AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Dodge is bringing a touch of style to the seven-passenger vehicles in its lineup. Starting a little later this year Grand Caravan, Durango and Journey buyers will have the option of ordering a unique “Blacktop” package on these vehicles, which adds a healthy dose of design flair without breaking the bank.
Rumors are brewing that Chrysler may be considering dropping their Dodge Avenger within three years in order to focus on the better-selling Chrysler 200 sedan – which is built on the same platform as the Avenger.
Head of the Dodge brand, Reid Bigland, recently said “”Chrysler Group will likely consolidate around one midsize car in the future.” It’s almost a no-brainer move, with Chrysler being able to lower marketing and development costs by focusing on a single model. It also removes the risk of cannibalization of one model’s sales.
US sales of the Avenger rose 26-percent last year to 64,023 but 200 sales reached 87,033. Unfortunately both models’ sales still lag behind the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu.
[Source: Automotive News]
Set to make its first public appearance at the New York International Auto Show later this month, Mopar has revealed its Dodge Avenger rally car showing off its new relationship with Italian aftermarket parts supplier Magneti Marelli.
Based off of a stock 2011 Dodge Avenger Heat, the combination of Italian aftermarket parts and American muscle makes for an intriguing rally car. Magneti Marelli’s expertise in European rally competition clearly shows in the finished product.
With the rising interest of rally racing in America, Mopar’s Avenger should garner plenty of attention with its blend of European and American flair. The Avenger has been lightened 200-lbs from its factory form thanks to a gutted/race interior accented by lightweight carbon fiber components. Mopar equips the Avenger with a full eight-point roll cage for safety while Magneti Marelli put in a helping hand with a carbon fiber hydra-graphics center stack and fully programmable slim racing display with shift lights and alarm multi-color LEDs.
Under the hood, a 3.6L V6 Dodge Pentastar powerplant can be seen along with a traditional Mopar cold-air intake and cat-back exhaust with Magneti Marelli tips. The motor is mated to a standard six-speed 62TE autostick transmission and power has been upped to 300-hp.
Brakes and suspension were obviously upgraded on this rally machine, with Mopar/Magneti Marelli teaming up to create a 14.25-inch front rotor upgrade while the rear features 13.5-inch rotors. The car is lowered 1.5-inches on 18-inch wheels by Mopar and Magneti Marelli.
Dodge says the car has been given a full track shakedown, although no announcement has been made about a racing program – nor is one expected.
GALLERY: Mopar Avenger Rally Car
Sure there’s some new styling cues at the front and rear, but basically it looks a lot like the 2010 model. Then we had a chance to see the interior and it changed our perceptions. When Ralph Gilles told us about how well this new model handles, we actually wanted to get behind that new wheel.
Let’s face it, Chrysler can’t just replace everything in the lineup with a completely new world-class product overnight, so making the best of what you’ve got is the only way to go for now. The changes made to the Avenger…under the skin…are probably going to pay more dividends anyhow. The new 283-hp Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 won’t hurt much either.
Dodge used the LA show to announce official pricing on the refreshed model with the base model Express starting at $19,245; the Mainstreet from $21,245; the Heat from $23,745 and the top-level Lux from $23,545.
GALLERY: 2011 Dodge Avenger
According to a recent study by Edmunds for ABC News, the Dodge Caliber is the least popular car in America – and it’s not the only Chrysler product to rate highly on the list of the 10 worst selling cars in America. In fact, four of the top spots are Chrysler products, with the Dodge Avenger rating second, the Charger fifth and the Jeep Patriot sixth.
The list rates the worst selling cars in America according to the supply of vehicles left on dealer lots. What that number represents is actual demand for a vehicle as compared to expected demand. Currently Dodge has a stockpile of Calibers that will last 223 days.
Dealers also have 211 days worth of Avengers as well as 163 days worth of both Dodge Chargers and Jeep Patriots.
Other unpopular vehicles include the Pontiac G6 in third place and the Kia Optima in fourth. ABC even quoted AutoGuide on the Optima saying it, “rides far too loosely on its suspension,” and that the interior uses a “less-than-pleasing material.”
Kia and GM products appear later on in the list as well, with the Kia Spectra taking the seventh spot while the Chevy Cobalt and Colorado finish eighth and ninth respectively. The Ford Mustang (2009) finished 10th.
[Source: ABC News]
"No state-of-the-art dual-clutch transmission for you," Chrysler says to North America
Chrysler continues to expand the use of its new dual-clutch transmission, offering it in a total of three models – just not in North American. Originally offered in the Dodge Journey in European markets, the transmission will now also be available in the Avenger and Sebring.
Designed in partnership with Getrag, the state of the art transmission is similar in design to Audi’s DSG unit or the new PDK transmission found on new Porsches. Essentially it operates like an automatic transmission from the driver’s perspective, and gears can be selected through a manumatic-type system. Because of the dual-clutches, the next gear is always pre-loaded, meaning gear changes are incredibly quick and smooth.
According to Chrysler, it also makes for an improvement in fuel economy of six percent.
Currently the dual-clutch transmission is only available on 2.0-liter turbo diesel engines found in the Journey, Avenger and Sebring overseas.
Official release after the jump: