Claremore, Oklahoma, United States
My younger brother bought a Dodge Dart earlier this summer. It's a basic SXT, in Maximum Steel Metallic, with the 2.0-liter engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and not a whole lot else. Unfortunately, at the time, the Dart was one of the few cars in the compact class I'd never driven. I didn't know a lot about it, and therefore, didn't have a lot to say when he bought it. I think the words "based on an Alfa," popped out when I first saw it.
As it turns out, he's grown quite fond of the dark gray sedan, so it was with some degree of enthusiasm that I paid him a visit in this bright-orange Dart GT. I was excited to see what it was about the Dart that he enjoyed so much, despite my tester featuring a different engine, transmission and a lot more tech. After a week with the car, though, I must say: I don't quite see what all the fuss is about.
For nine years, Diesel Power magazine has run the Diesel Power Challenge, this year's grindfest being "a week-long torture test that features seven events, nine trucks, 8,000 horsepower, and nearly 15,000 pound-feet of torque." The road to being crowned "the most powerful truck" starts with a dyno run, and then continues through the completion of a CDL-style obstacle course, an eighth-of-a-mile drag race while towing a 10,000-pound trailer, a quarter-mile drag race without a trailer, a fuel economy test in the mountains and finally a sled-pulling test through a 300-foot-long packed-mud pit.
What kind of trucks get into such a fight? Last year's winner, for instance - who upgraded his truck this year to prove he didn't "luck into the win" - drives a 2008 Ford F-250 Super Duty with a 6.4-liter Power Stroke V8 upgraded with a custom intake, Elite Diesel triple turbos and a two-stage nitrous system. Another competitor has a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 powered by a 5.9-liter Cummins inline-six, upgraded with Garrett turbos, dual-stage nitrous, a seven-inch exhaust stack and twin fans built into the bed to cool the Sun Coast Omega transmission. The numbers on that truck: 1,255 horsepower, and 2,063 pound-feet of torque at the wheels. Naturally, as the image above might suggest, things don't always end well.
You'll find all five videos covering this years challenge below. A scene in the dyno video sums it all up perfectly: a competitor leaves his nitrous on too long and the crew is treated to some ominous poppings, he leans out the window, throws both hands up and shouts, "Amer'ca!"
Not wanting to let Jeep get all of the SUV attention for the 2014 model year, Dodge is unveiling a refreshed version of its Durango at the New York Auto Show. Teased in this image, all we can really tell about the 2014 Dodge Durango is that it will be getting Dodge's "racetrack" taillights similar to the Charger and Dart.
The chrome or painted strip currently between the Durango's Zorro taillamps have been removed to allow for a full-width LED array with "DODGE" lettering displayed more prominently above the license plate pocket. Parent company Chrysler also promises that the updated Durango will add "several new class-exclusive features," but stops short of saying what those are. Earlier reports suggest that among the changes, buyers will be able to look forward to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which ought to improve the three-row SUV's fuel efficiency.