Mopar Celebrates 80 Years With Debut of Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger


The vehicle offers a pair of hand-painted, custom, show car trim options. Only 80 models will be available in Pitch Black/Contusion Blue, with another 80 in Pitch Black/Billet Silver, in a nod to 80 years of the Mopar brand.

The Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger also includes Mopar performance parts, accessories, an exclusive owner’s kit and a serialized badge.

“Since its birth in 1937, Mopar has evolved from the name of an antifreeze product to a global customer-care brand,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “The Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger, our latest limited-edition vehicle, is a testament to this philosophy, showcasing how Mopar assists owners in personalizing all FCA US vehicles.”

The Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger joins an exclusive club as the eighth limited-edition, Mopar-modified vehicle delivered straight from the factory. In 2010, the brand produced the first of an ongoing series of limited-edition vehicles, the Mopar ’10 Challenger. Other low-run, factory-produced Mopar rides would follow: the Mopar ’11 Charger, Mopar ’12 300, Mopar ’13 Dart, Mopar ’14 Challenger, Mopar ’15 Dodge Charger R/T and Mopar ’16 Ram Rebel.

Mopar ’17: Exterior
The Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger begins turning heads through its exterior and a pair of two-tone custom paint options achieved with an assist from the Mopar Custom Shop. Contusion Blue and Billet Silver hues are pulled from the Dodge brand’s color palette, with the upper portion of the Mopar ’17 hand-painted Pitch Black at the Mopar Custom Shop to achieve the striking two-tone appearance.

The Contusion Blue color conveys a tone-on-tone look, providing a subtle, hiding-in-plain-sight feel at night and a brilliant appearance in daylight. Billet Silver offers a more high-impact, high-contrast exterior color. The inherent bodylines of the Dodge Challenger are used to transition from Pitch Black to Contusion Blue or Billet Silver, providing a seamless segue point.

A special Mopar 392 logo, also hand-painted on at the Mopar Custom Shop, gives an additional custom touch.

The upper exterior is unified with Pitch Black accents. The standard satin black of the Shaker Hood package by Mopar and Shaker Hood scoop surround is painted Pitch Black. The rear decklid spoiler also receives the Pitch Black treatment, and the Mopar Design badge on the spoiler is turned black-on-black.

20 x 9-inch aluminum wheels are embellished with semi-gloss accents and center caps feature the Dodge logo. Standard chrome exhaust tips are replaced with Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat black exhaust tips.

Mopar ’17: Performance
The six-speed manual transmission Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger also makes a powerful performance statement that enhances the base Dodge Challenger R/T 392. The 6.4-liter, 392 HEMI® engine pumps out 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque and is augmented by the Shaker Hood package by Mopar, which provides performance gains with a hint of vintage styling. The scoop is embellished with Shaker badging.

A Mopar cold air intake also delivers a performance boost and is aided by an air catcher duct system via the headlamp. The upgrade, inspired by the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, feeds additional cold air into the vehicle. Mopar Shaker strut tower braces and caps are silver powder-coated and increase rigidity and handling of the Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger. Four-piston Brembo brakes provide stopping power.

Mopar ’17: Interior/Exclusive Content
Heading inside, performance seats are the star, customized with Tungsten Mopar logos embroidered on the seatbacks. Tungsten stitching matching the Mopar logo borders the seats and continues throughout the vehicle, touching the door panels and additional interior areas.

Befitting its limited-edition origins, the Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger is delivered with exclusive content that highlights the vehicle’s prestige and collectability. A special serialized Mopar ’17 80th Anniversary badge is included under the hood, announcing 1-80 of the Contusion Blue version and 1-80 of the Billet Silver option.

Each customer will receive a special Mopar ’17 Owner’s Kit, packaged in a custom Mopar box that includes:

  • Mopar welcome letter
  • “Birth certificate” with vehicle specifications, date of manufacture and proprietary vehicle number
  • Hand-signed Mopar ’17 rendering from the FCA US LLC Product Design Office
  • Special Mopar ’17 booklet
  • Customized acrylic memorabilia showpiece
  • Mopar valve stem caps
  • Mopar-branded items, including a Mopar ’17 keychain and a Mopar 80th anniversary badge

The limited-edition vehicle will be available in both the U.S. and Canada, with a U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $55,790, excluding taxes and destination fees. The Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger will begin arriving in select dealerships in early second quarter of 2017.

