Hellcat Charger, Challenger Becoming More Available Around the US

By Patrick Rall 2015-11-13 13:55

2016 hellcat charger

As the 2016 model year units of the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger reach dealerships around the United States, we are seeing more and more Hellcat versions sitting unsold on lots – meaning that if you have been waiting for your chance to own one of the 707hp beasts, some careful shopping will almost certainly net you a new supercharged muscle car.

Throughout most of the 2015 calendar year, it was nearly impossible to get a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat or a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat unless you placed an order well in advance or were willing to pay a massive markup over MSRP. The Hellcat cars were so in demand that the company had to cancel hundreds of orders which they just couldn’t get around to building and while some shopping could turn up an unreserved Hellcat Challenger or Charger, available cars were very few and very far between.
Later in the year, the shortage of the heavy duty 8-speed automatic transmission meant that many of the units being sent to dealers had the 6-speed manual transmission, but finding one with an automatic was literally impossible.

Fortunately, that is changing with the arrival of the 2016 model year Hellcat Challenger and Charger, with cars on dealership showroom floors around the country with both the manual and automatic transmissions. This means that those folks who didn’t preorder a Hellcat Challenger or Charger will have an easier time finding a dealership with an available car on their lot – although buyers can still expect to pay a premium price for the most powerful American production cars of all time.

2016 Hellcat Challenger and Charger Popping Up
I am a long time Mopar fan and I belong to a long list of Mopar fan pages on Facebook. Over the past year, I would occasionally see car salesmen posting about available Hellcat cars, but those cars were almost always equipped with the manual transmission and they were sparsely scattered across the USA.

However, over the past month or so, I have seen a massive influx of available Hellcat Challenger and Chargers being posted on the various Facebook pages. Most notably, I have seen car salesmen posting Hellcat Challengers with the 8-speed automatic transmission which are available for sale, which was nearly impossible to find earlier this year. Also, with the Hellcat Charger rolling out late in 2015 when the Hellcat Challenger had already eaten up the stock of both Hellcat Hemi engines and the heavy duty 8-speed automatic transmission, the Hellcat Charger was nearly impossible to find earlier this year.

This means that for the first time, someone who didn’t want to preorder a 2015 Dodge Challenger or Charger can now hunt around and buy a new Dodge with the supercharged Hellcat engine and the 8-speed automatic transmission. The Hellcat Challenger with the manual transmission continues to be available as well, but the Hellcat cars in the highest demand are now available around the country.

For example, there is currently a 2016 Charger SRT Hellcat in Plum Crazy purple on eBay with a buy it now price of $76,135. The listing includes a photoshopped image of the window sticker with that price displayed, along with a base price of $65,945 and $5,190 worth of options and fees. This should equal $71,135, but the dealership has obviously marked the car up by $5,000 – which is a very average markup for these uber popular muscle cars right now. The location of this vehicle isn’t listed, but in searching the phone number listed in the account, this Plum Crazy Hellcat Charger is in the possession of the AutoServ Dealer Group in Tilton, New Hampshire.

So, if you have been waiting to buy a 2016 Dodge Challenger or Charger with the Hellcat Hemi engine, now is a great time to begin shopping around your local dealerships, as the 707hp muscle cars are more available now than they have ever been in the past.

Two New Special-edition Jeep Models to Launch at The Los Angeles Auto Show

Michel Deslauriers Published on November 13, 2015

It seems as though FCA can’t get enough of creating different versions of the iconic SUV. After unveiling the Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Concept at the SEMA show, the brand will be presenting the 2016 Jeep Wrangler Backcountry at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.

But that’s not all. The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night will also make its appearance. The new edition of the hot-rod SUV features a glossy black finish of the roof, the rear spoiler, the front grille as well as the B and C pillars. It also gets satin black front trim piece, badging and split five-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels. Inside, the SRT Night also offers Black Laguna leather upholstery with silver contrast stitching and black chrome instrument bezels. Three paint colours are available, including Velvet Red, Billet Silver and Granite Crystal.

As for the 2016 Jeep Wrangler Backcountry, it’s based on the Sahara version, but boasts a winter theme with powder-coated bumpers, black 17-inch Rubicon alloy wheels and a black fuel filler door. It also comes with a black hardtop, while a body-colour hardtop is optional. The Backcountry’s cabin includes piano black vent rings, door handles and grab handles. The console lid and door panels also get vinyl wrappings with gray stitching, black leather and mesh-trimmed seats, a nine-speaker Alpine stereo and slush mats. Five paint colours are available, including the exclusive Xtreme Purple in addition to Hydro Blue, Bright White, Granite Crystal and Black.

