Archive for February, 2017|Monthly archive page

Compass: Mileage and Pricing

Pricingg and gas mileage for the new 2017 Jeep Compass (as opposed to the old 2017 Jeep Compass, which is still at dealers) has just been released. Every Compass uses a 2.4 liter engine (the older model had a 2.0 as well).

2018 jeep compass limited

The best mileage, an impressive 23 city/32 highway, comes with the six-speed manual transmission and front wheel drive. Going to the all wheel drive version, though, doesn’t hurt much — stripping off 1 mpg from both numbers.

Automatic buyers can find two transmissions. Front drivers get a six-speed, yielding 22 city, 31 highway — the same as the AWD manual. As for AWD automatics, they have nine speeds and yield a respectable 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.

The base price of the old 2017 Compass was $19,940; the new Compass Sport starts at $20,995, but comes much better equipped. Add $1,500 for AWD.

2018 jeep compass trailhawk

Buyers stepping up to the well-equipped Latitude, which is probably going to be the volume seller, will pay $24,295 whether they want FWD or AWD. Moving up to the Limited adds $4,700 to the ticket — and AWD is the only option ($28,995).

The Compass Trailhawk is the only truly off-road-capable car in the set, as the bearer of serious skid plates (and various aids to mobility). This Compass starts at $28,595 and, as one would expect, is AWD only.

All prices exclude the mandatory $1,095 destination charge. The Compass has reportedly started production, but shipping from Toluca, Mexico will start next week. The top model is a fully optioned Limited — $34,695.

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2017 Jeep Compass car preview / test drive and video

We spent a day driving the 2017 Jeep Compass Limited around San Antonia, and taking the new Compass Trailhawk around an intricate off-road course, both of which displayed the versatility of this sharp, new compact Jeep.

The new Compass both looks and performs like a small Grand Cherokee, in our testing over both the off-road course and a few hundred miles of on-road driving which included flooded, washed-out roads from thunderstorms which pounded the area the day before we arrived.

My 2017 Jeep Compass for the on-road portion of the drive was a Limited, which came with standard four wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic transmission; all American Compasses have the 2.4L Tigershark engine with 180 horsepower and 175lb-ft of torque. The Limited is the top of the line in luxury features, and when you add on the optional Advanced Tech Group, Dual Pane Sunroof and Beats Sound System, this midsized Jeep has everything that you could want from a vehicle of this size with its $34,260 price tag (as equipped). I didn’t find that is was lacking in any category.

Our drive started on urban highways, but as the morning went on, we were driving the new Compass on back roads which got progressively tighter and curvier. On the wide open Texas highways, the Compass has as smooth and comfortable a ride as the Grand Cherokee. It doesn’t pack Hemi power, but the new 2017 Jeep Compass still feels like it has plenty of power – it just won’t satisfy your need for speed like the Hemi-powered Grand Cherokee. It will, however, comfortably allow the midsized Jeep to keep up with fast-moving highway traffic.

When we got onto the tight back roads, the 2017 Compass Limited proved to be a worthy adversary for the twisties. The steering provided a solid amount of feedback for a midsized SUV, and the system was responsive when cutting through areas which required me to cut back and forth on the wheel.

This isn’t a vehicle that you are going to buy to go road racing, but we were able to cruise through the rural Texas roads with ease.

Some of these roads cut around and through huge farms, with odd switchback turns, livestock around every turn, and several areas where the road was covered in more than a foot of water. The new Compass made for a great highway cruiser, but more importantly, this smooth-riding SUV was able to easily cross the flooded roadways. The Limited isn’t intended for serious off-road use, but if you should come across a hazardous situation like a washed out or flooded road, it’s sure footed and confident.

While driving the 2017 Compass Limited across Texas for some three hours, I also enjoyed the comfortable leather driver’s seat, the open-air quality of the huge panoramic sunroof, and the sound quality of the Beats Sound System. Opening the sunroof and cranking up the sound system cuts down on the tranquility, but it makes for one fun little SUV in which to cruise through the countryside.

