2015 Dodge Charger: forever young

2015 Dodge Charger: forever young

Once again, the Chrysler Group has succeeded in significantly improving one of its products without totally redesigning it.

Michel Deslauriers Columnist
Published on 2014/11/07

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2015 Dodge Charger isn’t new from the ground up, but frankly, it didn’t have to be in order to battle the few remaining full-size sedans on the market. That include the Ford Taurus, the Chevrolet Impala, and to a certain extent, the Nissan Maxima and the Toyota Avalon. Oh, we should also consider its Chrysler 300 cousin; it too will get an overhaul for 2015 and will be presented at the upcoming Los Angeles auto show.

By the way, it’s the 100th anniversary of the brand’s first vehicle. We’ll be seeing television and Internet ads featuring John and Horace Dodge, two brothers who actually founded their engine and component supplying company in 1900, but built their first cars and trucks in 1914. Sadly, they both died in 1920, but their company lived on as Dodge was eventually sold to Chrysler.

The 2015 Dodge Charger still rides on the same rear-drive platform as it did when the nameplate was resurrected for the 2006 model year. However, the car’s look has changed quite a bit over the years.

According to the manufacturer, all of the 2015 Dodge Charger’s body panels are new, except for the rear doors and the roof. Designers worked around the car’s greenhouse, which was also left untouched. There is a choice of 10 paint colours and no less than 14 alloy wheel designs, ranging from 17 to 20 inches.

Outer dimensions and curb weights are virtually unchanged, but the result is a leaner, meaner sedan. The headlamp clusters get U-shaped LED lighting that gives the 2015 Dodge Charger an alien face, the styling crease that runs from the front to the rear doors remains, while the rounded-out rear end is less massive, and sports a slimmer, full-width taillight cluster.

The Charger R/T Scat Pack as well as the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat versions actually forego the crosshair grille for a more aggressive look.

Obviously, not everyone wants a hot rod sedan as a family car. The base Charger SE can now be had in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations, while the SXT trim should once again be the most popular choice of the line-up; it also offers a choice of RWD and AWD variants.

The SE and SXT are both equipped with the company’s widespread 3.6L V6, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is included across the board. In the Charger, the V6 produces 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque; however, when the Rallye Appearance Group is selected on the SXT, output gets bumped to 300 hp.

That old platform I was talking about earlier? Well, it still does the job beautifully.

On our way from Washington D.C. to Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia in order to hit the track aboard the most powerful versions of the Charger, we chose a V6-powered SXT Rallye painted in red with a black and white leather interior.

This car proved supremely comfortable both on the highway and on country roads on our way to the track. As was the case with the previous generation, road noise is minimal, and the cabin is quiet so occupants can engage in conversations without raising their voice.

Those looking for more firepower and more features can once again step up to the Charger R/T, which gets the smooth but mean-sounding 5.7L HEMI V8 that develops 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. In the R/T, 20-inch alloys, Nappa leather upholstery, heated and vented front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and more are standard fare. A Road & Track package can also be added, which piles on a matte black grille, a sport suspension, beefier brakes, Alcantara seat trim as well as power-adjustable steering column and pedals.

The 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack borrows the SRT 392’s engine, a 6.4L HEMI V8 that punches out 485 hp and 475 lb-ft. If you’re wondering what the difference is between the two, think of the Scat Pack as a stripped-down SRT with cloth seats and a $4,000 price advantage.

Despite the Charger’s relative heft – curb weight ranges from 4,000 to 4,500 lbs, the porkiest being the Hellcat – the R/T variant handled itself well on the track, but obviously wasn’t as adept carving corners as the SRTs.

The Charger’s interior is largely unchanged, although we’ll find a new steering wheel, revised climate control switchgear and a new shift lever, which is much easier to use than the old spring-loaded T-handle unit. Chrysler’s Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system is still offered on uplevel trims, which is one of the most user-friendly units on the market. Across the line-up, there are 18 interior trim and colour combinations, according to the manufacturer.

