Pop quiz, hotshot: What job combines a Challenger Hellcat, wrestling champ Bill Goldberg, and a $150,000 paycheck? If you answered with something along the lines of Vince McMahon’s assistant or slightly-above-board import/export professional, we totally understand.
In reality, that’s the job description for Chief Donut Maker at Dodge. Yep – you read that correctly.
Chrysler had its first involvement with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in 1971. With a considerable stock purchase by Chrysler, the two companies’ long-lived captive import cooperation began. Introduced immediately to Americans in 1971 as the Dodge Colt, the nameplate was on its second generation by 1977. We pick up in the middle of that year, as third-gen Colts started to arrive from Japan. In the unusual arrangement, brand new (and differently sized) Colts were sold alongside second-gen Colts during the same model year.
For over 20 years Chrysler offered various Mitsubishi offerings as rebadged captive import vehicles in the North American market. For a handful of years, a Colt at your Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth-Jeep-Eagle-DeSoto-AMC dealer was the exact same one you’d buy at the Mitsubishi dealer across the street. Let’s take some time and sort out the badge swapping history of Colt.
It’s been a few months now, so I’ve had plenty of time to get used to it — and yet, it still seems wrong. It feels factually wrong, emotionally wrong, and just wrong wrong. What is “it”, you ask? It’s this: Ram and Dodge topped the 2021 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, ahead of Lexus, Mitsubishi, and Nissan.
If someone told me, “The most reliable new cars you can buy are Rams, Dodges, Lexuses (Lexii?), Mitsubishis, and Nissans …” well, I’m not sure how you’d respond, but I would assume they sold Rams, Dodges, Mitsubishis, and Nissans, and just threw Lexus in there to give the list some credibility.
I won’t go as far as Brightwork Research in calling J.D. Power “a fake entity”, but my gut tells me that there has to be more to JDP’s Initial Quality Study than — well, initial quality — that’s pushing weird brands up in the ranking, and I’ve decided to do a little more research to find out what. If you’re as curious as I am, keep reading.
As the character Q said to Captain Picard on the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All good things must come to an end.” This time around, the phrase refers to a snippet of information about the mighty Hellcat engine family, plus a few other details gleaned in a conversation with Tim Kuniskis at last week’s L.A. Auto Show.
To put it bluntly now’s the time to act if you want a brand-new Hellcat-powered vehicle.
Few car companies on this planet do special editions with the vigor (and frequency) of the American brands at Stellantis. Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and – to a lesser extent – Chrysler all return to their respective wells in search of a way to quench their thirst for profits.
This time, the retro-inspired Charger and Challenger brothers have once again been enrolled in Special Ed(itions) class. Specifically called the Jailbreak models, these Hellcat Redeye Widebody machines will permit customers to unlock color combination ordering restrictions while layering on new factory-custom options.
A captive lending arm can be a major source of profit for automakers. After all, keeping that paper in-house instead of farming it out to a third party permits some of that sweet interest-driven revenue rolling on a monthly recurring basis. Why else did most of us, for many years during GMAC’s heyday, refer to General Motors as a finance company which just happened to sell cars?
Following several years of shacking up with Santander in order to offer financing for their customers, Stellantis has bought F1 Holdings Corp., an outfit that is the parent of Texas-based First Investors Financial Services Group. Now they’ve spent $285 million in this all-cash transaction, Stellantis is no longer the only major automaker in America without a captive finance arm.
“You don’t need it, but you’ll want it.”
It’s a common refrain when discussing bonkers performance vehicles, particularly ones that are based on family haulers. I’ve said a version of that a time or two in reviews I’ve written here and elsewhere. But some cliches are cliches because they’re true.
On the other hand, sometimes just because you want something cool, it’s not the practical choice.
Enter the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat.
If you want a large SUV and want performance, Dodge is happy to oblige. I mean, the brand even built a Hellcat Durango, fer chrissake.
Of course, not everyone wants the insanity that is a Hellcat, yet some buyers still want performance that goes above and beyond the norm.
Enter the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT 392.
When it launched in 1994, the original Dodge Neon was a different kind of car – and not just because it looked fun and friendly while the outgoing Shadow it replaced was trying very hard to look sporty by the end.
It was different because of its ads, which were simple and non-threatening. The car was kept simple inside, too. A 2.0-liter engine was standard (available in 132 horsepower with a SOHC head or 150 hp with DOHC), and could be had with a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. You could get power front windows, but rear windows were crank-only. What’s more, the cars were genuinely fun to drive in almost any trim level, leading our very own Matthew Guy to label it as one of the best, unheralded performance cars of its day.
Which, I mean, that’s great and all. But what if Chrysler had made a different call with the Neon powertrain? What if we could go back in time again, Sam Beckett-style, and fill the space under the Neon’s hood with the 175 hp turbocharged engine from the Dodge Omni GLH-S, would that car have ended up as an “unheralded” performance car, or one of the all-time classic sport compacts?
Let’s talk it through.
Following the PSA-FCA merger that resulted in Stellantis, Dodge has been promising that it would reinvent muscle cars to become all-electric vehicles. This rattled many Mopar fans, with the hardest day being when the automaker teased what was undoubtedly an EV concept inspired by the original Dodge Charger in July. In an act of true sacrilege, it even carried the Fratzog logo worn by many Chrysler products from the era.
This week, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis provided a loose timeline for the company’s planned EV offensive and what we might expect. He also acknowledged that the company knows that some fans of the brand are filled to the brim with trepidation at the prospect of an electric muscle car.
The reviews are breaking today on the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. As Jeep resurrects one of its most historical full-size nameplates from a three-decade slumber, it’s getting a lot of positive press coverage. But Jeep is in for a world of disappointment in a couple of years.
We continue our 1990s-then-2000s series today, following up the last post that featured compact American two-doors from 1998. By the late 2000s, the Escort, Neon, and Cavalier were all dead. In their place were the Focus, Caliber, and Cobalt, and not all of those had a two-door variant. That means we focus on four-doors today. Let’s go.
I’m back with more boring used car content, a topic some of you apparently despise with a passion. Caution: More used-car discussion ahead, get out while you still can if this is the case! For the rest of you, let’s review the impractical car suggestions you’ve made that earned a spot on the Yes, I Like list.