The only minivans coming out of Detroit these days aren’t actually rolling out of Detroit, but a plant a stone’s throw from the Detroit River, on the Canadian side. Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant, home to the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, will go dark for two weeks starting on New Year’s Eve, presumably to manage inventories.
Short-lived shutdowns are commonplace at the plant, where workers assemble one of the newest and undoubtedly the oldest minivans on the market. The latter vehicle, while likely not having much of a future, certainly has a fan base. It’s not giving up on the model, and sales figures show it.
Lee Iacocca’s original Chrysler K Platform spawned an incomprehensible tangle of K-related offspring between the 1981 and 1995 model years, but only a few U.S.-market models were true K-Cars: the Chrysler LeBaron, Plymouth Reliant, Dodge Aries, Dodge 600, and Dodge 400.
Dodge recently launched a 30-second commercial as part of Fiat Chrysler’s new “Big Finish” advertising campaign. While a competent bit of marketing, it falls into the trap of deploying holiday marketing immediately after Halloween.
On the surface, it has everything you’d want from a Christmas-themed car ad. Professional wrestler, former NFL player, and American icon Bill Goldberg makes an appearance as Santa while dwarves install a 6.2-liter Hemi into his sleigh. The Butt Rock comes on strong, accented by angle grinders and relentless engine revving until Santa’s new ride is completed. They even put antlers on the Hellcat logo. It’s stupid and awesome but also way too early for this.
We’re willing to forgive FCA. The automaker has been pretty good about not making commercials that make us strangle anyone of late. Frankly, that’s more than we can say about some of the other domestic nameplates.
While the Dodge Challenger is hardly a subtle-looking vehicle, enough exist on the road to allow them to blend in with traffic a bit. But what if you plan to purchase America’s final incarnation of the muscle car not just because you like burning rubber, but because you want to make a statement?
Dodge has you covered for 2019. Provided you buy one with a V8, the automaker will hook you up with some factory racing stripes.
Black stripes, which were previously available on SRT models, are being extended to the Charger R/T Scat Pack and R/T. Similarly, the 707 hp-Hellcat has some all new banded color options of its own. Red, blue, and silver stripes have been added to complement the preexisting black and gray lines.
I see two types of distinctively Coloradan sticker-covered vehicles in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards. One type is the stony-ass wastoidmobile Subaru plastered with decals from cannabis dispensaries, vape-juice shops, and microbreweries. The other is the battered outdoorsy Detroit truck, plastered with decals from mountain-bike shops, ski resorts, rafting outfitters, and environmental causes. These types tend to overlap to some extent, so it often happens that I’ll find stickers advertising shatter-hash on an Outdoorsy Truck and stickers proclaiming allegiance to rock climbing on a Stoner Subaru, but there are cultural differences between them.
Here’s an ornately leopardified 1986 Dodge B250 Ram Wagon that appears to have hauled many a sinewy adventurer to a trailhead or ski slope.
The year is 1982. You’re a lover of domestic sports cars, but also suffer from a distinct lack of funding in this era of American Malaise. Three updated, base model, fuel sipping rides are in your purview — all of them with four-cylinder engines.
Which one do you take home?
2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye and R/T 392 Scat Pack First Drive - Different, Yet Still the Same
I’ve always admired the Dodge Challenger for being very clear about what kind of car it is.
It is not a crossover pretending to have off-road chops. It is not a wagon pretending to be an SUV. It is not a four-door “coupe” that’s really a hatchback.
It’s simply a large American muscle car that offers a V8, loads of available power, and operates as a throwback to an era that existed before most folks younger than Baby Boomer age were born.
In short, it doesn’t mess around.
It started off casually enough, in the luxury Slack chat environment of TTAC just a day or so ago. Amidst a conversation about large Chryslers of the early ’70s, TTAC’s Steph Willems declared he wasn’t sure which fuselage-design Chrysler product he’d choose to take home.
Let’s see if we can’t venture some opinions on this topic.
Monday’s QOTD post by Matthew Guy inquiring about some of the seriously overpriced metal on today’s collector car market got me thinking. And what it got me thinking about was the present state of cars, and if there’s going to be much worthy of collecting at a later date.
