Category Archives: Dodge

2015 Dodge Charger SXT (1070)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2015 Dodge Charger SXT Premium 4-door sedan. Over the history of the automobile changes have had a great deal to do with the improvement of the industry. One of the newest alliances is Fiat and Chrysler Group. Referred to as FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) the influence of Fiat is good right off the git-go. Fiat is ranked 7th in the world behind Toyota, GM, VW, Hyundai, Ford and Nissan.

In this lineup of major manufacturers of autos the most impressive is Hyundai that is experiencing rapid rise in acceptance of their products. But only time will tell the final story in who will remain at the top of the heap.

General Information: Parts – US/Canadian 67%, Mexico 20%, Engine – Mexico & Transmission – USA. It is assembled in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Classification is Large. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey and SRT Viper

Handling & Performance:
Smooth ride generally and that is aided by a new 8-speed automatic transmission. It is a rear wheel drive model that I tested but an All-Wheel is available. It is fast and like most muscle cars will appeal to performance car lovers. Some say the RWD is guilty of a bit of over-steer but I didn’t notice anything I couldn’t handle.

Rain Brake Support is featured and may improve braking performance in wet conditions. It will periodically apply a small amount of brake pressure to remove any water buildup on the front brake rotors. It only functions when the windshield wipers are in the LO or HI mode, it does not function in the intermittent mode. When Rain Brake Support is active, there is no notification to the driver and no driver interaction is required.

Styling:
Exterior and interior has taken on some of the flair brother John (auto expert and Ferrari owner) expects of Ferrari class cars. Not so hard to understand since this car is inspired by Ferrari, which is owned by Fiat. Most agree it is much improved over previous models. The seats are soft and comfy and I felt up to a long ride. There is ample legroom in the front and rear and they’ve provided average trunk space in class. Overall – Nice car.

Fit and Finish:
Very good.

Cost:
Affordable and good for a large sporty sedan

Conveniences and comfort:
The basic features are well covered but I always recommend some options including back up camera, blind spot and cross path detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and ‘Lane Keep Assist’. According to NHTSA’s data 37% of all transportation fatalities in USA are caused by running off the road.

These features to me provide a reduced stressful driving experience since the sensors continue to think when our attention drifts or we’re distracted. They usually come with a host of other features you may or may not be interested in.

Consumer Recommendation:
All the competition noted are close in all respects. Ford Taurus is also close but not listed because Ford does not make their product available to the press for review so I can’t include in my review. I can only be fair if I drive the competition.

Recognized Competition:
Dodge Charger SXT $30,000, Chevrolet Impala $33,000, Toyota Avalon $33,000, Nissan Maxima $35,000.

Good News:
Good pricing, 31 HWY mpg, attractive comfortable ride.

Bad News:
n/a

Standard Equipment:
3.6 liter 300 horsepower V6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes with rain brake support, stability and traction control, electric power steering, hill start assist, tire pressure monitor, auto headlights, keyless entry and go with push button start and remote start, sentry key theft deterrent system, 8.4” touchscreen, Uconnect, AM/FM/SXM/Bluetooth with integrated voice command, 6-speakers, 2-12 volt power outlets, auto dual zone climate control.

Gas Stats:
$2.25/ Gal avg. January 17, 2015
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

19 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:
MSRP $29,995.

2015 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus (1067)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT. This is a car that draws attention and that is a testimony to this retro era category of muscle car. We knew back in the 50s and 60s which cars were special in design and would be destined to be sought after in the future.

Retro cars or what is referred to as classic or vintage cars are just that – car designs that have stood the test of time. Today’s test car looks the same as it did in 1968. People who grew up with the car revere it for nostalgia but those born after 1968 like the design for the same reasons folks liked it over 40 years ago. It is just as good looking today to our youth as it was to us back then. At a Christmas eve gathering of family and friends the teens to 30-somethings gathered around the Challenger admiring it.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane of the cars of the 1950s and 1960s just take a trip to Cuba, because that is all they have. For the past 55 years, locals have played the role of Dr. Frankenstein, pulling components from old Fords, Chryslers and Chevrolets, and even creating custom parts to keep their vintage cars on the road.

General Information: Parts – US/Canadian 61%, Mexico 27%, Engine – Mexico & Transmission – USA. It is assembled in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Classification is Midsize. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey and SRT Viper

Handling & Performance:
Fast, fun and it touches the senses with that deep rumble of the exhaust reminiscent of muscle cars of those early days. Today’s cars are built with more interest in quiet, and in fact they muffle it to near silence. And that’s okay because the rumble then was more a reaction to performance to improve power and fuel economy. Necessity was the mother of invention then as it is today. But this 2015 model of the Challenger gets 30 highway MPG where that 1968 would have been doing great to get 7-10 MPG. At least that is my recollection… but at 20 cents a gallon for gasoline you could afford to waste a little petro.

