By on October 2, 2019

1982 Dodge Aries Wagon in Colorado Wrecking Yard, front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin

Millennials find themselves at a societal crossroads. Wage growth isn’t ideal, living (and certainly education) costs are rising faster than their paychecks, and technological advancements are rendering swaths of middle-class jobs obsolete.

Which is why, in this author’s opinion, it’s time for Aries.

Yes, it’s time to sign off Twitter and get into a sensible compact sedan, one that will serve this generational cohort well for several years to come. Interest rates aren’t even in the same ballpark as what car buyers suffered through in the ’80s, gasoline prices are still relatively low, and dreams of canyon-carving all day in a supercar paid for by the confiscated wealth of the CEO down the block should have been dislodged from their brains somewhere around the second year of college, not when they’re entering their 30s.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

It’s time to face reality. It’s time for Dodge to step up and say, “We’ve heard your cries and ignored most of them. Take this instead and live within your means.”

Is yours truly dipping into the sauce a little too early in the day? Not today, I’m not. I’m merely responding to a tweet by Dodge from earlier this morning.

https://twitter.com/Dodge/status/1179387160320991232

No, we’re not inclined to take this tweet from an anxiety-ridden social media account operator all that seriously. Is Dodge really crowdsourcing ideas for its future product lineup online? The brand wishes it could. No, Dodge will get whatever common-platform crossover Fiat Chrysler decides it can have, plus the Charger and Challenger, both available in a ridiculous array of variants designed to keep this biblically old platform rolling out of Brampton.

Resurrected nameplates have been tried before, with little success. Dart, anyone? Aspen? Magnum? Well, we’ll give them that last one. If Dodge did bring back the Aries, the same people screaming for moar affordable cars would avoid it like the plague, demanding in its place a taut, European-style RWD sports sedan with cockles-warming performance characteristics, sky-high fuel economy, and a government-subsidized four-figure sticker price. We can all dream.

Better to go the specialty edition route, like Dodge did with the limited-edition Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition, itself a variant of the 2020 Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody. But what’s left to dredge up from the Charger/Challenger’s storied past?

This exercise has gone on too long. Dodge’s question doesn’t jibe with the brand’s reality as a afterthought division sitting in the shadows of FCA’s real money makers — Ram and Jeep. It can be thankful for one thing, however.

It’s not Chrysler.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC, Steph Willems/TTAC]

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84 Comments on “Good Question, Dodge...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    Two model names not tarnished by reputations for being awful (in my opinion at least) are Neon and Fury.

    Neon would, obviously, be a good fit for a smaller vehicle, while Fury would be a good fit for a full sized car or two or three row CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Safeblonde

      Neon reminds me of a junior college parking lot in 1990. No thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I understand. That said, they were better than the Caliber that replaced them.

        Back when those were on the Hertz rental lots, I tended to choose them over the Sentras and Cobalts on the lot next to them. I found the seat and ride really comfortable, the radio decent, and I became familiar with the controls. Sure, a bit of a geeky image, but I liked driving them.

        • 0 avatar
          blppt

          They handled great, but my god, that 3 speed automatic was horridly mismatched to the engine (i assume you got the automatic on the rental lot).

          It was pretty decent for the Trans-4 engines (2.2/2.5) which were both known for having low-end oomph, but the Neon’s 2.0 didn’t hit its stride until like 4,000 rpm.

          You might have been lucky enough to get the later 4 speed auto (2001+, i think?), because the 3 sucked all of the joy out of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Neon just screams late 80s and 90s. All the neon signs – you have to modernize, the Dodge LEED LED

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      The Neons were designed to be ultra-cheap and it showed. There’s a reason why, after so many were sold for so many years, you just don’t see any on the roads today. Quite possibly the most disposable car ever produced by Detroit.

    • 0 avatar

      I got a 1967 Fury II Coupe, with a Supercommando 383 as an estate car. You could lay out in the front bench or back seat at a full six feet. In the early 80’s, it was just a thirsty barge. I appreciated the pre smog V8 and student friendly size and trunk….tape and stripe z28’s were dog meat. 8 mpg with AC, and 12 without.

      The best of 60’s mopar excess. I was too young and not worthy. Should have removed the engine brag badges, my GF comes up one morning…where did you say you left the car……gone. Under the hood of a Valiant running brackets now….

      That was my one which got away….

