2013 Dodge Dart

December 5, 2012 at 4:41 am

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Italian Immigrant Is Pretty Sharp, But A Few Degrees Short Of A Bullseye

2013 Dodge Dart

The 2013 Dodge Dart is the most visible manifestation of the still-new monogamous relationship between Chrysler and Fiat, the Pentastar’s savior from the depths of government-sponsored bankruptcy (or worse). If you’ll recall, one of the big problems pundits, management and government officials identified with Chrysler’s US lineup was its complete lack of competitive small cars.

Now would be a good time to mention that Dodge had a good thing with the original Neon. Not only did the little subcompact sell in conspicuously high numbers, it was also pretty fun to drive, especially in 150-horsepower ACR Coupe trim. In fact, so entertaining was the little two-door coupe, powered as it was by a dual-overhead-cam version of Chrysler’s 2.0-liter four cylinder, that it spawned its very own racing series.

The successful Neon got a redesign in the year 2000, and as has so often been the case, the Pentastar Crew didn’t do nearly enough to keep it competitive amidst a sea of Civics and Corollas, save the way-too-quick-for-its-own-good Neon SRT4, that is. The response to lagging market share? The Dodge Caliber, introduced in 2007. Suffice it to say that the Caliber was not the answer small-car buyers were looking for.

Enter the Dart. Is this compact the small-car savior Chrysler envisioned when it paired with Italy’s Fiat? Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading 2013 Dodge Dart

2013 Dodge Dart originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 04 Dec 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Drop Top Customs puts tops on Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, proceeds to drop them

December 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm

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Drop Top Customs Chrysler 300

Shocking, we know. We can’t imagine sawing the roof off a vehicle like the Dodge Charger SRT8 or Chrysler 300 would do the machines any favors, but we can certainly respect the gumption behind bringing more four-door convertibles into the world. That seems to be exactly what Drop Top Customs is into these days. The company has worked up a pair of Mopar sedans with their hard tops deducted. DTC says it does plenty of structural work under each vehicle to make it safe to drive with the roof removed, including the addition of a strut tower brace up front and a shock tower brace in the trunk.

Of course, hustling that big top up and down manually would be an arduous feat, so each car comes with an automatic folding soft top. There’s no word on how much weight the conversion adds to the recipe, but we wouldn’t expect the finished product to be a featherweight. Want more information? Head over to the Drop Top Customs site for the full skinny.

Drop Top Customs puts tops on Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, proceeds to drop them originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 02 Dec 2012 08:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Drop Top Customs puts tops on Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, proceeds to drop them

December 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm

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Drop Top Customs Chrysler 300

Shocking, we know. We can’t imagine sawing the roof off a vehicle like the Dodge Charger SRT8 or Chrysler 300 would do the machines any favors, but we can certainly respect the gumption behind bringing more four-door convertibles into the world. That seems to be exactly what Drop Top Customs is into these days. The company has worked up a pair of Mopar sedans with their hard tops deducted. DTC says it does plenty of structural work under each vehicle to make it safe to drive with the roof removed, including the addition of a strut tower brace up front and a shock tower brace in the trunk.

Of course, hustling that big top up and down manually would be an arduous feat, so each car comes with an automatic folding soft top. There’s no word on how much weight the conversion adds to the recipe, but we wouldn’t expect the finished product to be a featherweight. Want more information? Head over to the Drop Top Customs site for the full skinny.

Drop Top Customs puts tops on Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, proceeds to drop them originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 02 Dec 2012 08:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2013 Dodge Charger pays homage to its past with limited-edition Daytona package

November 29, 2012 at 5:15 am

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2013 Dodge Charger Daytona

The original Dodge Charger Daytona was a bullet-nosed, winged menace on racetracks and is an amazingly collectible classic car today, and Dodge is hoping to bring back some of that nostalgia with the 2013 Dodge Charger Daytona. Limited to just 2,500 units, this new Daytona adds a little more styling and exclusivity than the similarly named package brought to the sedan from the 2006 through 2009 model years. We saw our first glimpse of this new package earlier in the week, but now we get to see the car in all of its blue glory at the LA Auto Show.

Starting at $32,990 for the Charger R/T and $36,495 for the R/T Road & Track (yes, that name is more than a little redundant) models, the 2013 Charger Daytona will be instantly recognizable with its exclusive 20-inch wheels, black hood and roof graphics, a satin black grille and decklid spoiler. The Daytona will only be offered in four colors – Daytona Blue, Bright White, Billet Silver and Pitch Black – but all will get a Daytona Blue engine cover.

