grey appearance. Now they add phosphors that glow green for a backlight so you can see them at night.

      • 0 avatar
        cdotson

        Bond’s watch used red LEDs. Subsequent digital watches all used LCDs with alternate light sources (I believe fluorescent).

        Modern LCD televisions use white LED backlighting; earlier versions used fluorescent backlights.

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        Nope, it was light emitting diodes: http://www.jamesbondlifestyle.com/product/hamilton-pulsar-p2-2900-led-digital-watch

        LED watches are the thing I collect. Well, that and automotive projects that never get finished.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          I still have my Armitron LED watch, the first watch I ever bought, from the brief period in the ’70s when glowing red LED watches ruled. They went from expensive, exotic, lustworthy high tech to cheapo Texas Instruments plastic atrocities in the matter of about 7 years. Then they disappeared completely, replaced by LCDs.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Those old red displays were segmented LEDs. Terrible luminous efficiency led to short battery life, which is why you had to press a button to turn on the display.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    With the Caravan price cut, and being vastly better than the Journey in every way – does the Journey have any reason to exist anymore?

  • avatar
    ajla

    You didn’t mention the Charger Daytona and Challenger T/A. I’m not sure if those are replacing the Scat Packs or are acting as a bridge between the Scats and SRTs.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      From the information provided Scat Pack cars will remain—although something tells me that pricing for SRT cars goes up.

      Also missing from the article is the light weight wheels added to the Hellcat cars which shaves 4 lbs off each corner.

      SRT Grand Cherokee gains a new front fascia.

      All Jeep Cherokee models except Sport now have HID headlights as standard.

      R/T Journey and Durango Limited are now “GT” models.

      Charger Police models now gain a tow package for 5,450 lbs of towing.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    On the minivans- I kind of agree they should go that way. Nothing is sillier to me than a nice minivan. I spent some formative years working in a car wash and no built in vacuum will get rid of the mess in most minivans. As much as you can make the argument for a nothing but vinyl and rubber in a pickup, a mini-van is that x10.

    And the TA seems to be a bridge to me on the 392 and an appearance package on the 5.7.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The current quality of “leather” in most minivans means that you have vinyl already. Now if we could just do something about that pile carpeting…

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        True, some of the leather is pleather. When I was growing up my parents paid extra for the vinyl seats and head liner in their station wagons because it was an option and it was easier to cleanup messes. Why not make an all vinyl interior with rubberized floors and offer it as the base model. Much easier to cleanup and many growing families who cannot afford a more expensive van could buy one. Consider it as an entry level van to get first time new van buyers into the FCA fold. As for manual windows and no air it would be cheaper for FCA to include the electric windows and air since ordering in bulk is less expensive and including as standard equipment would not vary the cost by much. Leave the touch screen out of the base model and just include a backup camera which will be required in a couple of years.

    • 0 avatar
      RS

      The on board vacuum does seem to be a solution in search of a problem. I guess that’s what you get when all the better options are already done.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Depends on the user.

      “I have a bunch of young children”, no, you’re kinda screwed unless you’re a neat freak.

      But … “I have five to seven adults or teenagers to cart around and I don’t think a giant SUV is wise”, well, that’s manageable.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I find MB Tex to be far superior to the “pleather” on most mass market cars today.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      We didn’t get our first minivan until my sister and I were well past the “sticky film of crushed Cheerios and apple juice” stage of life, a nice van would have worked just fine for us if my parents weren’t really, really frugal.

      Also, you’re kind of writing off the luxury SUV market – are they somehow imbued with magical powers to resist kid dirt?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Late 2016: Revised Wrangler with LED headlights goes on sale.
    New Year’s 2017: There is an epidemic of Wranglers found with their headlights gouged out.

    Never buy a common vehicle with a showy, optional appearance upgrade. It will be stolen.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    If the headlights are bad on the Wrangler, just go out and buy driving lights and fit them.

    Not hard.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Big Al from Oz – depends on jurisdiction as to what constitutes “legal” for driving lights. Anyone who spends any time in the back country will fit aftermarket lights but for most people, changing the bulbs is the quickest and easiest solution. I’ve noticed a crackdown lately in my area on driving lights and “off-road” lights used “on highway”.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Ah yes…how silly of those buyers of new cars to expect such niceties as decent headlights.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Grand Caravan, not Caravan. The last Caravan was built in 2007.
    Mark my words and you saw it here first:
    Dodge will get a version of the Pacifica by model year 2019. No way is FCA going to give up 19% market share by eliminating a best-selling minivan like this one.
    Hopefully they will choose a new, better name for the vehicle.
    “Monaco” anybody?
    Why not?
    Still miss my Amtrak-painted Buick Terraza. . .