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Dodge Charger: Aries edition

    With tufted seats, a (turbo?) 4 cylinder, and hubcaps.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      I suppose you could toss the new Hurricane I4 into the car as a base model choice, but the amount of time/money spent bringing it to market so late in the life cycle probably poisons the business case.

  • avatar
    Mnemic

    A sure fire sales hit would be a Porsche Macan sized CUV based off the Alfa Stelvio platform with 2 engine options. 300hp turbo 4cyl or 392 Hemi in SRT trim. AWD standard, muscle styling and a somewhat affordable price. It would be an American SQ5, X3M, GLC63 AMG.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      The Pentastar would make a much nicer sounding engine than the 4 banger. Or the proposed turbo inline 6 and skip the 392 to keep the package lighter. They could also use the platform for Jeep and make it more luxury than performance.

      What would you name it though since the question was what name plate to bring back.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Sure fire sales hit” meaning “they’d sell a couple thousand, maybe”?

      The SQ5/X3M/GLC63 segment *is not a big market*.

      (Also, they mostly already sell that.

      It’s called the Cherokee, and it has a Jeep badge.

      It’s within a few inches of the Macan [smaller, in fact!], and in power, with the 2.0T …)

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Need a full-size car above the Charger in size, lots of sidewall, big V8 engine with little regard for fuel economy, parts bin transmission and rear end. Low, low price. I want something cheap built to last. I’m buying by the pound and displacement.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      What you describe is 300C V8. Sales are so slow it is being discontinued.

      Would a restyle and name change to Fury help?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        No not at all what I’m describing, I want a full-size car ABOVE the Charger in size, but without all the frills, less attention to speed capabilities, more attention to smooth riding car on the cheap. Use the 6.4L from the trucks, build with attention on price for displacement.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Bring back the POLARA 500

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          There might be ten or so of us who would buy such a thing, but yes, sounds great. …call it Diplomat, Monoco, Fury, Coronet, Polara, or 880.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Well it’s an empty segment, it’s the segment that I would buy from next if it existed, as is I’m likely to make a 3/4 ton truck as my next purchase because that’s the closest I can come to a full-size American car.

            We can’t proclaim a segment dead when it hasn’t been given a fair shake, manufacturers all pushed us out of that segment by introducing incrementally smaller cars with the same names and classifications without giving us true full-size products for many years now. How old was the Crown Vic platform when it was killed off? How pricy were the last cars off that line? Town car price? How outdated were those cars and how many were they still selling.

            We still have no “true” full-size car on the market today. It’s a segment ripe for the taking. FCA already owns over half of the midsize SUV market by default of being one of two players still even playing in the segment. Might as well take up the slack in other segments where everyone else left.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            You should probably just buy the 3/4 ton truck because that is as close as you’re going to get and that basically sounds like what you want.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            That segment is gone because something else was better at all the missions people bought it for.

            Sales of Panthers at the end were basically all fleet (Crown Vic) and livery cars (Town Car). Even those buyers quickly realized once the end of the Panther became clear that they were better served by different platforms. The livery customers all wanted to ride in full-size SUVs. The taxis determined that they could save a lot of money by switching to Prius and Camry Hybrid. The police all jumped en masse to the Explorer in urban areas or the Tahoe in the country.

            The few personal retail buyers either died or migrated pretty smoothly to crew-cab half-ton pickups.

            (I don’t quite understand why you want a 3/4 ton — a half-ton Chevy with the 6.2 seems like exactly what you want, and it will ride way better.)

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Can’t get “no frills” and “low, low price” on a 6.2L Silverado though.

          • 0 avatar
            NoID

            Dal is correct. If you really can’t live without a ’70s-style barge, get a crew cab Ram 1500 in the trim level that suits your desired level of accoutrement (note the spelling, you must say this with a a French accent) and lower it. That’s as close as you’ll get.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            It’s getting close to ten years since panther production ceased and I still see police fleets filled with crown Vic’s, the car was very old by the end of its life, updates to design, engine, efficiency all could have made that car future proofed.

            Retail buyers went to the closest thing, a modern V8 panther could easily have MPGs well into the low 30s had R&D been put into the car. Trucks pulling mid 20s is the next closest thing.

