Archive for January, 2017|Monthly archive page

Test driving a 2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD … in the snow

I was invited to take a trip with Dodge to drive the new 2017 Challenger GT, the first two-door muscle car with all-wheel drive, in Portland, Maine. Almost as though it was arranged by Dodge, a snowstorm rolled into town on the evening wheen we arrived, blanketing the area in deep snow and creating the ideal road conditions for testing a car built for winter weather.

My drive time in the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT began downtown around 9am on a Tuesday morning. Hard snow had been falling since midnight or so, and it was still coming down when we got into our AWD muscle cars; snow removal had led to little more than slushy intersections. These wet, sloppy conditions were no problem for the Challenger GT, but the conditions were mild enough that most rear-drive Challengers would have been able to get around just as smoothly.

Once we got to the outskirts, we began to see more snow on the roads, and by the time we got away from the city on our trip to northern New Hampshire, the 2017 Challenger GT’s all-wheel drive system began to come into play. Then there were no more wet roads, and all of the pavement was buried under inches of packed snow. The only vehicles on the roads were pickup trucks, SUVs, and Subarus, as portions of some roads were deeply enough buried that they would have been impassable for a vehicle without 4WD or AWD.

Fortunately, we were driving the first ever all-wheel drive muscle coupe and the Dodge Challenger GT’s advanced AWD system was ready for the challenge…even with the standard all-season tires.

The AWD system of the Challenger GT engages automatically, for different reasons. If the Challenger’s computer system senses freezing temperatures, or the windshield wipers are turned on, AWD engages. Activating the Sport Mode engages the AWD system for improved traction while pushing the car to its limits; and wheel speed sensors can trigger the AWD system in the case of a sudden loss of traction. Otherwise, the Challenger GT AWD system disengages the front axle for improved fuel economy numbers.

Since I was driving the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT in temperatures well below freezing in hard snow (with the wipers on most of the time), the AWD system was likely always engaged while taking our trip through Maine and New Hampshire – and we needed it.

Our destination was Club Motorsports, a road racing facility in northern New Hampshire, and getting there required us to drive through some very rural areas. The further we drove, the more rural the roads, and as the roads got to be more rural, they got to be covered in more and more snow. At times, there were stretches of road which had barely been cleared of snow and along those messy roads, we saw more than one vehicle which likely had all-wheel drive stuck in the deep snow.

There was one particular section in New Hampshire where the roads were snow covered with some substantial hills while being so narrow that two cars couldn’t comfortable pass going opposite directions. While driving one up one steep, narrow road, a huge plow truck came down the hill. He wasn’t going to stop for us, so we pulled the Challenger into the deep snow along the side of road, coming to a stop as the truck blasted by. Although the snow was deep enough to pack into the lower grille opening, the AWD system of the Challenger GT allowed us to effortlessly pull back onto the plowed portion of the road and make our way up the slippery hill without breaking a sweat.

After more than an hour of driving on snow-covered roads, we arrived at Club Motorsports to see what the AWD Challenger GT could do in a safe environment. While the long drive on snowy public roads allowed us to test the car’s ability to traverse slick roads, that exercise was all about being safe. However, when we got to the track facility, we had a chance to push the car to its limits in an area where we didn’t have anything to hit.

Club Motorsports had three areas set up for us to test the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT and in addition to the track surface being covered in snow, the track management team constantly kept grooming the snow – packing it down to maintain a steadily snow-covered test surface all day long. We had a chance to test the AWD Challenger on a long straightaway, a big, open skidpad and a tight autocross course. At no point while on any of the Club Motorsports grounds did I see an inch off pavement and thanks to the continuing snowfall, the snow stayed fairly deep all day long.

The snow-covered straightaway offered us a chance to test the acceleration capabilities of the Dodge Challenger GT in snow; the AWD muscle car didn’t have any problems getting up to normal driving speeds in snow that had to be 6-8 inches deep. Then again, a rear wheel drive car will push through deep snow on a smooth, flat surface, so the real test would come on the autocross course, which had a series of tight turns combined with uphill and downhill areas – all of which were buried in the same 6-8 inches of snow (if not more).

