QOTD: What's the Biggest Piece of Crap From the Year of Your Birth?

Earlier this week in his Question of the Day, Matthew Guy asked everyone to share a favorite vehicle from their year of birth. An interesting walk through history ensued in the days following, and I encourage each of you to head there and read through the comments if you haven’t done so already. You’ve probably already guessed from the title above where I’m going with this particular question.

Today’s inquiry is all about the worst, steamiest pile of junk on sale the year you were born. Let’s get down and dirty.

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Picture Time: Vintage American Luxury From Keeneland Concours

The other weekend, I traveled down to the rolling green acres of Kentucky for the annual Keeneland Concours event. There was a wide selection of vehicles at the show, and I love taking pictures.

Read on if you’re ready for some vintage American luxury.

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Fiat Chrysler Thinks Americans Outside of California Don't Know What the Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Is

It’s a fact that California contains half of the country’s electric vehicles and a solid chunk of America’s hybrids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean residents of the other 49 states can’t tell a plug-in hybrid from a turnip.

As all-electric range grows, plug-in hybrids have begun eclipsing conventional hybrids in the U.S. marketplace, enticing buyers with the prospect of leaving the gas engine shut off (potentially) for the whole commute. After hopping on the green bandwagon with its Pacifica Hybrid, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was able to boast of having the only plug-in minivan in North America.

Only, it won’t boast about the “plug-in” part anywhere except California. Nope, you won’t hear the company call it a plug-in in New York City, or Seattle, or Chicago. Not in Vermont or Georgia, either. Apparently those people just can’t handle it.

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Ad Time: Promising Sesame Street Chrysler Promotion Ruined by Guy Smiley, Big Bang Theory

Get to know me, even just a little, and you’ll quickly discover my seething hatred for the inexplicably popular and mercilessly long-running sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. Given the chance, I’d banish the writers, producers and male cast to the barren wastes of Siberia, where the overpaid hacks could atone for their sins (and remain quiet) while braving the frigid winds in search of nutrient-rich mosses and lichens.

Maybe it’s the death of the sitcom that brought us to this point. Raised on the terrific sitcoms (and some guilty also-rans) of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, my childhood television experience was abundance in diversity. Still, despite my love for cars and guns and the like, my TV starting point, like that of so many others, was Sesame Street. America’s social barometer, it was, and continues to be.

Like now, strong options loomed large in little Steph’s brain. Never cared for Big Bird. Too big. Dull in conversation. Grover? Who is Grover really supposed to be? And frankly, I wouldn’t leave any child of mine alone with Elmo.

Still, certain characters hold a special place in my dark, shrivelled heart. Until, that is, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got its hands on their innocent, soft upper halves.

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QOTD: Which New Vehicle is the Worst Waste of Base?

Each week, TTAC’s basic car correspondent Matthew Guy brings you an Ace of Base article. Matt’s carefully selected examples are base models which tick many desirability boxes, proving you don’t need thousands of dollars in engine upgrades, brakes, pieces of trim, or tech packages to have good and enjoyable transportation. Overall, the Ace of Base series is positive and uplifting, presenting us with the best of the best of base. The other half of the basic coin is being ignored, however, and that’s where you come in.

Today we seek your nominations for the new vehicle which best represents a Waste of Base.

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Fiat Chrysler Seems to Have Cleared the Pacifica Hybrid Production Hurdle

Conflicting reports claim Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has either restarted, or is poised to restart, production of the Pacifica Hybrid minivan in Windsor, Ontario.

This comes after a tumultuous month for the automaker’s headline-grabbing plug-in minivan. First, a voluntary safety recall saw all Pacifica Hybrids built to date recalled for faulty inverter diodes, following incidents in which several vehicles lost power while underway. The recall then led to the shadowy shutdown of hybrid minivan production.

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Dial Down the Base: Troublesome Fiat Chrysler Models Due for a Trim Shuffle

Sure, there’s no vinyl bench seats and standard Slant Six engine, but this isn’t 1981 and Chrysler Corporation isn’t trying to boost sales by stripping down a LeBaron and calling it Special. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is, however, trying to make three models more appealing to the buying masses, meaning trim changes are afoot for 2018.

What models, you ask? Two very old sedans and a crossover. According to ordering documents sent to dealers, FCA plans to ratchet down the entry-level price of the 2018 Chrysler 300 and Jeep Cherokee, while also shaking up the bottom end of the Dodge Charger.