Styling:
Vintage, classic, retro and they didn’t have to do a thing to improve the look. Of course it is constructed of less steel and more plastic and likely will not rattle ever. The insulation will absorb the loud exhaust and road noise so some of the experience will be lost. Now that is a good thing.

Fit and Finish:
Fit and Finish is great because assembly is easy these days and a great improvement over cars of the past. The reason, of course, is because computers make the components fit perfectly. Nice.

Cost:
Priced as I had imagined.

Conveniences and comfort:
The list of standard features is long and mostly all those things that I would want on my personal car. Some features that were optional on this test vehicle that I would want include Adaptive Cruise Control, forward collision warning and blind spot detection. Those groupings will add about $1,800 to the price tag.

Consumer Recommendation:
The real comparison of those listed below centers around the first three. These are classic muscle cars and own the category in this class. The others are good cars too and a great deal of fun to drive.

You can add Cad CTS Coupe too at about the same pricing and they are super impressive cars to drive. They are elegant, comfortable and fast but significantly more money.

Recognized Competition:
Dodge Challenger SXT Plus $30,000, Chevrolet Camaro $30,000, Ford Mustang $30,000, Hyundai Genesis Coupe $26-34.000, Cadillac ATS Coupe $38-50,000, Infiniti G Coupe $40-53,000.

Good News:
Great classic styling with good fuel economy, comfortable ride, and nice features.

Bad News:
n/a

Standard Equipment:
3.6 Liter 305 horsepower V6 VVT engine, TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, performance brakes, sport suspension, stability control, traction control all speeds, power steering, hill start assist, rain brake support, ready alert braking, 18” alloy wheels, cruise control, rear park assist system, rear back up camera, keyless enter and push button start / stop, theft deterrent system, speed sensitive power door locks, power windows, front, side and side curtain front and rear air bags , 7” display, Uconnect 8.4 A AM/FM/SXM/BT, Sirius XM satellite radio with 6-speakers, 276 watt amplifier, integrated voice command with Bluetooth, Media hub for SD, USB, and Auxilliary outlets, heated and ventillated front seats, heated leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, power 6-way driver and 4-way lumbar adjust, dual zone climate control, auto headlights, fog lights, daytime running lights, LED aplit tail lights, rear spoiler, power mirrors with manual fold away.

Gas Stats:
$2.65/ Gal avg. December 27, 2014
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

19 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:
MSRP $29,995

2014 Dodge Charger R/T Plus 100th Anniversary Edition (1050)

Overview:

This week I had the opportunity to test the 2014 Dodge Charger R/T Plus 100th Anniversary Edition. Fortunately I was able to give it a good test that revealed the strengths of this car that otherwise would not have been as obvious tooling around town alone. I was invited on assignment to the United We Stand conference with Sarah Palin and one for my most favorite people in the world, Dinesh D’Souza who’s books and Documentaries of 2016 and America (Imagine the world without her). They are the most watched documentaries ever. The bad news is that the IRS dogs were sic’d on Mr. D’Souza for exposing some myths about current and past events. I guess that’s what you refer to as Politically IN-Correct speech. The administration want to throw him into prison. Wow, what is happening to our first amendment right to free speech?

So back to the trip to Phoenix Arizona and the wide open road. What a delight as a highway car. Smooth and robust is just the beginning of the experience that answered my uncertainty of this Chrysler product. Was it just a Muscle Car? But it passed with flying colors. Friend Richard was reluctant to make the journey but he became a convert too. This is a car worth your consideration too.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 62%; Mexico 15%. It is assembled in Brampton, Ontario, Canada USA, Classification is Midsize. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey and SRT Viper.

Handling & Performance:

370 horsepower these days is getting rarer especially with the cost of fuel. But it was impressive here too at 25 highway MPG. Thus when you have a need for acceleration it is there right under your foot. It was stable yet a soft and super quiet ride at the same time. Steering was sure and the feel was perfect which translates into a less stressful driving experience. I have a Ford F350 crew cab and long bed truck and I have to say the steering is a disappointment and tiring on the nerves in that Ford.

This was a rear wheel drive model and although you can opt for AWD all-wheel drive I have no problem with the performance afforded with traditional RWD cars. I rather like that “Old Feeling”. Yes, it did break away a few times and it brought back memories.

Styling:

Simply beautiful. Great job and kudos to the design team at Chrysler.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent. Richard commented on the great looking dash and in general the assembly was pretty near flawless.

Cost:

$30 grand is pretty fitting and I take no exception on the pricing.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the appropriate bells and whistles and more new stuff. The seating was good for me with well-padded leather seats and on a long driver that is super important. The Bluetooth was simple to set up and clear as a bell communication.

One feature I thought unnecessary is the Remote Start but Phoenix was 107 degrees and it was nice to turn on the car from the air conditioned house so the car would be cool when we got in. Cool… literally.

An interesting addition to some cars is the Ready Alert Braking system. It anticipates a possible emergency stop when the gas pedal is release quickly so the braking system is alerted and the control pump engages to set brake pads against the rotors in order to decrease the time required for full brake application. What will they think of next? I’m glad you asked. They have added Rain Brake Support that is a system to apply a small amount of brake pressure to remove any water buildup on the front brake rotors when the windshield wipers are on. Is that interesting or what?

