Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

Recap of both Exciting Ram Truck Announcements Made at the NAIAS 2015

The New Year may have just begun, but Ram has already hit the ground running with exciting news for Ram truck fans.

On Tuesday, January 13th at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ram Brand CEO and President, Bob Hegbloom, made two exciting announcements that prove Ram will remain a leader in 2015.

First, Hegbloom announced that the new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel (available March 2015) would now deliver an incredible manufacturer’s estimated 29-mpg highway. We know that fuel economy is the customers’ top priority, which is why this truck will provide the highest fuel economy among all pickups in the industry.

“The new 1500 EcoDiesel sets the bar even higher…and this truck will be great news for owners who tell us they really rack up the miles on their daily commute,” said Hegbloom.

Throughout the press conference, Hegbloom spoke about how Ram truck customers’ needs are specialized and purpose-based. Our truck drivers know what fits their lifestyle, and “if the truck fits…they’ll buy it.”

This was the strategy behind the newest truck model: The 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel.

The Rebel is a one-of-a-kind, off-road sport package that customers and dealers have been asking for, and Hegbloom explained, “Now is the right time to bring it to market.“

Hegbloom described the Ram Rebel as “a new breed.”

The dramatic, unique exterior styling immediately shows that the Ram Rebel offers something different. “It’s a truck built and styled for people who push back, whenever they hear those despised words: you can’t,” said Hegbloom.

Instead of the crosshair grille you’d expect, the Ram Rebel sports a bold, blacked-out grille that frames the prominent billet silver “Ram.” The all-new face incorporates LED fog lamps, front tow hooks, a durable, black powder-coated bumper, and projector headlamps.

For added strength, sport-performance, and traction, the Ram 1500 Rebel rides on 33-inch Toyo all-terrain tires.

The Ram-stamped tailgate and blacked-out badging let others know who the leader is on the road.

Like the outside of the truck, the inside is bold and rugged. The durable, unique seats feature inserts embossed with the actual Toyo tread pattern. The Ram Rebel features an all-new center console, and a heated steering wheel that will help drivers dominate both on and off the road.

“With its distinctive good looks, high-value contenting and true full-size truck capability…it’s the perfect vehicle for people who always push the limits, and push themselves to squeeze more enjoyment out of life,” said Hegbloom.

We listen to what truck owners want, and then we put everything we have into delivering it, always pushing what’s possible. We couldn’t be more excited to give you another truck so you can take living the “Ram Life” to a whole new, rebellious level.

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Watch the Hellcat pound the C7 Corvette Z06

We have already seen the big, bad 2015 Corvette Z06 lose from a stop and from a roll against a Dodge Viper TA, and today, we have a video pitting the supercharged’ Vette against the most powerful American muscle car of all time – the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

The 2015 Challenger Hellcat has a pretty substantial advantage in power, packing 707 horsepower to the Corvette’s 650, and while torque levels are the same, the Corvette is a great deal lighter. To be exact, the C7 Corvette Z06 is roughly a thousand pounds lighter than the Hellcat Challenger while also being more aerodynamic than the big, brawny Mopar muscle car.

When you look at the improved aerodynamics, the comparable torque and the substantially lower curb weight of the 2015 Corvette Z06, many people believed that the most track capable Corvette ever would still hand a beating to the Hellcat Challenger, even with the big advantage in horsepower. Some went so far as to speculate that the Challenger would win in a quarter mile race with everything else equal, but it was expected that on a longer run, the weight and aero properties of the Corvette would be the winning difference.

All of those people appear to be wrong, as the first high speed race video featuring the 2015 Corvette Z06 and the 2015 Challenger Hellcat show the Mopar muscle car handing the Chevy supercar a severe beating in two separate runs. We get to see the Hellcat eating up the Corvette from two different angles and while the on-car view shows how quickly the two high performance American coupes blast away from the slow-moving traffic, they both display the same sad fate for the Corvette…beaten badly at the hands of a “lowly muscle car”.

It appears as though the most track capable Corvette of all time might be a beast on the road course, but it struggles to keep up with the mighty Hellcat Challenger on the open road.

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Must-Have Car Features for Expectant Parents

There may be no greater joy in life than knowing a newborn is on the way.

Soon, you’ll get to experience all the excitement and bliss that being a parent brings. But with this wonder comes great responsibility. The entire well-being of another human will rest in your hands. It’s time to evaluate some things in your life and make a few changes.

