Archive for the ‘fiat-chrysler’ Tag

Chrysler 300 Interior Bowls Over Competition

Is it any wonder American consumers ignore large cars and instead shop the abundant crop of functional, sometimes sporty CUVs?

WardsAuto’s Large Car segment is a lonely place, with only four entries, and sales through March are down 14% while the car market overall is flat, according to WardsAuto data.

Two years ago, the newest entry was the Chevrolet Impala, which is very sharp, but it didn’t win a Ward’s 10 Best Interiors trophy because the interior is less compelling than the beautifully sculpted sheet metal.

The same cannot be said of the refreshed Chrysler 300, which carries over many of the styling cues, inside and out, that have made it a perennial contender, while integrating a number of meaningful improvements.

The Chrysler 300 makes big sedans relevant once again and even tips its hat, by way of a nearly identical color scheme, to a high-end interior that dazzled us last year: the $122,895 Mercedes S-Class sedan.

The 300C Platinum rolled into our garage with a more palatable $51,175 price tag and, like the S-Class, parlays gorgeous satin metallic trim, quilted leather, excellent fit-and-finish and a first-rate human-machine interface that is easy to learn and simple to use.

With its latest Uconnect system, Fiat Chrysler makes what appears to be simple work of the HMI, which can be daunting because automakers need to incorporate so many functions within the central display screen to eliminate buttons from the instrument panel and center console.

But the 300 is much more than cool electronics. From the white-faced analog clock to the heated rear seats, the cabin is roomy, welcoming and luxurious.

“In a world overpopulated with giant SUVs, the Chrysler 300C Platinum reminds us how glorious big sedans can be,” writes WardsAuto editor Drew Winter.

“The ’15 model takes the award-winning interior of the previous version up another notch with even more features, comfort and sumptuous materials. It also has wonderfully practical details, such as stout grab handles and a truly sturdy sunglass holder,” Winter says.

For what it’s worth, Fiat Chrysler kinda owns the big-car segment. The 300’s platform mate, the refreshed Dodge Charger, is the only entry in the sector posting gains through the first three months, up 5% to 26,218 units, according to WardsAuto data.

The Charger is duking it out with the Impala for the No.1 sales slot, while deliveries of the 300 are flat. The Ford Taurus, overdue for redesign, brings up the rear; its sales are down 27.6% for the quarter.

Yes, the Charger also was in the competition this year, but we opted instead for the 300’s soothing, upscale persona.

“I could live in this car,” says one judge. And live well.

Read more at: http://wardsauto.com/vehicles-technology/chrysler-300-interior-bowls-over-competition

2018 Jeep Wrangler: The most changes since 1997

The next generation of the iconic off-roader will be the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, debuting sometime in 2017.

While Jeep reportedly tried an independent suspension for Wrangler, based on the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer or the Ram 4×4, Larry Vellequette of Automotive News wrote on February 15, 2015, that they would stick with floating solid axles; one insider said they would change the configuration somewhat. Among other things, this will help Mopar and the aftermarket to keep selling modifications, and will keep modified Wranglers on the trail for years to come.

To lose weight, or at least to avoid gaining too much extra weight, Wrangler is likely to switch to an aluminum tub and may use a lighter but equally tough hydroformed frame, possibly with other aluminum-alloy components. A diesel could provide a serious boost in fuel efficiency.

The Jeep Wrangler is a key vehicle for Chrysler, the “ring that controls all Jeeps,” and Sergio Marchionne has said many times they cannot reduce its off-road capability. Whether this means they will actually not reduce its capability remains to be seen.

The appearance of the Wrangler is not likely to change much, and aerodynamic improvements may be brought about mostly by changes in the side mirrors, underbody covers, and gearing.

Flip-up rear window

A new Chrysler patent application shows a unique full folding back glass design, and while this patent isn’t officially related to the Jeep Wrangler, it is used for the illustrations, and there is no vehicle in the current lineup that would accept a design like this as well as the Wrangler.

The current Wrangler has backglass that opens away from the bodywork with struts that hold it up high enough to access the entire opening for easier loading and unloading. The spare tire swings out of the way and the backglass opens upwards. This patent application shows a similar design, but this backglass folds all of the way up to the roof, with clips built into the roof so it can be pinned down. This design also has clips inside of the vehicle where the driver may clip up the struts after disconnecting them to swivel the glass up onto the roof.

Driving with rear glass open could cause the vehicle to pull in exhaust fumes if the front windows were not also open, or while idling at a halt; and can also draw in mud when used off-road. Even with these downsides, there are likely people who would love to be able to lock the backglass of their Jeep Wrangler open while driving with the top on, so the next generation Wrangler may include this as an optional package. There is also the possibility that this backglass design is intended for a fixed roof model that would offer the option to drive with the backglass open because the owner cannot remove the roof altogether. It could also serve as another “look what we have” item that will never get used.