We’re in some dark times, automotively speaking. Allow me to explain.
If you’re the proud owner of a Hemi-powered Dodge Charger, Challenger, or Chrysler 300, you probably love getting that sweet baby up to highway speeds in a hurry. However, you’re also likely fond of having the ability to stop it whenever you wish and not entering into a real-life version of the movie Speed.
We’ve got some unfortunate news. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, you might have to take a couple of extra steps to avoid that being a possibility. Fiat Chrysler has issued a recall on 2014-2016 Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, and Dodge Challengers equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 and Mopar Stage 1 Performance Package powertrain control module. The 2018 Challenger SRT Demon is also affected by the recall.
Apparently, the PCM is sick and could screw with the cruise control system. You’ll definitely want to get this one fixed as soon as possible. FCA claims the defect may not just prohibit cruise control from disengaging — there’s also a possibility it could cause the car to accelerate unpredictably. That’s about the last thing you want an 800-horsepower car to do without you giving it the go-ahead.
It was one of those make or break moments. A company teetering on the financial verge which threw a Hail Mary at the right time — and at the right target. The company in question was Chrysler, and the Hail Mary was the K-car platform.
Today we ask you: What was peak K?
If you went to bed last night worried that Dodge doesn’t field enough Challenger variants to satisfy your diverse driving whims, rest easy tonight. The Challenger, which harbors more personas than David Bowie, wants you to go to the dragstrip again.
For 2019, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack gives birth to a new offering that, while borrowing much of the defunct SRT Demon’s launch-assist hardware, rejects its hellish dragster predecessor’s supercharged 6.2-liter in favor of 6.4 liters of naturally aspirated grunt.
What’s something that’s really, really old, yet continues to attract a steady flow of buyers year after year? You could say the Colt 1911 and its knock-offs, and you’d be right — in fact, an old American pistol that packs a punch and never really saw the need to improve in a major way seems like an apt comparison to what we’re actually talking about.
When it first appeared on sales charts in May of 2008, the Dodge Challenger was pure throwback. A cherry to place on top of the brash, retro sundae Chrysler had constructed out of its 300 and Charger sedans. In case you missed it, last month was the 10-year anniversary of the reborn Challenger’s first full month of American sales; the TTAC crew deferred its celebrations until July 4th.
Taking a look at the sales performance of its domestic, um, challengers, it seems like the two-door Dodge might outlive us all. Will the last American passenger car on the market ride into the sunset with a supercharged roar and two smoking rear tires?
The gentleman next to me rotated his arm in the universal “roll-down-your-window” maneuver, even though the actual motion is completely foreign to many drivers in this era of ubiquitous electric window lifts. I did, revealing a grey-haired gentleman wearing a Naval ship hat, sitting behind the wheel of a pristine, domestic full-size half-ton pickup truck.
“I knew it’d be a young man behind the wheel of that car. That’s a young man’s car. That’s the kind of car I’d have if I were young like you.” His eyes must be failing him a bit — how else would he miss the grey in my beard? With 40 inbound like a careening freight train, I appreciate the inference that I’m a young man in his eyes, and thanked him for both his compliments and his service.
Normally, I’d end a conversation like this with a rumble of throttle in appreciation — but I didn’t want to disappoint our sailor with the sounds of a minivan engine. So I motored off in relative silence. While this V6-powered, all-wheel drive Dodge Challenger GT doesn’t have the aural pleasures of its Hemi-powered brethren, it clearly still makes people take notice.
For two brands steeped in Americana, Chrysler and Dodge sure seem to love Canada. Two Ontario plants continue cranking out Grand Caravans, Challengers, Chargers, 300s, and Pacificas, even as the 9,600-strong workforce in Windsor and Brampton grow leery of the future.
It’s not just the complete lack of interest Fiat Chrysler displayed in those particular brands during last month’s five-year plan unveiling; it’s also the threat of import tariffs on foreign-made vehicles that could very well sink across-the-border manufacturing.
Nah, it’s all good, says Jerry Diaz, president of the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in the Great White North.
