By on October 4, 2019

The badge you don’t see in the photo is the no-longer-Ram-associated Dodge badge, the one we’ll be discussing today. In a post the other day, yours truly waxed on and on, probably to your great annoyance, about the brand’s attempt to stimulate interest in its future via its past. What name would you like to see return, the brand’s Twitter account asked.

Some readers considered the tweet a possible sign of a returning Viper — the low-volume supercar that bowed out Dodge’s lineup not all that long ago. A month before his death, former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne poured cold water over the idea, claiming the Viper could only stage a profitable return if it shared a platform with something from FCA’s European collection, and in doing so wouldn’t be able to handle a giant, honking, torque-laden American engine necessary for a Viper to be a real Viper.

Maybe it’s still a good idea to some, though others might feel a Ford GT-like one-off model punted to a Canadian specialty manufacturer and offered at a stratospheric sticker price is a better way to go.

While we can talk Viper, the aim of this post is to generate discussion about what missing vehicle Dodge needs in its lineup, taking into consideration the West’s cooling auto sales and the industry’s concerns for long-term financial stability.

You might argue that, in light of Marchionne’s insistence that a ground-up Viper build would lose the company money, a non-Viper sports car borrowing its bones from Alfa Romeo or Maserati might be just the thing to stimulate interest in the brand. And it could just as easily be a slow-selling lemon that makes Dodge a laughingstock. Cue jokes about “TC, by Maserati.”

With Boomers distracted by Corvettes and getting on in years, counting on a new sports car that doesn’t go way out and wild could be a recipe for breaking even. At best. So why bother?

It can also be argued that Dodge’s venerable Charger and Challenger already offer all the brash power and image a red-blooded American can handle, and do so reliably and profitably. Despite their aged platform and throwback bodies, the Charger/Challenger, long since paid off, still have what it takes to keep customers rolling in.

So, what’s left? Sedans are out, and the market tells us that so too are coupes and roadsters. Keeping one eye on the coffers and the other on today’s auto landscape, it would seem the most useful vehicle in a future Dodge lineup would be of the utility variety. Well, that’s hardly sexy. What can Dodge offer in this space that a buyer can’t find elsewhere?

Muscle?

Alright, B&B, it’s time to play Mike Manley for a while. What does this brand need to safeguard its existence?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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43 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Missing From This Badge?...”


  • avatar

    Dodge Magnum. Either on another LX based wagon or a new badass midsize crossover (replacing the Journey).

  • avatar

    Given the return of the Bronco name and the Blazer name, It would seem Ramcharger should make a come back. I would guess as a premium 2 row 4 door. Might Bias towards street use to prevent loss of Jeep sales. Either base it on a Ram or maybe the new GC platform.

    Or you know bring the 300 over to dodge when Chrysler is put out to pasture and call it the Diplomat. If you do this the Pacifica can become the Grand Caravan or a nice name from the past Like Meadowbrook.

    Or bring back the Magnum.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I just found this article from earlier this year.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.topspeed.com/cars/car-news/exclusive-did-a-topspeed-reader-just-spot-the-mythical-ramcharger-ar185350.amp.html

      I pray this is not the Ramcharger, it’s a real pile of Sh&€.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        My excitement just went from a 10 to a zero, I was already looking at moving money around, what I was trading in (wife says I’ve got too many vehicles), and generally thinking about what I was going to do with it.

        Now I feel disappointed in myself for even getting excited. I’m going to go drive my Scout II with the top off and try to forget about this.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I mean, it’s been obvious for years that Dodge needs a full sized Ram based BOF SUV. How else can you take a platform that’s profitable at $25k, add $10k in interior materials, and sell for $70k?

    Just amazed it hasn’t happened yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      +1001

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      This, the ever since you said Ramcharger in the last article it’s been obvious. Get me a BoF V8 4×4 for <$40k and they have sold one to me. I’m a little giddy at the thought to be honest. I hope it’s not luxury focused but rather like rest of dodge power for the people. Lots of power and material, reasonable price.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        A Ramcharger would be a gut punch to the new Bronco if given the correct hardware and engine. It would take them(Ford) out of the race before they began, you know Ford doesn’t have the balls to put an honest to god American V8 engine in the Bronco. Kick them when their down FCA, they put themselves in that position.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          Yes, I’d like to see more variations than the Tahoe and Expedition offer.

          -2 door (Ramcharger)

          -True base model at $40k. Vinyl seats and floor, no extraneous crap.

          -On-road focused performance model. Why is there no Z06 powered Escalade? You don’t think people would buy that? Dodge wouldn’t make this mistake.

          -3/4 ton version. Seating for 7-8 with Cummins power. How would they not sell a ton of these?

          -Building off the last one, a Power Wagon with an SUV body would be incredible.

          • 0 avatar

            Unfortunately based on the sales history of 2500 suburbans and Excursions, not as many people as you think buy them. I would love one but I could see why they wouldn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            3/4 ton SUV with an honest to god 3/4 drivetrain that isn’t nerfed would be the easiest money FCA ever made.