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Fiat Chrysler Shuts Down Pacifica Hybrid Production Amid Safety Recall: Report

Despite being lauded for its high level of content, smooth ride, and all-electric range, Chrysler’s plug-in hybrid minivan has hit a large roadblock. After voluntarily recalling all Pacifica Hybrids due to a safety defect that could see the minivan go dark at inopportune times, it seems the assembly line has ground to a halt in Windsor, Ontario.

A recall earlier this month saw Fiat Chrysler Automobiles call back 1,368 vehicles in the U.S. and 309 in Canada following complaints of loss of propulsion. The issue reportedly stems from defective inverter diodes. While the wonky electrified powertrain hasn’t resulted in any crashes or injuries, electrified cars that suddenly stop sending current to the motor aren’t something customers or the automaker can tolerate.

It’s a serious stumble for FCA’s green halo car.

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Chrysler Will Stay Alive in Japan (Where It's Almost Dead): FCA

We all remember former Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca railing against the Japanese for their uber-expensive land and not-so-open borders. Well, Jeep sales are slowly picking up in that Detroit Three-averse country, but one storied American brand isn’t doing so hot.

Chrysler. Sure, the brand isn’t doing all that great in its home country, either, what with only two models to show for itself. Still, Japanese buyers seem particularly unimpressed with the sole model Chrysler has to offer it.

Still, even with nearly nonexistent sales, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t about to throw in the towel just yet.

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QOTD: Does Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Need More Cars?

The American new vehicle market is evolving. Indeed, the rate of evolution suggests it may be evolving fast enough to be deemed a revolution.

Passenger car market share is down to 37 percent through the first five months of 2017. We’re not even a decade removed from a time when passenger cars accounted for more than half of all U.S. auto sales. Cars have lost 4 percentage points of U.S. market share in just the last year. While pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers added 225,000 sales, year-over-year, in the first five months of 2017, passenger car volume tumbled by more than 145,000 units.

As a result, automakers are giving up on cars. Not wholeheartedly, not across the board, not routinely. But in specific areas. And this couldn’t be more obvious at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, where the company no longer has entries in the two largest passenger car sectors. Heading into 2018, FCA’s car branch will market two Dodges, one Chrysler, and a handful of Fiats, Maseratis, and Alfa Romeos.

Is that enough? Or does Fiat Chrysler Automobiles need more cars?

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After a Dreadful Start, 2017's Second Half Is the Minivan's Time To Shine - but Can the Segment Recover?

The 2018 Honda Odyssey went on sale three weeks ago. The Chrysler Pacifica has only been on the market for a year. The Toyota Sienna will enjoy another refresh for the 2018 model year.

If ever there was a time in which America’s minivan segment needs to shine, the second-half of 2017 is it.

Minivan sales tumbled 14 percent, year-over-year, through the first five months of 2017. Only 3 percent of the auto industry’s volume is now minivan-derived. Year-over-year volume decreased in nine consecutive months between August 2016 and April 2017.

There are far fewer competitors now than there were a decade ago. Therefore, the minivan market doesn’t need to produce the sort of volume it did a decade ago. However, minivan sales can’t continue to plummet, month after month after month.

Minivan sales need to rise. If they can’t do so now, then when? And if the segment can’t do it with fresh product from Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota, then who can supply the growth?

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Detroit Money City: GM Leads the Pack as Ford Profit Sinks

What a difference a few (hundred thousand) recalls make. In a sales market best described as stagnant, a widespread vehicle glitch can dog an automaker’s balance sheet. That seems to be the case at Ford Motor Company, which saw its first-quarter profit fall 35 percent on a combination of factors — not the least of which was a pair of recalls of engine fires and faulty door latches.

Elsewhere in the domestic market, General Motors rode to the financial finish line with a record post-bankruptcy net income while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles climbed further into the black.

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Sergio Waits by the Dream Phone After VW Boss' Remarks

Sergio’s waiting by the phone. Waiting for someone to call him up and tell him he’s not alone. (Our apologies to Soul Asylum – Ed.)

It’s not our fault Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s corporate life resembles a game of Mystery Date. That’s just the way it is for an automaker on the prowl for a partner. After having its advances repeatedly rebuffed by General Motors, FCA has now latched onto Volkswagen as a potential suitor — but the merger dance hasn’t been a smooth one.

After some cattiness on VW’s part, it seems the eternally — and perhaps naïvely — optimistic Marchionne’s hopes are once again up. He’s anticipating a call.