Consumer Recommendation:

100th anniversary is impressive. These guys have been around at least twice as long as most competitors and senior citizens can appreciate that fact … that is if you are 100 or more. I’m not there yet but I have always had a love affair with the automobile, so it was love at first sight for this Candy Apple Red beauty. The company calls it High Octane Red Pearl Coat Exterior paint. Whatever they call it, it is still Candy Apple Red to me. When a car brightens your day or week in my case you get attached. You are surely going to fall in love with this car too.

There is a lot of competition in this class because it is so popular but you will want to test drive the Charger R/T.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Charger R/T $30,000, Acura TSX $31,000, Audi $30,000, BMW 3-Series $33,000, Buick LaCrosse $34,000, Cadillac ATS $33,000, Chevrolet Camaro $29,000, Chrysler 300 $31,000, Honda Accord EX-L $30,000, Hyundai Azera Ltd $35,000, Kia Optima SX $28,000, Mazda 6 $25,000, Mercedes Benz CLA $30,000, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO $35,000, Nissan Maxima $31,000, Subaru Legacy 3.6R Ltd $33,000, VW Jetta $27,000, Volvo S60 $33,000.

Good News:

Classic Muscle car performance coupled with decent fuel economy, well appointed and very pretty.

Bad News:

Dick said the reclining seat was uncomfortable. Picky picky picky.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter 370 HP V8 HEMI VVT engine, 5-speed automatic trans, front side and side curtain front and back airbags, 4-wheel ABS performance disc brakes, stability and traction control, hill start assist, rain brake support, ready alert braking, performance suspension, tire pressure monitor, information center, keyless enter and go push button start / stop, remote start system, climate control dual zone, 8-way driver power seat, 4-way passenger power seat, heated front seats, rear 60/40 split folding seat, rear armrest with cup holder, Uconnect 8.4 CD/DVD/MP3 touch screen display, audio jack input for mobile devices, remote USB port, 6-premium speakers, Sirius XM satellite radio, leather wrapped steering wheels and shift knob, tilt and telescope steering column, 18” polished aluminum wheels and auto headlights.

Gas Stats:

$3.65 / Gal avg. September 14, 2014

www.fueleconomy.gov
For more information.

15 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $30,495.

2014 Dodge Dart Limited (1047)

Overview: 

This week I had the opportunity to test the 2014 Dodge Dart Limited midsize sedan. I have heard praises from a friend who owned a Dart in the 60s. That was a time when many were woo’d by Ford and GM cars that were simply much cooler. Chrysler at the time was not cool. Dart first came on the scene in 1960 and has been offered in much of the world over most of the years since.

The decades of the 60s and even 70s were kind of ho-hum for me as to my feeling of car designs in those years. But it was the adventuresome years of the 1950s that car makers were daring and concept cars then were introduced from fertile imaginations. Today it is all about profit and what the consumer should buy, not so much for cars they would be wowed by. I think people were so pumped by the end of the war and hope truly abounded in all hearts. We’d been given a new lease on life and we were going to make the most of it.

It was then that we also accepted living with plastic in every facet of our lives. Today it continues as we get cars from plastic minds devoid of any real imagination. I guess I don’t like the computer generated life that has replaced the wild original thoughts and designs of actual human beings as they toyed with artful creations before computers. Pretty soon, I fear, future generations will simply buy holograms and imagine they’re driving while contemplating their navels as entitlement payments are deposited into a computer chip in the brain that continues to shrink from lack of use. I love Henry Ford’s famous quote that is appropriate here – “Thinking is the hardest work, that’s why so few people do it”.

Okay, a little cynical and an existential journey to depart from my usual rational view of the world. I’m dredging up memories of my youth in the 50s when I actually attended those car shows that displayed futuristic concepts that were mimicked the TV shows of the day like Flash Gordon.

Remember Flash Gordon?

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General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 62%; Mexico 15%. It is assembled in Belvidere, IL USA, Classification is Midsize. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey and SRT Viper.

Handling & Performance:

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The Dart on the other hand is far more practical. So to my point, should things always be practical?

Styling:

Dart is contemporary. In other words pretty much the same as most others. However, it is more competitive than I can ever remember it being.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. I was never a fan of Chrysler products in my youth because it just wasn’t cool. Chevy and Ford were the choice of most back then when the perception of cool was more important than cost and utility. It just had more to do with appearances. But mom owned Chrysler products and they just seemed cheaply constructed or at least that was the rationale of the youth I knew. We aren’t in Kansas any longer Todo. And neither is the auto industry.

Cost:

Today’s cars are an unimaginable value for the dollar generally and this Dart is no exception. It just reminds me every time I test a different car that it is simply true that you can own a new car for a couple of hundred dollars a month.