            3/4 trucks are the only ones still skewing toward more reliable tech such as engines without the DI, they still use hydraulic power steering which feels light years better than electric power steering, Use stronger materials in the transmissions, seeing how many 1/2 ton transmissions I’ve killed, this is important to me. The front end design on all new 1/2tons is not built for long term use, few even have serviceable ball joints any longer. GM no longer even puts decent gearing in their axles, 3.56 highway gears is the best they have? Serious? Ford for instance has introduced truck frames derated for non tow package trucks, this should be criminal imo. Ram offers(offered?) two transfer cases one was a slip and grip, another criminal act. Ram also puts dummy oil pressure sensors in their trucks. All 4 of these last complaints aren’t present on 3/4 tons.

            Basically I don’t want a wimpy truck that all half tons have become, they would better suit me, yes. But so would a decent full-size car – if such a car existed.

        • 0 avatar
          Hydromatic

          Sounds like you want a RAM 1500 Tradesman, except with four doors, a trunk and a lower ride height.

          Me? I’d go slumming through the police auctions and find me a Caprice PPV in the “Detective” variant, so I’d have the nice center console with the window switches in the middle.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            The Caprice can be turned into a very premium looking car if you import some special edition parts from AUS, change the tasteless Chevrolet badges for the Holden lion w/ wreath. I probably wouldn’t go for the 2011-2013 interior you suggested but rather the later SS related 2014-2017 interior as it has much better fit and finish from what I can tell. But seriously the Caprice can be turned into a damned nice car that will get every bit of the attention as cars of twice or even thrice it’s value.
            I like it but what’s stopping me is that, while buying one is cheap, your likely to need some special part that takes 2 months to find once you buy, and if you do anymore damage in a wreck than the F/R bumpers it will likely total the car. The wheels need to immediately be changed to Holden rims as the police tires ride like crap, the springs in the suspension need to be shipped over from AUS to give it a luxury ride instead of a heavy duty cruiser ride, hopefully you find one without holes in the body or holes on interior trim. I’d immediately switch over all badging including the air bag to Holden, the side lights would need to be wired up like the G8s, need to do DOD delete if V8, the V6 is about a mystery to people even in the Caprice forum, I’d assume it’s just like the contemporary Camaro. I’d replace the side skirts with the AUS sporty skirt to give the car more presence. Replace rear seat with the SS rear seat so I could put a piece of trim over the trunk key slot to allow for an manual pull open in case battery was dead.

            Yes I put a lot of thought into the Caprice, it keeps coming down to making one “perfect” – and man would it be a damned striking looking car if done up that would attract more attention than it deserves; but all that money would be up in flames if the car wrecked the wrong body part. I already have this issue with my H3T which has made it a garage queen.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I like the Zeta Caprice a lot, but it seems like it would be a lot easier (and probably cheaper) to live with a breathed on Panther or B-body.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I like a nice Panther, if I’m not mistaken the early 90s Town car is a panther platform? I’d love one. It honestly fits my bill very nicely, I remember riding to the Mississippi River with my grandfather in his when I was a young boy. Luxury in spades.

            But there’s something to be said about driving something with a (not so exotic) exotic badged vehicle that a New Caprice would be, more so when that vehicle has a burbling V8 engine. I’ve confused a lot of people in my Commodore badged SS sedan, sometimes it’s gets too much attention but it can be very fun. Part of the appeal of my car is driving the anti- car to so many people. Big, V8, not American, but brash, it’s wonderful fun. The fact it can do twisties, and has a stick just adds to the excitement.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The Charger,Challenger, and 300, all the same platform, ARE full size cars. They’re shorter and slightly narrower than most midsize cars of the 1970s, but that’s what full size is today. The full size cars of the 1970s were three feet longer and up to six inches wider – nobody will buy those, except police departments, governors, and federal GS-15 executives (with proper options).

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “They’re shorter and slightly narrower than most midsize cars of the 1970s, but that’s what full size is today.”

        This is the problem, right here, full-size (non ultra lux) cars are no longer for sale in America, example 1 on why full-size trucks are the number one and two selling vehicles in America.

        I need something that’s actually full-size and has the visibility and other perks to go with it.

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          Don’t the manufacturers typically determine “size” by interior volume or occupant space, not footprint or wheel base?

          I know it’s getting a bit muddy by having 17 different crossovers all stepping on each others’ toes for size, but historically I think that’s what separated the small-mid-full size cars. When the Big 3 downsized they really just pulled in the four corners of the vehicle, leaving the greenhouse largely intact.

          Quick, someone call Tom Klockau so he can correct my revisionist history.