            Everything you said sounds good, though I would hope the SUVs were priced closer to the trucks meaning cheap V6 2WD 2 door SUVs for $26k like the $23-$25k base Ram pickups. There’s no reason truck based SUVs need to be $10-15k more than the equivalent pickups.

            What are you talking about Mopar? The Excursion sold amazing. If you divided F-series trucks out and compared them to the 3/4 only trucks it would make everyone wonder what took so long.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          Ramcharger with the Hellcat engine and Power Wagon running gear on a short wheelbase frame. I would buy it tomorrow. Even with the 6.4l it would be a good product.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            2500 Suburbans were only offered with the weak (but reliable) gas 6.0L and were not even rated to tow 10,000 lb. A 1/2 ton pickup could tow more, to say nothing of a 3/4 ton. The chassis also was a “tweener” that traced its roots to the 1500HD/2500SD Silverado, not the 2500HD pickup. A true HD SUV has not been offered for 15 years, and the market is much different now.

            A modern diesel or big block gas 3/4 ton SUV rated for 15,000 lb bumper pull (the same as my gas F350) would get a lot of interest from people with large campers, toy haulers, larger boats, etc. Basically anyone with a family who tows heavy.

          • 0 avatar

            Even when the Sub had a 8.1 and the Excursion existed most families bought crew cab pickups to tow. Believe me I really hope there is a market for a 3/4 ton SUV to tow with the family, because I badly want one. But I have to think there is a reason GM and Ford no longer sell them. (OK GM still sells a fleet 3/4ton).
            I camp a fair amount and crew cab pickups are everywhere in campgrounds.

  • avatar
    Mnemic

    RWD/AWD performance CUV based on the stelvio. 310hp turbo 2.0L in standard volume trim, dodge muscular styling, RWD and 8-speed auto standard, AWD optional. SRT trim give it the 392 hemi. This would no doubt be a sales hit in both forms and would de-throne the Grand Cherokee SRT as SRT’s best selling vehicle.

    They already have the drivetrain and chassis – this is a no brainer.

  • avatar
    Jon

    Single: Create a Dodge compact suv on the same platform of the jeep compass thingy. Use the decent turbo4 from the new wrangler.

    Double: Create a midsized SUV. If not mistaken, they may have to start from scratch for this. I am not aware of any such Dodge platform. 3.6L for the base engine. 3.6L turbo (380HP) + AWD for optional engine.

    Triple: Build a true compact (not midsize) BOF pickup. Have a regular cab option for us cave dwellers. Use the pentastar V6 and/or 2.8L 4cyl diesel (or some derivative thereof) tuned down enough to not use DEF. Manual trans option for all engines.

    HR: Put the 6.4L in the 1500 already! Call it the Megasuperbee.

    Grand Slam: Ramcharger built on 1500 platform. Two and four door variants. Use 1500 powertrain.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    The fundamental question, boiled down beyond a specific car, is “what will be interesting enough to pull people into the show room where salesmen can get their hands on them?”

    I think that “ordinary” performance cars are sort of played out in that role. I mean, we already have the 700 horsepower Hellcat. Will 800 draw em in the door? 900 next year?

    I also point out that back in the days of the “real” Chrysler, the car that really got the marks in door was the PT Cruiser. Yeah, it became a cliche later but when it came out it drew em in like free beer.

    So what’s the answer? Not the Viper unless it’s mid engined to fight the Vette. Dodge needs a new paradigm. Hey! Maybe a station wagon??

  • avatar
    ajla

    The only thing in Dodge’s future is the graveyard.
    Any truck would do better volume and be more profitable under the Ram brand and any utility would do better volume and be more profitable under the Jeep brand.

    • 0 avatar

      I can see that but so far they have resisted putting SUV’s under Ram. Preferring Ram be “commercial products”. Might change in the future thou.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I’m not sure why you say this, Dodge has a very profitable portfolio of products using parts shared across the entire company. Small updates to these products, and an overall industry of regressive automotive trends shows a very good future for Dodge as long as they don’t stray from their current path.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Any new product with volume potential (including your Ramcharger idea above) would be going to Jeep or Ram.

        Dodge’s only chance at a future is a market shift back into cars and I don’t see that happening. They’ll stick around as long as the LX cars make money and stay legal, but that won’t be forever.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t know about that. Not everyone likes Jeeps styling. It would seem the Durango offers a template for future CUVS and SUV’s with a on street bias.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The similar Grand Cherokee outsells the Durango by more than 3:1 despite starting at $2k more and not offering a third row. I expect the new 3-row Jeep will handily outsell the 2011+ Durango (and at higher prices). Also notice how there have been no Dodge versions of the recent soft-roader Jeeps. Plus no Dodge version of the Pacifica. They haven’t had an all-new product since 2011 and I’ve seen no plans of any on the way. They’re done.