Conveniences and comfort:

Everything I need in a driving experience is basically fulfilled in this Dart, and at a price most can afford.  Another feature that isn’t thought of by many is the ERM, or Electronic Roll Mitigation”. You’ll never know you have it but will be glad you do if radical maneuvers begin to cause the car to roll. Such devastating moves are no allowed through electronic sensors that will cut power, apply brakes or in other words take over certain functions from the driver to prevent roll over.

Another feature that necessarily is new is how cars are entering the 21st Century and this Dart is iPod conscious – or has a facility for connectivity to your iPod.

Consumer Recommendation:

This Dart has inherited so much from the Daimler Benz’s ownership of the Chrysler and that would fundamentally change the product for the good. I encourage you to include this car in your next search. It isn’t a stretch to say this will enjoy acceptance of a lot of people in the near future, and that will help it retain value.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Dart $23,000, Chevrolet Cruze $24,000, Chrysler 200 $23,000, Honda Civic $23,000, Hyundai Elantra $22,000, Kia Optima $22,000, Mazda 3 $26,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $20,000, Nissan Sentra $20,000, Subaru Impreza $22,000, Subaru Legacy $26,000.

Good News:

Good energy at a price many can afford, I found it comfortable and nice looking.

Bad News:

A couple of riders thought it was a bit noisy inside.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 184 horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front, side and side curtain front and rear airbags, and supplemental rear seat side airbags and driver and passenger knee airbags, LATCH child safety system, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, traction control, roll mitigation, keyless push button start and stop with proximity keyless entry and remote start, rear backup camera, Uconnect AM/FM/ Nav 8.4” touch screen display, Sirius XM satellite radio, Garmin GPS navigation, voice command Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted audio controls, climate control with dual zone control, heated front seats, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, power 6-way driver seat, fog lights, 17” aluminum wheels, power heated mirrors, power mirrors with turn signals and power sunroof.

Gas Stats:

$3.75 / Gal avg. August 24, 2014

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

23 City and 35 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,995.

2013 Dodge Journey SXT Blacktop (997)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Dodge Journey SXT Blacktop small SUV. The base SXT front wheel drive is bargain priced with a smaller 4-cylinder engine that doesn’t do more than 1 mpg better than the V6 (standard on the Blacktop model), so if your budget permits I suggest you opt for the added power. All option items noted below as standard are for the model I tested and adds about $6,000 more than the base model priced at about $23,000. The base SE model is $19,495 and of course should be considered.

It has seating for 7 and really is a good SUV consideration for families on a budget and the built in Bolster seats is great for the kids. Dodge tells us it is the most affordable 7 passenger Crossover and it is hard to argue with that statement. It was introduced as a 2009 model year in late 2008.

General Information: 

Parts from the US / Canada 35%; Mexico 57%; Engine – Mexico, Transmission – USA. It is assembled in Toluca, Mexico. Classification is Small SUV. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Nitro and SRT Viper.

Handling & Performance:

Crossovers, of course, are still higher profile than a minivan but lower profile than a typical off road vehicle. Thus they do handle pretty well with the benefit of good visibility and a softer ride. I tested the 273 horsepower V6 but from past tests the base model with the 2.4 liter 174 hp inline 4-cylinder is only adequate.

Styling:

Conventional crossover SUV design.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Base cost is $23,000 for the SXT with 173 horsepower 4-cylinder engine and without the customer preferred options. With the options noted the cost is $29,000.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good features with comfortable seating and a comfortable ride. I was annoyed with a touchy accelerator pedal but by the end of the test period I was able to adjust. The large touch screen display will be appreciated as it is simple and well laid out. The most notable convenience these days is the push button start/stop that is super convenient in my opinion. It has well designed visors that give perfect coverage of side window glare. The radio is easy to tune and they must be listening since more and more I’m finding traditional knob tuning is coming back.

Consumer Recommendation:

This field of competitors is closely matched in price and features so price won’t be as much a consideration as brand confidence, which is considerable for all Chrysler products these days. The size is perfect for most uses and because it seats up to 7 it is a great family car. It is a FWD and although it doesn’t get as good fuel economy as I would like, it is livable at 25 mpg highway.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Journey $23,000, Chevrolet Equinox $24,000, Ford Edge $28,000, GMC Terrain $26,000, Honda Crosstour $27,000, Hyundai Veracruz $28,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $29,000,      Kia Sportage $19,000, Nissan Murano $28,000, Nissan Xterra $23,000, Subaru Outback $23,000, Toyota RAV4 $23,000, VW Tiguan $23,000.

Good News:

Comfortable seating and ride, roomy, good visibility and a perfect size for most uses with 3-rows of seating for up to 7, and is fairly priced.

Bad News:                         

Fuel economy only average.