      • 0 avatar
        MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

        I have a 300 (Hemi) and find it “right-sized”. Well short of unwieldly, but notably larger than our other cars. I wouldn’t want or need it to be bigger.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Add to this a bench seats with seating for six, and a column shifter, and I’ll sign that petition.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      No matter how dead the road-boat segment is – and don’t kid yourself, it’s deader than Francisco Franco – at least 10 people from coast to coast still pine for it. The other million or so folks who want something similar just go buy trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Well how about someone offer one of those trucks with an enclosed bed attached to the cab at a nominal price.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Good question – define “nominal,” though.

          I found a 4X4 F150 with a V8 and crew cab not too far from me for +/- $40,000. You can find one around here with turbo V-6 and 4wd for about $35,000, or a few grand less if it’s RWD. That’s not dirt cheap, but it’s not unreasonable.

          I have no desire to own a truck, but I do see why people buy them – they’re far more capable than the old BOF sedans I grew up with were. It’s a lot of vehicle for the money.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Those don’t have the enclosed attached bed though. And there aren’t many Tahoes or Expeditions out there for $35-40K.

            That’s why I hope this announcement really is for a RamCharger. There’s a big market space available since Ford and GM turned their BOF SUVs into luxury products.

            5.7 or optional 6.4, 8 speed, 7 or 8 passenger seating, $34,999 for a vinyl seat 4×2 and go up from there. Sell a Jeep version as the luxury model.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I just found a locking hard bed cover for $600 on Amazon.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          “I just found a locking hard bed cover for $600 on Amazon.”

          I can’t reach my “stuff” from the cab with a bed cover. What if we attached the bed to the truck and made a permanent roof over the cargo area. Bonus points if that only costs an extra $600 from the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Need?

      You and TWO OTHER PEOPLE might buy that.

      That’d be a huge money loser and brand suicide.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “That’d be a huge money loser and brand suicide.“

        And what do you call the Honda CRZ or the Dodge Viper? A parts bin drivetrain on a simple full-size car. Low R&D doesn’t need 100k a year sales.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        When the Buick Encore was introduced about 5,000 people said the below quoted lines –

        “Need?

        You and TWO OTHER PEOPLE might buy that.

        That’d be a huge money loser and brand suicide.”

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Naah, dinky CUVs had been on the market for a while when the Encore came out. None were as ugly as the Encore, though.

          Never underestimate the power of giveaway pricing!

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            While all true, I still can’t explain the encore when so many cheaper, more livable, and more practical CUVs exist. It’s certainly not the badge so I’m lost.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Charger Daytona

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      They’d have to change the name, since the Charger Daytona already exists (see the article you just commented on).

      Now, if you really mean a fastback or liftback version of the current (or ever-promised but never-delivered new) Charger, a-la the current four-door “coupe” fad, you might be onto something.

      • 0 avatar
        MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

        That was pretty much the Magnum, just without the cargo space robbing sloping rear roofline.

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          Yes, this is true. And I recall seeing rumors on this website about just such a vehicle replacing the Charger in the future.

          On the topic of Magnum, I will never forgive Chrysler for not placing a rear-facing 3rd row seat in the vehicle.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    A true Aries (the real world version not the Enthusiast/Fanboy fantasy version) would likely be a CUV-ish vehicle somewhere between the new Ford Escape and the Honda Element. Durable interiors without a soft touch plastic obsession, 1.5 ltr turbo and 2 ltr turbo power. Possible hybrid (maybe the AWD version would be hybrid only)

    But that sounds like something decontented from the Jeep catalogue.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    What you describe already exists–its called 300C, 300S V8. Sales are so slow it is being discontinued.

    Would a restyle and name change to Fury help?

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    The K cars were small outside, big inside, cheap to buy and run, drove fine, and appealed to traditionalists who still wanted a cushy ride, rear headroom, and tufted velour seats.

    The Neon was small outside, big inside, cheap to buy and run, drove well, and appealed to import intenders who would have had to sink thousands into a Hondayota to unlock the extra 40 horsepower that the Neon came with standard.