Once again, the AWD Challenger GT had no problem driving around the autocross course in a normal manner, but driving in a normal manner isn’t why we came to a racing facility, so we worked to see just how far the Challenger GT could be pushed. With the help from some instructors from the O’Neill Rally School, we spent a few hours drifting the AWD Dodge muscle car around the snow-covered track. If we got too deep into a corner or got too greedy with our drift – planting the back end into deep snow – the AWD Challenger effortlessly pulled itself right back out.

To get an idea of how much of difference the AWD made in the Challenger, Dodge also provided us with a Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro to drive on the autocross track. Driving one of them began with clearing the snow around the cars, as they wouldn’t drive out of the falling snow on their own; once you were on the track, you had to be careful not to spin out on the turns. The Mustang and Camaro had to be driven very slowly and carefully, while the Challenger could be driven as hard as we wanted without any real concern of getting stuck.

The 2017 Dodge Challenger GT is a beast in deep snow, without killing the muscle car feel. The system has a rear-drive bias in most conditions, so you can still kick the rear end out like a rear-wheel drive car – which was perfectly displayed on the autocross course. The balance preserves the muscle car feel; basically, it drives just like a rear wheel drive V6 Challenger, until you need to front wheels to get to work – at which point it adds varying levels of AWD support.

While the Challenger GT “only” has the Pentastar V6, 305 horsepower makes this Dodge muscle car lots of fun to drive. Sure, it doesn’t pack the same power as the Hemi V8s, but compared to the majority of AWD cars on the market today, the Challenger GT has far more power and far more muscle car character.

The 2017 Dodge Challenger GT was not set up to be a high performance traction monster, but to serve as a great daily driver all year long in areas with heavy snowfall, or for those folks who spend their summers driving a Hemi-powered Challenger. The new AWD Challenger GT could serve as a far more comfortable, far more exciting and far more familiar winter vehicle than a compact sedan or crossover with AWD.

If you live somewhere that gets heavy snowfall in the winter and you have been driving an SUV simply because it is AWD or 4WD, the Dodge Challenger GT offers you the chance to enjoy the modern Mopar muscle car styling and interior in the worst conditions.

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Avoid Surprise, Winterize

As you say goodbye to autumn, winterizing your vehicle should be a top priority. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends that motorists perform a six-point winter maintenance check of areas that have direct impact on winter driving.

“Harsh winter weather can stress out a vehicle, as well as its driver,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “A vehicle that is properly prepared for the elements can help you avoid an unplanned road emergency when the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse.”

Battery – Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.
Brakes – Have the brake system checked. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure, including the spare. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.
Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold. In sub-zero driving temperatures, drop oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
Lights & Wipers – Make sure all exterior and interior lights are working so you can see and be seen. Check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir and replace wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield.

In addition, the council recommends a thorough vehicle inspection by a trusted professional service technician as winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.

Drivers should keep their vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

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 the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at

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New bill targets left lane hogs

Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, introduced House Bill 4062 last week that would make it a civil infraction to stay in the left lane of a freeway with two or more lanes going on the same direction if a vehicle is trying to pass.

If you stay in the left lane while other vehicles are trying to pass, a new bill in the Michigan House of Representatives could cause some headaches.

Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, introduced House Bill 4062 last week that would make it a civil infraction to stay in the left lane of a freeway with two or more lanes going on the same direction if a vehicle is trying to pass.

“People going 65, 68 miles an hour in the passing lane – it can cause problems,” Kosowski said. “Drivers want to get around. And then there’s the whole issue of road rage.”

Kosowski adds that Michigan already has statutes against hogging the left lane, but it’s somewhat confusing. “It’s in seven different areas of traffic law,” he said. “This bill clears it up.”

States such as Georgia, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey and Tennessee have passed laws setting harsher penalties for left lane cruisers in recent years. Fines elsewhere range from $50 to $500.

Under Michigan’s legislation, emergency vehicles and road maintenance trucks would be exempt. Other exceptions are for lousy weather and road work. Slower cars would still be able to use the left lane in order to exit or turn left.

Michigan State Police have been attempting to encourage those who drive in the left lane frequently to move over for several years, with some stretches of highway even showcasing road signs.

On roads with two or more lanes in one direction, vehicles “shall be driven in the extreme right-hand lane,” according to the existing law, MCL 257-634. If all lanes are occupied “in substantially continuous lanes of traffic,” all lanes are fair game, according to the statute.