Standard Equipment:   

3.6 liter 263 HP V6 engine, 6-speed automatic trans., six airbags, LATCH child system, 4-wheel power ABS brakes, stability control, roll mitigation, traction control, cruise control, keyless entry  push button start, power windows and locks, theft deterrent, tire pressure monitor, variable intermittent wipers, audio jack input for mobile devices, leather seating steering wheel and shift knob, 19” wheels with gloss black aluminum paint, climate control, 8.4” touch screen display, Uconnect SAT/CD/DVD/MP3/SD card input, power 6-way driver seat, 4-way power passenger fold flat seat with storage, security alarm, auto headlights, overhead console, remote start, rear backup camera, park sense assist, 2 nd row seats with child booster seating, heated steering wheel, Bluetooth with voice command.

Gas Stats:

$3.89 / Gal avg. August 17, 2013

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,250.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2013 – An Automotive Love Affair

2013 Dodge Durango SXT RWD (975)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Dodge Durango SXT rear wheel drive SUV. If you ever wondered what the most popular vehicle on the road is, look at the list of competitors below, and then think back or look around you on the highway and you will see that about 40% are SUV’s or light trucks.

Such popularity is what pushes production because consumers want them so badly car makers make lots of them and the demand pushes up the price and therefore added incentive for manufacturers to produce the most profitable vehicle in their line-up. And the interesting thing is that it is simply a pretty looking upscale truck.

General Information:

It is assembled in Detroit Michigan USA. Classification is Standard 2 wheel drive SUV. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Nitro & Viper.

Opinion and Observation:

Revisiting travel safety:

I’m guessing you have wondered how safe it is to drive vs. flying. Flying is the safest mode of transportation when you look at the statistics.

1.     In the US, each year there are about 40,000 deaths in automobile accidents vs. about 200 in air transport.

2.     Fatality rates per passenger mile traveled is illuminating in that each year in the US 1 out of 6800 drivers dies in an auto accident. The rate for airline passengers is 1 in 1.6 million.

Automotive Innovation:

History of Auto innovation: 1898 – First drive shaft invented by Louis Renault; 1901 – New York first state to require license plates that were called “Number Plates”. France did it in 1893; 1903 – Windshield wipers patented; 1885 – first patent for seat belts; 1890 – Canadian Thomas Ahearn invented the first electric car heater; 1901 – invention of disc brakes by British inventor Frederick William Lanchester; 1920 – Power steering invented by Francis Davis.

Handling & Performance:

Large but powerful 269 horsepower overcomes any performance issues. If you park underground you may, like me, duck instinctively. And parking can be a challenge for most of us in that it is oversized.

Styling:

Do you think these guys were the ones who designed all those big black SUVs that are used for Government convoys for the president, his entourage and all the secret service agents?

Fit and Finish:

Very good but no bullet proof glass or armor of any kind. But I’d still choose to be in one of these in the event of an accident over almost anything on the highway (except an 18 wheeler).

Cost:

Very competitive in class. There are smaller SUVs on the market but not many larger and for those who need 7 seats, the cost is good.

Conveniences and comfort:

Most of what I would want is included in the standard features but at the end of the day if I could afford some extra options they would include an entertainment center if I had kids, and the Trailer Tow Group IV if I had a boat or trailer etc.

Consumer Recommendation:

If price is not a consideration you have a lot to choose from. If it is a consideration the field is reduced substantially and if value is utmost in your mind I have a few suggestions.  Hyundai, Kia, Jeep and Dodge jump to the top of my list.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Durango $29,000, Acura MDX $43,000, Buick Enclave $38,000, Chevrolet Tahoe $40,000, Chevrolet Traverse $31,000, Ford Edge $28,000, Ford Explorer $38,000, Ford Flex $30,000, GMC Yukon $41,000, GMC Yukon Denali $56,000, Honda Pilot $29,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $24,000, Hyundai Veracruz $28,000, Infiniti FX $45,000, Infiniti JX $41,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $28,000, Kia Sorento $24,000, Land Rover Range Rover Sport $60,000, Lexus GX 460 $54,000, Lincoln MKZ $35,000, Mazda CX-9 $30,000, Nissan Murano $30,000, Nissan Pathfinder $29,000, Toyota 4Runner $31,000, Toyota Highlander $29,000.

Good News:

Large, and the advantages outweigh the negatives if you have a need to move a lot of folks.

Bad News:

Large, and that makes it difficult for parking, etc., not so good fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter 290 hp V6 engine, 5 speed automatic transmission, stability control, tire pressure monitor, power steering, trailer sway damping, remote keyless entry, sentry key theft deterrent, cruise control, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist, front side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child anchor system, air conditioning with 3-zone auto temp control, power windows, second row 60/40 fold and tumble seats, third row seat, audio with XM satellite (1 year subscription), Uconnect, CD/MP3, six speakers, audio jack input for mobile devices, steering wheel audio controls, tilt / telescoping steering column, removable rechargeable light.

Gas Stats:

$3.75/ Gal avg. April 30, 2013

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

16 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,495.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2010 Dodge Challenger SE

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Dodge Challenger SE 2-door coupe that is super popular. It simply looks great and although the V6 won’t burn up the road you can opt for the R/T with a 5.7 liter 372 horsepower V8 engine or the SRT8 with a 6.1 liter 425 horsepower V8 engine.