Inside, the Daytona gets unique embroidering, stitching and piping with the cabin wrapped in Nappa leather on the R/T Road & Track and cloth on the R/T. Dark brushed aluminum trim, bright Mopar pedals, a 552-watt Beats Audio System and an individually numbered dash plaque finishes off the interior. On the performance front, the car adds a high-speed engine controller, 3.06 rear axle ratio, paddle shifters and performance steering and suspension setups.

Scroll down for the official press release.

Continue reading 2013 Dodge Charger pays homage to its past with limited-edition Daytona package

2013 Dodge Charger pays homage to its past with limited-edition Daytona package originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 28 Nov 2012 14:08:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2013 Dodge Charger Daytona marks the return of the blue-blood

November 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm

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2013 Dodge Charger Daytona - overhead front three-quarter view, blue

A Daytona package hasn’t been available for the Dodge Charger since 2009, but for 2013, its coming back. For an extra $2,995 on top of the price of a 2013 Charger R/T or another $2,500 added to the price of a 2013 Charger R/T Road & Track, customers will get a limited-edition trim level set off with Satin Black hood stripes, black roof wrap and an R/T spoiler all riding atop 20-inch polished aluminum wheels.

There will only be 2,500 Daytona packages on offer, all naturally featuring Chrysler’s Hemi V8 with 370-horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque under a Daytona Blue engine cover. Only four exterior colors will be offered – Daytona Blue, Bright White, Billet Silver and Pitch Black – additional exterior notes being the Satin Black crosshair grille with vintage-look R/T badging, and the name “Daytona” applied to the rear quarter panels.

The cabin gets Daytona tweaks like Daytona Blue embroidery, stitching and piping on the seats, dark brushed aluminum trim, a Mopar bright pedal kit and a 552-watt, 10-speaker Beats Audio System. A dashboard plaque will let everyone know where you fell in the special line.

Prices work out to $32,990 for the R/T and $36,495 for the R/T Road & Track Daytona models. You can find out more in the press release below, and get a glimpse of your blue heaven in the high-res gallery above. We’ll have pics of the real thing from the floor of the LA Auto Show shortly.

Continue reading 2013 Dodge Charger Daytona marks the return of the blue-blood

2013 Dodge Charger Daytona marks the return of the blue-blood originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dodge Dart falls short of Consumer Reports Recommended, Caddy XTS and Lincoln MKS, too

November 23, 2012 at 3:41 am

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2013 Dodge Dart

The Dodge Dart, Cadillac XTS and Lincoln MKS all failed to earn a “Recommended” rating from Consumer Reports. When it came to the compact Dart, the organization’s testers thought the vehicle offered a quiet cabin, solid-feeling chassis and nimble suspension, but the new model ultimately fell short of the coveted rating due to powertrain issues. The institute’s reviewers found the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to be underpowered and noted “drivability issues” when the available turbocharged 1.4-liter four was paired with the optional dual-clutch transmission (some of our editors disliked it paired with the six-speed manual). CR also dinged the latter powerplant for sounding “raspy.” For what it’s worth, we think the forced-induction engine offers an excellent and playful exhaust note, but that’s just us.

As for the XTS, CR lauded the car for its luxurious cabin, but the vehicle’s experience was dulled by its finicky CUE infotainment interface. Overall, the big Cadillac scored much higher than its cross-town rival from Lincoln. While testers found the American luxury sedan to offer a quiet ride and quality fit and finish, they felt the MKS delivered a “cramped driving position, ungainly handling, uncomposed ride, and limited visibility.” Ouch. At the end of the day, both cars fell short of rivals from Japan, Germany and Korea. Check out the full press release below with more details, along with CR’s musings on the Chevrolet Spark and Lexus ES.

Continue reading Dodge Dart falls short of Consumer Reports Recommended, Caddy XTS and Lincoln MKS, too

Dodge Dart falls short of Consumer Reports Recommended, Caddy XTS and Lincoln MKS, too originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 22 Nov 2012 18:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup crowns winner as Dodge bows out of series [spoilers]

November 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

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Dodge is leaving NASCAR on a high note. The automaker snagged the 2012 Sprint Cup series championship on Sunday when Penske and Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag at the Ford EcoBoost 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The championship win marks the fifth such title for Dodge and the company’s first since 1975. That last championship victory came at the hands of none other than Richard Petty.

That’s a long time, but Penske has been waiting a spell for its first series win, too. The team first entered the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 1972 but never quite managed to seal the deal. In 1993, Rusty Wallace brought the team as close as it ever came: second place. But after overcoming a few mechanical issues early in the season, Keselowski and Penske stayed consistent enough to see themselves seeded fourth in the Chase. After taking the checkers at Chicagoland, Keselowski became an early favorite for the win, and his performance at Homestead-Miami sealed the deal. Check out the full press release below for more information.