The Mopar ’17 Dodge Challenger will be displayed at the Chicago Auto Show. For more information, visit

About Dodge and SRT Brands
The Dodge brand is America’s mainstream performance brand. With the purification of the brand and consolidation with SRT, Dodge is focusing on its performance roots with every single model it offers. The Dodge and SRT brands offer a complete lineup of performance vehicles that stand out within their own segments. Dodge is the mainstream performance brand and SRT is positioned as the ultimate performance halo of the Dodge brand, together creating a complete and balanced performance brand with one vision and one voice.

From muscle cars to minivans, crossovers and full-size SUVs, the Dodge brand’s full lineup of 2017 models deliver best-in-class horsepower, class-exclusive technology, unmatched capability and a slew of cool features, such as LED headlamps, Dodge signature racetrack tail lamps, active exhaust, cold-air induction, 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect infotainment centers and 7-inch customizable gauge clusters, to name a few. For the 2017 model year, the Dodge brand lineup features the 25th anniversary Viper, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Charger and Challenger, including the new Charger Daytona and Challenger T/A, as well as the 707-horsepower Challenger SRT Hellcat, the most powerful and fastest muscle car ever and the Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

Mopar-First Features
During the brand’s 80 years, Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:

  • Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers
  • wiADVISOR: first to incorporate a tablet-based service lane tool
  • Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with a new interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
  • Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
  • Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format

80 Years of Mopar
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was born on August 1, 1937, as the name of a line of antifreeze products. Mopar has since evolved over 80 years to serve as the total service, parts and customer-care brand of all FCA vehicles around the globe.

Mopar made its mark in the 1960s during the muscle-car era, with Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use, and expanded to include technical service and customer support. Today, the Mopar brand’s global reach distributes more than 500,000 parts and accessories in over 150 markets around the world. With more than 50 parts distribution centers and 25 customer contact centers globally, Mopar integrates service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance customer and dealer support worldwide.

For 80 years, Mopar has been the source for genuine parts and accessories for all FCA brands. Mopar parts are engineered together with the same teams that create factory-authorized specifications for FCA vehicles, offering a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. Complete information on the Mopar brand is available at


CHICAGO, Feb. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —

All-new Chrysler Pacifica Only Minivan Named IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2017

Today’s announcement by the IIHS reprises the Chrysler Pacifica’s 2016 TSP+ designation, and complements the five-star overall safety rating the Pacifica achieved in testing by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“With more than 100 available safety and security features, everything from Forward Collision Warning to a 360-degree Surround View Camera to the ability to parallel park itself, the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is designed and built to check the box on key attributes many families value above all others – safety and security,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands – FCA North America. “Pacifica is the only minivan to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2017, further solidifying its place as the leader in the segment.”

TSP+ status is contingent on achieving ratings of “good” in five IIHS crashworthiness evaluations. The Chrysler Pacifica achieves “good” – the highest possible rating – in each. The tests simulate:

  • a side impact with a large SUV or pickup truck;
  • a moderate-offset frontal impact;
  • a small-offset frontal impact;
  • roof-deformation consistent with a rollover; and
  • a rear collision capable of inducing whiplash.

High-strength steel accounts for 72 percent of its body structure, 38 percent of which is Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS). Such material choice was a key contributor to the all-new minivan’s crashworthiness, however, advanced engineering contributed further.

Using an in-house process called Rapid Concept Development (RCD), FCA US engineers employed high-powered computers to identify optimal body-structure design. The computers help simulate vehicle performance and pinpoint strategies that best accommodate occupant protection.

In certain frontal impacts, these strategies include dividing crash energy between multiple components, such as frame rails and the vehicle’s engine cradle.

While the all-new Pacifica aces the required crash tests, the best safety features are those that help drivers avoid collisions. The Chrysler Pacifica’s Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system earns a rating of “superior,” the highest possible grade the IIHS awards for this technology and another prerequisite to achieve TSP+ status.

The Pacifica’s system is called Forward Collision Warning-Plus. It features sensor-fusion technology, which combines the particular attributes of radar sensors and cameras for greater precision. The system only responds when camera and radar agree that a frontal impact appears imminent.