Opinion:

If you drive CA-14 as I do I’ll bet you find the need to dodge potholes. It’s very distracting and dangerous. I have a suggestion for our friends in government. Cut county jobs by 10% and Cal Trans could fill all the potholes from here to the moon. Cut State jobs by 10% and we could balance the budget and fill all the potholes to Mars.

What’s more insulting is that recent reports show that we pay salaries to those employed in government jobs one and a half times those salaries paid to those in productive jobs. You know, the ones that produce real GNP.

Meanwhile, in spite of the imbalance of salaries, we still have the potholes.

Handling & Performance:

Nothing special but all good.

Styling:

Retro and nearly perfect. It is perhaps my favorite of the Chrysler flashback cars that I never owned. My favorite of favorites back then was the 1957 Chevrolet 2-door hardtop but driving this Challenger brings back lots of good memories. It must also do the same for lots of other folks because it always gets the looks. It is simply a timeless styling standout.

Fit and Finish:

Chrysler quality is an obvious and the best transformation from old to present day production for this car maker. Good job guys. And that observation is from me and I was not a supporter in years past. Mom owned Chrysler car so they couldn’t be all that bad I guess.

Cost:

Chrysler cars and trucks are generally very good values. Competition is very close in class grouping.

Conveniences and comfort:
Everything you need, but if you want to upgrade and add Nav, upgrade in paint, leather, special wheels and upgraded audio you’ll need to pop for about $9,000 more.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Challenger $23-41,000, Chevrolet Camaro $23-34,000, Ford Mustang $22-38,000, Ford Shelby GT500 $49-54,000, Hyundai Genesis Coupe $36-40,000, Infiniti G Convertible $44-47,000, Infiniti G Coupe Mazda RX8 $27-32,000, Nissan Z $30-41,000, Pontiac G6 $19-32,000.

Good News:

Special retro styling, value pricing.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy that is little better than the big V8 models.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 250 horsepower V6 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, front side and side curtain airbags, Electronic Stability program, traction control, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, touring suspension, remote keyless entry and sentry key theft deterrent system cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, speed sensitive power door locks, air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows, power 8-way driver seat, 60/40 folding rear seat, audio with CD/MP3 4 speakers and fold away power mirrors.
Gas Stats:

$3.03/ Gal avg. May 11 ‘10
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,735 (with options on test vehicle – $31,400).

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

 

2013 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus (962)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus. The perception of those I have talked with about this car boiled down to a simple “resale value” is not as good with Chrysler products as it is with other brands. Well I’m not sure that is true but rather a perception based on past years where Chrysler was a struggling company as one of the big Three in America. Perhaps the perception is based on the fact that the initial cost has been less than other brands for many years.

Then an interesting thing happened – new management came aboard and saved the company – borrowed money to do it and paid it back. Then Daimler Mercedes-Benz took over in 1998 through 2007 and infused not only money but management and design people who took the company to an all new level. That was a great thing that revitalized Chrysler and it is now a healthy company under the management of Chrysler Group LLC headquartered in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Consider the clamor over new car companies like Hyundai and Kia, as an example, and consider Chrysler has a depth of experience since its incorporation in 1925.

Great new designs and quality and engineering launched the company back into the market in an impressive way. So – perceptions are not always based on good vision and this Challenger is a good example of the quality of this American Icon of cars.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 75%, Other 25%. It is assembled in Sterling Heights, MI U.S.A., Classification is Midsize. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Nitro and Viper.

Handling & Performance:

This will bring back the feeling of muscle cars of the past that have been dressed up with new technology that is a part of the advancements made by all car makers collectively. The result is there is no perceptible difference in how well cars in class perform and handle. In particular this Challenger rumbles in a voice that signals its power to impress.

Styling:

You either love the unique Chrysler design idea or you don’t. And apparently there are a lot of folks who like the distinctive look of these automobiles. Jay Leno was one of the first to own a Challenger and has several in his Garage. Chrysler has been one, if not the only one, of the car companies to dare to look different.

Case in point – I was testing a Japanese made car and an observer came to me and asked why cars today all look alike. That is NOT true when it comes to Chrysler products. I’m sure many will agree that is a good thing in America. Ford and GM do the same and I suggest that is the exceptionalism of the American Spirit – “To be different” because they are the pioneers who lead and don’t follow.

Fit and Finish:

Plastic like all cars today because that is most cost efficient but nicely done as the materials get better every day.

Cost:

It is aggressively price competitive in class.

Conveniences and comfort:

All features are well placed and easy to use.

Consumer Recommendation:

Muscle cars are a relatively small field and this is where GM, Chrysler and Ford have maintained American Heritage cars of the golden age when our love affair with the automobile was born. If this is your thing the Challenger is a bit of history with far more sophistic power plant and other technical advances in driving safety with such developments like stability and traction controls and a super braking systems. This is a fun car to drive that excites the muscle car lover.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Challenger RT $30,000, Chevrolet Camaro $33,000, Ford Mustang GT $35,000, Ford Shelby GT500 $54,000, Hyundai Sonata $26,000, Hyundai Gensis Coupe $33,000,  Infiniti G Coupe $40,000, Nissan 370Z Touring Coupe $37,000.