Alas, even though Chrysler rejuvenated the car, they couldn’t fix everything. Rear-seat room still isn’t very generous for the middle occupant, who’ll have to deal with the transmission tunnel and a cushion that’s sculpted for two posteriors instead of three.

The 2015 Dodge Charger will be on sale in a few weeks. The base SE will start at $32,495 before freight and delivery charges, while the SXT will retail for $35,595; in both cases, add $2,200 for AWD. The R/T starts at $39,495 and the R/T Scat Pack will sell for $46,495.

Simply put, as far as full-size sedans go, the Charger is the sportiest – and arguably the most exciting – car in its segment.

REVIEW: All-New 2015 Chrysler 200 S Is A Fun and Affordable Family Sedan

Chrysler 200 Front Quarter

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is all new from its engines to the interior finishes to the exterior design, making it a much more appealing midsize sedan.

Midsize sedans are the workhorses of the American family, as comfortable taking the kids to school as they are driving friends to dinner or making the daily commute. They’re generally very utilitarian, focused more on getting the job done than with style.

The challenge in making a sedan like this is keeping all the practical functionality buyers want while still making it a car people want to drive. Chrysler pulls this off with the 200 by offering several engine variants and a variety of trim levels.

Chrysler 200 Rear Seat

Those looking for a supremely plush and comfortable interior will want to look at the 200C which feels for all the world like an expensive luxury car when you take a seat. Those who like their comfortable family sedan with a little more panache will want to consider the sportier 200S.

This one sees chrome trims swapped out for black accents inside and out giving it a much sleeker look. A thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, and a dash-mounted dial for a shift lever all add to a very sporty first impression.

Chrysler 200 Shift

Outside there are bi-function halogen projector headlamps with LEDs, fog lamps, and optional 19″ hyper black aluminum wheels that set the expectation that this is no fuddy-duddy sedan. Add the $795 Premium Lighting Group and those lights get even more slick with HID headlamps and LED fog lamps. The 200S makes it look like it could actually be a heck of a lot of fun being practical, and it doesn’t disappoint.

There are two available engine options with either a standard 2.4L 4 cylinder with 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque or an optional 3.6L V6 with 295 horsepower with 262 lb-ft of torque on select trim levels. Both are paired to a new 9-speed automatic transmission.

Our 200S tester came with the more powerful engine and it will have you rethinking your definition of a family sedan. It’s quick off the line and very solid, giving the driver plenty of confidence behind the wheel. It performs beautifully whether cruising side roads or blazing down the highway. Paddle shifters let you take control and get the most out of that engine for more spirited driving.

Chrysler 200 Profile

It’s also incredibly quiet. Road, engine, and wind noise are minimal and there’s a sense of being protected from the outside world. You don’t need to raise your voice to be heard in the backseat and four people can easily carry on a conversation as though you were sitting in your living room.

It also feels a lot like you’re sitting in your living room with comfortable and supportive seats both front and rear. A power 8-way driver’s seat that includes 4-way adjustable lumbar support helps to make even longer drives comfortable.

An optional $1,495 Navigation and Sound Group adds a 7” driver info cluster, GPS navigation, UConnect with 9 Alpine speakers, HD radio, SiriusXM and an 8.4” touchscreen display. Those in winter climates will appreciate the $795 Comfort Group which adds a heated steering wheel and seats, remote start, a rear backup camera and rear seat AC.\

Chrysler 200 Dash

Starting price on the 200S comes in at $28,695 putting a well-equipped sedan in reach for a lot of buyers. Even adding on the above mentioned packages, it’s still under $35K making it a good value. You’re also getting value at the pump with 18/29/22 MPG ratings that, although not exceptional, make the car affordable to drive.