System response comprises audible and visual driver warnings and/or AEB. And no other minivan features sensor-fusion technology; competitive systems employ either cameras or radar sensors.

AEB is available in 10 FCA US vehicles across seven segments:

  • Full-size SUV (Dodge Durango)
  • Mid-size SUV (Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee)
  • Small SUV/Crossover (Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X)
  • Mid-size sedan (Chrysler 200)
  • Premium mid-size sedan (Alfa Romeo Giulia)
  • Full-size sedan (Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger)
  • Minivan (Chrysler Pacifica)

Forward Collision Warning-Plus is among more than 100 safety and security features available on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which starts at $28,595, excluding destination charges.

Earning a 2017 Top Safety Pick+ designation is the latest in a string of more than two dozen honors accumulated, so far, by the all-new Chrysler Pacifica. Numerous North American automotive publications and journalism organizations, such as the following, have named it among 2017’s “best” vehicles:

  • Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC)
  • Car and Driver
  • Consumer Guide® Automotive
  • Kelley Blue Book
  • Ruedas ESPN
  • The Car Connection
  • The Car Guide / Le Guide de L’Auto
  • Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA)

** The designation applies to any 2017 Chrysler Pacifica produced after August 2016.

About Chrysler Brand
The Chrysler brand has delighted customers with distinctive designs, craftsmanship, intuitive innovation and technology all at an extraordinary value since the company was founded in 1925.

Whether it is the family-room-on-wheels functionality of the all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, the groundbreaking, bold design of the Chrysler 300, or the simple elegance and extraordinary driving experience of the Chrysler 200, Chrysler brand vehicles reward the passion, creativity and sense of accomplishment of its owners. Beyond just exceptionally designed vehicles, the Chrysler brand has incorporated thoughtful features into all of its products, such as the innovative center console with pass through storage and sliding cup holders in the Chrysler 200, the industry-exclusive Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system on the Chrysler Pacifica and the fuel-saving Fuel Saver Technology in the Chrysler 300.

The Chrysler brand’s succession of innovative product introductions continues to solidify the brand’s standing as the leader in design, engineering and value. The premium for the Chrysler brand is in the product, not the price.


AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ —


2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the world’s first hybrid plugin minivan

The Pacifica Hybrid will be appealing enough for families and others who like the utility, capacity, and ease of entry that minivans offer, but it’s also good as an electric vehicle.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid wraps a number of firsts into one innovative package.

The Pacifica minivan, launched this year, has received positive reviews for its combination of stylish design, comfortable interior, easy-to-use infotainment, and capacious carrying capacity for up to eight adults and their goods.

Despite its name, the Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid with a 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack that gives it an estimated EPA-rated electric range of 30 miles. That makes it the world’s first plug-in hybrid minivan.

The combination of an seven-seat vehicle with usable electric range will be appealing enough for families and others who like the utility, capacity, and ease of entry that minivans offer.

But the Pacifica Hybrid is also good as an electric vehicle, with strong enough electric power that it doesn’t kick on its engine at the merest provocation, as do lower-range plug-in hybrids from luxury makers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

We tried hard to get the vehicle into this year’s Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy award competition, but Chrysler’s embargo on driving impressions (today) missed our deadline for the award by exactly one day.

Getting behind the wheel of the plug-in hybrid Pacifica, very little is changed from the conventional version that is now appearing on U.S. roads.

Slightly different frontal styling and a charge port on the left-front fender are about the only clues to the electrified minivan’s very different powertrain.

And Fiat Chrysler, whose CEO has long trumpeted his irritation at having to produce zero-emission vehicles to stay legal in California, has produced a remarkably good plug-in hybrid for its first effort.

The company’s philosophy is that this is a powertrain option, not a lifestyle, and so it’s relatively simplified.

This explains, among other things, the choice of name: “hybrid” is a familiar term that translates to better energy efficiency, whereas “plug-in hybrid” will likely be confusing to family-vehicle buyers of the sort who don’t read sites like this one.

Starting off with a charged battery, the Pacifica Hybrid defaults to all-electric operation—though unlike the Prius Prime, it will kick on the engine when full throttle is needed (and keep it on for long enough to warm up the emission-control system).

In a variety of drive routes and conditions among three different High Gear Media editors, we found the plug-in minivan to be a capable performer on electricity alone.

