2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Named Top-Selling Full-Size SUV

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The SUV segment is one of the most competitive in the automotive industry. With dozens of models vying for the top spot, it takes a truly stand-out SUV to become the segment’s leader. That’s why it comes as no surprise that the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee was named the Top Selling Full-Size SUV by Yahoo! Autos.

Currently, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has a total of 174,950 year-to-date sales. This popular SUV offers consumers the best of both worlds, combining Jeep’s iconic off-road capabilities with the everyday luxury people want. With the exception of the Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee is the most recognizable model in the American carmaker’s lineup. The slotted Jeep grille, angular body lines, and high ride make this large SUV a looker.

The Grand Cherokee isn’t just good-looking—it also has the power to boot. In fact, its 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine was named the Green Car Journal’s Green SUV of the Year. This SUV also has a wide range of gasoline powered engines, including Fiat Chrysler’s popular 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine and an incredible 5.7-liter HEMI V8.

There are very few boxes the Jeep Grand Cherokee doesn’t check—and a very good reason why this all-American car is one of the favorites in the US.

News Source: Yahoo! Autos

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‘Star Wars’-Themed Dodge Muscle Cars Hit Streets of L.A.

A pair of Fiat’s Hellcat muscle cars, painted in the black-and-white uniform of the First Order of Stormtrooper and a Kylo Ren-themed Viper ACR, will tour the streets of Los Angeles.

The marketing force behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens is unquestionably with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

A pair of the carmaker’s Hellcat muscle cars, painted in the black-and-white uniform of the First Order of Stormtrooper and a Kylo Ren-themed Viper ACR, will tour the streets of Los Angeles from Dec 11-14 as part of the unrelenting marketing juggernaut behind the seventh installment in the Star Wars franchise.

The cars’ locations can be tracked in real time on Twitter using #TheForceAwakens hashtag

Fiat Chrysler is unsurprisingly encouraging Star Wars fans to post photos of themselves mugging in front of the Hellcats and Viper on their personal social media pages, which FCA will repost to Dodge’s Facebook and Instagram.

Such fan-focused social media crowdsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular — and cost effective — strategy to co-promote movies and products.

The partnership between LucasFilm, producer of the Star Wars franchise, and Fiat Chrysler has already yielded a Stormtrooper-painted Fiat 500e, which debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens on Dec. 18.

Ram Gets Rebellious

Ram Gets Rebellious

December 11, 2015 |Casey Williams

Ram has a reputation for creating the biggest, baddest pickups that build on a legacy of World War II troop trucks, Army command vehicles, Power-wagons, and more recently, posh pickups.  They’re for people who are a little rebellious (or let people think they are).  With in-your-face design and fortified capability, Ram Rebel appeals to country folk and urban hipsters alike.

Rebel’s styling channels both the Ram Power-wagon and Lil’ Red Truck, missing only twin exhaust stacks running up the sides of the cab to fill the frame.  The front view diverts from Ram’s traditional cross-hair grille and features a blacked out insert with Silver “RAM” lettered across.  The tailgate gets its own giant block “RAM”.  Power-wagon wheel arches and blacked out trim contrast with LED fog lamps, skid plates, and tow hooks.  A faux twin-snorkel hood and 17-inch alloys with 33-inch tires look serious, but side steps would also add gravity.

You may need to grab handles or keep a step stool in your purse to heave yourself up inside, but it’s worth the effort.  Continuing the Rebel rousing, Radar Red and black seats are trimmed with canvas surfaces, diesel gray stitching, and Toyo tire tread pattern.  Anodized red dash, door, and console accents stand in for wood grain.  Especially with crew cabs, there’s plenty of room for four or five to stretch out and enjoy heated front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation, and USBs all-around.  The audio system will thump you silly, but you’ll have to adjust your own climate control.

Clever storage abounds.  Lockable and lighted “Ram Box” storage cubbies are integrated into the bedsides, bed tie-downs clutch ATVs, and a bed divider keeps camping gear from sliding — no matter the terrain.  Inside, the deep front console can store laptops.  There’s plenty of open storage with clever clips to hold MP3 players or phones.  McGuzzler cups stay secure on the fly.