However, the existing law also states, “On a freeway having three or more lanes, a driver may use any lane lawfully available.”

Rep. Kosowski feels the law is confusing, and wanted to clear it up.

“We’ve met with Michigan State Police and have gotten positive feedback,” he said.

The state police in 2014 handed out 2,070 tickets for left lane violations, Kosowski said. Between Jan. 1, 2015, and May 31, 2015, the agency issued 763 tickets for the offense, he said.

Educating drivers, Kosowski said, is crucial. Often times, left lane violators say they did not know the lane is intended for passing, he said.

“This is not about writing more tickets,” Kosowski said. “The problem is there is not enough information getting through to drivers – it’s not ingrained in us.”

Kosowski’s bill comes on the heels of a new state law bumping speed limits from 70 mph to 75 on some 600 miles of rural freeways.

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100+ mph, off-road: 2017 Ram Rebel TRX concept pickup truck

First shown as a surprise launch at the Texas State Fair, the concept Ram 1500 Rebel TRX was powered by a 575 horsepower supercharged 6.2 liter Hemi, with 37 inch Toyo tires and six-piston calipers. It has side-exiting exhausts ahead of the rear tires, built into the rock rails; steel bumpers, skid plates, and “all the cooling you’d want.” It has two spares, and six-point harnesses to hold the driver and passengers in.

575 horses easily beats the Ford Raptor’s 450 horsepower. Why, people ask, is it “only” 575 hp, when the Challenger does 707 with the same engine? Our guess is two-fold: so you can still control the truck, and because it’s a 4×4, and the powertrain parts (particularly the front differential) can only take so much.

Jim Morrison said it could “handle the harshest terrains at speeds over 100 mph,” aided by a full 13 inches of suspension travel, at all four corners. To support all that suspension movement, they had to make the fenders six inches wider than those of a normal Rebel, resulting in an hourglass shape (as seen from above).

Why the Borg-Warner 44-45 transfer case? It doesn’t have an automatic mode, but it locks fully, which is better for durability off-road or in deep snow. It’s the same transfer case used by the Rebel and Outdoorsman.

The transmission is the “TorqueFlite Eight,” an eight-speed automatic, with paddle shifters. The 4×4 performance control system works with the BorgWarner 44-45 transfer case, with user-selectable normal, wet/snow, off-road, and Baja modes.

The front and rear axles have severe duty components, and the 13” wheel travel is over 40% more than the normal nine inches front, 9.25 inches rear. Adjustable front and rear bypass shocks are included.

The standard Ram 1500 front axle is used with an open differential and custom constant-velocit half-shafts to handle the wider track; spindles were moved forward to make room for the 37 inch tires.

The rear axle is a Dynatrac Pro 60, which uses a selectable electric locker to 35-spline, 1 1/2 inch axle shafts. The locker is available on all modes and “commits both rear wheels to traction at the same speed, spreads the torque load and maximizes the tractive effort (power put to the ground) in full-throttle maneuvers.”

The unique from grille was needed for extra airflow. Inside, it adds not only the six-point harnesses but leather/suede seats, carbon-fiber trim, and new materials and colors.

The frame is “virtually unchanged” from the standard one. The front suspension uses custom-built upper and lower A-arms with special attention to caster and camber angles during suspension cycling. The goal was to have a smooth ride over smaller bumps, and when the bumps become mounds, to have high reaction speed and heat dissipation to avoid shocks while keeping full traction.

The Ram 1500 link coil rear suspension system shares its basic architecture with desert racing trucks; the frame’s hard points for the suspension were unchanged. The 2.5-inch bypass shocks use factory mounts, but performance rear coil springs were put into the factory-spec positions.

The factory hydraulic-boost compensation unit was kept but calipers were swapped out for Baer six-piston monoblock calipers with 15 inch rotors up front, 14 inch rotors in back.

High-speed off-road truck racing teams commonly use a 37-inch tire for its height and durability; hence the Rebel TRX’s 37 inch high tires, 13.5 inches wide, with a 10-ply design and custom Mopar beadlock wheels (which pinch the outside of the tire to the rim).

The two complete spare tire and wheel packages, with tools and jack in lockable storage in the bed, reflect the rigors of off-road racing.