Remember that car you bought fresh out of school that was some combination of being affordable, cool, unique and youthful? Now it’s deteriorating into a pile of scap metal in your driveway. You gamble with whether you will or will not make it to your destination or not on every trip you take. Getting stranded on the side of the freeway is one thing, but having it happen with an infant aboard will be a nightmare. Looks like it’s time for an upgrade.

So what should a new parent look for in an automobile? Well a lot of things, really. But to help any soon-to-be progenitors, we have broken down the new car checklist into three key areas. First, there are those things that need to be in a vehicle to make transporting a baby safe and easy. Second are things that aren’t quite a necessity, but would make your time behind the wheel as a parent a lot less stressful. Third, there are the items that are icing on the cake; the added perks that parents might not need, but will gladly take if offered.


The most important thing you can do as a parent is keep your child safe. This is especially true when it comes to cars and driving. Regardless of how skilled you are behind the wheel, there is always the unknown factor of weather, road conditions and other motorists that could result in a crash. Modern vehicles have jumped leaps and bounds in terms of crash worthiness compared to older cars, even within the past five years. A modern car will keep its occupants much safer than models from the past. But some are still safer than others. To check and compare how well prospective new vehicle purchases rate in crash testing, visit the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety database or the one offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Act.

A newborn is going to spend the next several years in child safety seats, so a vehicle with a rear seat is essential. Although most four- and five-person coupes do come equipped with child seat anchors, accessing them and the child can be a nightmare because there isn’t a door opening directly beside the rear seat. When your child is an infant and in a rear facing child seat this can be quite the struggle.

It’s best to look for a four-door vehicle because the easier accessed rear seat area will be easier to deal with. If your rear facing child seat has already been purchased, take it along when new car shopping so it can be test fitted to the backseat area. Pay attention to a vehicle’s official rear legroom measurement as these safety seats are deceivingly long. Not all smaller cars can accommodate one without forcing the front passenger seat to be placed uncomfortably close to the windshield.

Rear doors are also important when it comes to size and operation. Vehicles like a Range Rover L with the extended wheelbase give parents all the space in the world to secure their bundles of joy to the back seats, but the rear doors also require all the space in the world to open, which is a challenge in parking lots. When looking at new cars, see how far out the doors open in relation to the access they give to the backseat area. As well, the angle in which they swing open is important as the closer to 90 degrees the better. Still, there is one champion when it comes to rear vehicle doors for parents: the sliding door. Not only does it give them full access to their kids, but it also takes up minimal space when opened.


With the essentials taken care of, many other automotive features can help ease the transition into parenthood. Chances are you’ll become more distracted behind the wheel now that an extra, highly demanding passenger is frequently aboard. Vehicles with the latest active safety systems like lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and collision detection could be a life saver if you stop paying attention, even for a split second.

Babies call for a lot of stuff like strollers, pack and play cribs, diaper bags and more. A car with a large trunk is good, but one with a lift gate hatchback is better. Not only is it easier to load odd-shaped items into a hatchback, by usually there is more cargo room in a hatchback and items placed back there stay as warm or cool as everything else in the vehicle. Taking things a step further, a power lift gate, power trunk or even power side doors

will further help a new parent whose hands will inevitably be full each time they approach the vehicle.

And when it comes to loading a child and their gear into a car, a vehicle’s height is important. Crossovers continue to gain popularity with new parents due partially to their load height. SUVs usually sit too high, requiring some people to have to step up into the vehicle to secure their child in a safety seat. What-to-Look-for-in-a-Car-with-a-Baby-on-the-Way-07.jpgRegular cars, on the other hand, sit too low and force parents to hunch over in backbreaking slouches as they secure the safety belts.

While discussing access, safety anchors that are easy to reach for the child seats are a huge plus. Some vehicles require a lot of work to uncover and use these clips. While you’re at it, try folding the rear seats down to see how easy it is to do when children are not occupying them for added utility.

Finally, keeping the sun out of your child’s eyes is important, especially ones too small to relate any discomfort to you. A vehicle with factory or dealer installed rear window tint is good, but one with built in roll-up sunshades is better. This isn’t as unusual as it once was either as several minivans, crossovers and sedans are now offering this feature.

Icing on the Cake

Of course, there are some other items that will make life even easier on new parents, like extra cup holders for kid’s snacks and food as well as excess storage bins for other random items. Some vehicles now include a secondary wraparound rear view mirror so a driver can take a quick look back on their kids without having to turn all the way around or moving the regular rear view mirror down.