There aren’t too many vehicles that can really heat up the bile in your stomach like a botched custom. The Plymouth Prowler isn’t for everyone and the Mustang II is an acquired taste, but neither elicit the negative response of a customized El Camino donk riding on 27-inch wheels with a Dora the Explorer paint job.
However, donk culture includes a community of enthusiasts who love their vehicles dearly. Some people see a malaise-era classic cruising on wagon wheels and representing their favorite candy, soft drink, or television show and think it’s glorious. Loads of donks and hi-risers are tastefully executed each year. You can make a case for almost any custom, no matter how heinous it is to your own sensibilities.
There are, of course, exceptions, and the Caravan Pickup custom abomination seen above is assuredly one of those. I was getting coffee when news of this abomination reached me. My phone vibrated to indicate I had received a text message from a friend who shares a mutual interest in cars. “Dude, you’ve got to see this thing,” it read. “But I hope you’re sitting down.”
While Fiat Chrysler may share its bed with the Italians and has factories all over the planet, it maintains several of the most unapologetically American brands in existence. It’s difficult to imagine someone purchasing Ram or Jeep products without having a soft spot for the United States and it’s flat-out impossible to envision a Dodge owner who doesn’t have a glovebox full of American flags and a handgun.
Whether or not that represents reality (it doesn’t) is irrelevant, because purchasing these brands means buying into that image to some degree — unless you bought a Dodge Journey.
A large part of the American experience, at least historically, is excess. In the car world that means size, which is everything. Bigger cars, bigger engines, bigger numbers, bigger noises. While most domestic manufacturers followed this recipe fairly closely over the last 10 years, Dodge seems obsessed with it. The company keeping the muscle car legacy alive and continues attempting to raise the bar beyond what seems sane. It’s absolutely wonderful.
Dodge uploaded a teaser video last night that appeared to indicate Fiat Chrysler’s performance division is working on another ludicrously overpowered vehicle. In it, we see a modern Challenger blasting down the salt flats against an auditory backdrop of a raging V8 with loads of supercharger whine.
The Challenger loses focus as it approaches the camera, but we can just barely make out the car’s twin hood scoops before things faded to black. Then the text “LOCK: RED797_19” flashes for a moment, with the reassurance that whatever we’ve just witnessed is coming soon. Dodge makes a habit of issuing cryptic teasers for his highest horsepower models. The prelude to the Hellcat and Demon felt a little like playing Myst, and this latest teaser rekindled that sense of intrigue and frustration.
Fortunately, we already have details on — and photos of — this new Mopar beast.
Chrysler started selling Dodge-badged Mitsubishis all the way back in 1970, then built plenty of Mitsubishi products in North America under the Diamond-Star Motors flag later on. The Mitsubishi GTO (sold as the Mitsubishi 3000GT and Dodge Stealth on this side of the Pacific) was built in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, and was one of the more interesting sports cars of the 1990s.
Here’s a 1995 Stealth R/T, photographed in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.
A Dodge Charger burst into flames after an impromptu drift exhibition for a crowd of people in a California parking lot on Monday morning. The local news, of course, framed the situation as an escalating threat to the community backed by hoards of street racers who just love illegal shenanigans — a half truth.
According to KTLA, the incident occurred shortly after midnight near the Walmart located in the Anaheim Plaza. Jaime Guzman, who works security for the area, said he was making his rounds when he saw a crowd gathered in the parking lot to watch vehicles perform a ludicrous amount of donuts. This claim was backed up by video footage
In Monday’s QOTD (which garnered more comments than any other post in recent memory – for this, we thank you) I opined that a base Durango would be my selection given a sudden bank error of $34,000 in my favor and a command to buy something that’ll last me the next 10 years. I also enjoyed some of your selections, by the way.
Digging into the Durango’s build-and-price tool, I found more to like than expected. No, it’s not the best of its range (that honor is reserved for the gonzo 475 hp SRT version) but it certainly makes a case for itself compared to non-‘roided out Durango SUVs.
Like a bull who’s had enough of the matador and his capote de brega, the Dodge Charger has been spied flaring its nostrils. We saw this design flourish in a teaser shot distributed by the company for the 2019 Charger Hellcat, and it now shows up on the Scat Pack trim.