Chrysler may also simply have patented it to prevent other automakers from using it.

Aluminum Wranglers

Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette quoted Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (May 6, 2014) that indicates extensive use of aluminum on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler (to be produced starting in calendar-year 2017, according to the latest Five Year Plan). When aksed if he could think of a better use for aluminum than Wrangler, Mr. Marchionne answered, “No.” He also said that FCA would be ready to produce aluminum vehicles in 2017, the same year Wrangler (but also probably at least one Alfa Romeo) enters production. (Alfa Romeo appears to be re-pioneering resins, years after GM’s Saturn and Chrysler’s own research, which resulted in several concept cars but no production car.)

While Chrysler has successfully attacked highway mileage with gearing and aerodynamics, weight is the key to city mileage, and the company is having problems meeting fuel economy goals because of customer demands for weight-increasing safety ratings, big wheels, powerful stereos, and (outside of Wrangler) near-silent interiors.

Chrysler posted a job opening for a senior buyer of aluminum components in June 2014.

Diesel engines, pickup trucks, and other changes

Many expect Jeep to finally issue a U.S. diesel version of the Wrangler, and a limited production pickup version (Gladiator? Comanche?). The engine would likely be a Fiat four-cylinder diesel (424?), the upcoming Alfa Romeo 2.2, or the next-generation VM 2.8 liter I-4 (a newer version of the engine used in Europe for many years).

Standard American engines would likely be a V6 — by then, upgraded with more power and efficiency — and the upcoming Hurricane Four.

Most expect Jeep to make the Wrangler more aerodynamic, with a greater slant to the windshield; many have speculated that the fold-down windshield function will finally be dropped. It is a unique feature for Jeep in North America, but few seem to care about it. Removable doors are likely to remain, along with the various hard and soft tops. A new patent shows flipping rear glass windows.

Independent suspensions

Many may ask why Jeep would even want to use an independent suspension, when the current design:

– Is proven to work well off-road

– Can be modified for higher off-road performance

– Is proven in sales

– Costs less to set up than an independent suspension

The arguments for the new design include:

– It could increase stability and would end the so-called “death wobble,” a public relations and lawsuit problem

– A “true Jeep” independent suspension would greatly improve ride and handling

– Most independent suspensions would improve on-road behavior

– The factory could increase capacity by bringing in ready-to-fit suspension assemblies

One possibility would be updating a 1990s design by Chrysler engineers Evan Boberg, Gerry Hentschel, and Bob Sheaves, who created an independent suspension for the 1997 Jeep Wrangler. This design does not lose ground clearance during a jounce; the differential travels with the wheel — if one side of the vehicle goes over a rock or into a ditch, the differential is pulled up, providing superior “real-life” ground clearance. Wheel travel was around 12 inches. (Evan Boberg described it in Common Sense Not Required, Bob Sheaves in this article on Li’l Blue; neither is currently employed by Chrysler.)

Another possibility is adapting the Ram Power Wagon’s suspension to the Wrangler, which would be less risky than most other solutions.

An independent suspension carries risks. The Wrangler’s off-road credentials will have to be superior to current models to win the hearts of Jeepers, who, with magazine critics, will be ready to call it “a rebadged Fiat,” “fake Jeep,” and “mall runner” — regardless of what it can do on the trail. The system will need to be well tested on all types of terrain, be as durable as the current setup, and capable on all models.

Some have talked about the possibility of making two Wranglers, traditional and independent, but this is not feasible in the current factory. A backup plan may be in place, but given that such a backup plan would also require a factory redesign, the “backup” may simply be spending more time to get it right… unless Chrysler is planning to reopen a closed plant (or build a new one) and move the old Rubicon tooling there. This remains unlikely, at best.

There have been no specific, official announcements on timing or suspension choices.

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/SUVs/jeep/wrangler/2017.html

FCA’s lineup for New York show

While Fiat Chrysler will not be showing any new vehicles at the New York Auto Show, whose press days start tomorrow, the company will bring a wide range of cars and trucks for those who don’t travel the country to see unveilings as they happen.

The most controversial entry is the 2015 Ram Laramie Limited, first shown in Chicago, which Ram called “the benchmark in truck opulence.” From Detroit, Ram is showing the 2015 Ram Rebel, which includes a suspension lift, 33-inch tires, a custom interior, and the first non-crosshair grille in some time.

Alfa Romeo is showing off the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, which follows the coupe version; it has absurdly low weight thanks to a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, allowing it to use a 1.75 liter turbocharged engine to from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.