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Apparently, Mller Wasn't As Interested In FCA Partnership As We Thought

To say that there was some speculation surrounding Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller’s response to a potential partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automotive would be a severe understatement.

Müller said there had been no contact between he and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, but he’d not ruled anything out. He seemed to have an indifference about the subject, which left plenty of room to let minds wander.

According to Automotive News’ Larry P. Vellequette, that’s not the whole story.

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Sergio's Urge to Merge Falls Flat, Leads to Dinner for One

It’s often sad to witness the moment when an individual’s high hopes collide with a cold, antiseptic wall of reality. Though we should all aspire for more, the inescapable truth is that most of our dreams will end up dashed on the rocks.

This week it was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s turn — once again — to face rejection. Buoyed by PSA Group’s acquisition of General Motors’ European car divisions, Marchionne must have assumed that love was in the air and it would perhaps soon be FCA’s turn to go home with another automaker.

Unfortunately for Marchionne, one potential mate quickly burst that balloon in a fairly heartbreaking fashion.

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As Backlash Against Oddball Shifters Grows, Fiat Chrysler Mulls a Return to Tradition

Once upon a time, a three-on-the-tree shifter or a floor-mounted unit with a lever the length of a ski pole was the norm for rowing through the gears. Then GM graced us with the automatic transmission, and the world soon grew used to a column-mounted shifter with a selector gauge mounted atop the steering shaft, smack dab in front of the driver’s eyes.

With a few exceptions caused by automakers trying to be sexy, this trend carried over into console-mounted shifters. Americans liked their beer cold, their country free, and their PRNDL choices straightforward and obvious.

Unfortunately, with mechanical linkages no longer required, a shifter can now be anything the automaker wants it to be, leading some companies — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles especially — into new and potentially deadly territory. With backlash against unorthodox shifters growing, it seems FCA has received the message.

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Fiat Chrysler Hit With Subpoenas as Feds, States Demand EcoDiesel Answers

The fallout from the Environmental Protection Agency’s call-out of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over excess EcoDiesel emissions has now landed in the company’s lap. Or, more specifically, in its mailbox.

In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, FCA revealed it’s been hit with subpoenas from state and federal authorities, including the SEC, Reuters reports.

The need for answers comes after the EPA accused the automaker of failing to declare eight auxiliary emissions control devices installed on its 3.0-liter diesel V6, which the regulator claims emits illegally high levels of emissions. That engine found a home in roughly 104,000 Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees.

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Piston Slap: Cancelling Chrysler's Noise Cancellation?

Craig writes:

Hey Sanjeev, (*facepalm* –SM)

I have a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, and I’m bit of a music buff. One of the first things I dispensed with was the factory Harman Kardon speakers. I replaced the sub with a JL stealth box. Now I have a pretty big problem with the factory stereo and its the automatic noise cancellation.

When the transmission is in normal D mode and or eco mode is on, it uses the factory stereo to cancel out the drone of the engine. Unfortunately, the noise cancellation is calibrated for the weaksauce factory sub. Now it sounds like one of those bass CDs from the ’90s as I hold speed or decelerate. I’ve asked the dealer how to get rid of this thing, to which they said “you can’t.”

I’m not so convinced.

Any ideas?

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'Dangerous': Dealer Association President Blasts FCA Over Expansion Plan

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has made a turnoff on the wrong road in the hopes of boosting its flagging sales, argues Jim Appleton.

The president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers is accusing the automaker of being reckless and short-sighted in its bid to open 380 new dealerships across the country. If FCA wants to reverse its market slide, Appleton claims, it should first take a good hard look at its product.

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Chicago 2017: BraunAbility Brings New Chrysler Pacifica Style to Everyone

One in five Americans lives with some sort of disability, per the U.S. Census Bureau, including 3.8 million veterans. Not every disability requires a customized vehicle, but the minivan has become the ideal solution for those who do.

BraunAbility has worked since 1972 to adapt vehicles for those who need them, and unveiled its new upfitted Chrysler Pacifica at the Chicago Auto Show.

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The Perfect Chrysler Metaphor, Intentional or Not

It was a dark and unexciting night. The setting: my apartment. The time: well, last night.

The hour was was growing late, but going to bed at a normal time on a Friday night — even my definition of a normal time — seemed like an invitation to early onset senility. I’m a human being, dammit, I’m alive, and doing anything — anything — besides refreshing my taxed brain cells seemed like a good plan.