Both these special-edition models will be on sale in Canada. The Wrangler Backcountry will arrive at the end of November, while the Grand Cherokee SRT Night will hit showroom floors in the beginning of 2016.

2015 Jeep Renegade Test Drive

By / 8 October 2015

2015 Jeep Renegade front

Jeep continues on a roll with record sales continuing into 2015 thanks in part to their largest ever model lineup, which now includes eight variants. The latest model in the Jeep inventory is also the smallest in the lineup, the 2015 Jeep Renegade, and we recently spent a week driving this newest model.

2015 Jeep Renegade side

The Renegade is just a few inches longer than the Mini Countryman and the Fiat 500L, and nearly the same length as the Jeep Wrangler. It’s the first vehicle to use Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ new “small-wide 4×4 architecture.” What makes it especially noteworthy is that it’s not simply an all-wheel drive like many competitors, it’s a full-fledged, Trail Rated off roader, complete with a Selec-Terrain traction system that allows the driver to choose the best setting for on- or off-road. It even has an amazing 20:1 crawl ratio that feels powerful enough to climb trees if it could get the traction. It also comes with hill start assist and hill descent control.

2015 Jeep Renegade rear q

The Trail Rated Trailhawk model comes with short overhangs, 8.7-inches of ground clearances and it can even “swim” in up to 19 inches of water. And unlike some small vehicles, the Renegade will tow up to 2,000 pounds, which means owners can take along some of those important adult “toys.”

2015 Jeep Renegade front q

Statistically, we know most Jeep Renegade owners are probably going to be in the “I could (go off-road) if I wanted to” category, so it’s also designed to be very fun to drive on-road.

The Renegade looks very Jeep-like with its rugged-looking trademark Jeep grille, round headlights and front fascia. The sides have the traditional Jeep trapezoidal wheel arches and body protecting contrasting color cladding. The sculpted rear end has the Renegade signature “X” pattern in the tail light lens. The “X” is the Renegades design theme inspired by military equipment –exuding strength and playing on Jeep brand’s roots. To help with the coolness factor, Renegade planners made it available in some standout colors.

2015 Jeep Renegade interior

The interior is cozy, and quite comfortable but the dash looks a bit cluttered, although the controls are easy to reach and user-friendly with real knobs as opposed to overly sensitive touch controls. The seats in our entry-level Sport test vehicle look good and are comfortable finished with a two-texture cloth — upper level models are available with leather. Each of the trim levels has at least two color accents available, with the exception of the Trailhawk, which comes only in black with red highlights.

2015 Jeep Renegade cargo

2015 Jeep Renegade roof panel cover

The Renegade incorporates some of the Jeep Wrangler open air features with removable My Sky open-air roof panels. The optional power tilt/slide top and the manual panels can be easily removed and stowed in a convenient pouch in the cargo area. The cargo area holds up to 18.5 cubic feet of gear when the rear seats are in place, but that expands to 50.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded flat.

2015 Jeep Renegade dash

Jeep did not skimp on technology; the Renegade has a segment first Forward Collision Warning-Plus and Lane Sense Departure Warning-Plus. It also has Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection systems available. Jeep lists 70 safety and security features on the Renegade including cool features like automatic dimming headlights, front wiper deicers, remote start and Jeep’s outstanding Uconnect Access and Voice Command.

2015 Jeep Renegade rear seat

The 2015 Jeep Renegade is available with two engine choices, a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder and a 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder. The 1.4-liter turbo, which is standard in both front- and four-wheel drive Sport and Latitude models, produces 160-hp and drives through a standard six-speed manual transmission. A nine-speed automatic transmission is optional in those models and standard in the Limited and Trailhawk versions. The award-winning 180-hp Tigershark engine is standard on the upper-level Limited and Trailhawk trim levels and is an option on the other models. We have felt a bit of roughness on some other applications of the ZF nine-speed automatic transmission, but the Jeep version is smooth and refined plus it helps boost the fuel economy.

