Posts from ‘Dodge’
There was a long period where the words sexy and sedan simply didn’t belong in the same sentence. Some might argue that the pair can describe classic-era Cords and Duesenbergs, but wouldn’t you still rather have the 2-door version?
Today, there are any number of sedans, even popularly priced ones, whose styling can be considered “sexy”—popping instantly to mind is the current Kia Optima. But that’s been a relatively recent transformation, and following are some of the cars that strike me as having paved the way.
If you weren’t car cognizant in the mid-1980s, you may not understand the revelation that was the Ford Taurus. Splashing into a sea of squared-off sedans, it introduced the “jellybean” profile quickly adopted by almost every other manufacturer. Although it was nice-looking and certainly trendsetting, “sexy” it wasn’t—at least not in base form. But that accolade could be given to the first high-performance SHO version, which, like the BMW 5-Series of a decade earlier, helped realign people’s stance on sedans.
Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants, so long as it is black.” For most of its production run, the Ford Model T was only available in black because black paint dried the fastest and it simplified production to have only one color. Today, BMW has broadened the choice of free colors to black and white on many of its models. If the customer wants something more colorful, that’s a $550 option. Jaguar’s new F-Type sports car has a standard black convertible top. A top of another color is a $600 option. British Racing Green paint, once the most popular choice for an English sports car, is now a $1,500 option on the F-Type.
For a price, cars offer a broad palette of paint colors, but interior choice is more limited. In the 1940s, most American cars offered a choice of tan or gray interiors. Kaiser-Fraser, the postwar challenger to Detroit, didn’t have the resources to develop a V8 engine, but they did shake up the industry by offering new fabrics in a wide choice of colors. Soon, Detroit was offering interiors in every color of the rainbow and a few that were unknown to nature. Today we have gone full circle, as most interiors are offered as just tan or gray.
Also check out Tom Appel’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983,” Ed Piotrowski’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998,” and Rick Cotta’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of…1974.”
In my senior year of high school, the auto industry was finally pulling out of the 1990s and moving away from all of the jellybean car designs produced during that period of time (*COUGH* FORD ASPIRE *COUGH*). While many other desirable cars were available, these were my favorites from my graduation year of 2002. Though I had to settle for driving Mom and Dad’s Volvo 240 sedan and station wagon (vehicles I learned to love and still do), these were the ones I lusted after. I put pictures of them on my bedroom wall and on the inside of my locker door at school to show the world that I was a car enthusiast, and had damn good taste in vehicles.
Also check out Tom Appel’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983” and Ed Piotrowski’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998.”
By my senior year at Riverside-Brookfield High School outside of Chicago, the auto industry was facing some dark days. Not only was horsepower plummeting due to emissions standards, but it was the first year that federal regulations forced manufacturers to tack on huge, girder-like protruding bumpers both front and rear in order for their wares to (supposedly) withstand five-mph impacts without damage. And they looked just as attractive as they sound.
So 1974 was noteworthy as kind of a double groaner to those of us smitten by the intoxicating appeal of internal combustion. And I suffered a historically longer and substantially deeper smittening than anyone else I knew.
But there were some bright spots.
Note: This report supplements Consumer Guide Automotive’s full report on the 2013 Dodge Dart, a compact car that starts at $15,995.
Test car came equipped with: 6-speed PowerTech automatic transmission, Technology Group, Premium Group, UConnect infotainment system, satellite radio, 17-inch polished aluminum wheels. Total MSRP with $795 destination = $24,695.
Powertrain: 2.0-liter 160-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive.
Acceleration: The main report says the 2.0/automatic model is “very casual off the line,” and I agree, though I don’t think it gets “out of its own way just fine.” “Adequately” is more like it. Our friends at Car and Driver report 0-60 mph acceleration at 9.2 seconds, but this tester felt closer to 10 seconds. Either way, such “performance” must be near the bottom of the compact-car heap. Midrange passing response is equally mediocre. The automatic only aggravates matters with tardy downshifts—some seem to take at least a second—a result of mpg-oriented programming that also has the transmission racing for top gear even at very light throttle. Thank goodness for the manual-shift facility, which can help compensate for the torque deficit and sluggish downshift response, but family cars shouldn’t require stirring an automatic for max go-power.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Dodge Durango.