The special grille was needed for air flow. A steel lower brush guard was needed for the “rock knock” test. To clear the Roots-style blower atop the HEMI engine, the Rebel TRX uses a hood based on the taller Ram Heavy Duty design.

The truck has bright LED clearance lighting, matching LEDs elsewhere in front and rear.


An open upper glove box with elastic straps holds a sturdy TRX-labeled bag with color matched tools. A camera mount is on the rear-view mirror. The Rebel TRX interior floor trades carpet for black rubberized coating. Black all-weather mats from Mopar reduce foot slip when foot-to-pedal placement is crucial.

Will it be made? It’s quite possibly a design study for a challenge to the Ford Raptor — so “maybe.” As we say in the following video, you can certainly see how they thought about production as they designed the concept.

Update: Will it be made? If not, why go out of their way to use (and point to use of) production parts and attachment points? Ram’s web site has this interesting disclaimer: “Concept vehicle shown. Vehicle specifications may change.”

It goes on to say, “With a 6.2L supercharged HEMI® V8 engine and sturdily built with an off-road suspension, the RAM 1500 Rebel® TRX will be the most powerful factory-engineered half-ton pickup.” At least one observer believes they would use the 392, though, and not the Hellcat.

A company named Prefix, which does Viper work, makes a similar-concept, Ram-based truck called the Minotaur. “Ramajama” pointed out that they use a Kore Tactical suspension with close to the same specs as the TRX, but with 35” tires rather than 37”; the Minotaur is even available with a 475-hp Hemi 392, with TRX-like side exhausts.

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The new 2017 Chrysler 300 is celebrating more than nine decades of American ingenuity. The bold sedan remains a leader in sophistication and technology by staying ahead of the curve with a commitment to cutting-edge tech and performance.

The class-exclusive1 Rotary E-shift eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on every model, delivering up to 30 mpg highway on V6 models2, plus best-in-class V6 and V8 driving range.1 All Chrysler 300 models are available with an advanced AWD system, which includes an active transfer case and front-axle-disconnect system to improve real-world fuel economy.

With top-of-the-line performance at your fingertips, the new 2017 Chrysler 300 was also engineered with a dedication to innovation in appearance and technology, including the new Sports Appearance Package and the Fourth-Generation Uconnect® System. Here’s a bit of what the New Year has in store.

New Packages, Options and Colors on 300S

The new available S Model Appearance Package on the 2017 Chrysler 300 provides an even more athletic look to the blacked-out 2017 Chrysler 300S model. The S Model Appearance Package amplifies the attitude with a black chrome grille surround, a more aggressive front fascia, unique LED fog lamps, plus a deck-lid spoiler (included with V8 engine, available on 300S with V6 engine). On the interior, available heated and ventilated Napa leather-trimmed performance seats with high-bolstered suede contours provide both comfort and edgy style to the 300S.

A new Ceramic Gray exterior color option on 300S provides a “straight shade” hue for a truly avant-garde look. Inside, a new available Black/Smoke Gray color scheme pairs perfectly with the overall athletic style of the 300S.

Fourth-Generation Uconnect® System

It’s only fitting that a vehicle with so much power and style would offer technology to match. With the new fourth-generation Uconnect® system making its debut in the new 2017 Chrysler 300, drivers will enjoy the latest available smartphone integration. For iPhone® mobile device users, Apple CarPlay® enables access to Apple Maps, messages, phone and Apple Music through Siri Voice control or the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen. For those who use an Android™ phone, Android Auto enables easy and safe access to Google voice search, Google Maps and Google Play music via the touchscreen or steering wheel-mounted controls. In addition, the new Uconnect system includes performance improvements with faster startup time, enhanced processing power, vivid imagery, plus higher resolution and sharper graphics. And the new 8.4-inch touchscreens with available navigation offer multi-touch gestures with pinch, tap and swipe capability.

Learn more about the style and technology of the new 2017 Chrysler 300 at

1Based on the latest available competitive information and the FCA US LLC Upper Large Car Segmentation.

2EPA estimated 30 hwy mpg with 3.6L V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. Actual mileage may vary.

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Challenger SRT Demon

We have a name.

For a long time, Dodge has been rumored to be building a widebody Hellcat dubbed the ADR. We had thought that perhaps we’d see it at the Detroit Auto Show. That didn’t happen, but just a day after we left the show, we do have some info on the car: its name.