Off-Road with the Compass Trailhawk

For the off-road course, I moved into a new Compass Trailhawk; as the name suggests, this is the “Trail Rated” trim for the new midsized Jeep, adding unique wheels and tires, a suspension which has this Compass sitting an inch higher than the Limited, and fascias changed for improved approach and descent angles. There is also a “Rock” drive mode which improves the Compass’ ability to creep through the roughest terrain.

The previous Jeep Compass was often criticized for being a “mall crawler” that few took off-roading because it wasn’t off-road capable [we did take that perception on]. The Jeep team addressed that with the 2017 Compass, working to make this midsized SUV as capable in rough terrain as the other smaller Jeeps, and more capable than anything else in the segment. Some people will continue to criticize it for not being an extreme enough off-road vehicle, but it is the most off-road friendly vehicle in the segment.

To illustrate this point, we spent the afternoon piloting a 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk through a grueling off-road course which contained deep ditches, steep inclines and declines, thick mud, and an assortment of rocky paths. We got to experience the new Compass in every key off-road setting, with the exception of loose sand.

With the new Compass set to Rock mode and 4 Low, our group of SUVs easily made out way up the narrow dirt paths and over some humps which were severe enough to get the back wheels 4 feet off the ground. The suspension setup did a fine job of providing control of the vehicle, even when more than one wheel was off of the ground, with the Jeep four wheel drive system constantly transferring power to the wheels that were on the ground.

The only point at which the new Compass broke a sweat was when climbing the steepest inclines with the loosest footing. I found myself asking for power as the wheels spun, but the midsized Jeep was able to climb to the top in every situation. It also stormed through mud that was at least 18 inches deep before crossing a path of large, smooth rocks.

Many of the people who buy a Jeep, even a Wrangler, do not spend a world of time off-roading. Jeep didn’t engineer this vehicle to be a beast in the woods, as they know that owners will rack up far more miles on paved roads, but the point of this off-road exercise was to show what the new Compass can do for those who want the most out of their midsized Jeep.

More importantly, the off-roading abilities of the new Compass Trailhawk – coupled with the ability of the Compass Limited to deal with the rain-flooded roads – will allow someone who has no interest in off-roading to approach a hazardous driving situation with confidence. The Compass will providing off-roading fun, but it will also allow a small family to get through an area of flooded roadways and back to their nice, dry homes. By making the Compass a great off-roading vehicle that is also a great on-road driver, Jeep has created one of the most versatile midsized SUVs on the market today.

The Compass Limited is a great midsized SUV for someone who wants the premium feel of the Grand Cherokee in a smaller, less expensive and more efficient SUV while the Compass Trailhawk is perfect for the midsized Jeep buyer who wants to be able to drive it to work every day and drive it through rough woods every weekend.

The 2017 Compass looks good inside and out, but it also drives great on-road and off – giving Jeep one more option in a booming midsized SUV segment.

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Dodge bringing some fans to NYC to meet the Demon

FCA announced today that when the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon debuts in New York City, a few specially selected Dodge fans will be invited to attend the big event, meeting the men and women involved in bringing this new Demon to life.

Details on the grand debut of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon are short, but we know that it will meet the world during the opening week of the 2017 New York International Auto Show during the week starting April 10th, and when the public days open later that week, the Demon will surely be one of the main attractions under the lights of the Big Apple show.

That is big news for everyone who is interested in the world of American muscle cars or high performance cars in general, but with today’s announcenment, the Demon debut will be even more exciting for a select group of Dodge/SRT fans.

“Our Dodge//SRT fans are among the most enthusiastic and socially engaged in the automotive industry,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of FCA North America Passenger Cars. “Inviting fans to attend the reveal of the all-new 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon in New York is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for being a vital part of Dodge and SRT.”