Removable rear headrests are a nice bonus as they make installing child safety seats much easier and built-in rear video screens can help entertain little ones on longer trips.

Ultimately though, it all comes down to what is most important to you and what you can afford. There are many choices out there that are great, child friendly vehicles. As long as all the Must Haves are checked off as well as a good portion of the Nice to Haves, you should be fine. Happy shopping and good luck with the new baby!

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Jeep hauls in more awards

The Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel was named 2015 Green SUV of the Year by Green Car Journal. The announcement was made yesterday at the Washington Auto Show in the nation’s capital.

In making the presentation, Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and said, “The Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel delivers what today’s drivers really want in an efficient SUV. It offers a do-everything nature with exceptional comfort, power, functionality and driving range, plus surprising efficiency that delivers lower environmental impact.”

On Wednesday, January 21, the Grand Cherokee collected its “SUV of Texas” trophy at the Houston Auto Show.

The Jeep Wrangler received one of Kelley Blue Book’s 2015 Best Resale Value Awards. The Wrangler was No. 2 among the top ten honorees. This is the fifth consecutive year the Wrangler has made the top ten.

In their comments about the Wrangler,’s editors said, “There are few vehicles that have remained as faithful to their origins like the 2015 Jeep Wrangler SUV. Despite decades of development, multiple iterations and even necessary nods to modern technology, the Wrangler remains true to its hard-earned and thoroughly deserved reputation as the universal standard for off-road vehicles.”

The Wrangler picked up a total of three Best Resale Value awards. In addition to the Top Ten award, the standard Wrangler also took top honors in the Compact SUV category, beating the new Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester, while the Wrangler Unlimited took the prize in the Mid-Size SUV category, beating the Toyota 4Runner and Toyota Highlander.

Dodge also picked up a Best Resale Value award: the 2015 Charger won its class, earning Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value Award for full-size cars. The Charger beat the 2015 Toyota Avalon and 2015 Chevrolet Caprice.

“Dodge’s full-size sedan offering is more versatile than ever after being redesigned for the 2015 model year,” said the editors. “With a new look that includes a redesigned hood, front doors, spoiler, taillights and front fascia, the Dodge Charger still offers space for both people and cargo. That combination helps the Charger earn the top resale value in its category.”

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DNR announces name of new hiking and bicycling trail from Belle Isle to Ironwood

We asked and you answered – to the tune of nearly 9,000 name suggestions for Michigan’s planned, statewide hiking and bicycling trail stretching from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. The Department of Natural Resources today announced this showcase trail will officially be called Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail.

“This name effectively captures the beauty and strength of our state’s exceptional natural and cultural resources,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “Along the route from Belle Isle to Ironwood, Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail will ultimately connect communities, provide a variety of recreation opportunities, and showcase our great state to residents and visitors alike.”

Creagh said it’s important to note that while Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail is a work in progress, significant portions of the trail already exist throughout both peninsulas and are open right now for public enjoyment and exploration.

“The hard work and thoughtful vision that have for years gone into Michigan’s existing trail system and future connectors help to lay the groundwork for completion of this important cross-state trail,” Creagh said.

The DNR in September hosted a contest inviting residents and visitors to submit their best ideas to help name the trail. More than 8,800 submissions were received and then evaluated by a team representing partner organizations – the Michigan Trails Advisory Council, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Recreation and Park Association and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance – involved in the trail’s establishment.

DNR Director Creagh chose the final name based on recommendations from that committee.

The trail-naming contest ran for three weeks (Sept. 22-Oct. 13, 2014), with entries submitted via online survey, Facebook and paper entry form. Contest participants also showed their support by sending hand-drawn logo concepts, personal stories about their connections to trails and even a stack of entries from elementary students.

The DNR received hundreds of variations of the final name. To determine contest winners, three names were randomly drawn from that smaller pool of entries: Amanda Mailer (Rochester, Michigan), Matthew Husted (Jerome, Michigan) and John Meikle (Lapeer, Michigan). Each will be awarded (via drawing) one of three vacation prize packages at locations along the trail:

– The Henry Ford and Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit

– The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

– Kaug Wudjoo Lodge at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon

First proposed as a “showcase trail” by Gov. Rick Snyder in November 2012, Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail will stretch across Michigan and link numerous existing trails to provide both a 1,259-mile hiking route and a 774-mile bicycling route. One end of the trail lies in Michigan’s newest state park, Belle Isle Park (Wayne County); the other is more than 900 miles away in Ironwood (Gogebic County).