It’s hardly Tesla-fast, but in local use and even on highways up to about 70 mph, it will stay in all-electric mode and most likely deliver its rated 30 miles of electric range. (We haven’t yet tested it in winter weather, however.)

In mixed driving conditions, including lots of up- and downhill stretches, we saw 32 miles before the battery was depleted. In the right conditions, we might expect as much as 35 miles of electric range.

The accelerator is linear and easy to modulate, and we found the braking good: progressive and without any annoying regenerative traits. Switching from all-electric to hybrid mode was smooth, seamless, and shudder-free.

A “low” setting increases the regeneration, but it’s nowhere near as strong as the BMW i3, Chevy Bolt EV or Volt, or any Tesla model.

There’s no Volt-style increase in regenerative braking on demand, which means one-pedal driving would be close to impossible. Nor is there an “EV only” mode or an option to conserve battery charge for later use.

Asked about this, Chrysler engineers essentially said they’d wanted to keep the driving experience as familiar as possible, since they felt a large number of Pacifica Hybrid buyers would likely be new to hybrids and plug-in vehicles.

Given its first-in-the-segment position, that’s not an unreasonable assumption, we think.

The “easy and understandable” approach extends to the instrumentation, which is standard Pacifica with a few additions: an energy tab on the center touchscreen that shows energy flow, and a powertrain display between the gauges.

On the road, the ride is smooth and the roadholding is good. Even the standard Pacifica is a large vehicle, and the added 650 pounds of the hybrid version—with the battery mounted below the second-row passengers’ feet—keeps it firmly planted in turns.

Recharging the 16-kwh battery takes 2 hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, or about 14 hours on a standard 120-volt household circuit. The onboard charger is rated at 6.6 kilowatts.

Once the battery was empty, in mixed driving with considerable traffic, we averaged 28 miles per gallon. Final EPA ratings aren’t out yet, though the non-hybrid version comes in at 22 mpg combined.

Chrysler estimates an efficiency of 80 MPGe when running electrically, although that’s for the city portion of the test and not the combined number. (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, or MPGe, is a measure of how far a vehicle can travel electrically on the same amount of energy as contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.)

Obviously driving style, speed, and traffic conditions will vary that result considerably.

It’s worth noting that while the third-row seat in the Pacifica Hybrid still folds flat into its compartment below the floor, the second row no longer does—because Chrysler’s “Stow-N-Go” bin for the rear seat is now occupied by the battery.

On the other hand, that gives second-row riders more comfortable seats with thicker and plusher upholstery than those designed to fold into the floor.

The two pieces of the rear seat are removable for maximum cargo capacity, weighing about 60 pounds apiece.

The majority of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids are likely to be the Platinum modelstarting at $44,995, its maker says, though the Premium base version starts at $41,995. Both prices are before the mandatory destination fee.

All Pacifica Hybrids qualify for the full $7,500 federal income-tax credit for purchase of a plug-in vehicle, and a $1,500 purchase rebate in California plus “green sticker” single-occupant access to that state’s highway carpool lanes.

Chrysler offers a 15-year, 150,000-mile warranty on all emission-related equipment and a 10-year, 150,000-mile warranty on the battery (against failure, not against capacity degradation).

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will go on sale later this year, and arrive in dealerships in volume early next year. It will be distributed nationally.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article referred to the Pacifica Hybrid as an “eight-seat” vehicle. While a version of the conventional Pacifica is available with a three-position second row, the hybrid model comes only with captain’s chairs in the second row, which are standard for its two upper-level trim options. We thank reader Sopfu for the correction and apologize for the error.


2017 Dodge Challenger Earns “Five-Star” Overall Safety Rating

October 12th,2016   2017 Dodge Challenger earns “Five-Star” overall safety rating

  • 2017 Dodge Challenger earns five stars overall, the highest rating in NHTSA’s vehicle-evaluation program
  • High-strength steel structure contributes to five-star ratings for both NHTSA side-impact tests – vehicle and pole
  • Fifth time Dodge Challenger has been accorded overall score of five stars
  • 2017 Challenger boasts more than 70 available safety and security features, including Forward Collision Warning, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection
High-strength steel in the 2017 Dodge Challenger accommodates top ratings in two types of side-impact tests.