Moving this tribute to youthful indiscretion is a standard 305 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine that achieves 25-MPG hwy.  Skip it and get the tire-stomping 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that bellows out 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.  Two-wheel-drive is standard with the HEMI, but that’s pointless, so get electronic 4×4.  Gas mileage really isn’t top of list if you’re buying a sumo-sized pickup, but cylinder deactivation and Chrysler’s Torque Flite 8-speed automatic transmission do what they can.

That’s not the end of the Rebel’s capability.  It’s a little big for tight trails, but should annihilate gravel and mud with a one-inch factory suspension lift that improves approach/break over angles, skid plates to protect the soft bits underside, tow hooks just in case, and off-road tires to claw through it all.  Engineers tapped Ram’s optional air suspension to give drivers a range of ride heights.  What works off road improves on-road comfort (to a point) — whether working the HEMI on open Interstate or crushing potholes.  If trailering is in the plans, you’ll appreciate the integrated dash controller, pre-installed wiring, and heavy-duty hitch receptacle.

Meant to elicit warm feelings for jacked-up pickups from your youth, Rebel’s style will raise the roof at your local roadhouse or cut a swath parking at the Children’s Museum (seriously, did it).  From either destination, no matter the weather or terrain, you’ll know getting home will be no problem.  If that’s rebellious, sign me up.  Prices start at $43,170, but came to $49,330 as equipped.

Storm Forward!

View Casey’s video review of the Ram Rebel and follow him on Twitter:  @AutoCasey.

2016 Ram 1500 Rebel

  • Five-passenger, 4×4 pickup
  • Powertrain:  395 hp 5.7-liter V8, 8-speed trans
  • Suspension f/r:  Air Ind/Solid axle
  • Wheels f/r:  17-inch/17-inch alloy
  • Brakes f/r:  disc/disc
  • Must-have features:  Style, capability
  • Fuel economy:  15/22 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly:  Warren, MI
  • Base/as-tested price:  $43,170/49,330

Elegant Chrysler 200 sedan offers leather, high-tech options, choice of 4 or 6 cylinders

Elegant Chrysler 200 sedan offers leather, high-tech options, choice of 4 or 6 cylinders

The 2016 Chrysler 200 comes with a variety of options, and a choice of a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on all trim levels. All-wheel drive is optional on V-6 models.

Chrysler’s five-passenger midsize sedan, the 200, received a complete redesign for 2015, and gets just a few tweaks for 2016, some model-specific.

Four models are available: LX, Limited, S and C, priced from $21,995 to $26,625 before add-ons.

The tweaks and additions include firmer front seats; an optional rearview camera for the Limited; and an exclusive 90th Anniversary Edition for the Limited model, which includes the Convenience Group.

With the Anniversary Edition ($1,995 extra) comes with UConnect 8.4 with accessory switch bank, integrated voice command with Bluetooth, navigation capability, auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone, SiriusXM, special splash screen Anniversary logo on the 8.4-inch touchscreen, floor mats with the Anniversary logo, Anniversary badging, and a power express-open/close sunroof.

The 200 comes with a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 184 horsepower, but a 295-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 featuring a Sport drive mode is offered for the Limited, S, and C trims.

V-6 models can also be equipped with all-wheel drive, with front-wheel drive standard otherwise.

Both engines are connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission, with a rotary shifter knob on the center console and steering-wheel paddle shifters for the 200S, the sporty model, which I tested for this report.

The 200 is a flex-fuel vehicle, and is EPA rated at 23 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway for the front drive four-cylinder models. Six-cylinder models drop to 19/32 with front drive, and 18/29 with all-wheel drive.

All 200 models are well-equipped, with each model building on the previous, and options and packages available according to model selected.

The base LX ($21,995) has standard 17-inch steel wheels, keyless entry and start, center console with storage pass-through, cruise control, automatic headlights, manually adjustable front seats, air conditioning, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with cruise control and audio control switches, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and a four-speaker sound system with AM/FM radio and USB and auxiliary inputs.

An optional Uconnect package for $495 brings Bluetooth phone and audio and a 5-inch touchscreen.