Good News:

Unique, muscle car sound and performance that follows all at the same time it delivers good fuel economy for a performance car.

Bad News:

There is a perception of some consumers that Chrysler products have less resale value.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter 375 horsepower HEMI V8 engine, 6-speed manual transmission, traction and stability control, hill start assist, 4-wheel disc Anti Lock heavy duty brakes, performance steering and suspension, tire pressure monitor, keyless entry, sentry key with theft deterrent, cruise control, climate control air conditioning, power 6-way driver and 4-way lumbar adjustment, front side front and rear airbags, leather wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with audion controls, Uconnect audio AM/FM/CD/MP3 with 6-speakers and serius XM satellite radio including 1-year subscription, power windows and locks, 12 volt outlet, 18” aluminum wheels with all season performance tires.

Gas Stats:

$4.19 / Gal avg.  Feb. 11, 2013

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

15 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,995.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2013 Dodge Avenger R/T (958)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Dodge Avenger R/T that not only looks good, it is fast and fun to drive sporty sedan. I can’t say I like the car without saying it has an awful lot to do with its recent marriage to Daimler / Mercedes Benz. We’re all better for the relationships we have even when it breaks our hearts. The experience is worth it and after all isn’t the experiences we live for?

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 75%, Other 25%. It is assembled in Sterling Heights, MI U.S.A., Classification is Midsize. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Nitro and Viper.

Opinions and Observations:

We all have opinions and observations. What are some of yours?

Recently I noted while driving down the freeway there is good news and bad news with traffic these days. The good news is that traffic is tolerable; the bad news is that 2.4 million people are out of work in California and that explains why there are fewer cars on the highways.

But I’ve got to ask why we are putting in a Bullet Train to San Francisco instead of improving local transportation routes. Ok, so I know the reason – because more people wanted it and voted for it than opposed it. Don’t you just love how other people spend your money when they get a chance to?

And finally, I’m guessing those who voted for Brown & Company in Sacramento are the very ones who are out of work. Sadly those same folks will pay more for that system of transportation of the “Few” who will use it than those who are working. Reason:percentage wise lower income folks always pay more than higher income folks as a percentage of income. Regressive taxes like Sales Tax is a great contributor to the disparity.

And don’t be confused with where Sacramento gets the money. The important fact is that ALL taxes are going up to support those bums in government.

Alert:

(According to Triple A)

Watch this video from Fox Business News. If your CAR IS OLDER THAN 2012 Avoid using the new E15 Gas in your car. It is just starting to show up at gas stations and can cause damage.

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2000862202001/

Handling & Performance:

This is really a fun car to drive and brings back memories of the muscle car days of old and the exuberant days of youth. It has a solid, tight feel, and as Steve Martin said in one of his movies that paired him up with a very young girl friend – “I’m young again!”

That thought alone will sell lots of Avengers.

Styling:

Retro and that’s a nice touch of class of designers who also appreciate the golden days of the auto industry.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

I test drove the R/T but the competition below is the base models that more closely match the SE model with an MSRP of $19,000.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good complement of standard equipment.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you are into yesteryear with improved everything, you probably have owned a Rod rebuilt for today. This is a bit of nostalgia that appears to appeal to most everyone and the really good news you get the performance coupled with far better fuel economy.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Avenger $25,000, Buick Regal $29,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22,000, Chrysler 200 $19,000, Ford Fusion $22,000, Honda Accord $22,000, Hyundai Sonata $21,000, Kia Optima $21,000, Mazda 6 $21,000, Nissan Altima $22,000, Subaru Legacy $20,000, Toyota Camry $22,000, Toyota Corolla $16,000, Volkswagen Jetta $16,000.

Good News:

Decent fuel economy muscle car, great features for safety and convenience, comfortable ride.

Bad News:

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter VVT 283 HP V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front side curtain and seat mounted airbags, stability control, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction control, security alarm, wheel mounted speed control and audio controls, front and rear stabilizer bars, auto headlights, remote start, Uconnect DVD MP3 and HDD 40GB Hard Drive / 28 GB available, 6.5” touch screen display, audio with Sirius XM and 6 speakers, leather steering wheel, power 8-way driver seat, heated front seats, climate control, power windows and locks, Bluetooth streaming audio, remote USB Port, tire pressure monitor, tilt and telescoping column, 60/40 rear seat with trunk pass through, l18” Rallye aluminum wheels, fog lights, power heated mirrors and trunk lid spoiler.