2015 Jeep Renegade interior 2

The Sport, Latitude and Limited trims are available in front- and four-wheel drive, while the Trail Rated, Trailhawk model is only offered with the four-wheel drive. The 2.4-liter with automatic transmission and 4WD gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. We actually averaged 23.6 mpg during the week we drove it.

Renegade pricing starts at $18,890, including the destinations charge for a two-wheel drive Sport, then prices jump to $22,290 for the Latitude and $25,790 for the Limited. Four-wheel drive adds $2,000 to these prices. The off-road Trailhawk model is $26,990, and with exuberant option additions could take the price to just over $33,000.

2015 Jeep Renegade rear

Barbara drove the Renegade under a variety of challenging off-road conditions at the famous Hollister Hills off-road park when she attended the national introduction in last January and found it to be the real thing. We’re not sure how it would fare on tests like the infamous Rubicon Trail, but short of that, it’s very much a Jeep.

At home the 2015 Jeep Renegade is impressive. It’s equally impressive on-road, too. The ride is quiet, and more comfortable. The steering is precise and there is no significant body roll when cornering. We think the Renegade will contribute to further Jeep sales growth.

Torque Uncorked: Towing with the new 2016 Ram 3500 that has 900 lb-ft Cummins

Torque Uncorked: Towing with the new 2016 Ram 3500 that has 900 lb-ft Cummins

Nine hundred: That’s the amount of torque, in pound-feet, that is generated by Ram’s most powerful 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel available in the ’16 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty. This new figure puts Ram on top, for now, at the time of this writing, in the never-ending power race for light trucks. This engine helps the 3500 achieve a darn impressive 31,210-pound maximum tow rating (regular cab, 4×2, dualie, based on SAE J2807 criteria).

Now before we go any further, let’s be clear that the high-output Cummins is available only in the ’16 Ram 3500. It’s also important to note that the engine is mated to an Aisin AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission. If you want a manual trans mated to a diesel, you’ll need to check the box for the 350hp/660–lb-ft Cummins. Wait, there’s more than one turbodiesel available? Yes. Just like the ’15 Ram 3500, there are three available versions of the Cummins 6.7L turbodiesel. In addition to the two already mentioned, there’s another version that puts out 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission. Talk about choices. Oh, and there is also 5.7L and 6.4L Hemi gasoline engines available, depending on vehicle configuration, and these engines are mated to a 66RFE six-speed automatic transmission.

We’re told that Ram engineering and Cummins developed a new fuel delivery and turbo boost calibration for the high-output Cummins, which helps uncork the additional 35 lb-ft of torque for the ‘16 Ram (horsepower remains the same as the ‘15 Ram at 385). The stout Aisin AS69RC transmission is carryover from the previous-generation truck. Ram engineers beefed up the rear AAM 11.8-inch axle by increasing the ring gear hardware from 12 to 16 bolts. Ram says the additional hardened bolts and stronger material are used in the differential case to assure long-term durability.

But wait, there’s more. You see, the Ram 3500 is packed with features designed to improve towing power and control. For example, there’s an exhaust brake on the Cummins, Ram Active Air (this system can draw air from either the front of the vehicle or from an underhood inlet, depending on temperatures and conditions), and an available supplemental Active-Level rear air suspension (works in conjunction with the 3500’s Hotchkiss leaf-spring rear suspension, and it allowed Ram engineers to soften the leaf springs, which allows for more suspension movement when the vehicle is unloaded).

We were recently invited to Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds to tow with the new 900 lb-ft Cummins in a Ram 3500. We spent most of our time in a SLT regular cab 4×2 longbox dualie pulling a triple-axle gooseneck trailer that weighed in at 31,135 pounds, which is just a hair under the truck’s maximum towing capacity. Aside from the 900–lb-ft Cummins engine, the Bright White 3500’s option list included 4.10:1 gearing, 5th- Wheel/Gooseneck Towing Prep Group, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. The total price including options and destination charge was $51,185.