The Parks and Recreation Division of the DNR, as well as other partners, currently is seeking private and public funding to secure and develop trail corridors for Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. Temporary connectors already are in place along much of the trail and will be made permanent as resources become available. For more information about the development of the trail, please contact DNR state trails coordinator Paul Yauk at 517-284-6141.

Additional segments of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail will open throughout 2015, with ceremonial events in communities along the trail to locally mark the occasions.

Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail follows the existing North Country National Scenic Trail for most of its length in Michigan (1,085 of 1,259 miles). North Country Trail extends to the New York/Vermont border to the east and central North Dakota to the west. Spanning 4,600 miles, it is the longest National Scenic Trail in the nation.

Michigan – a national leader in designated trail miles and plentiful opportunities for hiking, bicycling, snowmobiling, kayaking and other trail pursuits – continues to cement its reputation as the nation’s Trails State. The state offers more than 12,000 miles of recreational trails total.

An extensive Michigan State Trails system provides broad public access to low-cost, healthy recreation opportunities and strengthens communities’ appeal by boosting quality-of-life amenities.

The Department of Natural Resources works each year with local communities and partners to celebrate and promote Michigan’s excellent public trail offerings during Michigan Trails Week – which this year runs Sept. 19-26, 2015. The website offers many planning tools and ideas for participating community projects.

Visit the DNR website to sign up for email updates and to learn more about Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail and other recreation trail offerings.

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2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 6.4L Automatic

The performance-car world has turned a corner. It’s a corner that, for a long time, those of us who savor engaging one’s left leg and right arm to shift gears have been reluctant to admit even exists: In most instances, no objective case can be made for choosing a manual over an automatic when it comes to performance. Automatic gearboxes have improved so much that oftentimes they are both more fuel-efficient and quicker than their manual counterparts. Curse you, technology!

The latest example of this reality is the 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, one of the more beastly muscle cars to ever have leapt from a Detroit-based engineering department. Sharing its naturally aspirated, 392-cubic-inch pushrod V-8 (Dodge likes to cite the displacement in cubic inches because heritage!) with the pricier, somewhat higher-tech SRT 392 model, the R/T Scat Pack comes with a choice of a six-speed Tremec TR6060 manual or, for $1400 more, an eight-speed paddle-shifted TorqueFlite automatic. We tested the manual version a few months ago, and that car also lost a three-way comparison test with a Ford Mustang GT and a Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE, yet this Challenger impressed us with its brute force, bad-ass attitude, and ear-shredding exhaust note. The automatic version, it turns out, is actually quite satisfying to drive, too.

One Mississippi, Two Mississippi . . .

First, the numbers. We blasted to 60 mph in a blistering 4.2 seconds, hit triple-digit speeds in 9.6 seconds, and passed the quarter-mile mark in 12.6 seconds at 114 mph. The manual Scat Pack hit those same benchmarks in 4.4 seconds, 10.2 seconds, and 12.9 seconds at 113 mph. The improvement is in no part attributable to the Scat Pack’s programmable launch control, which is part of the standard Performance Pages app. Our test driver, senior editor Tony Quiroga, noted that, regardless of how low he set launch rpm using the system, some tenths were lost to excess wheelspin. The best way to launch, we found, is simply to ease into the throttle through first gear, dipping deeper as second engages and resisting the urge to mash the pedal until you’re midway through second gear. Otherwise, it’s a cloudy day in the neighborhood.

The transmission itself is a honey, as we’ve noted in our reviews of other vehicles that use it. Demure as a housecat in its default settings and bordering on violent in its more aggressive settings, the ZF-designed TorqueFlite eight-speed unit delivers satisfyingly quick and rev-matched downshifts at the tug of the left paddle. It’s not quite as speedy to swap ratios as a dual-clutch automatic, but it’s far from your typical slushbox. We give serious kudos to Dodge’s engineers for tuning this transmission to match the raucous personality of the Hemi underhood.

For what it’s worth, we expect that the launch control would come in handy on an actual drag strip, especially with slicks, but we test in conditions more like those you’d find in the real world. Still, 4.2 seconds to 60 is pretty damn good for a 4261-pound full-size two-door sedan—which is essentially what the Challenger is. Just as impressive are the Brembo brakes (with four-piston calipers at each corner), which yank the big guy down to a stop from 70 mph in just 154 feet.