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      More than likely you’ll see a further decontended Pacifica at the low end.

      • 0 avatar
        LIKE TTAC.COM ON FACEBOOK

        The original Pacifica always looked to me exactly like a Caravan, but kind of squashed down a little lower.
        Very few of them were ever sold around here, and they’re rarer than hen’s teeth.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          And in my area, you can’t spit in certain neighborhoods without hitting one. Nicely-kept late models all the way down to dinged-up, busted-bumper specials fresh off the buy-here, pay-here lot.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          They were popular in my home town for obvious reasons, they were built there. The people that had them, loved them. Considering how the market went, Chrysler should have continued on with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I can’t speak for your prognostication, but I’ll say this: Monaco would be a beautiful throwback of a name, but it doesn’t mesh at all with their current crop of “dynamic” models.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Well, the game plan was for the Grand Caravan to be replaced by some sort of smaller cross-over vehicle, possibly with traditional doors instead of sliding side doors. My guess is it would be a competitor for, say, the Ford Flex market.

      But, yeah, a lower-priced Dodge version of the Pacifica would seem to make more sense. I suspect that was the plan all along, and the cross-over info was just dis-information.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The plan is for Dodge to move out of the low priced people-wagon market and focus on more performance oriented vehicles. This includes a performance oriented crossover, but in no way will it “replace” the DGC.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        “the game plan was for the Grand Caravan to be replaced by some sort of smaller cross-over vehicle”

        I dunno about that, but Dodge tried to make it fairly obvious that the SWB non-Grand Caravan was replaced by the mid-size-but-still-three-rows Journey.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    The DGC has a really good chance of being my next vehicle. Locally they sells like hotcakes, except for the color black. Any price decrease will only help sales especially when an Odyssey or Sienna starts at $8K more.

  • avatar
    NoID

    I drove the new Power Wagon today. It’s awesome. Probably not the best vehicle for cross-state highway driving (I averaged 13 MPG with a heavy foot), but it was comfortable and did good work as a family vehicle for soccer practice later. I fit 5 kids plus myself in reasonable comfort. Viva la Front Bench!

    I mean, honestly I could probably fit 20 kids in it, but I could fit 5 legally. I’m not sure what Michigan’s people-riding-in-truck-beds law is…

    As for it’s intended purpose as a brawny destroyer of off-road obstacles, I can honestly say that with all I threw at it, I didn’t approach the capabilities of the vehicle. Consider that your daily dose of mainstream auto-journalism wordsmithing, where I tell you how capable it is while not directly mentioning the fact that I didn’t actually test its capability.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I haven’t driven the new one, but the outgoing model was an absolute beast. I’m putting one out into oil field use here shortly into a fleet that hates Ram/Dodge. That’ll be the true torture test.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    There are MANY worse vehicles than a Grand Caravan for around the same price.. 280 hp, strong (even if not perfectly-smooth) transmission, flex-fuel, can haul a complete 4×8 sheet with the seats down, etc.. Not the best, but quite good bang-for-buck..

  • avatar
    jthorner

    We just bought a new 2016 Grand Caravan for $7,000 off MSRP, so moving the MSRP down a notch doesn’t mean the actual sale prices are going down. We needed a vehicle with these capabilities and the GC was a screaming good deal compared to any SUV with similar capacity and compared to the much more expensive versions from Japanese companies.

    Some of what we ended up with we didn’t need, the the rear seat video screen, but at $21,500 well equipped it couldn’t be beat.

  • avatar
    Thorshammer_gp

    “The Power Wagon adds blacked-out trim, oversized badging and graphics…”

    Don’t all Rams already have oversized badging? That tailgate…good lord.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      He means the extra oversized extreme badging that is found on the Rebel. The new Power Wagon is basically a 2500 Rebel now. A true factory brodozer.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        The Power Wagon dropped over 300 lbs in payload in the change over to coils. I don’t like the thought of a 250/2500 pickup with only 1,500 lbs payload. Mind you, calling it a Rebel 2500 makes sense since the Rebel 1500 is rated for around 1,000 lbs. Any crewcab should be rated to carry 5 occupants and cargo not 5 occupants or cargo.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      No, it’s only on Rebels and Limited models (both 1500 and HD). And that’s a lot fewer vehicles than you might think. And the front R A M, at least on the Limiteds, is much more tasteful in the metal (IMO).

      On a slightly related note, while paging through the B&P on Ram’s website, I saw you can get a “normal” Power Wagon with all the graphics, but also a Power Wagon Tradesman with none of bells and whistles and a Power Wagon Laramie with all of them.

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