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Chrysler rolls out some big guns
Challenger, Ram show themselves off to media, with new technology for coming model year
Posted By JIM KENZIE
The Brantford Expositor



Chrysler recently invited just about every automotive journalist on the continent to its proving grounds near Chelsea, about an hour west of Detroit, to spend a day finding out what is on tap for the coming model year.

The most significant 2009 newcomer we could drive was the Dodge Journey, a mid-size crossover with loads of value and a terrific price point. This model has been on sale for a month or two now, and is selling strongly in a tough retail market.

The Dodge Challenger is the poster child for Dodge. The handsome, retro sports coupe competes in a low-volume segment against Mustang and the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro, so it won't have a marked effect on profitability.

A handful of 2008s were sold, all top-of-the-line SRT8 versions. The full range of 2009s will soon be arriving at showrooms.

A quick lap of Chrysler's handling loop indicated that this is a very well worked-out car -- not surprising given that it is based on the excellent Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger/ex-Dodge Magnum platform, which retains a lot of DNA from former owner Mercedes-Benz.

With a big 425 horsepower 6.1 L Hemi V8, a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed auto transmissions (mine was an auto), great seats and excellent road dynamics, this will be the car that keeps the car guys happy.

If launching a hot sports coupe into today's market doesn't sound like the best possible thing to do, then dropping a brand-new full-size pickup into the same milieu looks even worse.

But even if the big truck and SUV market is down 30 points, it is still a huge market. And the new Dodge Ram has improved aerodynamics and more efficient powertrains to try to get the most out of a litre of fuel.

The bold exterior styling that's been a Ram hallmark is further strengthened, and great pains were taken to improve the interior ambiance and increase the storage areas. There are 42 of them; good luck finding them all.

Still on the efficiency front, both the big Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUVs gain a full two-mode hybrid version this year. The key is a transmission which incorporates two big electric motors that can either augment the output of the gasoline engine, or propel the vehicle on their own, to speeds of about 30 km/h.

Combined with the variable displacement Hemi V8, this system should improve economy by 25 per cent overall, and more like 40 per cent in the city, according to the company.

And because vehicles like this use a lot of fuel, high percentage gains of this magnitude actually save more litres of fuel than similar gains on already-efficient vehicles do.

This magic transmission is the product of a joint venture between the former DaimlerChrysler, BMW and General Motors. Starting from a project already underway at GM, the troika shared costs and brainpower to develop a better system than any of them could have done or afforded on their own. Exactly the same box is being fitted to the new Chevy Tahoe hybrid, and to an as-yet unnamed BMW model sometime later, although the gasoline engines and supporting hard-and software are unique to each company.

The Ram pickup will also go hybrid in 2010.

Some of the more intriguing technological advancements these days aren't in big stuff such as engines and transmissions, but in comfort, convenience and safety items.

Chrysler joins the increasing crowd in offering a blind spot warning system on (so far, only) the minivans, whereby wide-angle radar sensors let you know if a vehicle is running beside you in either adjacent lane.

This of course is totally irrelevant, a million-dollar solution to a zero-dollar problem -- as you all surely know by now, adjust your side-view mirrors properly and there are no blind spots.

The new Rear Cross Path feature, a Chrysler exclusive for the moment, warns you of vehicles that either are or might soon be approaching behind you when you are reversing in a parking lot, seems to have more upside, especially as it is offered so far only on the big rear-view-compromised minivans.

And an active transfer case and front axle disconnect system on Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger four-wheel drive models completely and automatically disengages the front wheel and axles when in rear-drive mode, thereby reducing friction and improving fuel economy.

SOURCE in Full

 

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I still don't think they have design and quality up to par yet. Their designs are boring, i.e. the Dodge Journey. And Chryslers/Dodges have really boring and bad quality interiors. There is really no Chrysler product I would ever buy unless if it came from Jeep.
 

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I still don't think they have design and quality up to par yet. Their designs are boring, i.e. the Dodge Journey. And Chryslers/Dodges have really boring and bad quality interiors. There is really no Chrysler product I would ever buy unless if it came from Jeep.
Agreed. GM has done a far better job than Chyrsler, when it comes to interiors. And
as you stated, designs are rather boring at Chrysler. I don't see the design that
really captivates me, and says " gotta have" on it.
 

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I still don't think they have design and quality up to par yet. Their designs are boring, i.e. the Dodge Journey. And Chryslers/Dodges have really boring and bad quality interiors. There is really no Chrysler product I would ever buy unless if it came from Jeep.
I really don't have a problem with their designs..I actually like a lot of Dodge's exterior designs..(and the interiors are getting better).