The Limited ($24,370) continues with a UConnect package with voice command and voice texting (Android compatible), replaces steel wheels with tech-silver alloy, and adds a rearview camera, a compass, automatic halogen projector headlamps with LED light pipes, lower front grille with chrome surround, rear fascia chrome appliques, and a six-speaker sound system.

For $745, 18-inch satin-silver alloy wheels are available. Limited has more options available, including, but not limited to, the Convenience Group (separate from the Anniversary package) for $895, which adds body-color heated mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio, and eight-way power driver’s seat with four-way power lumbar, and sun visors with illuminated mirrors. A power express-open/close sunroof can be added for $995.

A Comfort Group for $645 includes automatic air conditioning with dual-zone control; heated front seats; heated steering wheel; humidity sensor; rear a/c and heat ducts; sun visors with illuminated mirrors; and auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone.

The 200S brings a sporty feel and all of Limited’s standard equipment, along with a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch satin-carbon aluminum wheels, fog lamps, gloss-black accented headlight bezels, grille and side window surrounds, heated mirrors, acoustic windshield and front door glass, black cloth sport seats with leather-trimmed bolsters, eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, satellite radio and upgraded interior trim.

My luxurious 200C (base price $27,570) tester came in Granite Crystal Metallic, one of nine exterior colors including Velvet Red Pearl, Black Forest Green Pearl, and Bright White.

Two standard interior colors are available for the 200C: Black and Black/Linen. My tester had optional premium leather-trimmed vent seats in Black/Deep Mocha part of a Premium Group for $995. Deep Mocha trimmed the seats, door panels and armrests. Premium leather-trimmed seats are also available in Black/Linen and Black.

My 200C included the same standard equipment as the 200S, plus the contents of the Comfort Group, and added the premium leather-trimmed heated/cooled bucket seats, with eight-way power driver’s seat and six-way power front passenger seat; remote vehicle start, and passive entry (driver and passenger doors and trunk). The suspension, however, was the Limited’s softer version.

The 2016 Chrysler 200C Mocha Leather interior adds a touch of elegance to this midsize sedan. A variety of luxury and high-tech safety and infotainment options are offered on the 200.

The tester replaced the 200S’s 18-inch wheels with optional 19-inch aluminum with a polished face and painted pockets, for $995. The wheel package included heavy-duty antilock four-wheel disc brakes.

There were several options on the tested, also available for the 200S, including the Navigation and Sound Group ($895) with UConnect 8.4 NAV, nine Alpine speakers with subwoofer, Alpine 506-watt amplifier, HD radio, SiriusXM Traffic/Travel. SiriusXM provides information on accidents, scheduled road closings, traffic flow and more. The service is integrated with UConnect to help drivers select the best route based on real-time conditions.

The Premium Package also brought an illuminated 115-volt auxiliary power outlet (on the passenger side of the center console, very convenient); heated two-tone leather steering wheel; luxury door-trim panel; radio preset capability; driver’s seat and outside-mirror memory; and real wood/bronze chrome interior accents.

The wood inlays are striking, with a raised, exposed edge showing more wood grain, inspired by the iconic Eames chair, trimming the upper door panel, the center stack and the instrument cluster. The bronze chrome trim was subtle and elegant.

A standard USB port in the deep storage bin under the sliding cupholders in the center console routed power cords through an opening to the open-sided storage shelf under the center console/center stack junction. The shelf is lined with a rubber mat with a depiction of the Detroit skyline.

The heated steering wheel and heated seats warmed automatically when the temperature was below freezing – very nice.

LED ambient interior lighting and front-door map-pocket lighting, along with foot-well courtesy lights, added another layer of elegance and convenience. A Premium Lighting Group for $795 upgraded to HID headlights with LED daytime running light and LED fog lights.

A Safety Tec Package ($1,295) brought adaptive cruise control with stop and go, advanced brake assist, full-speed forward collision warning plus, automatic high-beam control, blind-spot and rear-cross-path detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, parallel and perpendicular park assist and stop, and rain-sensitive windshield wipers.

Adaptive cruise maintains select distances between vehicles and can bring your vehicle to a stop and resume full speed, adjusting to traffic patterns. Advanced brake assist helps the driver stop in the shortest distance in emergency braking situations.

Full-speed collision warning plus audibly alerts the driver to a possible emergency situation and can bring the vehicle to a full stop when a frontal collision appears unavoidable.