So, a Budweiser was cracked, an old movie was sought out, and my feet soon raised themselves to a comfortable, elevated position. Now, many who aren’t familiar with my history are unaware of a shocking secret — something that could prompt fits of laughter if you’re not ready for the news.

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As Sales Flatline, Fiat Chrysler Launches New Dealership Blitz: Report

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles rocketed out of the recession with year-over-year U.S. sales increases, eventually erasing the sudden deficit of buyers that led to its bankruptcy. Between 2009 and 2015, the resurgent automaker went from a measly 931,402 U.S. sales to a healthy, cash-generating 2,243,907.

Those gray skies sure did clear up. Happy days!

Now for last year’s sales tally: 2,244,315. Notice something unusual? That’s right, FCA tacked on just 408 sales in 2016 compared to a year prior. While sales growth can’t be counted on like the rising and falling of the sun, especially in a market that has reached a tentative plateau, it’s nonetheless concerning for FCA. The sales juggernaut sits idle in the water, yearning for headway.

Is the automaker’s problem simply that there aren’t enough places to buy Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram and Fiat vehicles?

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Want A New Chrysler 200? It's Dead, But There's Surely No Shortage of Supply

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ U.S. dealers entered 2017 with more than six-months’ worth of Chrysler 200 supply, according to Automotive News.

That’s enough inventory for America’s latest discontinued midsize sedan, production of which ended eight weeks ago, to linger well into summer, assuming demand remains on an even keel.

Of course, demand for the Chrysler 200 has not flatlined, but rather continues to shrink. This means 200s built in the fourth-quarter of 2016 — or earlier — may well be readily available at a Chrysler dealer near you, not just this summer, but even toward the end of 2017.

You therefore have plenty of time to decide whether you want to take the plunge into a world of defunct nameplates. Based on recent results, it appears that more than 98 percent of midsize sedan buyers don’t.

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NAIAS 2017: Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica, and Honda Ridgeline Take 2017 Car of the Year Awards

The Chevrolet Bolt was named the North American Car of the Year at the Detroit auto show today. Journalists also saw fit to bestow the honor of Truck of the Year to Honda’s Ridgeline, while the Chrysler Pacifica — which is a minivan — was crowned as 2017’s best “Utility Vehicle.”

The trifecta was recognized this morning in the Cobo Center’s atrium in front of a crowd of automotive journalists and industry executives, launching the next two days of press previews at the North American International Auto Show.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Review - The Perfect People Mover

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat myself: the minivan is the one kid hauler to have when you’re hauling more than one kid. Crossovers are the rage, certainly, but lack vertical cargo and passenger space due to the relatively high ride height. Also, a minivan’s sliding side doors are a godsend when strapping down squirming small-human cargo — especially when aided by a power open/close feature, or when parked in a tight garage.

That’s why I own a minivan — a 2012 Chrysler, to be precise. Besides the two kids, I’m often hauling family members, the kids’ friends, and/or the various implements of suburban remodeling/destruction. No other vehicle is as versatile, but I’m as susceptible to the pull of the shiny new thing as anyone else. Thus, I welcomed the appearance of this 2017 Chrysler Pacifica in my drive for an informal comparison.

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FCA Attempts to Alter Its Image as a Technological Laggard With a Minivan It Won't Make

It turns out that the all-electric car Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was rumored to unveil at the Consumer Electronics Show isn’t going to be a EV Pacifica, but an new concept EV called the Chrysler Portal.

However, FCA’s new concept electric doesn’t show that the company is abandoning its internal combustion predisposition. If anything, it is weighing its options.

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That Fleet of Robot Pacificas is Ready to Roll, Possibly On a Street Near You

Google’s recently rebranded autonomous vehicle project, Waymo, and Fiat Chyrlser Automobiles have been working together on developing self-driving minivans since the summer. Half a year in, the two companies have announced the production of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids with complete self-driving capabilities.

As you read this, the modified vans are being outfitted with Google-designed sensors and software, almost ready for the road.

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Chrysler Has Something Big, Green and Pacifica-based Planned for January: Report

General Motors and Ford executives will battle it out for the media spotlight at next month’s North American International Auto Show, but that doesn’t mean Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has nothing to talk about in Detroit.

There’s still a splashy reveal in the works, but FCA has chosen the earlier Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for the unveiling. According to one report, FCA’s mystery vehicle signals a big change for the automaker.

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The Chrysler 200 Is Truly, Officially Dead - FCA Has No Midsize Car

It’s over.