The Charger is currently offered in no fewer than 11 different trims that represent a steady and relentless upward march of power and tire-melting capabilities. The Scat Pack is number eight on the totem pole.
When the first LX-platform Chryslers appeared in late 2004, buyers who had long grown wary of the automaker’s products took solace in the fact that the new 300 and Dodge Charger/Magnum borrowed so many components from bedmate Mercedes-Benz.
While not a direct carryover, the front and rear suspension, floorpan, and five-speed automatic transmission (among other items) all boasted German heritage. DaimlerChrysler found itself with a hit on its hands. Thirteen years later, after many updates and styling refreshes, LX cars still trundle off Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario assembly line and into the waiting arms of North American traditionalists.
It was long expected that, after FCA hit snooze on a planned 2019 platform swap, we’d see new underpinnings for the old rear-drivers by 2021. Hold your horses, says CEO Sergio Marchionne.
It’s Fiat Chrysler Friday, apparently. Updates continue to trickle out of Italy, where FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne was hounded by press following the unveiling of his company’s five-year product plan.
A plan, it should be noted, that completely ignored Chrysler, Fiat, and Dodge. With talk of the four
important global brands out of the way, Marchionne opened up on the lesser divisions. So, what does the future hold for Dodge, the most ignored brand of the day? Not a hell of a lot, apparently.
The final 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon rolled off the production line at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton Assembly Plant on Wednesday. While the Ontario facility continues building the Chrysler 300, as well as Dodge’s Charger and Challenger, the drag-focused Demon’s time on Earth has passed.
Currently a black-on-black beast, the car will be repainted “Viper Red” before joining the last Dodge Viper ever made at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction. The duo will be part of a packaged lot, representing the final chance to own either vehicle with no miles on the odometer, with all proceeds from the sale benefitting the United Way.
We thought we’d be mourning the Viper for years before Dodge readied its return. Fortunately, that might not be the case. Fiat Chrysler has apparently green-lit the model’s return for 2020. But, with production ending in 2017 and FCA’s subsequent closure of Conner Avenue Assembly, it’s still a little difficult to believe any of this is real.
And yet, here we are.
In terms of size, this recall is one of the largest from a single manufacturer in recent memory. And the problem it’s designed to fix once served as the plot of a 1990s TV movie I can’t recall the name of.
While there’s only one known incident on its radar, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided to go ahead with a recall of over 4.8 million Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram vehicles to prevent them from getting stuck in cruise control.
Once upon a time, fearsome variants of conservative full-size sedans roamed America’s highways en masse in search of speeders and felons, but the emergence of the SUV as the preferred tool of law enforcement relegated the traditional four-door car to the back of the pack.
It’s no wonder why Ford had no problem ditching the Taurus. Some 80 percent of the automaker’s police fleet orders specify the Police Interceptor Utility — a butched-up Explorer — instead of its sedan stablemate. Chevrolet’s Tahoe PPV offers law enforcement a more rugged SUV option.
Not wanting to be left behind in the switch to high-riding cop cars, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has debuted a competitor — the Dodge Durango Pursuit.
The Dodge Charger and its Challenger cousin have been stalwart models of the Dodge lineup since the 2006 model year, back when the place was still called DaimlerChrysler.
By the way, it’s been 20 years since that “merger of equals” (which it totally wasn’t) and Automotive News has a fantastic longform piece on the milestone with behind-the-scenes stories from people who lived to tell the tale. The description of a senior-level German lighting up a cigar while steamrolling the “no smoking” exhortations of the Chrysler contingent tells you all you need to know about who was really in charge at the time.
I digress. Now, about that 2019 Charger. It appears a four-door Hellcat will continue after all.
Back in the fall of 2017, we featured the hotted-up Dodge Shelby Charger, born of a collaboration between Dodge and elder racing legend Carroll Shelby. That 2.2-liter four-seat coupe is a bit practical though, a bit pedestrian.
Let’s turn up the volume with another Shelby, this one featuring double the cylinders and half the seats of the Charger. Dakota!
Car building will soon fire up again at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario assembly plant after employees at a just-in-time seat supplier called of their week-long strike. Late Friday, workers at Lear Ajax ratified a four-year wage contract with their employer.
