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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.
After several announcements of various models that were awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick Plus” rating, the IIHS has released its full list of its safest cars for 2013.
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]
Chrysler has said that it is recalling some 11,351 vehicles from the 2011 model year, including Chrysler 200s and Town & Country minivans, Dodge Avengers, Calibers, Journeys, Nitros and Grand Caravans, as well as Jeep Compass, Patriot and Wrangler models.
The problem? An incorrectly installed steering column rivet that could potentially cause the steering system to fail, resulting in loss of vehicle control and even an accident.
The automaker said the cause of the problem was “improper identification of rejected components by new employees during the second shift.” Out of some 14,000 steering columns Chrysler inspected, it found that seven of them boasted missing or incorrect rivets.
So far the Auburn Hills, Michigan automaker has said there have been no consumer complaints nor records of accidents or injuries resulting from the issue. Nevertheless, owners of the affected vehicles will be notified starting next month and urged to contact their nearest Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealer to have the problem fixed free of charge.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Dodge has released their 2012 Avenger R/T, a slightly hotter version of their mid-size Avenger sedan, with a stiffer chassis, R/T badging and a Pentastar V6 good for 283 horsepower.
Unfortunately, the sole transmission offered is a 6-speed automatic, a decidedly unsporting choice for a supposedly performance oriented car. The slushbox does help with fuel economy, helping the Avenger R/T to return 19 mpg in town and 29 mpg on the highway. Stiffer springs and a larger rear anti-roll bar should help in the handling department, while a Boston Acoustics 276 watt stereo and 30 GB hard drive will keep your ears filled with the sweet melodies of something besides the Pentastar V6.
Look for more photos from the car’s reveal this week at the New York Auto Show.
GALLERY: Dodge Avenger R/T
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
De Tomaso is back! But not with the Pantera, arguably the company’s most legendary model. No, the troubled Italian company, constantly flirting with bankruptcy and liquidation and angry customers, has introduced for Geneva the SLC, a Pininfarina-designed crossover in the mold of the BMW 5-Series GT.
Unfortunately, the overall effort is underwhelming; the oddly-proportioned car has a gaping mouth, de rigueur of so many modern cars, the rear end of a Dodge Avenger, and the side profile cachet of your neighbor’s Lexus IS. It’s certainly not compelling enough to make us excited for the revival of a company that gave us the Mangusta, the box-flared Longchamp, and Elvis’s bullet-ridden Pantera.
The “Sports Luxury Car,” as it’s imaginatively called for now, will sport three engines: a V6 diesel, a 300-horsepower V6, and a high performance V8 with 500+ horsepower. At that rate, it should be able to outrun its own looks.
Ultimately, the company wants to find 3000 buyers per year for the SLC, at $135,000 to $175,000 when it goes on sale at the end of this year. We wish them well, because sales of the SLC will fund the development of a more traditional sedan and a coupe–which will then bring back the De Tomaso we remember so fondly.
[Source: Car Advice]
Dodge‘s trademark cross-hair grille, the front end treatment that has been the hallmark of the brand’s styling for years, will become the sole domain of the Ram truck brand, as the Chrysler division moves toward a new look for future products.
“It takes time. We will evolve the products,” Ralph Gilles, CEO of Dodge and Chrysler’s design chief, told Automotive News. “We did as much as we could with the split cross-hair grille,” he said. “We had to be careful because the cooling work was pretty much done when we decided to rebrand the vehicles. That will continue evolving over time.”
No plans were divulged with regards to Dodge’s new look, but with cars like the new Charger leading the way, and attempting to target a different kind of buyer, perhaps a more mature look is in line for the brand as Chrysler moves upscale, and Dodge has been seperated from Ram Trucks, which understandably needs to project a macho image.
[Source: Automotive News]
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
Chrysler is recalling 26,397 vehicles over fault power steering hoses that could leak and cause a fire. Vehicles affected include the 2010 Chrysler 300, Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Journey and Dodge Challenger.
NHTSA released a statement regarding the recall stating “Some of these vehicles may experience a separation at the crimped end of the power steering pressure hose assembly. Leaked power steering fluid onto hot engine components could cause a fire.”
The recall is expected to begin at the end of the month. Owners can contact Chrysler at (800) 853-1403.
[Source: Inside Line via NHTSA]
Chrysler had previously announced that a selection of Fiat-based compact cars was slated to hit the market in early 2012. But in a sign of rapid progress at Chrysler (or anxiety over the supposed apocalypse), CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a conference call that work on the vehicles is advancing sooner than the company anticipated, and it should appear in the fourth quarter of 2011.