Cross-path detection was especially helpful in parking lots, as it detects pedestrians as well as vehicles crossing behind the vehicle when reverse has been engaged. Parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop augments basic park assist to help find a parking space and then automatically controls the steering angle while the driver controls braking and acceleration.

While the 200C was a good fit for an average size female (me), larger folks might find it a snug fit, especially taller folks sitting in the back. Rear legroom is a little less than most midsize sedans, at 37.6 inches. Headroom is adequate with 38.7 inches in the front and 37.4 inches in the rear.

The driver and front passenger have height-adjustable seats, allowing better visibility, especially for the driver. Front legroom is 42.2 inches, enough to share if the front passenger moves forward a little. Also, due to the sloped roof pillars, overall space feels somewhat compromised.

The 16 cubic feet of space (with cargo tie-down rings) in the trunk was enough for lots of DIY supplies and the weekly groceries. The 60/40 folding rear seat had a small pass-through for longer items such as two-by-fours or skis, even with passengers in the rear seats.

My 200C was classy and elegant, inside and out; the steering wheel, center stack and console controls were handy and intuitive; the passengers were comfortable and safe (thanks to lots of air bags and safety technology, including a 911 button on the rear view mirror); and handling was smooth if not energetic, although the ride was somewhat firm at times.

Total sticker price was $33,540, including $995 freight and $4,975 in options.

Why the Rugged Wrangler is Jeep’s Greatest Creation Ramble on with the classic Wrangler, which happens to be more popular than ever.

Dec 10, 2015

Jeep has built its brand on the authenticity of its off-roaders. The rugged vehicles started as real-life Army equipment and in civilian life became peerless beasts that perform heroics on Nevada’s tortuous Rubicon Trail and the boulders of Moab, Utah.

But the coolest part of a Jeep is its egalitarianism. Nearly anyone who can afford a new car can afford a Wrangler. The popular four-door Wrangler Unlimited starts at $27,295, which is well below the average $33,560 purchase price of a new car, according to Kelley Blue Book. And the Wrangler is having a moment: Jeep sales are up 23 percent compared with 2014, and the Wrangler breaks sales records every month.

What’s the attraction? The Wrangler is the green plastic Army man writ large. Jeep’s Mopar parts division has a catalog of add-ons to make the Wrangler even cooler, tougher, and more personalized, and there’s an entire industry of other companies dedicated to the same cause. “The Wrangler may be the most customized vehicle in the world,” crows Jeep’s director of product marketing, Jim Morrison.

And what about drivers who don’t have more money to spend after they buy their Wrangler? That’s easy, too: Owners can customize by taking parts away from the Jeep. Buy a throwback-style Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition in tank-green paint or an Army-inspired Freedom Edition to start, then take off anything that wouldn’t have been there when Jeeps landed in Normandy, Busan, or Saigon.

The roof comes right off. So do the doors. If you promise not to drive it on the street, you can fold down the windshield. The end caps even come off the bumpers, letting the meaty tires attack the terrain without any interference from the vehicle’s bodywork.

Now you’ve got a serious off-road machine that truly looks the part. Jeep knows people love the Wrangler’s heritage, which is why it builds its own fantasies, like the Staff Car concept the company introduced at the 2015 Moab Easter Jeep Safari. The Staff Car is a four-door Wrangler Unlimited that has the middle door B pillar cut out, a retro canvas roof installed, and old-school 16-inch steel wheels, 35-inch Firestone NDT military tires, and a mounted vintage exterior gas can.

The Staff Car even has a standard Wrangler 290-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed manual transmission that lets you shift gears just like Granddad did, though Wranglers in the showroom also offer a five-speed automatic transmission. “It is a nice reflection of the people on the Jeep staff and our support for the brand’s military connection,” says Morrison.

That may be—but Morrison admits there’s a deeper truth to the iconic brand’s concept vehicles: “We do those because they are fun.”

Preview: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

By Simon Hill – November 27, 2015

    In a spectacle to warm the hearts of performance enthusiasts and style aficionados alike, Alfa Romeo kicked things off at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show by bringing in a whole tent full of vintage Alfa Romeos, amidst which the company launched its new premium mid-size sedan, the Giulia.

