Archive for the ‘2015’ Tag

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392

I’ve just started reading the third installment in a planned five-book biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Master of the Senate, written by the incomparable Robert Caro. Conveniently, a recent trip to drive the BMW X6 M and 228i Convertible was to be staged in Austin, TX, within easy driving distance of LBJ’s birthplace, Johnson City. And yes, the city is named for his family.

Having completed my duties with the Bimmers, I borrowed the spangled 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 you see above, to squire me around the Texas capitol for a weekend, and as a lift out to the Hill Country homestead of our 36th President.

Johnson City isn’t exactly a road trip mecca, but there’s a pretty good brewery, a museum, the reconstructed LBJ house to take snapshots of, and it’s a nice drive to get out there if you’ve got a 485-horsepower muscle car at your disposal.

Driving Notes

– With the heroic Hellcat, this 392 and the R/T Scat Pack (that Brandon Turkus reviewed recently), there are more SRT-treated Challengers to choose from than ever before. There are 707 obvious reasons that the Hellkitty is the top dog (as it were), but there are important difference between this 392 and the Scat Pack, too. Both cars make use of the 6.4-liter Hemi V8 putting out 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, but the 392 also gets an adaptive suspension, six-piston Brembo brake calipers (instead of four-piston), wider tires, leather and Alcantara seats, a heated steering wheel, a louder stereo and HID headlights.

– When LBJ was campaigning for his seat in the House of Representatives, he would’ve loved to have something as potent as this monster of a V8 under the hood of his canvassing car. The 6.4L snorts with authority before it sends the big coupe forward to just about any speed I’d ask of it, and with a quickness. Johnson was known for haranguing drivers to step on it, when all that stood between himself and a few more votes was the ability to fit one more stump speech into the day. The 392 feels as though it could cover a quarter of the state of Texas in a morning if you throttle down deep enough (faster even than the Johnson City Windmill, I’d guess).

– Though there’s a six-speed manual available, I’m actually quite fond of the eight-speed automatic in the 392. The two-pedal setup better suits the fast-cruiser attitude of the car, and it never served up any poorly conceived shift logic when I left it in D.

– Of course, the roads are better now than they were in the 1930s and 40s, too. Even on rather remote Farm to Market roads, the Challenger will grip and go around meandering corners, and turn in harder than you’d expect. This iteration of the Dodge doesn’t feel any more light on its feet than the others I’ve driven, but it’s capable of fast point-to-point driving once you start to trust the rubber and brakes (which are excellent), and get over the wideness of the track.

– Big guys like LBJ and myself have always fit well in the Challenger, and nothing about that changes with the 392. The seats are thick and well bolstered, with more than enough adjustment for me to find a comfortable position with good visibility. I even had four adults in the car for a few shorter drives around Austin, and only my extreme tallness would stop that from being a good idea for longer journeys.

– I haven’t spent as much time on the roadways of the Lone Star State as some of the other Autoblog editors have, but I think I can appreciate that this Dodge is a capable all-around sports car for country like this, if not a knife sharp one. What the Challenger lacks in things like steering response and feedback, it makes up for somewhat in ride quality and refinement. The 392 is even pretty quiet while at speed… unless you poke the thunder with a toe-tap of throttle.

Being honest, everything I like about the Challenger is present in every V8-powered version of the car (and a lot of it even in the base V6). But the 392 does add in enough specialness, enough potential for instant and thrilling drama, and a deep well of power to make it one of the best flavors SRT offers. And, at some $15k cheaper than the SRT Hellcat, it almost feels like a super-muscle car value. At $45,995 to start, it’s in the realm of affordability for a variant that you aren’t going to see in every other supermarket parking lot.

It may not be exactly Presidential in the total picture, but I think it’s a car that the fast-talking-Texan side of ol’ Landslide Lyndon would have truly appreciated. And it unquestionably makes for a great ride out to see his birthplace.