Dubbed the Challenger SRT Demon, Dodge is calling the car its new ultimate performance halo. Dodge also said that the Demon is for “a subculture of enthusiasts who know that a tenth is a car and a half second is your reputation.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, it sounds like the Demon will be crazy quick on the dragstrip, likely thanks to more rubber out back to fit underneath a newer widebody. That’s something that the Hellcat has needed since day one, because it doesn’t hook up. Ever.

And what about power? It could have more, can’t everything have more? 707 is a lot, but that engine is capable of higher numbers. Maybe 808? Or maybe it’ll make less, something like 666, so they can really tie it in to the whole Demon name.

We’re also betting that the Demon can do a burnout, because, if you haven’t heard, the Hellcat can do one.

Either way, all we have is the logo up top and this video below, which makes the Demon seem like a car dreamt up by Michael Bay.

We’ll see the Demon at the New York Auto Show in April.

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2017 North American International Auto Show Details

All Roads Lead To NAIAS

Detroit is where future mobility innovations meet the pavement. With the largest concentration of the world’s top automotive and technology executives, designers, engineers and thought leaders, the North American International Auto Show serves as the global stage for companies to debut brand defining vehicles and industry-shaping announcements.

The 2017 Show

Last January, the 2016 NAIAS featured 61 vehicle introductions, a majority of which were worldwide debuts. News coming out of NAIAS is heard across the globe as more than 5,000 journalists from 60 different countries annually attend to cover the latest and greatest happenings our industry has to offer.

With the integration of AutoMobili-D, the 2017 NAIAS will serve as the world’s leading showcase of vehicles and technologies aimed at defining how people across the globe experience mobility.

NAIAS is unmatched in the industry in presenting six unique shows in one, including: The Gallery, an ultra-luxury automotive event, AutoMobili-D, an inside look at future mobility platforms, Press Preview, Industry Preview, Charity Preview and all concluding with a nine-day Public Show.

The Gallery – January 7, 2017

2017 marks the tenth year of the ultra-luxury automotive event, The Gallery. This event has now become the official kick-off to the North American International Auto Show. Once again, the event is hosted at the luxurious MGM Grand Detroit where a strolling dinner will be served by world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck in the Ignite Lounge. Guests will then have the opportunity to stroll through the MGM Grand Ballroom and experience a nearly $7 million collection of the most amazing automobiles the world has to offer, including brands such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Rolls Royce. In addition, executives and designers responsible for the creation of these products will be on hand to discuss the brands.


Automobili-D is a dedicated exposition focused on the rapidly evolving global automotive and mobility landscape. Spearheaded by NAIAS, AutoMobili-D will run in conjunction with the 2017 auto show and will feature more than 100 companies, including automakers, tier one suppliers and tech startups. AutoMobili-D will kick-off on Sunday, January 8, 2017, the day prior to the start of NAIAS Press Days (Jan. 9-10), and will run through NAIAS Industry Days (Jan. 11-12). A very prominent industry thought leader will keynote Sunday’s opening ceremony following an open house that will allow guests to network with peers and participating companies as well as interact with the technologies and vehicles on display. NAIAS will dedicate specific press conference slots for participating AutoMobili-D companies on the afternoons of both Press Days.

Planet M Hall will be open:
Sunday, January 8, 2017
2 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Monday, January 9, 2017
11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m,
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Press Preview – January 9-10, 2017

Join exhibiting automakers and tier one suppliers along with journalists on a global stage for two full days of reveals, debuts and memorable moments. Featuring over 750 vehicles and countless interactive displays, NAIAS is North America’s largest and most prestigious automotive showcase.

Please note: NAIAS-issued media credentials are required for admittance.

Industry Preview – January 11-12, 2017

Connect and share insights with over 35,000 automotive professionals and analysts representing over 2,000 companies from around the world. This unique networking and professional development opportunity brings together the key individuals responsible for the leading-edge products, technologies and services on display at NAIAS.

Dates and Times
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Noon – 9 p.m.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
7 a.m. – 9 p.m.


Charity Preview – January 13, 2017

Charity Preview is your opportunity to be part of one of the most exclusive, high-profile charitable fundraising events in the nation.