FCA hasn’t made clear how many lucky enthusiasts they will invite to the Big Apple debut of the Demon, nor has the company announced how those folks will be selected. The press release did state that they will be inviting a “limited number of loyal fans of the brand’s social media channels,” so if you want a shot at being one of the Dodge/SRT fans invited to the debut of the 2018 CHallenger SRT Demon, liking the official Dodge Facebook page, Instagram account and Twitter account would be a good start, in addition to regularly checking for any key updates.

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Valentine’s Day TLC for the One You Love: Your Car

Your car doesn’t ask for much. It’s always there for you, getting you where you need to go. A little extra care this Valentine’s Day in the form of an oil change, tune-up and basic service is the perfect gift for the one who keeps you going.

“Don’t let your car break your heart by neglecting to take care of it,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Being car care aware can add years of useful life to your relationship with your vehicle and keep you from being stranded because of an unexpected breakdown.”

The non-profit Car Care Council recommends a little tender loving auto care this Valentine’s Day and beyond.

– Schedule a tune-up annually to optimize your car’s performance. A well-tuned engine delivers the best balance of power and fuel economy and produces the lowest level of emissions.

– Change the oil and filter per the owner’s manual. Periodic oil and filter changes keep your engine clean on the inside.

– Check the tire pressure monthly, including the spare. Your car’s tires affect its ride, handling, traction and safety.

– Have the alignment checked annually. Potholes and other road conditions, as well as normal wear, can take their toll on your car’s steering and suspension. A wheel alignment reduces tire wear, improves fuel economy and handling, and increases driving enjoyment and safety.

– Inspect the windshield wipers and lights on the car. Lights and wipers play a major role in safe driving, and they are normal wear items that need periodic replacement.

The Car Care Council has a free custom service schedule to help make vehicle ownership more enjoyable, economical and convenient so you can keep your relationship with your car on track.

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Demon sends 35% more launch force to the tires

The next pieces of the puzzle which will eventually reveal the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon were rolled out this morning. This week, we are discussing the tires, gears and torque convertor of the upcoming Mopar monster – all of which work together to help the Demon put 35% more torque to the ground on launch.


We learned a few weeks back that the 2018 Challenger Demon will be fitted with 315/40R18 Nitto NT05R drag radial tires on lightweight 18X11 inch wheels. Nitto has designed and engineered these tires specifically for the new Demon, with a unique construction and composition from the regular NT05R tires measuring 12.6 inches wide and guaranteeing better stock grip than the Hellcat Challenger.

With this extra grip, Dodge has the opportunity to put more power to the wheels, and they are doing just that with a new set of 3.09 rear gears. The Hellcat Challenger with the 8-speed automatic transmission comes with 2.62 rear gears, so this new gearing setup is 18% more aggressive – leading to 18% more torque multiplication at the rear axle.

To be clear, that is an 18% torque multiplication increase, not an increase of engine torque of 18%. The Demon will transfer 18% more of the engine torque into wheel torque, which will lead to substantially quicker quarter mile times. In fact, the 3.09 gear swap has proven to be a popular one in the Hellcat community, with many of the quickest cars running that ratio in their modified Challengers.

In addition to the wide, sticky tires developed specifically for the 2018 Challenger Demon and the new 3.09 rear gears, the newest Mopar muscle car will also have a new torque convertor. The company hasn’t stated what kind of stall RPM we can expect, but we do know that the new torque convertor will also yield 18% more torque multiplication as well.

So to summarize, we learned today that the Challenger Demon tires are 12.6 inches wide, the rear gears yield 18% better torque multiplication and the new torque convertor adds 18% more torque moving through the transmission as well. The result is 35% greater launch force than the Hellcat – before power increases are factored in.

Again, those numbers are compared to the Hellcat Challenger, so not only is the Demon likely to offer more power, but it will also send more power to the rear wheels and when that power gets to the wheels – the Nitto NT05R drag radials will help make the most of that power.