Dodge’s large 7-passenger crossover is getting a makeover for 2014, and this Chrysler division is showing it off at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
On the outside, the vehicle doesn’t change a whole lot. The wrap-around rear taillights are new, and the front fascia gets a tweak. The updates are more substantive on the interior, highlighted by a new instrument panel and reworked audio/climate/infotainment interface that sports up to an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
Durango’s roster sees some tweaks as well. Base SXT, top-line Citadel, and performance-minded R/T models return. For 2014, the new Limited version replaces last year’s Crew. Another sporty model, called Rallye, joins the lineup, and it slots between the SXT and Limited.
Engines largely carry over. Standard on the SXT, Rallye, Limited, and Citadel is Chrysler’s “Pentastar” 3.6-liter V6. In the SXT, Limited, and Citadel, it produces 290 horsepower. The Rallye gets a small bump to 295 on account of a freer-flowing exhaust. Standard on the R/T and optional on the Limited and Citadel is Chrysler’s 360-horsepower 5.7-liter V8, which includes cylinder deactivation as a fuel-saving measure. New for 2014, all Durango models get an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional across the board. Maximum towing capacity remains tops among crossovers at 6,200 pounds with the V6 and 7,400 pounds with the V8.
Chrysler’s Ralph Gilles is a busy guy these days. He is both the president and CEO of the SRT brand and Motorsports and the senior vice president of Product Design. Consumer Guide recently sat down with Ralph for a conversation about the relaunch of the Viper and the SRT brand in general.
Consumer Guide: It seems like the new Viper has moved upscale with this new generation. Is that where that market is going? Is there still a place for a raw, bare-bones sports car?
Those of us who were already car nuts by the 1970s lived through a dismal era in which our faith was badly shaken. Prior to that time, the combined effects of annual styling changes and the unbridled running of the horsepower race ensured that every fall brought another wave of automotive excitement. And then came 1971.
At first, it was sort of justified: Okay, we can’t continue to poison our young with the lead in gasoline, and if taking it out necessitates slightly lower compression ratios—with a commensurate drop in horsepower (sob)—then so be it. But then came 1972.
This time, it was exhaust emission standards that were to blame; well, that and the decision to go from “gross” to “net” horsepower ratings. (Some manufacturers tried to soften the blow by including both, but in most cases, those of us who’d memorized them all knew that even the bigger number was down.) Furthermore, many cars were unaccustomed “reruns” that looked nearly identical to those of the year before. The downward spiral had begun.
Most automakers have aftermarket parts divisions, but few put theirs as front-and-center as Chrysler does. At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler’s Mopar brand was out in force, with a separate section set aside and plenty of wares on display. For Dodge, SRT Viper, Fiat 500, and Jeep fans, it’s kid-in-a-candy-store time. Check out the pics below. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The following article, written by Consumer Guide Publisher Tom Appel, first appeared in the “2013 Chicago Auto Show Official Show Guide.” Thanks to the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, producers of the Auto Show, for allowing us to share the text again here.
Per any number of reporting agencies, some time in the last year the average transaction price of a new vehicle crossed the $30,000 line.
Thirty years ago, the average price of a new vehicle was about $11,000, which works out to roughly $21,000, inflation adjusted.
So, why do cars and trucks cost so much more, in constant dollars, than they used to? The easy answer is this: We’re buying a lot more vehicle than we used to.
Not only is every car and crossover we now buy packed with airbags, side-impact and rollover protection, and countless other safety features, we as a nation have gotten used to luxury.
In 1983, most new vehicles weren’t equipped with power windows and door locks, not to mention leather seats, premium audio systems, and navigation systems. Plus, the mix of vehicles in the U.S. now includes a heavy dose of crossovers and SUVs, which typically cost more than the simpler sedans that they replaced.