Brampton Assembly, which builds the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger, cancelled both shifts on Thursday after exhausting its limited seat supply. The new agreement between Lear and its Ajax workforce not only keeps seats flowing to FCA, it also keeps Lear from closing its doors for good.
Now approaching its fourth birthday, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is due for a mid-cycle refresh — a pleasant surprise considering the Demon only had one year to live. We weren’t sure how much longer Fiat Chrysler intended to keep the feisty feline around, and considered the possibility that it might already be on borrowed time. But with an updated face coming for the 2019 model year, the odds are good that the Hellcat will remain in production with the rest of the Challenger lineup until 2021.
Visual changes will likely be extremely limited. Dodge understands the Challenger’s look is iconic and doesn’t want to screw up the retro recipe, so it’s once again tapping into the past in a bid to overhaul the vehicle’s current aesthetic. It’s also taking a page out of the Kellogg’s Raisin Bran playbook, as customers stand to gain a Hellcat with two scoops of goodness.
If every full-size car built by Fiat Chrysler was a Dodge Demon, the automaker’s limited supply of seats wouldn’t be as big an issue.
Well, the Demon’s dead, and all of the Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, and Dodge Challengers built at FCA’s Brampton, Ontario assembly plant need a place for five occupants to plant their asses. As of a minute after midnight on Saturday morning, those seats are no longer rolling out of supplier Lear Ajax. A production slowdown in Brampton ensues.
What can an automaker do after its limited-run, 840-horsepower performance flagship shuffles off into the afterlife? Move the second-highest rung a little higher.
That appears to be what Dodge is planning for the Challenger. In a world filled with crossovers, electrified powertrains, and looming autonomy, the drag strip-focused 2018 Challenger SRT Demon was just the gas-slurping, go-you-own-way ticket the brand needed to earn a ton of recognition. Now that a brief run of Demons has settled into climate-controlled garages and auction blocks across the land, it’s time for Dodge to turn its attention back to the Hellcat.
You’d think the advent of dedicated electric vehicle platforms would breed a new era of flat-floored minivans, but most automakers just aren’t interested in going that route — internal combustion or otherwise. There’s no electric Chevrolet Venture on the horizon, nor will Ford resurrect the Aerostar in EV form and name it after a late ’60s muscle car.
Even in our clean, green future, SUVs reign.
The present, however, hasn’t abandoned the minivan, even if the segment is a shadow of its former self. March minivan sales in the U.S. topped that of last March, and year-to-date sales are up compared to 2017, despite the disappearance of two nameplates. Unlike SUVs and crossovers, however, there’s just not enough demand to put wind in every minivan model’s sales. It’s easy to imagine a near future where Fiat Chrysler and Honda own the segment.
Mopar fans are among the most steadfast automotive enthusiasts in history. Their ability to openly express their love for post-war luxury, classic muscle, and turbocharged compacts from the 1980s remains unrivaled. While an advocate for General Motors or Ford can certainly appreciate disparate models within their chosen nameplate, Mopar enthusiasts frequently push the envelope of sanity — at least, that’s the stigma.
If you’re unfamiliar with the stereotype, log into any car forum and write that you’re considering swapping an LS motor into a Plymouth, Dodge, or Chrysler. Congratulations, you just made a dozen new enemies. On the flip side of that coin, owning a vintage Mopar can win you a lot of respect within the community. While not equal in terms of prestige, owning a Dodge Aspen wagon will still net you loads of brownie points with anyone driving a Coronet Super Bee Six Pack or Omni GLH-S. Hell, at this stage in the game you might even get a thumbs up for buying a Plymouth Reliant.
Unfortunately, Chrysler’s immediate future doesn’t look nearly as bright as its often dicey past. That’s especially true for Dodge. The Viper is dead, the Challenger can’t go on forever, and annual sales are less than half of what they were 10 years ago. But its fiercely loyal enthusiast community remains, and they’ll have an opportunity to purchase the final examples of what may end up being the brand’s two most illustrious models.
A recent report on the potential demise of the long-running Taurus nameplate brought mixed reactions in the comments section, and is still doing so as of this writing. Said report also inspired today’s Buy/Drive/Burn, in a get it while you can sort of way. Soon, the Blue Oval in this trio will take the dirt nap.