Dodge also rolled out an image of the Nitto NT05R Demon tire wrinkling hard on launch. There is also a new video, but with this piece going live at the same time as the video goes live on, we will add the video and any information from that video after it does live on the teaser website.

*Update: the new video has been added below, offering a closer look at the new tires during launch.

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The One Driving Tip Everyone Should Follow

One of the keys to driving safely is vigilantly looking around you, not just directly ahead of you.

To be a safe driver, you must be aware of what is happening around your vehicle—not just in front of you, but to the sides and behind as well. Scanning helps you to see problems ahead that may cause you to change speed or your position on the road.

The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA) is a professional association representing traffic safety educators in the United States and abroad. They’ve compiled a few tips that stress using your visual perception when you’re behind the wheel:

Look far enough ahead.
Looking well ahead can help you avoid emergency braking and maneuvering. In urban environments, you’ll be looking two to three blocks ahead. In rural areas, you will want to look a quarter of a mile ahead. In either environment, you’ll want to look for brake lights on vehicles ahead of you, vehicles or pedestrians moving into the roadway and traffic lights that may soon change. The earlier you spot a problem, the more time you have to react. Making early adjustments to your speed or position can ensure that drivers behind you have more time to react as well.

Look to the sides.
Pedestrians or other vehicles may cross or enter your path of travel at any time. On multi-lane highways, vehicles can change lanes without warning. So what may have been an opening moments before could be a risk when you decide to change lanes. Also, always look to your sides when you are near roadwork, shopping centers, busy sidewalks and schoolyards.

Look to the rear.
Looking to the rear of your vehicle is crucial for determining if a driver behind you is following too closely or approaching too quickly. This allows you time to adjust speed or change lanes as necessary to avoid potential problems. Always check to the rear before changing lanes, slowing down, entering traffic or driving down a steep hill.

Develop good scanning habits.
The ADTSEA recommends a systematic search pattern. When looking ahead, they recommend that you look far ahead, down the middle of your lane. When searching for potential hazards, look 20 to 30 seconds ahead, scanning carefully from side to side.

While these tips were written for new drivers and are part of the association’s curriculum (Version 2.0), it also provides valuable reminders for more seasoned drivers.

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Ram Laramie offers luxury trims, features

Ram has updated the 1500 series pickups with a number of special trims and features for 2017.

The Laramie Longhorn gets updated looks with a new southwestern-themed grille and added features for both the Longhorn and the upscale Limited models that come in 1500, 2500 and 3500 capabilities. Longhorns get a new bright chrome grille with “RAM” lettering and chrome belt moldings. Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 Longhorn models also add standard Keyless Go, SmartBeam headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

Limited models can be ordered with black “RAM” tailgate letters and Brilliant Black or Granite Crystal Metallic paint ($195). The Limited’s novel billet port grille breaks from the long tradition of crosshair styling.

Interiors are the apex of modern luxury with plush details like subtle stitching accents and elegant pinstriping. The console bin houses a cellular phone and tablet holder, which can be concealed with a sliding door. Solid black premium Berber carpet inserts can easily be removed from the floor mats to reveal practical double-duty slush mats; the headliner and pillar trim are black, as well.

The cockpit is wired with a cache of communication and technology features, including an 8.4-inch Uconnect system with 3-D navigation, a standard rear-view camera system with dynamic grid lines and ParkSense front and rear park assist system, as well as steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free phone, streaming audio, voice command and text message reader.

The Laramie Longhorn and Limited are available in six-passenger Crew Cab body style (five passengers with the available bucket seats) with a choice of a 4×2 or 4×4 powertrain, as well as a 5-foot-7 bed set on a 140.5-inch wheelbase or a 6-foot-4 bed on a 149.4-inch wheelbase. Crew Cab models sport a power-sliding rear window and a standard locking, removable tailgate with lift assist.