The Scat Pack’s throttle is also quite touchy even with the powertrain in its most docile setting, regularly provoking the same wheelspin we experienced at the test track. This is less of a problem for us, but it becomes worrisome when we think about valets screeching backward into parking spots. And when the roads get slippery, well, suffice it to say that the Scat Pack is a fair-weather friend.

The Challenger Scat Pack can turn surprisingly well, too, thanks to quick steering (just 2.3 turns lock-to-lock) that can be dialed up both in terms of effort and feel via the Performance Pages. But be sure you know how to catch a slide before you turn off the stability control, as the 245/45 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires generated 0.90 g of lateral grip on our skidpad; that’s a decent number, but it’s not so sticky that the rear won’t break loose fairly easily under power. Even when that happens, though, the body remains heroically flat thanks to a stiffened suspension. We noted moderate understeer on the level skidpad, but if you’re heading downhill on, say, a mountain road, it’s best to respect the fact that 55 percent of the car’s mass is riding over the front wheels—and that this Dodge is all too happy to push your line wide.

Adding It Up

While the automatic Scat Pack starts at $39,890, this particular example was loaded with options, including radar cruise control and other driving aids, navigation, a sunroof, upgraded speakers, and the $1995 Appearance group (including blackout trim, black 20-inch wheels, and bumblebee stripes). It also had a red-and-black faux-suede and leather interior that contrasted dramatically with its stormy gray paint.

The sticker thus had an eye-watering bottom-line price of $47,360, a few hundred bucks more than the $46,990 SRT 392. For that kind of coin, we might recommend stepping up to a basic SRT 392, if only to get the adjustable Bilstein shocks—they keep the car buttoned down in corners but also impart a far more highway-friendly ride. The 392 also has stronger brakes and comes with a complimentary day of driver training.

While the Challenger R/T Scat Pack is heavy no matter what transmission you choose, and the automatic is unlikely to change the car’s standing in the aforementioned comparison test, it is a very fast and charismatic muscle car that delivers on every promise made by its bodacious styling. We dig it.

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To Idle or Not to Idle, That is the Question

It is that time of the year when many motorists let their vehicle “warm up” or idle before driving. In fact, today’s modern cars are ready to drive in cold temperatures without excessive idling, says the Car Care Council.

“Unless you are trying to defrost the windshield or warm the interior of your car, idling is not required for today’s vehicles,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “In most cases, idling longer than 30 seconds is unnecessary. The best way to warm up your car’s engine is to drive gently at the start. Remember, a vehicle gets zero miles per gallon when idling and the result is lower fuel economy and wasted money.”

The idea of idling before driving dates back to when cars were built with carburetors. With new fuel-injection technology, complex computer systems and thinner synthetic oils, drivers don’t need to warm up their cars before hitting the road.

Winter Car Care Tips- Warming UpAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “When a car idles for more than 30 seconds, it has several negative effects, such as increasing air pollution unnecessarily, wasting fuel and money, and causing excessive wear or even damaging a car’s engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and the exhaust system. Contrary to popular belief, idling isn’t an effective way to warm up most car engines.”

The non-profit Car Care Council has a free 80-page Car Care Guide for motorists that features several pages of fuel economy and environmental awareness tips. Available in English and Spanish, the popular guide uses easy-to-understand everyday language rather than technical automotive jargon, fits easily in a glove box and can be ordered by visiting

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit

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The new 200C wows with automatic parking, improved style

I was never a fan of the old Chrysler 200. My first impression of the model (back when it was still called the Sebring) was a poor one, and it never managed to win me over. Even with many small improvements over the model’s lifetime, the 200 always felt like the sort of car that was designed from the ground up as a cheap car with a few nice features, that it was destined to be a rental car.

Things are different with the new 2015 Chrysler 200C. The new model makes a great first impression with its slick, updated look. It continues to wow both drivers and passengers with a plethora of cool convenience features like available automatic parallel and perpendicular parking, while bringing to the table a healthy amount of well-thought-out dashboard tech.

Coupe-like design

The new 200’s chassis is based on one from Alfa Romeo, but the American design reminds me of an enlarged variant of the Dodge Dart, another attractive Chrysler Group model that is also based on Italian underpinnings.

The new 200 is more curvaceous, and more care has been taken to aerodynamically shape the sedan’s profile. The result is a more coupe-like silhouette that is, at the very least, 1,000 percent better looking than the doughy, outgoing model. The profile reminds me of the Volkswagen CC, and its curves evoke those of the Hyundai Elantra. Nonetheless, the elements work well together to create a cohesive and attractive design. As an indicator of the future of Chrysler vehicle design, the new 200 is pretty exciting.