Continue reading NASCAR Sprint Cup crowns winner as Dodge bows out of series [spoilers]

NASCAR Sprint Cup crowns winner as Dodge bows out of series [spoilers] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 19 Nov 2012 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chrysler to accelerate production of 2013 Ram and V6 engines

November 17, 2012 at 12:19 am

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Chrysler is adding a third shift at its Warren Truck plant to meet demand for the new 2013 Ram pickup. And with tight supplies of its Pentastar V6, the company is also boosting output at its Mack Engine plant.

The expansions will add 1,250 jobs and are part of a $238 million investment by Chrysler in the Detroit area. Warren’s third shift will begin work sometime in the spring, a Chrysler rep told Automotive News. Mack’s increased Pentastar production a could include both 3.6 and 3.2-liter engines.

The company says it also plans to invest $40 million in its Trenton Engine plant to allow for production of a 3.2-liter V6 as well as the Tigershark inline-four for the upcoming Jeep Liberty replacement.

Chrysler to accelerate production of 2013 Ram and V6 engines originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 16 Nov 2012 18:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Watch Jack Beckman’s NHRA funny car explode, still win race

November 10, 2012 at 7:53 am

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Jack Beckman's NHRA funny car explodes - video screencap

Jack Beckman is looking to wrap up his first-ever NHRA Funny Car title, and it appears an exploding car is not going to slow him down. Half-way through this qualifying run on Thursday, a spectacular explosion destroyed his car’s Dodge bodywork, engulfing Beckman in a ball of flames while traveling at almost 300 miles per hour. Fortunately, Beckman was not injured in the explosion (although he did lose an eyebrow from the fire) and he actually went on to win the race with a 4.117-second ETA at 273 mph, qualifying him fifth for this weekend’s race at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

Despite losing most of the car’s body and having a visor covered in oil, Beckman was able to deploy the parachutes and bring was left of his Charger funny car safely to a stop. In the video, you can actually see him shielding the fire from his face as he tries to get the car slowed down, and then once stopped, he hops out of the cockpit waving to the crowd. After the car comes to a rest, we get a good look at how underneath their funny car body shells, these racers actually resemble the classic rear-seat dragsters from the good ol’ days.

According to ESPN, the team has a spare body for the car and will be able to race. As for the missing eyebrow, well only time will fix that. Scroll down to watch the amazing video which includes a slow-motion look at the incident as well as an in-car view that shows exactly what Beckman saw.

Continue reading Watch Jack Beckman’s NHRA funny car explode, still win race

Watch Jack Beckman’s NHRA funny car explode, still win race originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Nov 2012 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Is Consumer Reports losing its sway? Are we all?

November 4, 2012 at 3:21 am

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2012 Honda Civic

Do the opinions of automotive journalists matter? For us, that may be a bit of transcendental self-examination, but for the consuming public, it’s a very real question. Is a potential customer of a new family sedan going to rely completely on Consumer Reports, or are they willing to go with their own gut feelings and neighbors’ recommendations?

Bloomberg has an interesting new report highlighting cars that are selling well in spite of not receiving high marks from Consumer Reports. One such vehicle is the 2012 Honda Civic, which has been largely derided by the automotive press. Yet sales of the Japanese compact are on pace to beat out vehicles like the acclaimed Chevrolet Cruze.

One criticism offered for CR’s methods is their approach of putting all types of vehicles through the same type of testing. The Chrysler Town & Country as well as the Dodge Grand Caravan were given low marks for their performance in the slalom-the same slalom in which sports cars are tested. How important is that in buying a minivan?

While cars from Korea and the United States are increasingly lauded by the automotive community, owners of brands like Honda and Toyota remain fiercely loyal. In a time when some critics suggest that “there are no bad cars,” customer loyalty and brand equity play a large part in the buying process. Korean and US automakers may be building some terrific vehicles now but the Japanese automakers have history on their side, and most buyers are still heavily weighing brand reputation in their decision-making processes.

It might be difficult convincing a consumer that the Civic is a substandard vehicle, just as it may be difficult to overcome someone’s preconceived notions that a given automobile is an inferior product just because of its badge. If, in fact, there are “no more bad cars,” then what’s the role of professional evaluators in the buying process? Hopefully it still resides in educating consumers on making the best buying purchase-as long as they’re still listening.

Is Consumer Reports losing its sway? Are we all? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 03 Nov 2012 14:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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