The 2015 Chrysler 200S manages to combine all the practicality of a midsize sedan with the looks and styling of a luxury car as well as a sporty performance that you would never expect from a sedan, all while keeping the price from going through the roof.

2015 Chrysler 200S

Base Price: $28,695
Price As Tested: $33,070 (not including destination charge)

Likes

  • Beautiful, Plush Interior
  • Very Quiet Ride
  • Responsive V6 Engine

Dislikes

  • Navigation only in a Pricey Package
  • Manual Passenger Seat Adjustment

Mopar at SEMA Show 2014

Mopar has a huge presence at  the SEMA Show in Las Vegas every year, and this year was no exception, with a whole host of modified Jeeps and Ram trucks along with the new Hellcat and Viper ACR Concept.

It was hard to miss this bright orange Jeep Wrangler Mojo near the front of the Mopar booth, featuring a Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch lift kit, Dana 44 front and rear axles and a 4:1 Rock-Trac transfer case. Other modifications included prototype Jeep Performance Parts “Shorty” bumpers and flat-top fenders, an under-bumper skid plate and a prototype Jeep Performance winch. Inside we found a two-tone instrument panel and console and black Katzkin seat covers.

Another highlight of the Mopar booth was the all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade. This blue and white “Frostbite” edition sports a Mopar ski/snowboard roof rack, Jeep Performance Parts rock rail guard and unique graphics to make it stand out at the slope or at the mall.

Meanwhile the burly Ram 2500 Outdoorsman was built to provide the perfect base camp for the outdoors adventurer. Painted in a unique “Swamp Thing Green” the big truck rolls on Mopar concept 17-inch wheels, 8-lug bead-lock wheels shod with aggressive 35-inch BFG tires. A Mopar concept roof rack and the concept “Flip-Up” seatback tailgate help completed this impressive package.

Fans of old school Muscle will surely appreciate the awesome Sublime Green Challenger T/A concept, a nod to the famous T/A package available in the 1970s. The full length matte black T/A graphics perfectly compliment the matte black hood with a fully-functional Viper-inspired center scoop hood feeding the awesome 392 Hemi motor. Inside you will find carbon fiber seats, rear seat delete and a rear roll-bar designed to enhance chassis rigidity.

The biggest news for Dodge this year has been the Hellcat, and the company had a beautiful red Hellcat Challenger on display. These cars really need nothing added and the mighty Hellcat drew a huge crowd all day, every day gawking at that massive 707 horsepower supercharged Hemi.

Last but not least was the awesome Dodge Viper ACR Concept, the ultimate hand-built American supercar. The track-ready features included a carbon fiber front splitter and rear wing, special lightweight 19-inch wheels, 15.4-inch carbon ceramic 2-piece rotors with Brembo 6-piston brakes.

And finally, since this is Mopar, there was a massive display of all the Mopar parts available at your local dealer to make your Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Fiat or Jeep vehicle truly your own.

Miranda Lambert Is the New Face of Ram Trucks

Published: 11/06/2014  – by Peter Gareffa

2015 Ram 1500 and Miranda Lambert Picture

2015 Ram 1500 and Miranda Lambert Picture

Miranda Lambert is the new spokeswoman for Ram Trucks. | November 06, 2014

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — Ram Trucks has announced that country music superstar Miranda Lambert will be the new spokesperson for the brand.

Ram noted in a statement that its relationship with the multiple Grammy and Country Music Association award winner is just beginning and will “continue to evolve” throughout 2015.

“Miranda Lambert and Ram Truck are a perfect fit,” said Robert Hegbloom, president and CEO of Ram Trucks. “She values hard work, courage and lives her life to the fullest — the same characteristics that our brand celebrates in our owners.”

Ram kicked off the partnership by presenting Lambert with a customized 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn pickup, which she is auctioning off to benefit her Nashville-based MuttNation Foundation, a charity that benefits shelter animals.