Gas Stats:

$3.65 / Gal avg.  Jan. 14, 2013

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

19 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP R/T pricing $25,495.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2012 Dodge Charger R/T (Road & Track) (927)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2012 Dodge Charger R/T (Road & Track) that has evolved a bit in design and I rather like the new bold grill and the body sculpture added on the side. But its sibling “Challenger” continues to be my favorite Retro car from Chrysler, along with the PT Cruiser of course.

And not to digress too far on the PT Cruiser, I would just like to say I think it was a mistake to abandon the model from the lineup. Sales fell from being Chrysler’s #1 seller to 10% of those high sales years’ numbers in the final year. Abandon is the watchword as Chrysler simply were squeezing out all they could from the popularity fully knowing giving nothing back in improvements would lead to the consumer turning away from buying. OK, so you can’t rule out the fact that as a model declines in sales, coupled with a troubled industry it signals the end to the consumer as well. There are no secrets and people quickly sense the impending death of the model. The downward spiral picks up speed and sales are closely in step with the companies telegraphing of its intent.

Back to the Dodge Charger…

General Information:

Parts content – US/ Canadian 63%, Mexico 15%; Engine & Transmission – Germany. It is assembled inBrampton, Ontario, Canada Classification is Large Cars. Cars from Dodge: Avenger, Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Nitro and Viper.

Opinion:

Gas prices – well the good news is that gas prices are coming down but the bad news is that it is political with the election only 4 months away at this writing. If Obama has his way he is promoting lower gas prices up to election as there are no other reasons for the rapid drop.

Why is this so obvious? Simple – he has stated his intent is that gas prices go to $10 per gallon in order to force you and me to move away from cars like this Charger and to high mileage little putt-putt’s – and he will tell us which ones are acceptable. It’s his green agenda and that is obviously contrary to the public good and what the public wants and needs.

Headlines on Politico recently: “Chu: DOE working to wean U.S. off oil”. Steven Chu was scolded by congressmen for his 2008 comment that “…gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe”. That folks is where Obama will go if he is given the chance. Think about that and the last time you filled the tank and it cost $100 plus. . . and when Obama achieves his goal of gas price increases to Europe prices that tank fill up will go to $200. Don’t believe it? I drove 2,500 miles through much of Europe and prices were $8-10.00 per gallon.  Brace yourself you are about to get screwed again.

Handling & Performance:

Charger delivers a really smooth ride and the “Crest Test” I do on all cars I review turned out to be surprisingly impressive for a large car. The feel is solid and controlled in the corners. Some might say you can take the curves easily at 30 mph over the suggested speeds, but, of course, I would never do that. With the HEMI, 370 Horsepower is wonderful and equally as impressive as the ride and handling. However, performance is great, but the cost in fuel consumption will sober you right up. There is a little ECO (Economy) light that comes on when you are being good but I got tired of looking at that and when driving in my usual way the light was seldom seen again.

Styling:

There has been a nice progression in the style changes but it hasn’t gone too far afield from the original and has retained the distinctive look and the statement it makes, and that is why heads turn.

My research of consumer opinions can be summarized by one particular older couple who said they would fight for who gets to drive it. They mentioned that they feel young driving the car. True enough! It has that ‘unique’ look that turns heads and is reminiscent of youthful driving days when muscle cars were so loved.

Fit and Finish:

Very good job. KUDOS to all those responsible from design to assembly.

Cost:

More than I thought it would be, but it is competitive in class, and depending on how you will use the car you may not want most of the Options. All of them will add about $9,000 to the MSRP.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the necessary good stuff is included in the standard equipment pricing. However I particularly like the Adaptive Cruise Control (smart Cruise) “Option” and it is worth the added cost to me. I think you’ll love it as well.

Consumer Recommendation:

Determine if you will drive this car for performance or not in which case fuel consumption will not be an issue. If it will be a casual driver you can do without most if not all of the options.

Recognized Competition:

Dodge Charger $30,000, Buick Lucerne $30,000, Cadillac CTS $36,000, Hyundai Sonata $21,000,Kia Optima $20,000, Mazda 6 $20,000, Nissan Maxima $32,000, Chrysler 300 $28,000, Ford Taurus $27,000, Acura TL $36,000, Toyota Avalon $33,000,Chevrolet Impala $26,000, Lexus ES 350 $37,000.

Good News:

Great styling, smooth powerful ride with great road hugging handling.

Bad News:

Not a commuter with increasing gas prices. (See Opinion on this subject).

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter 370 Horsepower V8 HEMI engine, 5-speed automatic trans with auto-stick, front side and side curtain airbags, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, stability control, traction control, sill start assist, tire pressure monitor, color display for nav, audio etc., keyless enter and go, remote start system, climate control. Options: red pearl paint ($500), R/T performance Group ($4,000), Driver Confidence Group like blind spot detection, back up camera etc., ($995), Adaptive Cruise ($925), Navigation Uconnect SIRIUS with traffic service ($995), Super Track Pak like performance steering sport suspension and HD brakes ($400), Power sunroof ($950).

Gas Stats:

$3.73/ Gal avg. June 18, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

16 City and Highway 25 MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,995 with options $39,000.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair