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Dodge Dart getting hatchback variant... sort of

Thu, 25 Apr 2013 14:20:00 EST

In other parts of the world, Fiat builds and sells a version of the Dodge Dart called the Viaggio, and it appears that in addition to the current sedan bodystyle, a new hatchback version of the car is also in the works. Autocar says that the general manager for China's Guangzhou-Fiat joint venture, John Burton, has confirmed that a new Viaggio hatchback will be revealed by the end of this year before it goes on sale in early 2014.
The Viaggio will soon be joined by the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, which in China will be called the Liberty Light, at the Guangzhou-Fiat plant. While the idea of a Dodge Dart hatchback might be enough to enable most of us to forget about the Dodge Caliber, a North American variant doesn't appear to be in the cards. We reached out to Chrysler PR boss Rick Deneau, and he offered a succinct: "No plans at this time."

Chrysler Group moves around execs in wake of recent departure

Tue, 16 Apr 2013 15:45:00 EST

Chrysler is busy shuffling executives around in the wake of Ram head Fred Diaz's departure. The automaker has named Reid Bigland (pictured, right) as Diaz's successor in the role of president and CEO of Ram, though Bigland will continue his duties as the head of US sales and the president and CEO of Chrysler Canada. Bigland first came to Chrysler in 2006 from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, so the guy knows a thing or two about trucks.
Meanwhile, Timothy Kuniskis will take over as president and CEO of Dodge. Previously, he served as the head of Fiat in North America and has been with Chrysler in one capacity or another since 1992. His old title now falls to Jason Stoicevich, who will also continue to work as the director of the automaker's California Business Center. Finally, Bruno Cattori will take over as the president and CEO of Chrysler Mexico.
Diaz left his position to take over as a divisional vice president of sales and marketing with Nissan. You can read the full press release on the Chrysler personnel changes below for more information.

Travis Pastrana signs with Dodge for another year, brings partner Bryce Menzies [w/video]

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 12:56:00 EST

Dodge and SRT Motorsports announced that the Dodge Dart will be returning for its sophomore season of the Global Rallycross Championship with a two-car team fielded by Pastrana Racing. Travis Pastrana drove his GRC Dart to victory lane in the fourth race of the car's inaugural season, and his race team is looking for even more success with the addition of off-road racer Bryce Menzies behind the wheel of the second car.
The 2013 GRC season kicks off on April 21 in Brazil with plenty of dirt-spewing, ramp-jumping action. Scroll down for a video from the cars' main sponsor, Red Bull, and a press release from Chrysler.

Chrysler recalling over 200k vehicles across its brands

Wed, 10 Apr 2013 10:15:00 EST

With more than 200,000 units across six separate recalls and almost all of its brands, it appears that Chrysler has officially jumped headfirst into the recall pool this month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued three official recalls for the automaker, and The Detroit News is reporting that the automaker itself has announced three more.
The biggest of the recalls applies to about 120,000 Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300 models for 2011 and 2012 due to faulty wiring harnesses for the seat-mounted side airbags, which could lead to these airbags not deploying in the event of a crash. A little more than 60,000 two-wheel-drive versions of the 2007-2008 Dodge Nitro and 2008 Jeep Liberty SUVs are being recalled due to a heat shield that could cause the driveshaft to break, which if that isn't bad on its own, could then hit underneath where the airbag sensor is mounted, causing the airbags to deploy. Wrapping up NHTSA's recall notices, about 20,000 Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass models for 2012 are also being recalled due to a problem with the fuel tank transfer tube that could lead to the vehicle stalling. The LX car recall campaign is going into effect this month, while the other two will start next month - all three notices are posted below.
In addition to the official NHTSA recalls, The Detroit News is also reporting that Chrysler is recalling more than 16,000 Ram trucks and a small number of Dodge Dart sedans. Around 6,500 2013 Ram 1500 trucks will be recalled due to an improper adjustment of the parking brake cable from the factory, while 7,000 Cummins-powered 2013 Ram Heavy Duty trucks are being recalled due to an engine cover that does not have as much heat resistance as it is supposed to. Finally, a total of 46 Dodge Dart sedans are being recalled due to a problem with the brake calipers and/or parking brake.