“We’ve run extensive clinics on the first vehicles. We’re 98 percent there on styling,” Marchionne said to Automotive News. “My expectation today is we’ll be able to get this car into the market Q4 2011. We continue to work pretty aggressively on timing.” Marchionne also said that improved versions of the much-maligned Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger are slated to bow around the same time.
Chrysler showed a re-badged version of the European market Lancia Delta at the 2010 Detroit Autoshow, but there’s no official word on whether this product is slated to come to North America.
Gallery: Chrysler/Lancia Delta
[Source: Automotive News]
Last week Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne set out a long-winded plan for the future of the American automaker and how its future will be closely tied to its new Italian parent company. There was a lot to digest at the seven hour press conference and so we thought a model by model breakdown would be helpful and would shed some light on what appears to be the general plan to eliminate old Chrysler products and replace them with new Chrysler Group-branded Fiat models. So let’s start with Dodge…
From the smallest to the largest vehicles, Dodge will see the introduction of a subcompact car in 2013 based on the Alfa Romeo MiTo. Currently Dodge does not offer a sub-compact with its smallest offering being the compact Caliber, which receives a mild update this year but will be eliminated in 2012 and then replaced the same year by a Fiat Group-based vehicle. Presumably it will be another Alfa Romeo platform, however, the car will be built in the U.S.
Moving to the mid-size segment, the Avenger will also be updated for 2010 and then replaced by a Fiat Group platform in 2013.
The future for the Journey, Grand Caravan and Charger is more positive, with the Journey and Grand Caravan getting updates for 2010 with a new Grand Caravan due in 2014. The Charger will be all-new for 2011 with a new interior and exterior, after originally launching in 2006. A new rear suspension will also be part of the package. As for its Challenger sibling, it will be updated for the 2012 model year.
Two vehicles that will be eliminated are the Nitro and Viper, with the Nitro slated to be scraped in 2011 (with a possible successor), while the Viper will cease production mid next year with a potential sports car replacing it in 2012.
One new model will be added to the Dodge lineup; a seven-seater crossover based on the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee (pictured above).
The new Ram brand still won’t have a lot going on, although Fiat is looking to expand its offerings. The Dakota is scheduled to cease production late in 2011 with a possible unibody pickup to replace it. As for the Ram 1500, it will get a mid-cycle refresh in 2012, as will the heavy duty Ram trucks. A chassis cab version of the Ram will also arrive in 2010.
Two additions to the lineup include a front-drive small work van and full-sized van in 2012. The small van will be similar in purpose to Ford’s Transit Connect and will be based on the next-generation Fiat Doblo. It will be imported from either Turkey or Brasil. As for Ram’s new full-sized van offering, it will be one of two vehicles: either the body-on frame Iveco Daily or the unibody Fiat Ducato. Unlike the small van, this full-sized unit will be assembled in the U.S.
Starting in the small scale, the Chrysler Brand will also get a subcompact, although (surprisingly) it will not be based on the same Alfa Romeo vehicle as the Dodge sub-compact. Instead, it will be underpinned by the next-generation Lancia Ypsilon five-door hatch and will go on sale in 2013.
A new compact sedan (based on a Fiat Group platform) will be launched in 2012. It is not clear if the Fiat Group platform is the same one that will underpin the Dodge compact sedan. The same can be said for the Sebring, which, like its current Dodge counterpart (the Avenger) will get styling updates next year and be replaced by a Fiat Group platform in 2013.
As for the PT Cruiser, it will be eliminated late next year – although we’ve heard that one before.
The Chrysler 300, like the Dodge Charger, will be all-new for 2011 with the new model arriving some time next year. Styling is expected to be evolutionary, so don’t expect much change – which is probably a good thing.
And as for Chrysler’s final product, the Town & Country minivan, it will get updates next year with a new model in 2014. Fiat hopes to differentiate the Chrysler minivan from its Dodge counterpart by taking it more up-market. (Have we learned nothing from the R-Class?)
Finally, there’s the Jeep brand, where we’ve already learned the Patriot, Compass and Commander will be eliminated over the next few years. The first to meet the scrap heap is the Commander, with production ending late next year, while the Patriot and Compass will be get mild updates for 2010 before being retired in 2012. Interestingly, Fiat may build and sell the Commander overseas after 2010.
At the low end of the spectrum, a new subcompact SUV will arrive in 2013 based on the next generation Fiat Panda Cross, while a new compact crossover will arrive the same year based on an unnamed Fiat Group platform. A new Liberty will also arrive that year, again based on a Fiat.