But that’s then and this is now — and you must choose what to do with three full-size American sedans on sale in 2018.
The Rare Rides series started off in the early part of 2017 with a concept Ghia that was all Ford underneath. A year later we featured the Quicksilver, which wore Lincoln badges. And more recently, a Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia caught our brougham attention.
Time for some change, and to have a look at a Ghia which is all Chrysler beneath its luxury fittings and beautiful styling.
Indiana State Police proudly announced the capture of a speed demon who was ripping down the highway at over twice the legal limit. The diver, 38-year old J. Jesus Duran Sandoval, was allegedly trying to break the sound barrier on the Indiana Toll Road Tuesday evening when he hurtled past an officer at an extremely high rate of speed.
State Trooper Dustin Eggert, who was merging back into traffic after helping a broken down motorist near the 45 mile marker, took chase but found the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat difficult to keep up with. At one point he found himself driving 150 miles an hour, noting that the vehicle he was pursuing continued to pull away as he radioed for backup.
Law enforcement officials across the nation will be eager to learn about Dodge’s new Shakedown package for the Challenger and … oh, what’s that, Steph? Not that kind of shakedown? Alright then.
In an effort to inject a bit of interest in a car that was introduced a year before Barack Obama took the Oath of Office for the first time – beyond, y’know, psychotic 707- and 840-horsepower editions – Dodge has tossed a stereo and a bit of wallpaper at its retro two-door.
While not a new or even recently refreshed model, the Dodge Durango is one of those vehicles that keeps its corporate parent happy through perpetually buoyant sales.
January saw the three-row midsize SUV’s sales rise 9 percent, year over year. Despite the current generation bowing near the start of the decade, and with its last refresh now four years in the past, Durango sales in 2017 rose 104 units over 2016. Along with the Challenger, it was a shining star in a lineup that saw its volume plunge 31 percent between this January and last.
For 2018, Dodge understandably wants to spread the sales net as wide as possible. A such, buyers of hotter Durangos must now ask themselves a question: “Can I pull off this look?”
It’s always risky naming a car or ship after a denizen of the dark underworld. You could run afoul of Christian groups, as Chrysler did in the early 1970s with its original Dodge Demon (later renamed Dart Sport), or possibly meet a much grimmer fate, as explorer Sir John Franklin did with his two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.
On a happier note, the Dodge division saw mostly positive PR from its decision to turn its already potent 707-horsepower Challenger SRT Hellcat up to “11.” The 2018 Demon and its associated Demon Crate drag kit became instant collector items. And why not? The Demon was a full-size two-door sedan making 808 hp (on premium gas) that you could order with a single seat.
Despite repeated promises that the model would be a one-time-only thing, however, rumors exist about a 2019 run.
After the industry’s first annual sales decline of the post-recession era in 2017, the small uptick in year-over-year U.S. auto sales in January 2018 shouldn’t be seen as a trend, analysts warn. This year will apparently bring more worry for automakers as buyers plan fewer trips to the dealership.
For the domestic brands, January brought a mixed sales bag. Two members of the Detroit Three posted significant sales declines, while the third squeaking by on the strength of light truck sales. Clearly, having a lineup full of pickups, SUVs, and crossovers helps a company’s bottom line, but it’s no guarantee of ever-higher volume in today’s market.
The small car-based truck market was an interesting place in the early 1980s. Chevrolet had a hit on its hands with the El Camino, and it caught other manufacturers empty handed. By then, Ford had lost its LTD-based Ranchero pickup, and in its grief turned to a short-lived experiment called the Durango, based on the Fairmont Futura.
Dodge tried this one. The Rampage.
Earlier this week in TTAC’s always entertaining Slack chat, Adam Tonge suggested (without sarcasm) how the B&B might enjoy discussing the market entrants of the Diamond-Star Motors company and picking favorites. Shortly after this discussion, the very DSM Plymouth Laser we saw in yesterday’s Rare Rides fell right in my lap, and this all seemed like destiny.
Of the varied selection, which Diamond-Star Motors vehicle is your favorite?