2014 Dodge Durango bows with eight-speed auto, updated looks [w/video]

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 15:31:00 EST

Dodge has significantly updated its full-size Durango for the 2014 model year, giving the seven-passenger hauler a fresh look and a well-rounded boost of competitive features as it enters its fourth year in the showroom.
Cosmetically, it is hard to miss the revised front end with projector-beam headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, "floating" crosshair grille, a taller front bumper and a new lower fascia. The rear end of the facelifted Durango has been redesigned with the automaker's now-signature LED "racetrack" taillamps and resculpted rear fascia. All of the wheels are new too, with 18- and 20-inch options for each trim level with a variety of factory finishes.
Inside the cabin, buyers can select the automaker's latest Uconnect infotainment system with a full suite of infotainment features and connectivity accessed through an 8.4-inch touchscreen. Other optional goodies include a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seating and a Blu-Ray player capable of running unique programs on the twin individual rear monitors.

2014 Dodge Durango leaks ahead of NY rollout

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 16:00:00 EST

Even though Chrysler will reportedly discontinue the Dodge Durango after the current model's lifespan - said to be around 2016 - that isn't stopping the automaker from improving its full-size, three-row SUV. The vehicle won't debut at the New York Auto Show until tomorrow, but images are already leaking out ahead of the embargo lift, and they show that the 2014 model is getting even more aggressive styling to go with more technology inside and out.
Dodge limited its early press shots of the new Durango to just the R/T trim level, but this new look adds a meaner look to this model with more dramatic projector-beam headlights along with a "floating" crosshair grille and a restyled fascia. At the rear of the Durango, LED racetrack taillights show a family resemblance to the Charger and Dart, while a new rear fascia adds to the styling while also allowing for an integrated trailer hitch.
On the tech side, the instrument panel looks to have been redesigned to include a standard seven-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) gauge cluster, and it also appears as if Chrysler's well-liked UConnect system has been updated with the 8.4-inch touchscreen found in other Chrysler vehicles. The 2013 model's conventional console shifter has been replaced by a rotary knob for gear selection, suggesting that there are transmission changes afoot as well. We'll have more details when the silks slide off this big boy tomorrow, so stay tuned.

2014 Dodge Durango teaser reveals new 'racetrack' taillights

Fri, 22 Mar 2013 16:00:00 EST

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.

2013 Dodge Challenger V6 recalled for fire risk, owners asked not to drive

Sun, 17 Mar 2013 21:20:00 EST

Chrysler has issued a recall for the V6 version of the 2013 Dodge Challenger (as pictured above in 2012MY) over the possibility of a wiring harness that could short circuit and lead to a fire. Owners of these V6 Challengers built from November 2012 through January 2013 are being urged to contact dealers immediately and, in the meantime, not to drive their cars or park in or near any buildings.
Chrysler estimates around 2,500 potentially affected Challengers are in owners' hands, while another 1,900 are still sitting on dealer lots. The total number of recalled vehicles is 4,459.
So far, Chrysler says that seven fires have been reported - none resulting in injuries. The company is instructing vehicle owners to contact their dealer to find out if their vehicle is included in the recall, but owners can also find the build date information of their vehicle by checking the label in the driver's door jamb.

Chrysler slows minivan production, hasn't built VW Routan this year

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 08:25:00 EST

Chrysler has slowed production of its Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans this week, Automotive News reports. The Windsor, Ontario plant will cut its three shifts from eight hours each to four hours each in an effort "to align production with market demand," a Chrysler spokesperson told AN. Chrysler also builds the closely related Routan minivan for Volkswagen at its Ontario facility, but has not built a single example thus far in 2013.
Sales of Chrysler's minivans fell 15 percent for the first two months of 2013, and a large part of that has to do with the 26-percent drop of the Grand Caravan alone (the T&C was only down by one percent). According to Automotive News data, as of March 1, Chrysler had an unsold inventory of 24,713 Town and Country models and 18,547 Grand Caravans - a 69- and 43-day supply, respectively.
"No sense running full speed now, then have a lot of vehicles sitting around a few months down the line," Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson told AN. Full production is expected to resume again on March 18.

2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee

Tue, 12 Mar 2013 14:58:00 EST

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I fell in love with this car. It was starting down a nearly straight entrance ramp at 15 miles per hour when I buried the throttle. In a moment, I was thrown back into my seat as the big SRT8's engine came to life with commensurate sound, fury and force, bringing me up to 75 mph in what felt like two blinks of an eye. This thing feels so much quicker than its 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque would lead you to believe. And mashing the right pedal never, ever gets old.
But beyond sheer speed, I found a whole lot to like about the Charger SRT8 during my week with the Pitch Black test car here in Detroit. And while the whole Super Bee kit isn't really my style, it's really easy to overlook those badges for a package that offers so much for so little.
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