    I guess we’re leaving it to Korea, and soon China, to make the sensible cars these days. Instead FCA gives us nothin’ but red meat for rich cavemen.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    Contract with Mazda to build another version of the Mazda2 in Mexico. Add different front end styling from the Yaris sedan, add the Aries name and you’re ready to go.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    That widebody Charger tho—— YUMMM

  • avatar
    jack4x

    VIPER

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Sedans are sooooo last century! Pickup trucks, SUVs and CUVs are the in-thing now. Even for Millennials.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Millennials want car share, scooters unlocked with their phone, and the ability to have 4 roommates each paying $1200 a month to live in a cool neighborhood where they’re afraid to go out at night alone. Progress!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Interesting, my oldest kid’s a millenial and she wants none of that crap (well, maybe she wants a cool place to live, but for now she’s living with me and paying her student loan *way* down).

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          I’m a Millennial who owns 6 vehicles (no SUVs), has never used Uber, Lyft, or any sharing app, never ridden a scooter, and never lived with a roommate after college.

          Glad you have us figured out though.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            jack4x, as a Millennial you should write about your 6 vehicles. I bet you’d find an audience here with old, young and even Millennial readers.

            Sharing points of view and/or experiences is one of the few things that ttac still has going for it.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            @hdc,

            I don’t know if the reader reviews are still a thing, I certainly haven’t seen any recently. If they came back I’d be happy to share whatever anyone is interested enough to read.

            I’m not trying to brag either. My wife and I are both passionate about cars and spend more than the typical household on them, both in a percentage basis and total dollars. That is not really the wisest financial decision, and even granting that I realize not everyone can or should do what I do.

            I just get resentful when anyone tries to paint an entire generation with such a broad brush based on a media biased sample of a tiny sliver of that generation. There are tens of millions of Millennials who don’t live in cities, don’t eat avocado toast, and don’t hate cars.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            jack4x, your expanded reply was an interesting read, in and of itself, outlining you and your wife’s love of cars and your willingness to pay for what you want.

            My grand daughter is a gainfully employed Millennial and she drives a 2019 4Runner, bought with her own money. She cannot be characterized as an inner-city Millennial having lived all of her life in the wide open spaces, away from major population areas.

            Often, people paint an entire generation with a wide brush because those people have only a limited, some say myopic, view of them.

            It’s the people with the broader experiences who really need to share those experiences with the rest of us for our edification.

  • avatar
    millmech

    Valiant/Dart – No Bombs, no plastic ends, no TV sets, no talking dashboard – include wagons + Australian-type ute

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Why would anyone think, despite all evidence (including the Aries pictured above), that Chrysler could compete with Nissan in building cheap ‘n’ cheerful cars? The Versa and Kicks set the standard for cheap cars and no Fiat-platformed compact is going to touch them.

    And that’s not even saying anything about the Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota options that unlock if you spend just a bit more money.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with the second point but Fiat vs Nissan, whats the difference?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Nissan cars, especially cheap ones, tend to keep going without much trouble if you do recommended maintenance. They’re also fuel-efficient because of light weight and the CVT.

        Neither of those things is true of Fiats, which tend to be heavy for their size and have all the reliability you’d expect of Italian cars.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with the second point but Fiat vs Nissan, whats the difference?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Heck, why not bring over a Fiat Panda?

    https://www.fiat.co.uk/panda-range/panda-waze

    Sell it for $18,000 or so with AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      retrocrank

      Bravo.
      Equip it with “Driver Safety/Convenience” electronic nannies and an autobox and I think you’d have a car with a lot of appeal to the 20-25 year olds I deal with at work. Offer a minimal-electronics version with sport seats, a tighter suspension and a manual gearbox for a low-investment “sports” option for a 10% higher price tag, to carry the demographic into the 25-35 year olds – a new GLH (or GLHS). Offer a jackedup version with skidplates and built-in espresso machine and pitch it the “unique individuals” in that decade (I would not be surprised if somebody chimes in that the Panda rides on the same basic platform as the 500x and the Jeep thing with deadeye taillights).

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        They already make it as a lifted 4×4 version, so really it’s nonsense they’ve never brought the Panda here. I’ve thought that since Fiat was introduced here

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    The Aires was about austerity. These days, urban people don’t need cars, apparently, and country folk want trucks. What Dodge needs is a new light truck ala the Rampage.

    Cheap, cheerful and Front wheel drive.

  • avatar
    Fliggin_De_Fluge

    Millenials will drag any long dead terrible trend they think was cool and hip back from the 80s and co-opt it like its some sort of new thing they just discovered so, the original tooling is around somewhere why not just bring back the original Aries, and in true Lido style call it the Aries Millennial. Heck while theyre at it dig up Lido and throw his corpse in the TV ads. BASED.

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