October 12, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. 
– The 2017 Dodge Challenger has earned a five-star overall safety rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Five stars is the highest rating in the regulatory agency’s vehicle-evaluation program.

“This proves the 2017 Dodge Challenger is much more than a great-looking car,” says Mike Dahl, Head of Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance, FCA North America. “It reflects our commitment to delivering exceptional occupant safety in every vehicle segment.”

Nearly 60 percent of the sporty Challenger’s body structure consists of high-strength steel. This engineering strategy, combined with the careful integration of side-guard door beams, was critical to the car’s performance in NHTSA’s side-impact testing.

The agency simulated collisions with a pole and with another vehicle at closing speeds of 32 miles per hour and 62 miles per hour, respectively. The Challenger’s rating for each: five stars.

Supplementary restraint systems also contributed the car’s performance. Driver and front-passenger side air bags are standard equipment on all Challenger trim levels, as are front and rear side-curtain air bags.

In its assessment of the new Challenger, NHTSA notes the availability of Forward Collision Warning (FCW), which features forward-facing sensors programmed to detect the potential for certain types of frontal collisions. If a frontal impact with another vehicle appears imminent, the system pre-fills the Challenger’s brakes and transmits audible and visual warnings for the driver to respond.

FCW is among more than 70 available safety and security features on the 2017 Dodge Challenger. Others include Blind-spot Monitoring (BSM) and Rear Cross Path (RCP) detection.

BSM uses radar sensors to aid the driver when changing lanes, passing or being passed. When another vehicle is detected in the driver’s blind spot, its presence is noted with illuminated icons in the Challenger’s side-view mirrors and a driver-selectable chime.

RCP detection warns drivers of lateral traffic when backing out of parking spaces. It automatically activates whenever the driver puts the Challenger in reverse gear.

Since the modern Dodge Challenger was launched in 2008, NHTSA has included the car in its annual model-year ratings seven times. It achieved five-star scores every time, including five overall five-star ratings – one for each year overall ratings have been awarded.

FCA 2016 Full-Line Preview: More Power, More Choices, More Fun!

August 31, 2015 | By


Flying across country from Los Angeles to Detroit only to turn around and fly home again the next day may not sound like fun, but if there was ever a good reason to do it, the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) 2016 full-line preview is it. Once a year FCA gathers all its vehicle brands at its Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and invites virtually every journalist in the country to spend a day in a giant adult playground. From sports cars to trucks to EVs to off-roaders, anything and everything is available to drive on the track, on the street (inside the compound), and off road.

2015 Dodge Charger PursuitIt’s the Mecca of automotive events, and we love attending because we can drive as much as we want. We can interview executives, see what’s new from Mopar, and run amok on the autocross course. FCA gets it. It understands we want seat time in everything from the Charger Pursuit sedan to the Ram ProMaster City van.

And although we admit we’ve already driven about 80 percent of the lineup, we hadn’t driven the vehicles on the track or an autocross. When we do real-world evaluations on public roads, we refrain from being stupid. If you want to drive fast with reckless abandon, do it on a closed course. We learned this a long time ago. The FCA full-line preview event allows journalists to push the vehicles to their full capabilities without endangering lives.

Our usual plan of attack is to rush to the autocross course, but this time we knew we’d be departing later in the afternoon than other journalists, so we pushed that to the end with the hopes that the course would be uncrowded so we could do multiple laps without having to surrender the vehicle to a throng of impatient next-in-liners. This time, we studiously reviewed the offerings, calculated the popularity-to-drive-time ratios, prioritized our wish lists, and developed an in-depth strategy to get it all done. Of course, we didn’t follow any of that. We did a LeMans start, and ran for the closest vehicle just to get into something. Okay, I lied again. What we really did is wander over to the awesome display of historic Jeeps, alongside new Jeep models with Mopar modifications.