The European-style vans sold by Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, and Dodge have been with us here in North America since 2001, and have held their value very well since that time. Depreciation of even the most useful vehicle is relentless, however, and it was inevitable that used-up Sprinters would begin showing up in big self-service wrecking yards at some point.
That day has arrived; I spotted the first of the discarded Sprinters in my junkyarding experience, this one in a Phoenix yard over the summer.
If you’re over a certain age – say 30, or 35 for sure – you remember the large sedans of the ‘90s. Comfortable, quiet, and roomy, those LeSabres and Park Avenues weren’t fun for enthusiasts, but they moved five or six people across town with relaxed ease.
That’s now the purpose of lots of crossovers, including the Dodge Durango pictured here. They’re built to haul families and cargo in comfort, and if they’re even a little bit fun to drive, well, that’s gravy.
That means, on balance, I tend to look askew at this category of vehicles, no matter how well they’re built or how well they do their assigned job. I like cars that are fun to drive, and I prefer sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks. Which means I am not the average consumer.
For the average buyer – the one that counts for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – the priorities are different, and not so different from that of the large, front-wheel-drive sedans that once roamed suburbia before demands for utility and a higher seating position collided with the proliferation of unibody architecture, causing demand for crossovers of all sizes to explode.
All this rambling means that there’s more than one way to judge vehicles. Do you judge them based on how fun they are to drive and how they resonate with your enthusiast tendencies, or do you judge them based on how well they do their intended job, or some combination of both?
If the Detroit Three want to keep wind in their
sales sails, it sure won’t happen on the strength of traditional passenger cars.
Several brands from Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted U.S. sales declines in October 2017, all thanks to the slipping popularity of regular cars. In many cases, the continued strength of the crossover/SUV/truck market wasn’t enough to tip the scales back in the automakers’ favor.
This should lead to more than a few odd pairings. Mopar, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ performance and aftermarket parts division, will now offer a Dodge SRT Hellcat engine — the company’s 707 horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V8 — minus the car.
Dubbed the “Hellcrate,” the warranty-backed engine and associated kit was unveiled Monday ahead of this week’s SEMA show in Las Vegas. This means Mopar fans looking to own a 707-hp beast have other options than just visiting an FCA dealer and signing on the dotted line for a new vehicle.
My Dodge Dart awareness is not what it should be. I’m not fully up to speed on the Dodge Darts of yore. Despite my parents’ ownership of a Dart, the 1960-1976 period was not an era in which I was a sentient being.
As for the newer Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based Darts, I’m not fully on board with America’s rejection of the car. By the end of its second full year, nearly 200,000 Dodge Darts had been sold. Sales increased yet again in 2015. But without factory support, real demand was rather limited. Only 43,402 Darts were sold in the United States in 2016, the year Dart production came to a premature end.
Man, I loved that car. Oh, I don’t mean the way it drove, and certainly not the way it shifted. I’m not talking about interior packaging or its engine lineup or its interior quality. Whatever. Pfft. Who cares. I just genuinely liked the way it looked: the proudly Dodge front end, those completely wheel-filled arches, and especially that distinctive rear end.
I’m therefore pleased to see Audi resurrecting that look for the fourth-generation 2018 Audi A8, the brand’s flagship sedan.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says it is recalling nearly 710,000 sport utility vehicles to check on shields protecting the brake boosters. The shields were a new addition to a bundle of SUVs involved in a 2014 recall and FCA is worried they may have been installed improperly.
The company discovered that units exposed to water were subject to excessive corrosion, resulting in unacceptable brake pedal firmness. Affected vehicles also run the risk of degraded braking performance. FCA says it is aware of at least one accident associated with the problem but noted there were no injuries.
There’s only one reason for the Dodge Demon to exist, and that’s to go fast in a straight line, preferably at a dragstrip.
Which is why I haven’t fully understood the point of the car, at least up until now. And maybe I still don’t. I mean, how many dedicated drag racers are out there that want to spend a pretty penny ($85K, give or take) on something that’s factory-ready for the strip and easily streetable? Back in the muscle car days, sure, that was a thing, but today’s drag racers are probably either finding a cheap Fox-body Mustang and decking it out, or, if they have the means, going whole hog and buying something from an OEM that isn’t street legal.
