When I began traveling the country to work for the 24 Hours of Lemons, back in 2008, I began experiencing the joys of renting the very cheapest cars (that could haul four adults and all their stuff) available at airports in places like Charlotte and Philadelphia. That’s when I discovered the Dodge Avenger and its Journey platform-mate. These fleet-spec Avengers were not good cars, to put it mildly, but we’d speculate— jokingly— on how amazing the factory-hot-rod R/T version must be as we sliced our fingers on door-handle casting flash and listened to the wind shrieking through the sub-par door seals. Here’s one of those mythical Avenger R/Ts, found in a Denver self-service yard.
It’s not just TTAC readers’ favorite crossover, the Dodge Journey, that’s under recall for emissions non-compliance — the same callback order impacts such vehicles as the first-generation Jeep Patriot and Compass, Dodge Caliber and Avenger, and Chrysler 200.
Fiat Chrysler claims its voluntary recall of 862,520 vehicles in the U.S. isn’t a big deal, as the automaker is simply complying with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Owners stand to get a new catalytic convertor out of the deal.
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?
Every midsize car on sale in the United States reported declining year-over-year volume in July 2017. Every car except the Dodge Avenger, which came back from the dead with 10 reported sales after a nine-month hiatus. 2014 was the Avenger’s last model year.
But forget that sales stat quirk — Pentastar Avenger Blacktop Edition, be still my soul. Every other midsize nameplate generated fewer sales in July 2017 than July 2016, with losses piling up fastest at Ford and Hyundai, with the Fusion and Sonata, respectively.
Between major Fusion and Sonata losses and decreased volume everywhere else, U.S. midsize car volume fell by a fifth in July 2017 — a 36,000-unit decline.
Poor sales of the Dodge Dart have led to temporary layoffs at the auto maker’s Belvidere, Illinois plant, where the Dart is produced. Despite Chrysler sales being up 11 percent last month, sales of the Dart were down 37 percent.
I had dinner recently with TTAC’s enfant terrible, Doug Demuro, something we do every few weeks as our respective schedules permit. Predictably, our pre-, mid- and post-prandial conversation revolved around our shared passion for automobiles, as well as the people who read and write about them. At one point I made a hasty proclamation, which was in retrospect unwise given my audience: “Doug, I really don’t think any manufacturers are making objectively bad cars right now.” Doug paused and replied: “My friend, have you ever heard of Chrys-ler?,” enunciating the last pair of syllables as if speaking to an alien. He continued, “check out the 200 if you have a chance.”
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne may not be fond of changing up his outfits, but he certainly has no problem mixing up product plans. The latest news out of Auburn Hills suggests that Chrysler will be extending the lifespan of some key products for up to another 5 years.
In the compact segment, GM and Ford are having no trouble moving metal. The Cruze is coming off of a record month, and the Focus is slightly ahead of the Cruze year-to-date. So what about the Dodge Dart? Sales of the Dart have been incredibly weak; in a segment where the top sellers can move between 20,000 and 30,000 units monthly, the Dart has barely cracked 8,000 units per month. Not a good sign when Sergio Marchionne himself said “ if you’re a serious car maker, and you can’t make it into this segment, you’re doomed.”
The Dart’s biggest competitor may not even be in the compact segment, but in the the very same showroom it lives in.
Reader Summicron manages to both praise Jack’s review of the Dodge Avenger while also bringing up a very interesting point. Summicron writes
Baruth does the best job I’ve ever seen of answering the question:
“What does this hardware actually do?”
“What will snobs think of me if I buy it?”
This immediately made me wonder what vehicle is most unfairly maligned by the auto press and popular opinion?
How much car can you get in this country for sixteen thousand bucks? Well, you could try a base-model Elantra, or with a bit of sharp dealing you might come up with a Sentra. TrueCar thinks you might be able to sneak into a Cruze LS. Certainly you could get a Ford Focus, which might be the best choice if you can shift for yourself or you trust the PowerShift double-clutcher.
How about something a little bigger and more powerful? Would you be interested? What if I told you it wasn’t all that bad on a racetrack? What if you’re a subprime buyer?
Sub-prime finance has attracted a bit of interest (no pun intended) over at TTAC lately, and the segment itself has experienced phenomenal growth in the post-bailout era.
Auto lending site www.carfinance.com released a list of the top 10 most popular new and used vehicles as purchased by sub-prime buyers over the last six months. While it’s not the most complete list by any means, it does give us a glimpse into the choices of sub-prime buyers. As far as we know, no such list has ever been compiled prior to this.
A USA Today interview with Sergio Marchionne revealed some interesting details about Chrysler’s future product plans – among them, a wider adoption of the Dodge Dart/Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, a possible small hatch dubbed the “Chrysler 100” and Alfa Romeos built on American soil.
It was around April of 2011 when I noticed an ad in the Toronto subway for the 2012 Ford Focus, touting fuel economy of 59 MPG. I dwelled on that outrageous figure for a second, made a mental note to check if they were using Imperial MPG measurements and then promptly fell asleep on the train home and missed my stop. A Google search for the Ford Focus mpg claims didn’t yield anything from the Blue Oval, but did reveal a Google ad showing Mazda touting the same figures for its 2012 Mazda3 SkyACTIV, rated for 40 mpg on the highway. Even so, this would only be 48 mpg Imperial. So what gives? 10 mpg is not an insignificant difference.