Consider the bucket kicked, the farm sold, the dust bitten. We have long been aware Sergio Marchionne was preparing a Chrysler 200-shaped coffin for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ remaining midsize sedan. On Friday, December 2, 2016, the lid of that coffin was slammed shut at FCA’s Sterling Heights, Michigan, assembly plant.

The Detroit News reported last week the Chrysler 200 is officially dead. Fortunately, the Sterling Heights plant lives on.

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FCA Hits the Gas on the Most Fuel-efficient Minivan in U.S. History

The Pacifica Hybrid started production today at Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant, alongside the venerable Dodge Grand Caravan and plain-Jane gas-powered Pacifica. It’s North America’s first-ever hybrid minivan and, thanks to that technology, also the most economical.

But will it bolster the segment and restore the minivan’s faded glory in these uncertain times?

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FCA Isn't Willing to Let Go of Its Rear-drive Cars Just Yet: Report

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sure loves its aging rear-wheel-drive LX platform, so much so that it might just keep it around for an extra two years.

According to Automotive News, sources claim the Dodge Charger, Challenger and Chrysler 300 will forgo their planned platform swap in 2018 and soldier on until at least 2020. If true — and FCA’s lack of allegiance to long-term product plans lends it credence — that means no major redesign for the models until 2021.

It’s good news for lovers of the current generation models, but it’s yet another sign that the Chrysler 300 may be doomed.

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FCA Minivan Plant Avoids Supplier-related Shutdown, Gets Hit With Another

Maybe God has it out for Windsor, Ontario. Or maybe fate has a sense of irony, at least when it comes to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The automaker’s minivan plant, which builds the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica, handily sidestepped a supplier-related shutdown this week, only to be unexpectedly hit with another. The assembly lines go dark in Windsor next week.

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Meh, Let's Try It GM's Way, Says Fiat Chrysler

Debt-heavy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could do with some more spending money, so why not try something new?

Figuring it can squeeze more money out of its products — and boost its stock — if it focuses less on volume, FCA has embarked on a new sales strategy that isn’t new in the industry. Call it the General Motors Approach.

Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery.

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Here Are All the Ways Chrysler Tried To Turbocharge the 1980s

It was impossible to escape the word “Turbo” in the 1980s.

There were Turbo Aviators and Turbo Hoover vacuums. Turbo was a character on American Gladiators. There was even Turbo chewing gum, which came with a cool mini car poster wrapper. Turbo was a helluva drug in the 1980s, and Chrysler took note.

BMW offered one turbocharged gasoline model. Porsche offered three. But Chrysler? Over a 10 year span, the Pentastar turbocharged its entire car lineup, bringing us some 20 turbocharged models powered by no less than six different variations of the 2.2- and 2.5-liter inline-fours.

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Fiat Chrysler, Unifor Clear 'Major Obstacles' Before 11th Hour Contract Deal

A weekend meeting with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne led to a final-hour tentative agreement between the automaker and the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, Unifor president Jerry Dias claims.

The deal, announced five minutes before Monday’s 11:59 p.m. strike deadline, means 3,500 Brampton assembly plant workers face a less uncertain future than before.

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Plants, Parts and Pay on the Table as Fiat Chrysler Tries to Avert Midnight Strike

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles must make some pricey commitments to head off a midnight strike by its Canadian autoworkers.

Bargaining teams from FCA and Unifor, which represents Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, worked throughout the weekend to nail down a contract deal patterned on the recent General Motors agreement.

Without product commitment for its Brampton assembly plant and Etobicoke casting plant, among other sticking points, workers could walk off the job tonight.

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No Turkey for Fiat Chrysler, Unifor as Monday Strike Deadline Looms

Canada, as the New York Times helpfully points out, actually celebrates Thanksgiving (!), but bargaining teams from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and autoworkers union Unifor won’t get to enjoy it.

The two groups are expected to bargain down to the last minute as contract talks approach Monday night’s strike deadline, the Windsor Star reports. Unlike recent bargaining between Unifor and General Motors, the FCA negotiations have been whisper quiet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t action happening behind the scenes.

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Fiat Chrysler Antitrust Lawsuit Goes Ahead After Judge Throws Out Racketeering Charge

The lawsuit that sparked federal investigations of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and changed the way it reports sales is going ahead, minus a racketeering charge.

A federal judge has dismissed allegations that FCA offered payments to dealers in exchange for false sales, but the automaker still faces allegations of antitrust law violation and breach of contract, Bloomberg reports.