          • 0 avatar

            You might be right we’ll have to wait and see. Personally I think they have to keep either the Dodge or Chrysler name alive to help account for market shifts etc. They have also built a nice little performance niche for themselves, I’m not sure which brand you move that too. I think it makes more sense to kill Chrysler and Fiat (in the US) and bring those vehicles under the Dodge name.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Dodge has mentioned electrification of the Charger and Challenger when the price is right.

      Heck, a performance EV based off the upcoming Chrysler Portal, why should Tesla and Porsche have all the fun?

  • avatar

    In similar news Allpar is reporting a hellcat powered Ram Rebel has been greenlit for production.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The big ask from enthusiasts has been for Barracuda. But then the purists get pissed at the idea of a Plymouth nameplate under the Dodge badge. I think these are the same people that are angry that the Charger has 4 doors.

  • avatar
    mrentropy

    Dodge Rampage. Including an SRT version.

    Also, they should have an actual Mustang/Camaro competitor (the Challenger is not this) and revive the Plymouth Barracuda. Maybe using the Guilia platform? Beef it up to handle a Hellcat engine, but keep it light enough to be nimble.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Gen 2 Nitro

  • avatar
    NoID

    1. Re-branded Fiat 124 Spider with some higher output options, since that model is disappearing from our shores but undoubtedly Mazda would love to keep building kinda-sorta-copies of their Miata to keep plant utilization high.

    2. Build the relationship with Mazda: Badge-engineer the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6, sell them in NAFTA.

    3. Sporty CUV, smaller than the Grand Cherokee, bones shared with the Compass or Giulia (depending on whether they want it FWD or RWD).

    That’s my evil plan to save the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Before or after Mazda finish the rumored straight 6 platform?

      Either way, I could dig it. As a current Mazda6 driver I think it would be an interesting move. Mazda bones with some of the Dodge styling… I’ll admit the Charger is finally growing on me a bit, and I never disliked the Dart.

      Keep/put real names on them though. Curious what names could be resurrected that wouldn’t carry baggage. Neon might be a choice for a Dodge Mazda3 (borrow the 2.5T from the Mazda and make it part of their SRT line) and Dynasty could be a Dodge Mazda6.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Dodge Li’l Red Express, on a 1500 Ram. The 1978 was the fastest car, truck, anything that year, 0-100 mph.

    A 1,000 HP, 1,000 lbs/ft pickup with the legendary name, AWD and a parachute would do the trick. At $99,995 it should do very well. Then the proceeds used to build $299,995 mid-engine Vipers shared with a Maserati supercar.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A Dodge-ified 500X with the 2.0L Turbo, AWD MTX branded as a Hornet. Wouldn’t set any sales records, but would be a fun take on a hot hatch for the brand and would be incremental volume for an established production line.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would be surprised if the Dodge brand lasts after the Challenger and Charger. FCA will milk both of those until their existing platforms are no longer viable. I cannot see FCA designing all new versions of either especially if there are no new platforms to base either on especially if Alfa Romeo goes away. FCA is not going to spend a lot of money on these when they can spend more on Ram and Jeep products that bring in the most revenue.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    My guess is the very reason for separating Dodge and Ram is so that FCA could do away with the Dodge and Chrysler brands altogether and focus on the much more profitable trucks. To Hell with history and heritage; they own the company now.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    It’s hard to have a Dodge discussion without bringing Chrysler into it as well. Assuming that the Journey eventually gets remade into something more modern that would probably go to Chrysler and with the Grand Caravan possibly becoming the Voyager, that leaves Dodge with just the Charger, Challenger & Durango.

    The original plan was to eliminate the Durango when the BOF Grand Wagoneer goes into production. So that move doesn’t leave Dodge with much unless it remains as a “performance” sub-brand under Chrysler. And I suppose the Durango could hang around in essentially a performance version while Jeep covers the more “sensible” SUV versions. In that case adding a new Viper, based on an existing platform, would make sense.

    While sedans are going the way of the Passenger Pigeon, perhaps there is value in being the last man standing and Dodge has done a masterful marketing job of reinventing the Challenger & Charger with differing trims, colors, power options, etc. The “old” Challenger, in particular, has done well in sales vs. the Camaro, and as of last month, the Mustang too. There is value in their approach, it’s just how to you keep it going? That would be my biggest concern.

    I have seen too many five year FCA “projections” that never come to fruition so I hope for Mike Manley’s sake, he’s got something up his sleeve.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I find it hard to believe that the Maserati platform used for the Gran Turismo, GT Convertible, and the upcoming Alfieri sports cars couldn’t handle the torque from the Dodge V-10 or the Hellcat V-8s. A new viper built on the same platform to keep costs down, but with its own unique sheet metal and a designed in Detroit V-8 or V-10 sounds like it would have the potential to be winner and if nothing else would be a good flagship for the Dodge/Chrysler line. Maybe Maserati needs to beef up their platforms to handle more torque.

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