Hard-core users with the need to carry goods and gear in the bed will appreciate the optional RamBox cargo management system.

Standard is a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with variable valve timing that produces 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque; mated to an eight-speed TorqueFlite transmission with a center stack rotary shifter, this combination delivers 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway fuel economy.

Optional is a 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V-6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with center stack rotary shifter, which creates 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and brings 21/29 mpg. When properly equipped, maximum trailer weights range from 6,760 pounds up to 10,090 pounds.

We concentrated our drive on the 4WD Laramie Longhorn EcoDiesel. Cowboys and ranchers would be thrilled with not only its interior and exterior styling but also with its industry-leading fuel economy and 4WD capability. The combination of its plentiful power and torque, its intelligent eight-speed transmission, 4WD gearing and air suspension allowed it to crawl over rough and rugged terrain and also to ascend and descend steep tracks with excellent traction and comfort.

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Mopar 17 Challenger: first with a 392

The eighth Mopar-branded vehicle to be produced is the Mopar 17 Challenger, designed to help celebrate the 80th anniversary of Mopar.


The Mopar-branded car has the interior and exterior appearance upgrades that we would have expected, but the big news with this Mopar Challenger is under the hood. For the first time, a Mopar-branded production vehicle is powered by the 392 cubic inch Hemi with 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, making this the most powerful Mopar-branded car in the history of the program. Ever other Mopar car, other than the Dart, was powered by the 5.7L Hemi.

In addition to the basic features of the 392 Shaker engine setup, the Mopar 17 Challenger has a Mopar cold air intake paired with a driver’s side Air Catcher headlight, but there is no word of any added power from the extra cool air.


On the other hand, the Mopar strut tower braces improve handling performance, in addition to looking cool in the engine bay.

The 392 cubic inch Hemi might be the biggest news with the Mopar 17 Challenger, but buyers can get that powerful mill with a handful of different trimlines.

Where the Mopar 17 stands out from, say, the 392 Scat Pack Hemi Shaker, which shares the same drivetrain and cold air induction hood system, is in the interior and exterior design.

On the outside, the Mopar 17 Challenger is black on the hood, roof, pillars and trunk lid, and Contusion Blue or Billet Silver elsewhere. The unique, silver 392 decals on the fenders show off the Mopar “omega M;” the car also has machined-face 20 inch Scat Pack wheels with black painted pockets. Finally, the package adds the exhaust tips from the SRT Hellcat and a Mopar badge on the rear spoiler.

Inside, the Mopar 17 Challenger Shaker has SRT performance seats with suede centers and leather bolsters, all in black with gray (“Tungsten”) embroidered Mopar logos. The stitching uses Tungsten thread throughout, matching the embroidery. There is plenty of black leather trim throughout the cabin, and a serial badge announcing the number (out of 80) for that particular car.

Finally, buyers of the Mopar 17 Challenger will get a unique owner’s package, which includes a Mopar welcome letter, a “birth certificate” with the build date, an autographed Mopar 17 rendering from the design team, a Mopar 17 book with information on the vehicle, an acrylic “memorabilia showpiece,” Mopar valve stem caps, a keychain, and an anniversary badge.

The bad news is that the Mopar 17 Challenger will be limited to just 160 cars – 80 in Contusion Blue and 80 in Billet Silver.

When these cars begin reaching dealerships in the second quarter of 2017, they will have an MSRP starting at $55,790 (not including destination).

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The SRT Durango is here — and it’s awesome

After ages of speculation and rumors, the SRT Durango will finally debut later today at the Chicago Auto Show. I was fortunate enough to check the SRT Durango out in advance, and as a fellow Mopar fan who has long been hoping to see a proper high performance Dodge SUV, I believe that this is the Durango that the Mopar community has been hoping to see for so many years.