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GM Autoworkers Ratify $421 Million Contract; Fiat Chrysler Negotiations Come Next

Unionized General Motors workers in Canada ratified a new collective agreement yesterday, with the automaker agreeing to invest $421 million ($554 million CAD) into its northern operations.

The deal, which sees full-size pickup final assembly come to Oshawa, was sealed after 64.7 percent of the Unifor members voted to approve it. With this nail-biter of a negotiation done (the last-minute deal averted a looming strike), contract negotiations begin with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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Fiat Chrysler Next in Line for Contract Talks; Brampton Assembly a Major Bargaining Point

After securing hundreds of millions of dollars in investments from General Motors and a new lease on life for the Oshawa assembly plant, Canadian Detroit Three autoworkers union Unifor is sharpening its bargaining pens to tackle Fiat Chrysler.

Today, the union identified the automaker as the company next in line to hammer out a contract deal with. After the GM deal, FCA will need to promise something big, and that could mean a commitment to an aging plant filed with aging models.

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More Litigants Claiming 'Rollover' Injuries Join Parade of Fiat Chrysler Rollaway Lawsuits

With so many class action lawsuits leveled against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over their troublesome Monostable shift lever, coordinating all of them has become a problem.

According to The National Law Journal, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi­district Litigation will meet on September 29 to figure out how to juggle all of the lawsuits. Just in the past week, FCA has been hit with two more suits from people claiming they were injured while trying to stop their vehicles from rolling away.

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Fiat Chrysler Loosens Engineers' Leashes to Speed Up Ram Development

The next-generation Ram 1500, due to appear as a 2019 model, can’t afford any delays or Dodge Dart-like launch failures if it wants to challenge perennial front-runner Ford in the full-size pickup battle.

To ensure it doesn’t spend too much time in the womb, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has taken the unlikely step of allowing some of its engineers to make their own decisions, Automotive News reports.

Clearly, when the success of one of its biggest revenue generators is at stake, the automaker is willing to kick tradition to the curb.

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Faulty Airbags Force Fiat Chrysler Recall of 1.9 Million Vehicles

This time, it’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ turn to recall a million-plus vehicles for airbags that might not deploy during a crash.

Yesterday, the automaker announced the recall of 1.9 million vehicles worldwide to fix a defect linked to three deaths and five injuries.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Review - Is This the Best Minivan You Can Buy?

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, and Honda produce nine out of every ten minivans sold in the United States. In a category little more than half the size now than it was a decade ago and with an ever-shrinking number of competitors, the dawn of a truly new people-carrying, grocery-getting, pickup-truck-aping van has the potential to upset the apple cart.

Two years ago, the Kia Sedona shook things up. Although the Sedona remains a relatively small player, Kia’s share of the minivan market is nearly seven times stronger now than it was two years ago.

Next year will be the turn of the Honda Odyssey, as the van with which we’re so familiar follows its Pilot and Ridgeline platform partners to market. Better than one in five minivans sold in America are Odysseys.

This year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dramatically altered its minivan strategy by confirming the top-selling Dodge Grand Caravan’s departure and by launching the supremely stylish, Town & Country-replacing Chrysler Pacifica.

The new Pacifica, a successor to the alleged minivan originator, is by most measurements the best minivan you can drive today. But a few glaring faults leave a large window open for Chrysler’s two key competitors, both of which suffer from advanced age.

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U.S. Minivan Sales Will Rise To A Nine-Year High In 2016, FCA Market Share At 45 Percent

A long ways from the 1.1 million minivans sold in 2005, U.S. sales of sliding-door people carriers are on track to rise to a nine-year high of more than 600,000 units in calendar year 2016.

Through the first eight months of 2016, year-over-year minivan volume is up 19 percent in the United States, though an industry-wide slowdown stalled the minivan sector’s expansion in August.

More than a year after a plant shutdown in Windsor, Ontario, enabled retooling for a new generation of Chrysler MPV product — and severely cut into fleet sales — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles currently owns 45 percent of the American minivan market, up from 33 percent in the first eight months of 2015.

A portion of the credit for FCA’s resurgence belongs to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica, a direct Town & Country replacement that we’re testing this week. After forming only 25 percent of Chrysler brand sales at this stage of 2015, minivans are suddenly responsible for half of all volume at the fading Pentastar brand.