Classic jeepOf all the FCA brands, Jeep’s history might be the most diverse. It’s always stood for capability and freedom, from being able to handle any off-road situation, to being the principal transportation for the U.S. Army for years. Eight decades of the past combined to create the Jeep brand today, and with eight models ranging from the capable and affordable Renegade to the outrageous SRT Grand Cherokee, there truly is something for everyone.

trail badgesJeep fanatics are proud of their vehicles’ ability to tackle any terrain. And like anyone who accomplishes daring feats, they want the world to know. Jeep gets this, and has created badges to sell to Jeepsters if they make it through some of the toughest terrains, such as the Poison Spider, Pritchett Canyon and Steel Bender trails in Moab, Utah. Jeeps are also marked with badges that tell the owners how they are rated: Safari, Sure and Trail ratings are just an example of what Jeep does to cater to its owner base. And a loyal owner base it is. For 2014, Jeep brand set its third consecutive all-time global sales record of over one million vehicles. Impressive.

Jeep Compass Latitude High Altitude 4×4

2016 Jeep® CompassTake a Jeep — any Jeep — off road, and you’ll be a convert as well. We jumped in the 2016 Jeep Compass Latitude High Altitude 4×4, loaded up the seats, and headed for Lyman Trail, the off-road section of the proving grounds. All off-road trails around the world are rated with numbers: 1 is easy, 10 is extremely difficult. We followed the preset course designed to best show off the Jeep’s talents, and we experienced trail areas that probably averaged around 4 or 5. The Compass easily climbed rocks, forded deep water, made quick work of fallen trees, and braked itself down steep downhills. Excellent approach, breakover, and departure angles make this Trail Rated Jeep a winner off road. It features a quiet cabin and good performance on-road, also, with the 2.4-liter 172-horsepower I4 engine. For a base price of $25,595, it would be hard to beat for a new Jeep enthusiast.

Ram ProMaster City Van

2016 Ram ProMaster City Tradesman SLTAnother vehicle we were curious about and hadn’t driven back home was the 2016 Ram ProMaster City van. Our ride was the SLT Cargo model, which we fully expected to be loud, rough, tinny and, well, a cargo van. We took it for a lap around the “street” course, and found it to be quiet, good handling, lots of room, and enough power from the 178-horsepower 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine to take care of a lot of small-business needs. The ProMaster City is rebadged from the Fiat Doblo van found in Europe. Sharing global vehicles is a great way for companies to save money, yet deliver vehicles that suit the needs of customers regardless of the continent. The van we tested based at $25,655, and featured a nine-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, and a highway fuel-economy number of 29 mpg. The options included a trailer tow group, lights and wheel group, back up camera group, and cargo partition that eliminated any booming or echoing noise from the driver cabin area. Two points we would like to see improved: the screen is small compared to the big Uconnect 8.4-inch ones in other FCA vehicles, and the steering could be a bit tighter. We believe as this van evolves with more focus on North American tastes, those small critiques will be addressed. But the ProMaster City van can stand head to head with any of the cargo vans from Nissan, Ford and Chevrolet.

Chrysler Town & Country Minivan

2016 Chrysler Town & CountrySpeaking of vans, as you know from our long-term Kia Sedona coverage, we love vans. But it’s impossible to speak about minivans without mentioning Dodge and Chrysler, since this is where it all started 30 years ago. The 2016 Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan are the only two minivans left of the family, with the departure of the smaller Dodge Caravan and defunct Plymouth Voyager. The T&C offers six different models to choose from, starting with the entry-level LX all the way up to the fully loaded Platinum trim. The model we drove was the S, which is the middle grade. Pricing has not been announced yet, but the 2015 version stickered at a base of $33,695. We don’t expect to see a big jump for 2016. This van offers a lot of nice features, including a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, impressive safety features, and good looks. Our van included the Driver’s Convenience Group, which added heated steering wheel and seats, Uconnect Voice Command, Keyless Enter ’n Go, security alarm, and remote start. You have to love the Stow ’n Go seats, and the tons of storage areas inside. The instrument panel is easy to read, but the location of the shift lever up high on the console has never made us happy. If you’re looking for a unique van, for 2016 Chrysler has introduced the Anniversary Edition of the T&C that celebrates 90 years of the Chrysler brand. It’s based off the Touring-L model (one step above the S trim), and comes with an Anniversary Edition logo on the radio splash screen and floormats. Even though the competition is waning, the FCA minivans continue to be the top sellers, and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack

2016 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat PackWe went off-road, we drove a cargo hauler, and then a minvan; to say we’re mixing it up is an understatement. So to continue the theme of non-continuity, we waited our turn to get into the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, with and without Mopar enhancements. The R/T Scat Pack was a 2016, but the Mopar was a 2015 model. Changes for 2016 R/T don’t affect the performance and handling, such as the return of the Plum Crazy exterior shade, a deep purple that’s a throwback to the original Challenger models. While we like purple, we’re okay with any color Challenger. Since the Challenger was reintroduced in 2007, we’ve been in love with the styling, probably because we are enamored with the original Challenger. Both models look as if they mean business no matter what angle you’re looking at, and they have the performance to back up the design. The Challenger deserves more than a street drive, so we took them both around the road course, which is more fun than a person can expect to have. The track has plenty of sweeping corners to toss around the R/T, which handles so well that it’s easy to keep pushing it harder. This Challenger is balanced, predictable, and so much fun to drive.

2016 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack ShakerThe R/T Scat Pack makes 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque from its 6.4-liter HEMI V8, which means power whenever you want it. The Scat Pack is a good mix of performance and appearance upgrades, like Brembo brakes, high-performance suspension, dual exhaust, and performance 20-inch tires. Other features include exterior fender badging, premium audio system, unique performance cloth seats, and Uconnect’s 8.4-inch screen. Pricing for 2016 on the R/T Scat Pack is a base of $38,990 including destination. Since the R/T makes 18 mpg combined (it’s a high-performance car, not a hybrid, folks), there’s a gas-guzzler tax of $1,000, but if you get the optional ($1,400) TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission (which ours had), the tax goes away. For 40 large, good luck finding another vehicle that looks this good with this much performance for such a great price.

Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker with Mopar Scat Pack 3 Kit

2016 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker (left) and Charger R/T Road & Track (right)Just when you think it can’t get any better than the R/T, along comes Mopar with its Scat Pack 3 Kit. Adding Mopar performance parts to your vehicle is a great way to show what a little tweaking and tuning can do for an already impressive ride. You should all be familiar with Mopar by now since it’s been the parts, service, and customer care part of this company since 1937. The vehicle starts as a Challenger R/T Shaker, with the Shaker referring to the functional hood styling, and features cold air induction and other pieces that mark it as a Shaker model. The base price is $30,990 with destination. Now let’s just say you want to bump up the fun a notch or two. Mopar already sold the Scat Pack 1, and now offers the Scat Pack 2 and 3 performance upgrade kits. Kit 2 will give you up to 56 more horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque from the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. Other mods include a Mopar Performance camshaft, valve springs, tie bars and miscellaneous engine items. All this and more for an only extra $1,895.

The Mopar Scat Pack 3 Performance kit is specifically tailored for the competitive enthusiast looking for extreme performance and ultimate bragging rights.The Scat Pack 3 Kit, which was on our tester, kicks it up one more step for those enthusiasts looking for amazing performance without going to a Hellcat. For an additional $4,495, you get CNC-ported cylinder heads, hi-flow manifolds, hi-flow catalysts, and with other assorted items including exterior badging. Power now jumps up 75 horses and 44 lb-ft of torque. As tested, this brings this model to $46,865 including destination. Still a great value, and to top it off, none of these modifications will void your original manufacturer warranty. Just another reason Mopar mods make a lot of sense.

As much fun as the regular Challenger is, this Mopar Performance kit takes it to a whole other level, and that level is in the clouds. It’s all about stellar handling, amazing grip, and power on demand. Around the road course, we had the best time, and we haven’t even mentioned the exhaust note, which will embarrass any other vehicle on the road. That’s the sound of American power, and there’s nothing else like it. Period.

Mopar Drag Pak

Drag PakMopar Performance proves that Dodge gets it. And if the kits don’t prove it, the Drag Pak will. This is what Mopar was born for: creating a race version for the Challenger. It’s as close to being factory sponsored as possible. The Drag Pak for the Challenger can be had with either the first-ever supercharged 354-cubic-inch Generation III HEMI engine or a non-turboed 426-cubic-inch Gen III HEMI.

Not street legal, the Drag Pak is for those who compete in drag series, and it comes with race-calibrated features, all designed for the stress that drag engines are put through in a short time. At $99,426 for the naturally aspirated version and $109,354 for the supercharged model, when you factor in that this vehicle is ready to hit the track immediately, it may be the least expensive way to go racing right now. And no, we didn’t get to drive it, and yes, we’d love to have the chance!