As you might expect, the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT will share a drivetrain with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, starting with the 392 cubic inch Hemi. This mill delivers 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and a high tech all-wheel drive system, allowing the big SUV to make the most of every bit of power. Also, with the 2.75 inch exhaust system fitted with 4 inch exhaust tips, the 6.4L SRT Hemi offers the type of tone that you would expect from the fastest and quickest 3-row SUV in America.

The SRT Durango is lightning-quick in a straight line, but thanks to the addition of a huge Brembo braking package (6-piston/15” fronts, 4-piston/13.8” rears) and a revised suspension setup featuring the same adaptive, adjustable dampers from the other SRT vehicles, this big SUV will blast through the curves as well.

Finally, and most importantly to some buyers, the SRT Durango offers the same copious amounts of cargo space as the non-SRT Durango models, along with an even greater towing capacity. The same SRT Durango that will run a 12.90 quarter mile will tow 8,600 pounds, so you could conceivably tow your Mopar muscle car to the track, drop the trailer and race both your Durango SRT and your Mopar muscle car.

In addition to being fast and capable, the SRT Durango has a sporty exterior design that is similar to the SRT Charger. This begins with the twin vented hood and a hood scoop, a unique mesh grille, a new slim air intake slot in the middle of the fascia and a huge lower fascia opening. There is also a new air intake duct system which helps feed cooler air intake the Hemi engine for improved performance in any situation.

Finally, like all SRT vehicles, the 2018 SRT Durango will have a loaded interior with heated, leather bucket seats in the first two rows, and smaller bucket seats in the third row. The SRT cabin also includes the newest UConnect infotainment system with an 8.4” touchscreen in the dash and a 7” adjustable driver information center.

The 2018 SRT Durango is aggressively designed on the outside, it has loaded interior and it has a high tech drivetrain which makes it the toughest and fastest 3-row SUV inn America. While there will be some people who now insist that this Durango should have packed a Hellcat Hemi – this is the SRT Durango we have all been hoping for and it will be available in dealerships in the fourth quarter of this year.

You can see the video and read all about the finer details of the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT in our full piece by clicking here.

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Nighttime Driving Worries: Do You Want to See Better At Night?

This year, Daylight Savings fell on November 6 – the day we all set our clocks back an hour, officially welcoming the season of shorter days. For many, shorter days result in an increase in nighttime driving.

Are you someone, or do you know someone who doesn’t enjoy driving once the sun has gone down? You’re not alone. A recent survey from SYLVANIA Automotive found that 62 percent of motorists avoid driving during evening hours. However, for many drivers avoidance is simply not realistic – you still need to get home from work, your children still need to get to and from after-school activities, and plans must go on. So, what to do? In order to increase visibility on the road and make you more comfortable when driving at night, it is essential that high-performance headlights are installed on your vehicle.

The same survey found that while 28 percent of drivers have difficulty seeing hazards and other drivers on the road at night, 34 percent of drivers have never changed out their headlights.

When asked the question: “Do you want to see better when driving at night?” – The answer should always be yes. This is a no brainer – we all want to see better when given the option. Improving a vehicle’s headlights can affect the lives of drivers and their overall experience on the road. Better headlights can help improve down road visibility and increase chances of seeing objects sooner in the event of an accident or hazardous road conditions. This is a simple maintenance check that drivers of all ages should prioritize when it comes to overall road safety.

While many focus on oil changes, brake pads and tire pressure checks, there’s one safety element that’s often overlooked but especially critical this time of year – vehicle headlight maintenance. Headlights are an active safety item and are the first line of defense on a vehicle; if drivers cannot see objects on the road, they cannot react. If you can see it sooner, you can make a better reaction.

47 percent of surveyed drivers said they would be likely to change their headlights if they knew it would improve the safety of loved ones and other passengers. Changing your headlights is usually a simple DIY fix that doesn’t require a mechanic and helps to keep you and your passengers safe when driving at night. You can watch vehicle-specific videos about changing out your headlights, at this site .

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