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TTAC Consumer Clinic: Minivans And The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

In keeping with my current life stage, a bunch of my friends own minivans. Three of my four siblings have each owned multiple minivans. I own a minivan.

And this week, the test vehicle at GCBC Towers is this FCA Canada-supplied 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited, with a not-at-all limited array of options. As-tested, U.S. market pricing for this Pacifica climbs just beyond the $50K marker to $50,270.

Honda Odysseys top out below $46,000; Toyota Siennas below $49,000. FCA, however, wants the new Pacifica — which adopts the name of a failed crossover that died eight years ago — to be perceived as the automaker’s premium player. Buyers who want a value-oriented FCA van continue to have the Dodge Grand Caravan as an option, at least for the time being.

But we wonder if it’s a tenable position in the long-term; if, when FCA’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant finishes its Grand Caravan run, the Chrysler brand can maintain the automaker’s longstanding dominance in the minivan sector.

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With The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, Has FCA Finally Sorted The ZF 9-Speed Automatic? Very Nearly

From the get-go, the nine-speed automatic designed by Germany’s ZF in the United States and built and tuned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was deserving of criticism. It was criticism that FCA could not righteously label as unfair, criticism the automaker could not deny.

“We have had to do an inordinate amount of intervention on that transmission, surely beyond what any of us had forecast,” FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said early last year.

The nine-speed, responsible for sending power from a variety of engines to the front wheels of a large number of vehicles, became a reliability nightmare for many buyers who either didn’t perceive its shortcomings on a test drive, or didn’t care. Unless drivers ventured well beyond posted speed limits, the nine-speed wasn’t even able to benefit from its ninth gear. Surely deserving of partial blame for the Chrysler 200’s demise, the ZF 9HP was clearly launched long before it was ready.

Nearly three years since my first exposure to the nine-speed in a 3.2-liter V6-powered Jeep Cherokee, I’m driving a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited this week. It’s a stunning minivan, and at CAD $62,340, it’s a minivan with which one needs a whole week to get a full picture. Yet only a few minutes into our first drive in the new Pacifica, it was clear that FCA had finally sorted the previously dreadful nine-speed.

Almost. Mostly. Sort of.

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Bad Bigland? Sales Tampering Probe Focuses on Fiat Chrysler Sales Guru

Reid Bigland gained plenty of accolades during his rise up the corporate ladder at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but the company’s U.S. sales head now finds himself in a different type of spotlight — the center of the automaker’s sales tampering scandal.

Sources close to the issue claim that federal investigators have turned their focus to Bigland, whose signature is found on many questionable documents, Bloomberg reports.

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'Unnatural Acts Department': Sales Fraud Investigators Uncover Fiat Chrysler Code Word

Federal investigators probing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for alleged sales tampering have uncovered a strange phrase that they believe is a code word.

According to the Wall Street Journa l, company executives would sometimes call up regional managers and dealers and utter a specific phrase. Investigators believe this was a signal for dealers to go ahead and boost end-of-month sales in any way necessary.

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"If You Can Find a Better Car, Buy It" - Ronald DeLuca, 1980s Chrysler Adman, Dies

His commercials were a sign of the times — desperate, struggling times that suddenly turned prosperous.

In the 1980s, Ronald DeLuca was the hidden face behind an instantly familiar one — Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca, who walked into his company’s own commercials to personally pitch front-wheel-drive K-car platform products to a recession-weary America.

DeLuca, the advertising whiz hired by Iacocca to help turn around Chrysler’s late-1970s death plunge, died last week at 91, according to The New York Times. During his tenure DeLuca and Iacocca cranked out a slew of unusually frank, bold commercials that paid off in a big way.

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No Labor Deal Without New Canadian Investment From Detroit Three: Union Boss

Detroit Three automakers need to invest in their Canadian operations or it’s no deal, the president of the union representing hourly workers said yesterday.

Contract talks kick off tomorrow between the automakers and Unifor, but a cloud already hangs over the negotiations in the form of recent threats of a strike and GM’s reluctance to talk about its Oshawa plant’s future.

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Now They Tell Us: Chrysler 200 Sales Were Falling Faster Than FCA First Let On

After an attractive design, all-wheel-drive availability, a powerful V6 (and incentives) powered the Chrysler 200 to 16 consecutive months of improved U.S. sales through October 2015, demand for the midsize 200 suddenly dried up.