As read on: http://www.autoblog.com/2015/03/09/2015-dodge-challenger-srt-392-quick-spin-review/?ncid=edlinkusauto00000016

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2015 Ram 1500 Review

The 2015 Ram 1500 ranks 1 out of 5 Full Size Pickup Trucks. This ranking is based on our analysis of published reviews and test drives of the Ram 1500, as well as reliability and safety data.

The 2015 Ram 1500 impresses reviewers with its best-in-class ride, excellent cabin materials, responsive transmission and class-exclusive diesel engine option.

Because it has the best combination of positive reviews and long-term ownership costs in its class, the Ram 1500 is the 2015 U.S. News Best Full Size Truck for the Money.

The Ram 1500 has a base V6 that auto critics say has sufficient power. The optional V8 and turbodiesel V6 both earn praise for their ample power, and reviewers say either engine is a good choice for towing and hauling heavy loads. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, which reviewers praise for its responsiveness and smooth shifts. Fuel economy for a base Ram 1500 is an EPA-estimated 17/25 mpg city/highway, which is comparable with rivals’ estimates. The diesel model returns 20/28 mpg, which is excellent for the class. Test drivers say the 2015 Ram 1500 sets the standard for ride comfort in the segment, and they add that its optional air-adjustable suspension is helpful for keeping the truck level when towing or hauling heavy loads.

Auto journalists are impressed with the soft-touch materials and build quality of the 2015 Ram 1500’s cabin. They say the interior is quiet at speed and note that the front seats are comfortable and supportive. In either Quad or Crew Cab configuration, both of which seat up to six, reviewers report that there is plenty of legroom. The Ram 1500 offers an abundance of storage spaces in the cabin, reviewers write, and they like its available lockable RamBox storage compartments for storing smaller cargo in sides of the bed. A USB port and auxiliary input jack are standard. Optional features include navigation, satellite radio, a rearview camera and a Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth and voice control capability. Test drivers write that Uconnect is very user-friendly and they appreciate that there are redundant physical buttons for most major climate and audio adjustments.

“The Ram 1500 also offers a wide choice of trim levels, from workhorse, to street cruiser, to luxury liner. Even if you’re a die-hard loyalist to another brand, you still owe it to yourself to check out these outstanding trucks.” — Consumer Guide

“Available with all the required cab and bed configurations, in either 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive, the Ram 1500 goes above and beyond with its stylish exterior and well-appointed cabin.” — Kelley Blue Book

“The Ram 1500 has the nicest interior of any full-size pickup. Its upgraded touchscreen interface is impressively easy to use and offers substantial technology capabilities. We’re also fond of the Ram as it offers a composed and smooth ride whether you’re driving it on- or off-road.” — Edmunds (2014)

“Already gifted with capable handling and handsome interiors, the Ram 1500 lineup is now even more unique and appealing with the addition of the EcoDiesel option. It isn’t the motor for everyone – the cheaper, punchier and more characterful Hemi is still a stellar choice – but its combination of low-end torque and efficiency will undoubtedly win over many hearts and wallets. We expect Ram will have little problem achieving its goal of a 15 percent take rate for the EcoDiesel.” — Left Lane News (2014)

Read more at: http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Ram_1500/

2015 North American International Auto Show

The 2014 Show

NAIAS 2014 featured 50 vehicle debuts with the majority being worldwide. Over 5,000 journalists attended from 60 countries. Over 30 percent of the journalists were international, thus helping to spread automotive news made at NAIAS 2014 to the world. NAIAS is uniquely positioned to be four shows in one – a media preview, an industry preview, a charity preview and a public show with a 9-day run.

2015 Show Dates:

Press Preview – January 12-13, 2015

The North American International Auto Show 2015 is where the global automotive community comes together to catch up on the latest news and events. Join your peers from around the world at the industry’s most substantive annual event. In addition to some of the automotive world’s most eagerly anticipated new vehicle premieres, you’ll gain unprecedented access to more of the industry’s top leaders and thinkers than anywhere else in the hemisphere.