The story here is torque, and the high-output Cummins didn’t disappoint. As we accelerated to highway speed (tow/haul mode activated), the pull of the Cummins was impressive. The turbodiesel makes its max torque at only 1,700 rpm, so it felt like a brute off the line. While clearly feeling powerful, said power came on smooth, which is important when safely towing or hauling loads. At speed, the truck handled very well and the engine settled into a low growl as it easily sustained the truck and trailer at 70 mph. Handling was very good even through sweeping turns at speed (full disclosure: the weight on the trailer was almost all at deck level, so it was a low center of gravity). Our big concern was stopping: The 3500 is fit with big four-wheel disc brakes (14.17×1.54-inch rotors up front and 14.09×1.34-inch rotors out back, both with twin-piston calipers), but over 15 tons is a lot of weight, and as we sailed along at speed, we wondered how decreasing our velocity was going to go. As it turned out, we needn’t have worried. The wide-ratio Aisin transmission and engine exhaust brake worked to help slow the rig, which significantly reduced the amount of brake pedal pressure we needed to apply. The result was a smooth, controlled reduction of forward momentum. We were glad that we got to tow the maximum load because if the high-output Cummins-equipped Ram 3500 can confidently pull, control, and stop that much weight, it stands to reason it can handle anything under that weight with ease.

In the end, we left the Chelsea Proving Grounds impressed by the performance of the new high-output Cummins and the truck it’s in. We’re looking to get more towing and hauling time with the new King of Torque, so stay tuned.

02 2016 Ram Heavy Duty Cummins Towing Photo 159821975

We spent most of our time in a Ram 3500 regular cab 4×2 dualie powered by the 900 lb-ft Cummins turbodiesel. We were towing a triple-axle gooseneck trailer that had a total weight of 31,135 pounds. This weight is only 75 pounds shy of the maximum towing weight for the truck we were piloting.

03 2016 Ram Heavy Duty Cummins Towing Photo 159821972

The 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel comes in three versions for the ’16 Ram 3500. The first generates 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a G56 six-speed manual transmission (shown here). The second makes 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission. And of course, the third version is the most powerful that produces 385 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque.

04 2016 Ram Heavy Duty Cummins Towing Photo 159821969

The interior of the Ram Heavy Duty places the tow/haul and Active-Level rear air suspension switches in the center stack, while the manual shift control for automatic transmission–equipped trucks is on the shift lever.

05 2016 Ram Heavy Duty Cummins Towing Photo 159821957

Towing Central
In addition to the Ram 3500 with Cummins high-output engine towing 31,135 pounds, we also had the opportunity to tow and haul with several other Ram trucks, including the 1500 EcoDiesel, Ram 2500, and Ram 5500. Some of the trucks were equipped with trailers, some were hauling cargo, one had a dump box, some were single rear wheel, and some were dualies. Trailer weights ranged from 5,800 pounds (Ram 1500) to 27,675 pounds (Ram 3500). Cargo weights included 2,500 pounds (Ram 2500) and 6,000 pounds (Ram 3500). In each case we were impressed at the power and manners of the trucks. There’s no doubt they’re designed to be work-ready. We also found that we really liked the Active-Level rear air suspension. We’re fans of aftermarket setups like this, and some of us have ’em in our own trucks. The ability to get this functional setup installed and plumbed from the factory is a cool deal. Head over to fourwheeler.com to see video of some of these rigs recorded at the Ram Truck Heavy Hauler Program.

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4

Ram Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 and 5.7L V8

Ram Rebel Crew Cab 4×4 and 5.7L V8
James Nelson by permission
View all 8 photos

2015 Chrysler 300S Review

Chris Davies – Nov 10, 2015
2015 Chrysler 300S Review
The first Chrysler 300 was a near-perfect expression of stereotypical Americana. Big, blunt-nosed, and aggressive, its high shoulder-line and crisp edges were 60s muscle on a modern forecourt; think Felix Leiter and his CIA issue suit in the classic Bond films of the sixties.

It was also outdated, technologically, before it even hit dealerships. Based on what was already a previous-generation Mercedes E-Class platform, while the looks might have been bold and aggressive, the driving dynamics fell far short of the promise.
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Eventually, Chrysler had to revamp things, but in the process of refining the 300 it misplaced its attitude. The second-generation car was smoother and drove better, but it looked softer and tamer: the original’s somewhat disappointing younger sibling.
This newest model has brought with it a return to form, though the standard third-generation 300 is still arguably a little smooth around the edges. Happily, there’s the 300S to sharpen things up even further.
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The blacked-out lamps and spoiler look great with the Maximum Steel Metallic paint, finished off nicely with the matching 20-inch wheels with their 245/45R20 all-season tires. It looks angry, and moody, and though they might be embarrassed to be seen doing it, other drivers give you a second – often approving – glance as you pass.