Co-founded by Lambert — who has adopted seven rescue dogs herself — MuttNation has raised more than $2.2 million in the last seven years to help end animal cruelty, neglect and homelessness.

The online auction began Wednesday and runs through November 15. In addition to the Ram 1500 — with her signature on the passenger-side sun visor — fans can also bid on a variety of other items, including signed copies of Lambert’s CDs, signed guitars and tickets to one of her 2015 concerts, including a pre-show cocktail with the star.

“I have lived my entire life surrounded by trucks even to this day,” Lambert said in the statement. “I have also written songs that mention trucks, so I am so happy to be partnering with Ram. And I’m thankful for their generosity in allowing me to auction off a Ram Laramie Longhorn for MuttNation Foundation. It’s a cause so close to my heart! I’m looking forward to more exciting news with Ram Trucks in 2015.”

Although Ram’s partnership with Lambert is new, the brand is no stranger to the country music scene. A longtime sponsor of the televised Academy of Country Music awards ceremony, Ram collaborated with the association earlier this year on a contest in which fans could win a 2014 Ram 1500 pickup or a trip to the next awards presentation in April 2015.

In 2013 Ram partnered with award-winning country recording artist Easton Corbin on a series of concerts and other promotions for its Year of the Farmer Initiative. For a number of years, the brand has sponsored its Road to the Ram Jam all-star country music concert series. And since 2010 the Ram Country channel has run on the Yahoo Music online site.

Edmunds says: Pickup trucks and country music go together like hound dogs and fleas.

2015 Ram 1500 Picture

Chrysler’s 200S: A big step forward in the midsize segment

The 2015 Chrysler 200S AWD

Midsize sedans may not be the sexiest cars on the road but they’re getting sleeker and more stylish as car companies look to put some zing into everday cars. Family four-doors are important because manufacturers sell them by the hundreds of thousands, and competition between brands is keen.

Until recently, Chrysler’s 200 sedan was not quite up to challenging the mainstay cars from Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Honda and Toyota. Now it is. The 200 has been redesigned from the ground up. It rides on underpinnings whose roots trace from the Italian Alfa Romeo to the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee. Compared to the Dart, the 200’s wheelbase is 2 inches longer, and the 200 is 8 inches longer overall.

The 200’s handsome fastback styling gives it street cred when compared to the others in the segment, many of which also have similar profiles. The Chrysler pulls off the look more successfully than most. The only negative is that the sloping roofline makes it harder to get into the back seat without bumping heads.

Styling is only one part of the equation, although it is an important one. Drivability reigns supreme. The allure of a pretty face may wane over the years, but the joy that comes every time you twist the key will last the life of the car.

To that end, the 200 is on solid ground. It is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive, with a 2.4-liter, 184-horsepower four-cylinder for the thrifty or a 3.6-liter, 295-horsepower V-6 for the enthusiast. Base prices start at $21,700. I drove an all-wheel-drive 200S with the V-6, and its base price was $28,695.

Make no doubt about it, the V-6 is the sweeter choice. The engine is not only robust with nearly 300 horsepower, but it delivers its goods with the subtlety of a silent butler. You needn’t mash the throttle to move briskly away from a stop, and the slight rumble of the exhaust is pleasant.

The nine-speed automatic transmission is a first for a car in this segment. It offers a gear for every occasion, and helps fuel economy.

Slip behind the wheel and you’re greeted with supportive seats and a sloping center console that houses a round gear selector knob as well as round knobs for the radio and climate fan. The round gear selector knob is similar to that used in Jaguars, and it’s easier than moving a shift lever. I got so used to grabbing it without looking that I occasionally put my hand on the air conditioning fan knob instead.

The seating position seemed to be more sports car and less upright than some other sedans, and that made it hard for me to find a comfortable driving position.

The choice of interior materials is much better than Chryslers of old. The 200S was not as lavish as its larger sibling, the 300S, but was pleasing. The instrument panel is dominated by blue gauges surrounded by a blue glow. A small LCD screen between the gauges displays various information that the driver selects.