NAIAS issued media credentials are required to attend.

Industry Preview – January 14-15, 2015

Connect with automotive professionals representing almost 2,000 companies and share insights with over 28,000 of your peers. Make new connections. Forge new alliances. Be inspired to lead and succeed. This unique networking opportunity brings together the latest automotive products and services with the key minds behind them all under one roof.

Charity Preview – January 16, 2015

Enjoy the first views of the spectacular North American International Auto Show 2015. Charity Preview is your opportunity to be a part of one of the most exclusive, high profile events in the nation.

Proceeds directly benefit a wide range of children’s charities. Funds raised will support services for children of all ages from birth to 18. Since 1976, the Charity Preview has raised more than $91 million for southeastern Michigan children’s charities – over $47 million of which was raised in the last 10 years alone.

Public Show – January 17-25, 2015

Experience the next generation of transportation at the North American International Auto Show 2015. See more than 500 vehicles on display, representing the most innovative designs in the world and experience North America’s largest and most prestigious automotive showcase.

As read on: http://www.naias.com/2015-show/overview.aspx

2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo first drive

2015 nissan GT-R

 

What is it?

The Nissan GT-R Nismo becomes the halo model within Nissan’s halo lineup. Think of Nismo (Nissan Motorsports) as Nissan’s AMG and you start getting the idea.

The 2015 GT-R Nismo made its debut at the Geneva motor show and has on board damned near every performance part Nissan could throw its way. It starts with the company’s 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V6 massaged to make 600 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque, up 55 hp and 18 lb-ft over your basic GT-R. The Nismo has high-flow turbos similar to the company’s GT3 race cars, the ignition-timing wick has been turned up, roughly 45 pounds have been shed and the four-wheel independent suspension is stiffer. Add it all up, and the result is a claimed 7 minute, 8.679-second Nurburgring lap, among the fastest times for a volume-production car, if that floats your boat.

You’ll know the Nismo when you see it because of its front bumper and carbon spoiler (adding 220 pounds more downforce at 185 mph, Nissan says). Subtle Nismo red striping around the side sills and bumpers is a nice touch. Five colors are offered: red, black, silver, white and matte gray. Those last two look particularly hot. Inside, you’ll find Recaro buckets, red-accented instruments and the company’s multifunction display.

The car starts at about $151,000 and goes on sale at the end of July.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20140623/carreviews/140629985#ixzz36nmNr7pZ

The new 2015 Chrysler 200 in Review

Some of the exterior design cues can be compared to some other cars from around the industry, but there is no question that this new car is good looking on the outside, while the cabin is on par with some of the biggest names in the luxury world. While few would call the old Sebring a luxury car, it is impossible to call the 2015 Chrysler 200 anything but a luxury sedan based on the interior spread; the exterior is more arguably that of a luxury sedan.

A proper luxury car needs to pack impressive performance and driving technologies, to give it a smooth ride and spirited handling. When I was able to spend a few hours behind the wheel of two new 200 sedans, I went through a wide variety of driving situations, from highway driving to tight country roads, to experience the ride quality, handling, and the incredible acceleration of the Pentastar V6.

The first 2015 Chrysler 200 which I spent driving was a 200C with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 mated to the new 9-speed automatic transmission and an advanced all wheel drive system. The 2015 200 is the only car in the segment with a 9-speed transmission, and with 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, the V6 200 is the most powerful car in its segment.

The engine’s power only takes a few seconds to realize and appreciate, as the throttle response is quick and precise, allowing the 200 to really rocket away from a stop. Thanks to the advanced all wheel drive system that puts as much as 60% of the power to the rear wheels, you can launch the new Chrysler 200 very hard, and the car does nothing but respond with a smile. This AWD system really allows you to use all 295 horsepower to its fullest, and that rear power shift gives the 200 a rear-drive feel similar to the bigger brother – the Hemi powered Chrysler 300. While the Pentastar V6 doesn’t offer the same V8 growl of the Hemi, this powerful V6 has an awesome sound under hard throttle.