As for Jeep’s core vehicles, the Wrangler will get a new interior next year, with a new engine offered in 2011. The Grand Cherokee will continue on as planned with the new model debuting next year as a 2011 model.
[Source: Automotive News]
Viper replacement expected, while Ram brand exploring possibility of building 18-wheeler rig
During Chrysler’s seven hour press conference explaining the direction of the company over the next few years, it became increasingly clear that the new Fiat ownership is planning to build up the Chrysler group of brands using Fiat products. Much of the news isn’t entirely new, but it has now been confirmed and the extent to which Fiat intends to wipe clean Chrysler’s slate of underperforming cars is clear.
Many of the initial changes will be in the Dodge brand and will occur in 2012-13, with a new compact car based on a Fiat platform to be introduced. No specifics were given, but it is likely that this new model would replace the Caliber. Another Fiat platform will replace the Avenger (and presumably the Chrysler Sebring). On top of that, a Fiat-based hatchback model will also be introduced in the sub-compact segment. It is not clear if this is the Fiat 500 or, considering that car’s diminutive size, if it will be a slightly larger vehicle to compete with cars like the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and the upcoming Chevy Spark and Ford Fiesta.
With the 500, Fiat/Chrysler will introduce two new engines aimed at meeting the strict CAFE standard of 35.5 mpg by 2016. The first is a 1.4-liter gasoline engine, while the second is a diesel offering.
On top of this, a new dodge crossover will enter the segment late in 2010 for the 2011 product year. It will be a large vehicle with seven-seat capability.
Sadly, the Dodge Viper will be eliminated at the end of next summer. The good news, however, is that Fiat does intend to bring a new sports car into the market by 2012.
From the press conference we also learned, contrary to reports, the Dodge will focus on branding its vehicles less on their performance characteristics.
As for the new Ram brand, much will stay the same with the current pickup quite new in the marketplace and the new heavy duty trucks having just been introduced this year. Impressively, Ram brand CEO Fred Diaz commented that Ram is looking at building a full-sized 18-wheeler rig.
[Source: Automotive News]
A week ahead of a planned Fiat/Chrysler press conference in which Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of both automakers, was to outline the future of Chrysler, much of the information has been revealed in an in-depth report in the Wall Street Journal. But before we get to the new products that the Italian-owned automaker is planning to bring into the North American marketplace, it’s time to learn the fate of the vehicles being axed. And judging from the list, it appears as though Fiat is intent on moving its products in and Chrysler’s products out.
The vehicles to be cut include the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Sebring. On the Dodge side, four models will be eliminated, including the Caliber, Nitro, Avenger and Grand Caravan. Three Jeeps will also meet their maker: the Commander, Compass and Patriot.
In place of these vehicles Fiat is ready to announce the introduction of the 500 in 2011, along with three Alfa Romeo vehicles: the MiTo (shown above), Milano (which will replace the 147) and another yet unnamed mid-sized sedan.
The rest of the plan will see the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger redesigned in 2011, with the Grand Cherokee due out soon. And with only two Chrysler products left, the rumored decision to axe that brand’s name may just happen.
The Wall Street Journal made no mention of past reports that the Fiat Panda would see its way to the U.S. as a Jeep. There is also no word on if the Fiat 500 will be offered in just it’s standard hatchback form, or if a convertible and sporty Abarth version will also join the product lineup.
GALLERY: Alfa Romeo MiTo
[Source: WallStreetJournal via KickingTires]
Chrysler’s previous ownership by Daimler continues to effect the company’s future as plans to replace two of its struggling vehicles have been pushed back. Both the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring were scheduled to be replaced in 2010, but the American automaker’s new Fiat management has now decided to extend the life-cycles of the two vehicles until at least 2012.
Under Daimler ownership Chrysler practically halted major research and development of its models, choosing instead to follow a business plan where Mercedes technology was handed down form the basis of new American vehicles. With Daimler having jumped ship during the recent bankruptcy proceedings, now Fiat and Chrysler must work together to start fresh.
In the mean time, Fiat has said it is planing a model refresh for both sedans, with the revamped Avenger due out next year and the Sebring most likely following the year after that.
During that period Chrysler is also expected to release mid-cycle changes to the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, the Dodge Journey, Dodge Caliber; Jeep Compass and Patriot, and even the recently resurrected Chrysler PT Cruiser.
The replacements for the Sebring and Avenger have been rumored to be based on Alfa Romeo models, but with completely new bodywork.