Dodge’s Journey is a good example of a carmaker not being satisfied with its work, with its own status quo.
How so? To look at the Journey you’d think it’s long in the tooth. On its face, that’s true. Journey joined the Dodge lineup 7 years ago and looks pretty much as it did then, when it was one of the first mid-size crossovers on the market, a blend of minivan and sport-utility vehicle.
But Dodge has kept improving the Journey year after year to keep it relevant as a low-cost option for folks needing to haul up to seven people along with their stuff, plus providing enough power and all-wheel-drive security to get them where they want to go.
This year, for example, Dodge has broadened Journey’s lineup of 10 models in 5 trims to include the Crossroad Plus model with leather seats and Dodge’s large 8.4-inch nav/radio screen. I tested a bright red Journey Crossroad Plus with AWD that started at $29,595 and after options ended up at $34,360. That’s at the lower end of pricing for mid-size crossovers with AWD. Continue reading 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD→
Remember full-size cars that were comfortable for five adults? Probably not, unless you’re of a certain age.
A few remain, the distinctive and elegant Chrysler 300 being one of the better efforts. First, it looks great with a big grille and chiseled lines that have only been somewhat softened around the nose for 2015 along with LED taillights added.
There are a variety of 300 models, but one feature, AWD, separates the big Chrysler from most other full-size cars. The bright metallic red test car was the sporty S version with AWD and a strong 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing. The V6 creates 300 horsepower and 264 ft.-lbs. of torque.
Acceleration is quick and responsive. Getting up to highway cruising speed is a breeze and the 8-speed automatic shifts easily and uses the engine’s power well. Sport Mode is standard on the S and it allows you to adjust the transmission, throttle and steering at the press of a button. Sport mode on means heavier steering feel, longer shift points and more responsive throttle. Those with a racier driving attitude will appreciate the change, others can pass on the S and go with a lesser 300 model.
Handling is decent, a little body lean in hard cornering and the rear-drive (normally) car pushes some in corners too, but then you probably won’t be driving it that hard most of the time. Continue reading 2015 Chrysler 300S AWD→
Funny, muscle cars came and went in the 1960s and early 1970s as gas prices soared and insurance prices became an issue for many buyers. Yet muscle cars made a strong comeback in the last decade, despite high gas prices and a shift toward “green” eco-friendly vehicles.
So here we are with a refreshed Dodge Challenger for 2015. Its nose and tail have been tweaked and its interior remade to try and work some Mopar magic on this market segment. Hopes are that THIS Challenger will steal sales away from the ever-popular Ford Mustang, itself remade for 2015, and Chevrolet’s Camaro.
Fiat gives Chrysler a fine mid-size car with new 200C
The former Chrysler 200 was so long in the tooth you may have wanted to nickname it Snagglepuss.
It was updated a couple years back by Fiat, after it snaggled Chrysler away from bankruptcy and the U.S. government. Mostly, that change in ownership has done nothing but help Chrysler’s various lineups, and the new Chrysler 200 again confirms that.
The midsize sedan, which rides on the Jeep Cherokee platform (see my interview with the lead engineer done at the Chicago Auto Show) so is available with all-wheel-drive, carries the rounded styling first seen on the sporty Dodge Dart. This is a handsome sedan with swept back rear quarter to give it both a modern and sporty profile. The tested C model with AWD tops the 200 lineup and its $30,195 starting price reflects that. This isn’t your great aunt’s old Chrysler 200 winter beater car.
The 200 comes in basic LX trim with a list price of $22,695 and in that form is front-wheel drive with a competent 184-horse MultiAir 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. A mid-level S model is available in all- and front-drive as is this upscale C model.
This C stands out due to its more powerful 3.6-liter V6 that features variable valve timing and delivers 295 horses and a torque rating of 262. Tires also grow to 18 inches and the interior is decked out with leather trimmed heated seats and a load of bells and whistles. The vivid blue pearl (bright metallic blue) test car ladled on three option packages to doll itself up and hit a rather optimistic $34,675, including a $795 delivery charge.
The car itself feels more modern and refined that past 200 models. The engine is strong and will get to highway speeds easily, even with four people aboard. This is a fine highway cruiser for the family and the giant 16-cubic-foot trunk will accommodate a load of luggage.
While the car feels strong, it doesn’t really jump from a stop as you might expect. It feels heavy despite a moderate 3,473 lbs. Its 9-speed (that’s right!) automatic transmission is designed to save gas, but not to put the car on a speedy trajectory, especially in city driving. The car is rated 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. I averaged a fine 24.2 mpg in about 75% highway driving and with up to four aboard. Continue reading 2015 Chrysler 200C AWD→
Originally I thought Chevrolet’s Cruze signaled that the giant automaker was back, back to its 1960s world of innovative, high-value, handsomely styled vehicles. Cruze may have been the beginning, but Impala really says that Chevy has arrived.
Since 1958 Impala has told folks that their neighbors have arrived, financially. It was pretty much the top of the line Chevy for a family. Oh sure, there was the Corvette, but that was for single guys or mid-life crisis guys. Impala was a loaded family sedan with a bit of styling flair, and sometimes even a sporty edge.
The 2014 Impala is all that in today’s crowded large sedan marketplace, but unlike many previous attempts to catch the competition, this Impala is top-shelf and maybe even a step or two ahead of some competitors.
Styling is crisp and attractive with a fastback style rear window and C pillar to give the car’s profile a swept back look. Folks noticed, and that’s not something Chevy has heard often in the past four decades. People weren’t sure what it was, asking if it were a Lexus and one suggested a Jaguar. Well, it does look inviting and muscular in profile with a clean nose and tail.
Under the hood? The tested 2LT model packs a 3.6-liter, direct-injection V6 that provides 305 horsepower and is linked to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic. Torque is strong and the car will dance up to highway speeds quickly and efficiently. There is a tad of engine noise, just enough to let you know Impala means business. Continue reading 2014 Chevrolet Impala 2LT→