2016 Fiat 500 Abarth

2016 Fiat 500 AbarthAs we planned earlier in the day, we waved to busloads of journalists heading to the airport before we hopped the shuttle to the autocross course. Sure enough, it was wide open, which meant our grin was also. Sitting there waiting for us was the 2016 Fiat 500 Abarth, a vehicle that truly understands the meaning of bang for the buck. Not much has been added for 2016: new exterior colors, Uconnect 5.0 with a 5-inch touchscreen radio, and a specially tuned six-speed automatic. The 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo puts out 160 horsepower and 183 lb-ft of torque — more than enough to squirt this lightweight rocket around the course. The steering is responsive, body roll is minimal, and it grips the road like a owl on a field mouse. Because the track was empty, we went around again and again and again, pausing only to laugh and shake our heads at how much fun this little car is, especially when you see that it gets 34-mpg highway and starts at a little over $22,000. There’s no question the Abarth has spent a lot of time hanging around its big brother Viper.

A_Pantone_VersionAs you can see, our time in Chelsea, Michigan, was well spent. Did we get to drive everything we wanted? Pretty much. The Charger Pursuit car was popular, and while we missed it this time, we drove it last time. And it’s been a while since we’ve been in the Dart, but we’ll schedule that for a test drive soon. We left the event more than satisfied that FCA is doing a great job creating products that reflect its respective brands, and that have the features, styling, and performance that customers want. To read more about the Ram ProMaster City, check out these reviews here and here. For a review of the Town & Country, follow this link. Interested in more about the Abarth? Check it out here.

Photography © Team Killeen and courtesy FCA.

Chrysler Upgrades Pentastar V-6 For Fuel Efficiency; Lack Of Direct Injection A Hint Of Future EPA Rules?

Chrysler Pentastar V-6

Chrysler Pentastar V6

Automotive engineers are very good at incremental improvements to existing technologies, and that skill will be much tested in meeting increasingly stiff fuel-economy rules between now and 2025.

For the 2016 model year, Chrysler has extensively re-engineered its Pentastar V-6 engine, a mainstay powerplant in the light trucks that comprise the majority of its sales.

From Jeeps to minivans to crossover utility vehicles to sedans, the Pentastar has to get more fuel-efficient to keep Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in compliance with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandates.

The changes to Chrysler’s core 3.2-liter and 3.6-liter V-6s include a higher compression ratio (from 10.2:1 to 11.3:1), two-step variable valve lift, improvements to the variable valve timing, cooled exhaust-gas recirculation, and a reduced weight due to a host of redesigned individual components.

The resulting engine produces 15 more torque at engine speeds below 3000 rpm, and fuel-economy improvements of 6 percent.

2016 Chrysler Town & Country

2016 Chrysler Town & Country

But Chrysler did not switch its engines from port injection to direct injection, or squirting atomized gasoline directly into the cylinders. That goes against the direction many automakers have moved, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and many others.

As laid out by industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid in a new post on his blog, Sam’s Thoughts, that’s because gasoline direct injection (known as GDI or DI) brings with it not only increased efficiency but also a new problem.

The undesirable byproduct of DI, which is also more expensive, can be soot produced by incomplete mixing of gasoline and air in the combustion chamber, especially when the engine is cold.

Some turbocharged cars with direct-injected gasoline engines can be seen with sooty deposits around their tailpipe, especially those in cold climates.

Chrome exhaust pipe

While EPA regulations on diesel engines have largely solved the soot issue–the current “Tier 2, Bin 5” standards in effect since 2008 essentially mandate diesel particulate filters that trap soot emissions–gasoline engines haven’t been subject to the same rules.

But that’s about to change.

Starting in 2017, the EPA will move to “Tier 3” standards that tighten limits on particulate emissions from all engines–meaning that gasoline engines in the U.S. may have to adopt the same particulate filters that diesels now employ.

Combined with potential EPA changes to fuel-economy ratings to make them more accurate for vehicles with turbocharged, direct-injected engines, Chrysler’s strategy of forgoing either technique for its mainstay V-6 may prove prescient.

It also saves the newly combined Fiat Chrysler company some development cash it sorely needs to continue updating and renewing its products, while its CEO Sergio Marchionne seeks a merger partner to spread those development costs over a larger production volume.