Not surprisingly, the 2015 Chrysler 200 V6 AWD offers just as impressive acceleration when cruising down the highway as it does when launching from a stop light. The Pentastar V6 is whisper quiet when cruising down the highway at 70 miles per hour in 9th gear, but when you put the hammer down, the transmission quickly pops down several gears and all 295 horsepower are channeled to all four wheels with a hearty roar. With incredible urgency, the new 200 will rip up past the century mark without any hesitation and for those drivers with a real need for speed – the new 200 feels very calm, confident and comfortable when traveling at very high speeds.

The 200 is so calm and quiet that it is one of those cars that can suddenly catch you off guard in terms of the speed at which you are driving. It doesn’t take much effort by the Pentastar V6 to push the new 200 well beyond the speed limit; it has no problem keeping up with even the fastest moving traffic.

Bolstering the performance of the 2015 Chrysler 200 is the new 9-speed automatic transmission, with the steep lower gears helping to provide serious acceleration. Many people have voiced their concerns about a 9-speed transmission being too busy, but the shifts are quick and smooth enough that you really don’t think about it shifting so many times. When you are leaving a stop in a hurry, the shifts from 1st and 2nd, 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th are distinct as the car shifts hard to improve performance. However, the numerically higher gears hardly draw any attention when it is moving between gears – particularly the 7th, 8th and 9th gears when traveling at highway speeds.

Unless you are paying attention, specifically looking to notice the shifts, the fact that this car features a 9-speed transmission will go unnoticed by most drivers and passengers. There is really no downside to the new 9-speed transmission as it affords the new 200 strong low and mid range acceleration while still allowing the 3.6L V6 to run at very low RPMs on the highway – making this new sedan incredibly efficient on the highway.

When cruising, the all wheel drive system stops sending power to the rear wheels for even better mileage. I was unable to measure the fuel economy during my few hours of drive time, but the on board information system indicated that I was getting better than 30mpg on the highway under normal driving circumstances. There are no official figures yet, but Chrysler expects around 31mpg on the highway for a properly equipped 2015 200 and based on what I saw, I believe that owners will be able to eclipse 30mpg even with the V6 AWD models. (The Chrysler 300C V6, which is heavier and less aerodynamically efficient, is rated at 31 mpg on the highway.)

Those 2015 Chrysler 200C V6 and 200S drivers who want a more engaging and more spirited drive will also benefit from a new Sport Mode. With the push of a button, the steering system tightens up and becomes more precise, the throttle responses increases noticeably, the 9-speed transmission adjusts shift points to improve performance and the all wheel drive system adjusts the power distribution – all of which work together to really bring out the “driver’s car” aspects of the new 200.

In normal driving mode, the 200 offers a good driving feel through the steering wheel, but in Sport Mode, the steering has less power assist and gives the driver a much more direct feel for the road. Sport Mode shifts are a bit stiffer and the lower gears are stretched out a bit; but not to the point of being too hard. The throttle response is acute in normal drive mode but in Sport Mode, there is little hesitation from the point when you put the pedal down to the point when the 200 has shoved you back in the plush sport seats. When combined with the altered shift schedule of the Sport Mode, the throttle response provides instant-on power at any speed while the Sport Mode AWD shift provides the rear wheel drive feel that I love – with the positive traction attributes of a high tech AWD system. I spent the vast majority of my drive time in Sport Mode and were this to be my daily driver, Sport Mode would become my norm. It is one of the most advanced Sport Mode setups in the industry and that shows on the road.

So the 2015 Chrysler 200 has gobs of power for a midsized sedan, a new 9-speed transmission that improves efficiency and acceleration and an advanced all wheel drive system that offers incredible power distribution characteristics – but what about the ride and handling?