    The emotion isn’t just skin deep, Alfa Romeo promises.

    Slated for production at Alfa Romeo’s Cassino plant in Frosinone, Italy beginning in mid-2016, the 2017 Giulia is the first of a new lineup of vehicles to be built on the Italian maker’s new Giorgio rear-wheel drive platform. Joining the previously introduced Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe and 4C Spider, the Giulia represents what Reid Bigland, Alfa Romeo’s president and CEO of North American operations, called the company’s “triumphant return to the North American sedan market.”

    True to its Italian roots, the new sedan embodies classic Alfa Romeo style, from its shield grille centred in the signature V-shaped “Trilobo” front fascia, to the short overhangs, muscular fender arches, long hood, and short rear deck lid. It’s a look that Alfa Romeo says reflects “la meccanica delle emozioni” – the mechanics of emotion – and in person it’s quite stunning.

    The emotion isn’t just skin deep, Alfa Romeo promises. The company brought aboard a pair of Ferrari engineers to help lead development of the Giulia, and the new sedan is claimed to have a near perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, segment-leading torsional rigidity, a low centre of gravity, and what Alfa Romeo says is the most direct steering available thanks to its double-wishbone front suspension with semi-virtual steering axis, combined with the Giulia’s rear-drive architecture and extensive use of lightweight materials.

    Inside, unique touches include a fully-integrated 8.8-inch infotainment screen, Formula 1 inspired steering wheel, authentic carbon fibre trim, and available Sparco racing seats. Control for the infotainment system is through an all-new Alfa Rotary Pad interface with gesture recognition, allowing the driver to interact with the system by simply moving fingers on the pad.

    When the Giulia hits showrooms it will start at about US$40,000 for the base model, which will be powered by a 276-hp all-aluminum four-cylinder twin-scroll turbo engine with direct injection and MultiAir2 technology. Rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive will both be available we’re told, as will a six-speed manual transmission or an automatic with paddle-shifters.

    At the Los Angeles Auto Show, however, there wasn’t a single base model in sight. Instead, Alfa Romeo was shining its spotlight on the performance-oriented Giulia Quadrifoglio edition, which appears to be aimed straight at the heart of the BMW M3 buyer. Starting at about US$70,000, the Giulia Quadrifoglio edition will be powered by a Ferrari-derived 2.9L biturbo V6 that churns outs 505hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, delivered to the rear wheels via a six-speed Getrag manual gearbox (Bigland hinted that an automatic with paddle-shifters would also likely be available for the Quadrifoglio).

    Extensive used of lightweight materials including a carbon-fibre hood and drive shaft, and aluminum subframes, front shock towers, suspension components, doors and fenders will keep the weight down, allowing an impressive (and what Alfa Romeo says is best-in-class) power-to-weight ratio of 3.18 kg per horsepower.

    Technologies aimed at amplifying the driving experience aboard the Giulia Quadrofoglio include an active aero front splitter to actively manage downforce and help achieve best-in-class aerodynamics, an electromechanical integrated braking system that replaces the tradition electronic stability control unit and brake booster for more instantaneous braking performance, torque vectoring with twin-clutch rear differential, and a Chassis Domain Control system that coordinates all of the vehicle’s active systems including the stability control, torque vectoring, adaptive damping suspension and active front splitter.

    Combined with big carbon ceramic brakes and staggered 19-inch wheels (patterned on a traditional Alfa Romeo design) these technologies enabled the Giulia Quadrifoglio to post the fastest-ever lap time for a production four-door car around the famed Nürburgring, coming in at 7 minutes and 39 seconds, a full 13 seconds ahead of its nearest rival. Top speed is claimed to be 305 km/h, and 0-100 km/h should take about 4 seconds.

    With a more complete line-up of cars now including a sedan, it appears that Alfa Romeo is determined to lead its own Italian Renaissance here in North America. And while for now the company will continue to sell its cars through the same network of 82 US and four Canadian dealers that were announced in June 2014, it’s expected that the dealer network will expand to include 300 or more North American franchises once the brand becomes more established. Canadian dealerships are currently in Vancouver, BC; Vaughn, Ontario; LaSalle, Quebec; and Boischatel, Quebec.