A muscle sedan needs a monster under the hood, and Chrysler has opted for a 5.7-liter V8 HEMI. That manages a healthy 363 horsepower and 392 lb-ft of torque, and is hooked up to a surprisingly smooth 8-speed automatic. There are paddle shifters if you’re so inclined – unusually, and usefully, they need to be manually put back into auto mode, and won’t revert unexpectedly and of their own accord – but the transmission does a solid job of keeping the engine in its torque band; stabbing the Sport button holds the lower gears, though has no effect on the suspension settings.

 

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That’s something you’ll notice if the road gets twisty. The 300S does well on the straights, where the V8 has lashings of power and a sweet growl. I found myself slowing unnecessarily at times, just so I could stomp on the accelerator. Think angry bear meets demanding cornet.

All that HEMI weight at the front forces you to rein things in come the corners, however. Understeer is all too easy to prompt in the 300S; if you want to maintain grip, you need to stomp on the – happily effective – brakes, slow a little more than you’d expect, and then rely on the V8 to pull you out the exit.

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Chrysler and the EPA rate the 300S as good for 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, for a total of 19 mpg combined. A heavy foot will get you there with no problems, though with a little more restraint – primarily saving that V8 bellow for the sort of roads it was most fun, and letting the engine deactivate half its cylinders for more frugal highway cruising – I saw 21 mpg of mixed driving.

Along the way you run the modern gamut of driver-assistance aids. Lane departure warnings – which give little torque nudges on the wheel if you drift – and adaptive cruise control are part of the $1,695 SafetyTec 2 package, as is the forward collision warning system.

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Inside, the “Ambassador Blue” leather seats gave me flashback’s to Lincoln’s Continental Concept of the New York Auto Show back in April. Whether you think the hue is outlandish or not probably says a lot about your opinion overall of the 300S. They’re supportive and firm, and the 8-way power adjustment in the front can cinch in tightly to give the side bolstering I was hoping for.

Disappointingly, there’s also a lot of elephant-butt finish plastic, which is at least soft-touch even if it isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing. The 300S’ analog clock atop the dashboard, with its mother-of-pearl styling, doesn’t exactly suit the car’s sporting personality either. Things get better in the dashboard binnacle, which has a distinctly Buck Rogers feel to its over-stylized gages. In the middle, there’s a sizable high-resolution LCD.

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A second display, this time an 8.4-inch touchscreen, dominates the center console. That’s where Chrysler’s infotainment system, UConnect, lives.

In many ways, UConnect gets a lot right. There’s all the functionality you’d hope for, certainly, like Bluetooth streaming, smartphone apps for remote access, SiriusXM, and a WiFi hotspot, while navigation and HD Radio come as part of the $3,295 300S Premium Group package that also throws in things like parking sensors, blind-spot and cross-traffic sensors, and a huge sunroof.

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Day-to-day use is made a little more frustrating than it needs to be by a woefully unresponsive on-screen keyboard, mind. We’re talking literally 2-3 seconds after hitting a letter before you can tap the next, as UConnect narrows down its auto-prediction list in the background. Forget about speedily punching in a destination while you’re waiting at a red light.

The 300S gets a Beats Audio system, with ten speakers – including a subwoofer lodged in the trunk like a stowaway egg full of bass – and a 552W amp. It’s as loud as you’d expect and has just the sort of kick and thump you’d want for R&B and pop, but I was surprised how well it also handled orchestral tracks.

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In fact, “surprised” is a good word to use for the Chrysler 300S. Having spent time in the regular 300, and having seen the power figures, I’d figured on a blunt instrument: all roar and no refinement.

In reality, though it may not have the finesse of a poised coupe or the grip of a hot-hatch, there’s an undoubtable charm to the 300S. Not the smallest part of that charm is its affordability: sure, with the various extras and fancy paint, the car I drove came in at $44,055, but if all you want is the V8 and you don’t care about the color or packages, you can have it for $36,065.

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That’s, frankly, astonishing for the smile-per-mile performance you’re getting. No, the 300S may not be the American alternative to an AMG Mercedes-Benz or an M-badged BMW, but you won’t hemorrhage your wallet to get it on your drive, and it has enough personality to make it a compelling first choice rather than just the budget alternative.