That’s just a guess on my part – I’m not as in tune with those who drag race on weekends as I’d like to be. Maybe there’s been a clamor for a car just like the Demon for a long time. Either way, Dodge isn’t going to build many – just 3,000 for the U.S. and 300 for Canada.
I can understand why the Challenger, including the Hellcat version, exists – it looks cool on Woodward, the V8 models sound badass, and it’s the closest thing FCA has to a “pony car” (in my ideal world, Dodge would sell a true pony car alongside the Challenger, but I’m no Sergio). But unlike most sports cars, which can give you at least a taste of their track prowess on the right public road, the Demon’s skillset can’t be safely applied to the street.
Then someone tossed me the red key.
Across the U.S. auto industry, there are a number of auto brands that are actually selling more passenger cars in 2017 than in 2016: Jaguar, Lincoln, Infiniti, Subaru, Volkswagen.
Some specific models, many with all-wheel-drive availability like the Audi A5, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Golf, are enjoying far greater sales success this year than last.
But you know the story. Generally speaking, Americans are buying far fewer cars now than they used to. From more than 50 percent just five years ago, passenger car market share is down to 37 percent. Nowhere is this more obvious than at traditional domestic manufacturers, the Detroit Three.
Rental Review: 2017 Dodge Challenger R/T - Cheap, Fast, and Dirty, but Maybe Not Cheap or Fast Enough
“Rumble, young man, Rumble!”
— Muhammad Ali
It’s strange to think that the modern iteration of the Dodge Challenger has now been in production for twice as long as its inspiration. One has to either admire or despair at the way that Dodge has managed to keep this one-trick pony on the lips of the automotive universe, simply by throwing more and more horsepower at it. FCA knows their audience — who cares that the platform is more than a decade old? Just make it faster! Would any of us be surprised to see a 1,000 horsepower Challenger revealed next year? Hell, why not just make it so powerful that it rips itself in half?
But, as with most performance-oriented cars, the real cheddar comes from the volume models. The Deep South is rotten with V6-powered Challys, and the original 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower models are the star of many a Buy Here Pay Here Lot. And while the 2015 and newer Pentastars, which are masterfully mated with the ZF 8HP automatic, can be enjoyable to drive, let’s be the realest here, k? Nobody lusts after a Challenger with too few cylinders. It’s the HEMI rumble that you want. And the Dodge Challenger R/T delivers it, albeit in 5.7-liter form, and it does it at a price that’s right in line with the average new car price in these United States of America.
A couple weeks ago we took a look at a tidy, light blue Nissan Stanza Wagon, which we determined was a very early example of the crossover breed that would heat up decades later. I can happily report the Stanza was quickly snapped up by an automotive enthusiast who plans to take good care of it. Since that little light blue square is off the market, I found a different vehicle of the same general purpose (and color).
Let’s trot on over and take a look at the Colt Vista.
Fiat Chrysler will idle production of both the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan for over a month in autumn. But with the latter model seeing impressive sales in the United States last month, can FCA afford to hit “pause” on assembly?
Not really, but that doesn’t matter — the Grand Caravan has to meet updated U.S. safety standards if Dodge wants to keep selling them. Unfortunately, FCA only has a 19-day supply of the minivan in reserve after an exceptional August depleted inventories. On the flip side, Chrysler’s objectively good but slower-selling Pacifica has a 108-day vehicle surplus. Wait, that’s also bad news.
At least the line workers at FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant have have some time off to look forward to.
It happened quite by accident last week, as good ideas often do. After last Wednesday’s Rare Rides post concerning the Nissan Stanza Wagon, reader comments got a little sidetracked. Dal20402 lamented there had never been a worse name for a car than Axxess (the Stanza Wagon’s successor).
Before I could unplug TTAC from the Canadian outlet on the wall, other commenters were jumping in with their terrible name suggestions. Seemed like a fun game, so today we open the floor to everyone’s suggestions.
Give us your submissions for the worst-ever automotive model names.
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- Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
- Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
- Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
- Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.
- Inside Looking Out I did not notice, did they mention climate change? How they are going to fight climate change, racism and gender discrimination. I mean collective Big 3.