Around back, standard LED tail lights wrap around the corners, and up front we have the new corporate face of the Chrysler brand. The wider, redesigned Chrysler wing badge floats over the honeycomb grille, which, in turn, flows into the integral headlamps with LED daytime running lights.

Better interior, better tech

In the cabin, the 200 sees a bump in interior materials and build quality that should elevate fully loaded examples above the previous model’s “rental car” status. The dashboard materials and touch points feel significantly improved. “Premium” is the word that springs to mind to describe the cabin, but not “luxury.” That may be fine at this mid-20s to low-30s price point.

The seats of our top tier model’s are 8-way power adjustable seats are comfortable for cruising and longer trips, but lacked much lateral support when cornering. This is our first indicator that, despite its sporty looks, the 200C may not be a particularly sporty car, but we’ll get back to that.

One of the most interesting changes for the 2015 model year is the change to a rotary E-Shifter for the transmission. This twistable knob — similar to that of the Jaguar XF, but without the motorized drama — was designed to free up space in the cabin. For starters, there’s no shift lever to reach around, but the nonmechanical shifter also allowed the interior designers to create a device storage space below the floating center console with pass-throughs for connecting to the power and USB ports within.

In the center of the dashboard is Chrysler’s 8-inch UConnect infotainment system, which will be available with the full compliment of app integration, Wi-Fi hotspot, and 3D navigation features. Ahead of the driver on 200 “C” models is a 7-inch LCD integrated between the analog gauges of the instrument cluster. We’ve enjoyed similar tech in the Chrysler 300 and the new Jeep Cherokee, and it’s just as good here.

Interestingly, our 200C’s 8.4-inch UConnect system lacked a CD player, instead doubling down on USB ports, Bluetooth features, and app integration. Some drivers may lament the lack of physical media, but I honestly didn’t even notice the drive was missing until the last day of my testing.

Standout features include the excellent Garmin-powered navigation software that is both well-organized and features great voice input for destinations. I liked saving time by just blurting out the entire address — like “navigate to fifty-ninety-eight Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California” — in one go.

The optional Alpine 10-speaker, 506-watt premium audio system is also noteworthy for its power. Clarity is good, but the bass is almost too powerful and pronounced. This is the only car stereo in recent memory where I’ve actually had to turn the bass down when listening to hip-hop or electronica. For fans of the bump and the boom, this could be a very good thing.

The dashboard tech improvements are good, but the 200’s crowd-pleasing feature is its ability to automatically park itself. Like its distant cousin, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the new 200 is also available with a one-touch Active Park Assist system that can detect and steer the sedan into an available parallel or perpendicular parking spot.

After touching a dashboard button to activate the park sensing feature, the driver simply drives forward slowly while the 200 uses its sonar sensors to scan the vehicles along the side of the road, looking for a space between them into which it can fit. When a space is found, a graphic on the digital instrument cluster notifies the driver to stop the car, let go of the steering wheel, and shift the transmission into reverse. At this point, the car’s computers take over the electric power steering while you control the throttle and brakes and the car is guided into the space automatically. It’s all very cool.

Tapping the “OK” button on the steering wheel toggles the Active Park Assist feature between its parallel and perpendicular parking modes, allowing it to back into more common side-by-side spaces in parking lots. I found that the parallel parking system worked better and faster than the perpendicular mode, but both systems got the job done without incident.

The Active Park Assist comes as part of a SafetyTec package that also includes the automaker’s full roster of driver-aid and safety features, including blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts, full speed range adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance that uses the electric power steering to actively help keep the car from drifting out of its lane, and precollision braking system. The precollision system automatically grabs the brakes when the system detects that an imminent forward collision or, when reversing, engages the brakes when crossing traffic is detected or a pedestrian walks into the vehicle’s path.

Two engines, nine speeds

The new 200 will be available with two engine options. The first is the automaker’s Tigershark 2.4-liter four-banger which outputs 184 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque, and which I wasn’t able to test. The other option, featured on our example, is the returning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with a stated output of 295 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque — that’s up 2 pound-feet of torque and 12 horsepower from last year’s. It’s a meager upgrade, but still a reasonable amount of power for the midsize sedan.

Both engines will mate with a standard 9-speed automatic transmission, which the driver controls with a rotary E-Shifter knob from the cabin, but their gear ratios are different. Aerodynamic, transmission, and tuning tweaks for this 2015 Chrysler 200C should net this front-driven 3.6-liter model a claimed 19 city, 32 highway, and 23 combined mpg. I managed an average of 21.5 mpg over the course of my shared testing with my fellow editors and crew.