As one might expect, the new Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger will all be shown; each of these cars has a standard eight speed automatic (Challenger also has six-speed manuals for every V8). Among the Challengers will be the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Dodge Challenger Shaker, and both Hellcat Charger and Hellcat Challenger.

Fiat is showing the new 2016 Fiat 500X, a larger-than-500 hatchback, presumably along with the 500L, 500C, and 500.

The Jeep Renegade will be shown, and since it was on the off-road demonstration track in Chicago, we expect it to be in the New York track as well.

Mopar will spotlight four customized models; the Jeep Performance Parts-equipped Jeep Renegade makes the Trailhawk model more trail tough, the Sublime Green Dodge Challenger T/A Concept blends vintage design cues with Mopar parts, the Chrysler 200S Mopar shows a new body kit, and the Fiat 500L Custom has been, as the name indicates, customized.

We also expect Maserati to show off their full line, and Ferrari is bound to be present.

Camp Jeep will return to New York, with an 18-foot high Jeep Mountain and Trail Rated Pass three-wheeling demo. Other interactive rides include the 2015 Dodge Charger racing simulator; 2015 Ram Truck off-road simulator; and Chrysler brand’s “Beneath the Surface” 4-minute, 4D-immersive experience using the Oculus Rift DK2 headset, showcasing how the 2015 Chrysler 200 is made.

The New York Auto Show is held at the Javits Center, which is walking-distance from Penn Station, the midtown ferry, and the 42 bus line; the adventurous can also try to reach it by subway or the Port Authority bus terminal. Public show dates are April 3-12; the show opens every day at 10 am, and closes at 10 pm except on Sundays (7 pm). The cost is $16 anyone 13 and older, $7 for children under 13; there are discounts for adult groups of 20 or more, and for child groups of 10 or more. Annual public attendance is over one million, and the display area is now 950,000 square feet including the new Javits Center North.

Read more at: http://allparnews.com/index.php/2015/03/fcas-lineup-for-new-york-show-28245

2018 Wrangler engines

With the help of former Jeep engineer Bob Sheaves and others, Allpar has posted an investigation of what Jeep could use to power the domestic 2018 Wrangler, due to arrive sometime in calendar-year 2017.

The choices are tough for the iconic Jeep, America’s heir to the famed military vehicles — which were far smaller and weighed half as much. On the one hand, higher fuel economy is likely to be needed if fuel prices rise, and if the government continues its demands for efficiency (for national security, balance-of-trade, and, ostensibly, for environmental reasons). On the other, the Jeep must still haul around over two tons of weight, while easily climbing difficult obstacles — and it can’t cheap out on torque.

With that in mind, Wrangler is likely to come with at least two engines, one for economy in Jeeps that will not be challenged much by off-road driving; and one for those who will immediately tackle tough terrain. Indeed, given the popularity of the Ram 1500 Diesel and long-time demands of hard-core Jeepers, a diesel might even be in the cards, and Fiat Chrysler has several options there, too.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/12/2018-wrangler-engines-surprises

Dodge Dart R/T Concept: The High-Performance Compact Dodge Needs to Build

Dodge has a fascinating history of building hot compacts, one prominent example being the Omni GLHS by Shelby, while the Caliber SRT4 marked a low point in terms of style and refinement. For the 2014 SEMA show in Las Vegas, the carmaker has taken its sensible Dart and tweaked it significantly to make it digestible to more discerning enthusiasts.

Painted in bright orange with matte black as a contrast color, and fitted with a prominent rear spoiler and diffuser, this Dart R/T concept looks pleasantly aggressive. But it also looks rather refined, thanks to a revised front fascia that turns the grille into a slit, while creating a large lower air intake visually separated by a body-colored strip. This feeds more air to the intercooler, Dodge says. We say it just looks cool.

The flat-black aluminum hood incorporates a large duct that not only appears awesome, but also feeds extra air to the unspecified engine’s intake box (the hood will be available as a Mopar add-on beginning early next year). Fiat-Chrysler claims the Dart R/T concept seems “poised to strike fear in the competition.” We wouldn’t go that far, but we will say that the package is an impressive improvement over the already sleek-looking Dart. With 18-inch lightweight wheels, a big-brake kit, and adjustable coil-over suspension from the Mopar catalog, it promises better road manners, too.

Who knows—this concept may actually inspire a series-production variant and add another chapter to Dodge’s remarkable history of compact high-performance beasts. Given the Dart’s general “meh”-ness, we think such a car can’t arrive quickly enough.

As read on: http://blog.caranddriver.com/dodge-dart-rt-concept-the-high-performance-compact-dodge-needs-to-build/