The optional 8.4-inch navigation screen also has touch controls for audio and climate control. The interface is simple and easy to use.

The Uconnect Bluetooth system is operated by voice or the in-dash touch screen. A USB port is available, as is iPod control. The backup camera delivers an excellent view.

Getting into the back seat required care so as not to bump your head, and the space between the seat and door opening often snagged an adult’s shoe when getting out.

The 200S rides reasonably well but it seems the rear suspension could be a bit firmer because it felt too bouncy over freeway humps.
Price

The base price of the test car was $28,695. Options included dual-zone climate control, rear air conditioning ducts, backup camera, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start, navigation system, Alpine audio system, Sirius satellite radio and high-intensity headlights. The sticker price was $32,775.
Warranty

Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Tom Strongman’s e-mail is tstrongman@gmail.com.

2015 Chrysler 200S AWD

Engine: 3.6-liter, 295-horsepower V-6

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 108 inches

Curb weight: 3,473 pounds

Base price: $28,695

As tested: $32,775

MPG rating: 18 in the city, 29 on the highway

At A Glance

Point: The 200S is a vast improvement over the previous 200. It has sharp styling, the option of all-wheel drive and a choice of two engines: one for economy and one for performance. The interior is comfortably equipped.

Counterpoint: A low seating position made it harder for me to find a comfortable driving position, and I would prefer a firmer rear suspension.

2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 30th Anniversary Edition: The Original Minivan

Introduced in 1984 the Grand Caravan still delivers

By CANDICE MERRILL
Published: Friday, November 7, 2014 | 6:42 AM

In 1984 Dodge introduced the first minivan combining the industrial work van with the family wagon. It was an “overnight” success and has inspired many copycats, but it remains the original family minivan.

The 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan is a seven-passenger minivan offered in four trim levels: American Value Package (AVP), SE, SXT and R/T. This review focuses on the SXT.

The SXT adds to the base package of: heated mirrors, power front windows, dual-zone air-conditioning, second-row reclining/folding/removable bench seat, overhead console, conversation mirror and four-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack; 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, power rear windows and larger floor console. Also standard is the Power Convenience Group, which includes a power liftgate, power sliding rear doors and power-adjustable pedals.

2014dodgecaravandashA variety of other packages and individual options are available depending on trim level. The SE’s and SXT’s main package is a single-DVD entertainment bundle that adds the R/T’s standard touchscreen and audio system along with a 9-inch second-row display screen and an HDMI input. The SXT can be outfitted with a Dual DVD/Blu-ray Entertainment package that boasts 9-inch screens for both the second and third rows as well as the touchscreen display, rearview camera and a few other standard R/T features. A more affordable Uconnect Hands-Free Group offers Bluetooth audio connectivity.

A 3.6-liter six banger that produces 283 horses with 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is supplied to the front wheels by a six-speed automatic transmission. Mileage numbers are 18/city, 26/highway and 21/combined mpg.

The interior of the Dodge Grand Caravan SXT is decent if not remarkable. Front row seating is comfortable and second-row passengers will find plenty of legroom. Third row passengers may find their ride a bit unusual because of the reclined seatback cushions. A nice extra on the Grand Caravan is the flipping third row seats. They can be flipped so they can be faced backwards creating a comfortable view of sporting events.

2014dodgecaravanintThe Stow ‘n Go second-row seats means no removing seats, the second-row seats flip down into the floor and third-row seats fold into a deep cargo well giving a total of 143.8 cubic feet to haul stuff. With all the seats up the storage space is still generous at 33 cubic feet.

For a minivan the 2014 Dodge Caravan handles well. It’s acceleration is quick if a bit noisy when “stepped on” and the transmission makes for smooth sailing.

When shopping for a minivan give the “original” a try: the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, 30th Anniversary edition.