Our model also features metal paddle shifters for manual shifting and a Sport program that improves performance by limiting the gearbox to the lower five or six ratios, allowing the engine to more aggressively rev, and loosening stability control system’s reins. Even so, our top-tier 200C feels better suited for the boulevard than its sporty looks and optional 19-inch wheels seem to indicate. The combination of wide seats that lack lateral support and a fairly soft suspension tune conspire to rob the 200C of any cornering fun and the too-many-speeds automatic transmission tends to sap the rest during daily driving.

In its standard configuration, the 200 sedan is a front-wheel-driver, but an optional all-wheel-drive system will soon be available. This on-demand system will be able to totally decouple the rear axle driveshaft when traction isn’t needed at the rear wheels to reduce parasitic drag and fuel economy losses. When the system detects that it needs rear-axle torque, it can instantly and automatically re-engage the rears.

In sum

Pricing for the new 2015 Chrysler 200 will start at $21,700 for the base LX model, but our top-tier 200C starts at $25,995, adding upgrades to the interior, exterior, and amenities along the way. Our example includes $1,950 to upgrade to the larger 3.6-liter engine, $1,395 for the 8.4-inch UConnect system and Alpine audio, $995 for 19-inch wheels, and $795 for HID headlamps with LED fogs and DRLs. We’ve also got $1,295 for the SafetyTec package, which adds all of the driver aid features and automatic parking in one go and is an absolute tech bargain.

That brings us to an as-tested price of $33,420 — not bad at all.

It’s better looking, better equipped, and a much more premium passenger car, but it’s not perfect. I’m probably nitpicking here, but the trunk never closed on the first attempt; I always had to slam it again — hard. And despite its new 9-speed automatic transmission, the 3.6-liter engine behind it is starting to show its age. I really wish Chrysler would give us a new, sporty four-cylinder turbo to go with the sedan’s new, sporty looks rather than continuing to revise and patch up the old V-6. Even so, the 2015 Chrysler 200C is a dramatic improvement for this nameplate.

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2015 Dodge Dart Sedan – Overview


What’s New for 2015:

– SE Convenience Group option package

– Dart SXT adds new aluminum wheel design

– Blacktop package comes with black and red interior

– Uconnect 8.4 is Android compatible

– 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine meets PZEV emission standard

– Three new exterior colors


The 2015 Dodge Dart competes against traditional compact cars but is actually rated a midsize car by EPA standards. The Dart’s competitive set includes the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Jetta.

Models and Features

Five versions of the 2015 Dart are for sale, including the SE, SXT, Aero, Limited, and GT.

The Dart SXT adds equipment at the same time that it makes more options available. Highlights include a larger and more powerful engine, nicer interior materials, 60/40 split rear seat with a pass-through, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, power door locks with remote keyless entry, and air conditioning. Details include a trip computer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, sliding armrest cover for the center console, rear center armrest with cupholders, electronic vehicle information center, and an overhead console with a sunglasses storage container. Additionally, the audio system gains additional speakers, and the steering wheel includes audio controls. The Dart SXT also includes automatic headlights, LED racetrack-style taillights, power side mirrors, unique trim detailing, and 16-in. aluminum wheels.

The Aero trim level is based on the Dart SE, but is packaged differently from the SXT. It has most of the SXT’s upgrades but includes a more fuel-efficient powertrain, active grille shutters plus chrome grille detailing, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and upgraded gauges including a tachometer and an illuminated surround. The Dart Aero also includes a Uconnect 8.4 touch-screen infotainment system with voice-command Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, a USB port, satellite radio, and a reversing camera.

The Dart GT is the sporty model, adding to the Dart SXT a sport-tuned suspension, 18-in. aluminum wheels with low-profile tires, fog lights, and dual exhaust outlets. The GT is also equipped with the same Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system found in the Dart Aero, plus leather seats, a 6-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated exterior mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control system, and keyless passive entry with push-button engine starting. Upgraded interior trim includes a soft-touch dashboard and nicer door panels, plus premium instrumentation with an illuminated surround, ambient cabin lighting, outside temperature gauge, compass, and a universal garage door opener.