During that 16-month stretch between July 2014 and October 2015, sales of the 200 jumped 72 percent, an increase of more than 6,000 sales per month for the Sebring’s replacement. But between November of last year and January 2016, U.S. sales of the 200 were essentially chopped in half.

As a result, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles skipped quickly from a temporary shutdown at the 200’s Sterling Heights assembly plant, to a prolonged shutdown, to an announcement that the 200 and its Dodge Dart cousin would be gradually wound down. It wasn’t so gradual: Dart production is about to end and 200 production will be over before year’s end.

Coinciding with these sedan cancellations, FCA also mired itself in a sales fixing scandal. FCA now claims in 2011, 2014, and 2015, the company was under-reporting real total sales volume, FCA also clarified that sales through the first-half of 2016 were 7,450 units lower than the company first announced.

Though lacking specific monthly data for the early part of this year, we now know which brands and models were the key offenders with July figures in hand. No drum roll required.

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Not so Hot Anymore: Fiat Chrysler Changes Sales Reporting Method, Ends Winning Streak

In response to media reports, a lawsuit, and federal investigations into potential sales figure tampering, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is changing the way it records sales.

This means that the automaker’s much-touted 75-month sales streak is dead. FCA admits that under the new method, its year-over-year monthly sales gains ended in September 2013. Ad copy is likely being rewritten as you read this.

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Fiat Chrysler Knew About Inflated Sales Figures: Report

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stopped inflating monthly sales figures after uncovering the practice last year, according to sources within the automaker.

The two insiders told Automotive News that the practice, which involved artificially boosting sales numbers before rolling them back the following month, was discovered by an internal review in mid-2015. FCA sales chief Reid Bigland reportedly put a stop to the practice.

FCA is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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What Would a Mazda3-based Dodge Dart Successor Look Like?

Last week, our own Tim Cain broke down exactly why the Dart was destined for the dustbin. Steph asked in April if the Dart would outlast the Obama administration, a question answered last week with a resounding “no” from Auburn Hills. And before that, I asked you what company could build a replacement for the Dart, while offering up my own guesses. One car kept rising to the top of the suggestion list: the Mazda3.

But, what would a Mazda3-based Dodge Dart replacement look like? We wanted to know. And since none of us at TTAC are particularly gifted when it comes to pixel manipulation, we commissioned a pair of renders from the talented Theophilus Chin of Chris Doane Automotive to find out.

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Federal Investigations Launched Into Fiat Chrysler's Sales Practices

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is in hot water with federal authorities over the way it reports its sales.

Late yesterday, it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission both launched investigations into the automaker, following months of accusations of inflated sales figures.

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Security Experts Say Fiat Chrysler's 'Bug Bounty' Reward Isn't Big Enough

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will give you up to $1,500 to find weaknesses in its vehicles’ security, but cybersecurity experts want the automaker to pony up more dough.

After the company announced its industry-first “bug bounty” program on July 13, many professional hackers say FCA’s reward isn’t enough to attract real talent in the search for software breaches, Forbes reports.

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Fiat Chrysler Will Give You Cash to Find Cyber Threats

In a few weeks, after Pokémon Go jumps the shark and we all head back to our homes for nights of solitude, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will offer another opportunity for high-tech geekery. And a lucrative one, too.

Announced today, the automaker will hand tech-savvy individuals cold, hard cash in return for information on weaknesses in its vehicles’ cybersecurity. Exposing a hidden backdoor that hackers could sneak through will net you up to $1,500.

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Bad News for Sergio: Brexit Catapults Fiat Chrysler Off Key Stock List

After Britain referendumed themselves right out of the European Union last week, there was plenty of talk about how the country’s automakers would fare in the wake of the Brexit.

But what about an Italian-American automaker? Today, investment bank Goldman Sachs removed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles from their “conviction” buy list, citing uncertainty over the fate of the EU, Bloomberg reports.

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Fiat-Chrysler Finally Gets Some Government Cash for Its Minivan Plant

Two years after it issued, and then cancelled, a request for government assistance, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles finally received some cash to help pay for its Windsor Assembly Plant upgrade.

The province of Ontario handed FCA $85.8 million ($66.5 million U.S.) today to help cover some of the cost of retooling the facility to handle production of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Some of the cash went to the research and development facility FCA operates jointly with the University of Windsor.

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  • KOKing I car-sat an A32 while its owner was out of the country, and the then whiz-bang VQ motor was great, but the rest of it wasn't any better than a XV10 or XV20. Definitely the start of its downward slide, unfortunately.
  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.