The 2015 Chrysler 200 has a sport tuned suspension that makes the car a ton of fun to drive on twisty roads, but the engineers were able to achieve these drive characteristics without hurting the ride quality. Many vehicles with sport tuned suspension systems – even those in the high end luxury world – have a rigid ride that is stiffer than some luxury car buyers want. Over the past decade, there has been a clear shift from the luxury car that feels like you are always floating along the road to something with a great deal more road feel, but some automakers take that to an extreme.

The new 200 handles beautifully through tight, twisty turns and on the long, sweeping turns of the highway at much higher speeds. In some of the most demanding back roads with lots of hard, lower speed turns, I felt comfortable pushing the 200 harder through the turns, something that I cannot say about many cars in the midsized sedan segment. You can throw the new 200 into a tight turn and with the help of the all wheel drive, the sporty new Chrysler will power through the corner with just a touch of understeer when you push the 200 a touch too far. Fortunately, even when you push the 200 beyond its comfortable realms of performance, it is very easily to pull right back into shape. More importantly to some, the 200C rides like a dream on the open road even in areas with less than impressive road surface qualities. You can feel the roughness in the road a bit through the steering but the driver and passengers will not notice the vast majority of bumps on the highway.

After spending a couple of hours driving the 2015 Chrysler 200C V6 AWD, I swapped to a new 200S with the Pentastar V6 and front wheel drive. The ride quality between the two was nearly identical, with the biggest difference coming on hard launches. While the AWD 200C effortlessly ripped away from a stop, the FWD models like to spin those tires a bit before gripping and driving away. You don’t get the rear-drive feel without the AWD setup, both during hard acceleration or under hard cornering.

The FWD 200 tended to understeer a touch when pushed hard, but in normal driving situations on a 70 degree day, the difference between the FWD and AWD 2015 200 was hardly noticeable. I would go so far as to say that unless it was raining hard or snowing, most drivers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two different drivetrain layouts unless they were launching hard enough to spin the tires…which isn’t a normal driving situation for most people. This is a good thing, as many front wheel drive cars which also come in all wheel drive feel heavier and a little more sluggish, but Chrysler did a good job of providing both FWD and AWD 200 sedans the same great driving characteristics shy of the obvious upsides to all wheel drive.

The 2015 Chrysler 200C V6 AWD is a car that people who love to drive, will love to drive. The new 200 looks like a luxury car on the outside and it feels like a luxury car on the inside. Best of all, the new 200 has the types of power and performance that you would expect from a modern midsized luxury sedan while still being remarkably efficient. Due to the low price of the new 200, starting in the low 20s and extending up into the low 30s, the 2015 Chrysler 200 is compared to vehicles like the Toyota Camry, the Hyundai Sonata and the Honda Accord but smart shoppers will find that this car is so well appointed inside and out that it is better compared to vehicles from the likes of Lexus, Acura and maybe even Audi.

If you like how the 2015 Chrysler 200 looks inside and out – go drive one once they hit dealerships. My guess is that anyone who enjoys driving will instantly fall in love with the new 200 just like I did.
Coming up in the next

Original is at 2015 Chrysler 200 test drive / review http://www.allpar.com/reviews/15/200.html#ixzz2wR2YLgkM
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Sergio: Wrangler and Alfa

“To redesign the Wrangler is the riskiest thing you could do… if you’re talking about stubstantially upgrading the Wrangler… yes.”  So said Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at today’s “executive briefing,” webcast live from Cobo Hall in Detroit.

There have been debates over the knockdown windshield and removable door. “I don’t know how many people who own Wranglers have ever done that.” Still, Jeep can’t remove those attributes, even though the vehicle must be lightened and the powertrain must be updated. “You can update it, but you can’t change it.”

Full implementation is less than 24 months away. Volume is a problem, especially since the company has committed to not making Wranglers (for North America) outside of Toledo.

As for the Cherokee, Mr. Marchionne said they still needed a larger market share, but that he thought they could achieve it.

“There’s a brand new lineup of products coming out of Alfa Romeo that you will see in 2015.” These will be sold from Alfa Romeo dealerships.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/01/sergio-wrangler-and-alfa