The problem I have is the obvious one...they are showing off a Full size truck, RWD sports/muscle car, and focusing on features for mid to large SUV's and minivans....what about the should-be-coming updates an features for economy cars that seemingly everyone (especially the media) is clamoring for? I'll include myself in that category....show me a small car with safety features and a near class leading fuel economy that will be in the market before the upcoming Cobalt replacement and you may have me as a customer. As it is..I'm probably going to forget about this article in 2 minutes.
 

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I still don't think they have design and quality up to par yet. Their designs are boring, i.e. the Dodge Journey. And Chryslers/Dodges have really boring and bad quality interiors. There is really no Chrysler product I would ever buy unless if it came from Jeep.
I'd buy a Chrysler Pacifica in a heartbeat ....
 

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I really don't have a problem with their designs..I actually like a lot of Dodge's exterior designs..(and the interiors are getting better).

The problem I have is the obvious one...they are showing off a Full size truck, RWD sports/muscle car, and focusing on features for mid to large SUV's and minivans....what about the should-be-coming updates an features for economy cars that seemingly everyone (especially the media) is clamoring for? I'll include myself in that category....show me a small car with safety features and a near class leading fuel economy that will be in the market before the upcoming Cobalt replacement and you may have me as a customer. As it is..I'm probably going to forget about this article in 2 minutes.
Last time I looked, trucks and SUVs are still outselling or keeping up with most other segments, so why wouldn't they mention them? Once the knee-jerkers awake from the doom and gloom that the greenies and media have been painting, they'll see there is still a very large and profitable market for full-size cars and trucks/SUVs. I'm more interested in what companies are doing to improve the full-size market (trucks/SUVs/cars) as I will be in the market again next year.
 

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It's almost comical just how out of touch these products are. The crossover might have some relevance but the Challenger and Ram?

Ouch.

I liked the throwaway line about how the Challenger won't sell well or make much money. Thank God for that. Thank God this $25 - $45K car won't make any money for Chrysler. Good.

The sports luxury market better make money - else why even have it?
 

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Dodge needs a new design language
 

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The sports luxury market better make money - else why even have it?
Don't you think the Challenger has been generating enough positive buzz to be worth the slight "expense" anyway?

The halo car seems to work, otherwise it would have been abandoned by everyone long ago.
 

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Maybe with some good sales of the Ram, Chrysler can afford to put some money into a revamp of the Avenger/Sebring and the Caliber.
 

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I really don't have a problem with their designs..I actually like a lot of Dodge's exterior designs..(and the interiors are getting better).

The problem I have is the obvious one...they are showing off a Full size truck, RWD sports/muscle car, and focusing on features for mid to large SUV's and minivans....what about the should-be-coming updates an features for economy cars that seemingly everyone (especially the media) is clamoring for? I'll include myself in that category....show me a small car with safety features and a near class leading fuel economy that will be in the market before the upcoming Cobalt replacement and you may have me as a customer. As it is..I'm probably going to forget about this article in 2 minutes.
There's a big difference in not having a problem with them and absolutely loving them. I love the G8, the Charger is so-so. I love the Malibu, the Avenger looks like a car they just had to get out to market. I love the new Fiesta from Ford, the Caliber is the ugliest car on the road. I love the new lamdas and the Ford Edge, the Journey looks like another car they just had to get out to market, it actually looks like it could be from the 80's its just that boring!
 

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I'd buy a Chrysler Pacifica in a heartbeat ....
Why??? Do you have no taste? You would rather buy a Pacifica then an Edge, Traverse, Outlook, Enclave, or Acadia? You make no sense!

Why don't you line up to get a PT Cruiser while you're at it! ;)
 

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It's almost comical just how out of touch these products are. The crossover might have some relevance but the Challenger and Ram?

Ouch.
Ummm....yeah, it was this design cycle time for the new Ram. What did you want Chrysler to do? They can't shelve a terrific product for 6 mos simply because the market has gone soft. They have supplier contracts, tooling in place, and the old stuff went out of production some time ago.

I liked the throwaway line about how the Challenger won't sell well or make much money. Thank God for that. Thank God this $25 - $45K car won't make any money for Chrysler. Good.

The sports luxury market better make money - else why even have it?
I think you'll be surprised at how well the Challenger sells. Let's face it, the gas mileage isn't much different than a midsize to large sedan with the V6, and that's what the vast majority of people buy anyway. It's only the rare few individuals for whom these cars are toys that buy the top-of-the-line V8s anyway, and they don't really care about the price of gas for the 2500-5000 miles a year they'll drive it.
 

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The halo car seems to work, otherwise it would have been abandoned by everyone long ago.
Kind of like the Viper?
 
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