The Dart Limited contains most of the same features as the Dart GT, swapping the 18-in. wheels for a smaller 17-in. design, ditching the sport suspension for a touring suspension with a rear stabilizer bar, and trading the standard manual gearbox for a standard automatic transmission. Additionally, the Dart Limited’s exterior trim is brighter and fancier, the leather seats feature exposed stitching, and the shift knob is covered in cowhide. Navigation, SiriusXM traffic, and SiriusXM Travel Link services are also standard, along with remote engine starting, active grille shutters, and a power sunroof.

Under the Hood

A 160-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard in the Dart SE. Dart SXT, GT, and Limited trim levels are equipped with a 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Choose the Dart Aero for an exclusive turbocharged, 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 160 horsepower.

A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard for SE, SXT, Aero, and GT Darts. The Dart Limited is equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission, which is an option for the SE, SXT, and GT. The Dart Aero is offered with an optional 6-speed automated manual gearbox.

Fuel Economy

Due to its economical, turbocharged, small-displacement engine, the Dart Aero is the most fuel-efficient version of this car, EPA-rated from 28 mpg in the city to 41 mpg on the highway, depending on transmission choice.

The most common Dart powertrain–the 2.4-liter with an automatic transmission as installed in the SXT and Limited trim levels–is just as fuel-efficient as the Dart SE’s 2.0-liter/automatic combination. The latter gets 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, while the larger and more powerful setup returns 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway. Choose a manual gearbox and the Dart SE is more fuel-efficient (25 mpg city/35 mpg highway) while the Dart SXT is less fuel-efficient (22 mpg city/35 mpg highway).

Select the Dart GT and you can expect to get 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway with the manual gearbox and 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway with the automatic.

Safety and Technology

Depending on the trim level selected, the 2015 Dart can be upgraded with rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, rear park-assist sensors, and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-path detection. Additional tech-related improvements include a configurable gauge display and keyless passive entry with push-button engine starting. The Dart is also available with a Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system containing a USB port, SD card slot, and voice-activated access to Bluetooth calling and music streaming. Options for this system include a Wi-Fi hotspot connection, navigation system, and a premium sound system.

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2015 Polaris RZR 4 900 EPS


The New 75 HP ProStar® Engine delivers the power & acceleration you have been waiting for. With hallmark ProStar® features like dual overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder and electronic fuel injection we’ve upped the torque 14% and increased HP by 40% over the RZR 4 800.


The New High Flow Clutch Intake System is the most durable clutch system ever for multi-passenger performance. Featuring a re-designed clutch cover, and ducting system that provides more airflow and decreases belt temperature by close to 50 degrees.


A trail friendly low gear allows you to operate the machine in low gear while still maintaining a top speed of 40+ MPH.


With 12.25″ of front suspension travel and 13.2″ in the rear, and FOX Performance Series 2.0 Podium X Shocks, the RZR 4 900 Suspension can be tuned for exactly the way you ride. New geometry designed for specific types of terrain gives you a performance based machine that’s ready to tackle the trail.


RZR 4 900 features a 106.5″ long wheelbase paired with front and rear Dual A-Arm suspension for the ultimate in trail performance.


The tubular frame and D-pillars increase frame rigidity allowing the suspension to absorb shock instead of the chassis resulting in more consistent suspension performance.

New 27″ GBC Dirt Commander 8-ply tires offer better side bite, stiffer sidewalls, better tracking through corners and increased durability.


The RZR 4 900 inspires confidence through corners thanks to an additional 1.3 inches of rear track width all while maintaining an overall vehicle width of just 60″.


The High Performance True On-Demand All-Wheel Drive System features a close ratio final drive to keep the front wheels pulling stronger and longer maximizing power delivery to the ground on even the loosest terrain. Providing increased traction without sacrificing steering effort to provide unmatched point-and-shoot handling.


The RZR 4 900 features 20% faster steering response with an improved 2 turn lock to lock steering ratio.


The smoothest, most responsive electronic power steering available, with Variable Assist for easier steering at lower speeds. Our EPS lets you ride all day with less fatigue.


New! Bolstered bucket seats feature a standard driver and passenger seat slider and Dryseat technology keeps you dry and comfortable for those long days behind the wheel.


The new body style on the RZR 4 900 gives you plenty of room to get in and get out and an additional 1″ of leg room for all day comfort when piloting it down the trail.


Factory installed front and rear doors add a custom look to your RZR. Getting in and out is easy and the bowed design offers loads of comfort while riding.


Keep your new RZR 4 900 clean with these new driver and passenger side removable floor drains. The design allows you to simply washout debris and mud quickly and easily.

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