Proceeds directly benefit a wide range of children’s charities that are making a positive impact in southeastern Michigan. Since 1976, Charity Preview has raised more than $106 million, with over $41 million raised in the last 10 years alone.

Charity Preview Date and Time
Friday, January 13, 2017
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.


Public Show – January 14-22, 2017

Experience an automotive event unlike any other. At NAIAS you have the opportunity to see up-close the vehicles and technologies that will shape the future automotive landscape. From muscle and electric cars, to high-performance supercars and full-size trucks, NAIAS has something for everyone to enjoy.

Dates and Times
8 a.m. daily – Early access for handicapped individuals
Enter at the Hall C Entrance only

Saturday, January 14 – Saturday, January 21, 2017
9 a.m. – 10 p.m. (no admittance after 9 p.m.)

Sunday, January 22, 2017
9 a.m. – 7 p.m. (no admittance after 6 p.m.)


Cobo Center
1 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226

Introducing the New Ram 1500 Rebel “Black”

You want it, you got it. Welcome to the dark side, Ram Fans.

At the 2017 North American International Auto Show, Ram Trucks will be introducing a special black-on-black edition of the popular Ram 1500 Rebel – the Rebel Black.

This blacked-out package is the first time the Ram Rebel has offered black wheels, brush guard and all-black interior. The package is offered with all available Rebel Exterior colors.

The Rebel Black interior takes boldness to a new level with all-black heated seats with black “rebel” embroidery, highlighted with Light Slate Gray accent stitching, which traces the instrument panel, center console lid, doors and seats.

The interior also features black anodized bezels on the doors, center console, instrument panel and gauge cluster trim rings. Additional luxury can be had with optional Black leather Katzkin seats.

This special-edition Rebel brings an aggressive, one-of-a-kind attitude to the off-road truck market. It is available in crew cab with either the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 or 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 at a starting MSRP of $45,590 plus $1,320 destination. Rebel Black will start arriving in dealerships in March 2017.

* Disclaimer “MSRP excludes taxes, title and registration fees. Starting at price refers to the base model, optional equipment not included. To get full pricing details, see your dealer.

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The Best Way to Clear the Snow Pile at the End of Your Driveway

Nothing is more frustrating than clearing snow from your driveway—only to have the municipal plow leave a wall of dirty snow, blocking your access to the street.

Argh. But where else is the snow supposed to go? Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to avoid a big pileup and to remove the crusty line of snow and ice the plow leaves behind.

Watch the weather. Don’t put off clearing away the pile if the temperatures are dropping and the wind is blowing the snow into drifts. But if the day is getting warmer and you have no place to go, you can wait to take advantage of better conditions. Keep in mind, however, that melting, water-logged snow can be heavy.

Start with your shovel. If you have a snow blower, you shouldn’t have a problem blowing away soft, fluffy snow. But once it’s crusty and frozen, you’ll need to change tactics. Use a shovel to break the mound into smaller chunks that you can either toss aside or that will fit into the snow blower’s intake more readily. This is especially important if you have an undersized snow blower such as a single-stage gas or battery-powered machine that doesn’t have the power to crush crusty snow on its own.

Less is more. Even if you have a beefier snow blower, take care that it doesn’t become clogged by chunking up the job. Take smaller passes at about half the width of the intake. It may take more time, but you’ll have fewer interruptions stopping to unclog the machine and it will throw the snow you do attack faster and farther.

Plan ahead for the next storm. Homeowners who live in regions that get one snowstorm after another have developed a technique that minimizes the amount of snow a plow can shove into an open driveway. Facing the street, use a shovel or snow blower to clear a space to the left of your driveway that’s 10 feet long and at least a car width wide. That way when the plow comes down the street, it pushes most of the snow into that area and not into your driveway.

Be kind to the plow operator. As annoying as the plow pile may be, don’t give in to the impulse to hurl the snow back into the street. According to the snow plow pros we talked to, that just prolongs the problem, causing them to make more passes to clear the road. The result? Another plow pile.

Need a snow blower? Removing stubborn plow piles is part of Consumer Reports’ tough snow blower tests. Most three-stage and two-stage snow blowers are pretty adept at this test, but less powerful machines such as compact two-stage and one-stage snow blowers struggle to get the job done. So if you’re plagued by plow piles, check our full snow blower ratings and recommendations for machines that ace the test.

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