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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2016 Dodge Challenger SXT Blacktop

      Six is good, but eight is even better

    For a time, the V6 was looked down upon in the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang because they were seen as lackluster. The engines didn’t match aggression that was being expressed by the exterior of the coupes. But rising gas prices and increasing regulations on fuel economy and emissions has the likes of GM, Ford, and FCA revisiting the idea of a V6 muscle car. We recently spent some time in a 2016 Dodge Challenger V6 to see if it is worth it.

    • I will argue that the Challenger is still the meanest looking out of the three muscle cars on sale. Dodge’s designers were able to bring the design of the original Challenger into the modern era without making it look like a complete mess. The little details such as the narrow grille, quad headlights, fuel filler cap, and rectangular taillights are here and help it stand out. Our tester featured the optional Blacktop package that adds a blacked-out grille, black stripes, and a set of 20-inch wheels.
    • The downside to bringing the original Challenger design into the modern era is poor visibility. Large rear pillars and a small glass area make it somewhat difficult to backup or making a pass. The good news is that a number of Challenger models like our SXT Plus come with a backup camera as standard and blind spot monitoring is available as an option.
    • The Challenger’s interior hasn’t changed much since we last reviewed it back in 2014 with the SRT 392. It is still a comfortable place to sit in and controls are in easy reach for the driver thanks to the center stack being slightly angled. Still, the limited glass area does mean you will feel somewhat confined.
    • Power for the SXT is Chrysler’s 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, you need to step to one of the V8 engines.
    • The V6 is quite surprising with how much performance is on offer. Step on the accelerator and the V6 moves the Challenger with surprising authority. Power comes on a smooth rate no matter what gear you find yourself in. The eight-speed automatic is one of best in the business with smart shifts.
    • Only disappointment is the V6 doesn’t sound like it belongs in the Challenger. There isn’t that muscular roar when step on the accelerator. A new exhaust and some tweaking in the engine could fix this issue. 
    • As for fuel economy, we got an average of 23.4 mpg. Not bad for a coupe that is rated at 19 City/30 Highway/23 Combined.
    • One item that the Challenger is known for is its ride comfort and this hasn’t changed. Even with the optional Super Track Pak fitted to our tester, the Challenger was able to provide a cushy ride over some of Michigan’s terrible roads. Road and wind noise are kept at very low levels.
    • Speaking of the Super Track Pak, this should be mandatory equipment on the V6 model. With firmer suspension bits, it makes the Challenger feel slightly smaller and reduces body roll around corners. However, it cannot mask the Challenger’s weight. Pushing it around a corner, the Challenger feels quite big and not as nimble the as the Chevrolet Camaro I drove afterward.
    • The Challenger SXT Plus starts at $29,995. Add on a few options such as the Blacktop package and you’ll came to an as-tested price of $34,965, pretty good value for a muscle car.
    • Going with the V6 option in the Challenger isn’t bad a choice. You get the looks of a muscle car and some decent performance. But as I drove the Challenger during the week, I couldn’t help but think about what if I had the V8. Six is good, but eight is even better.

    Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2016
    Make: Dodge
    Model: Challenger
    Trim: SXT Plus
    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
    Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
    Horsepower @ RPM: 305 @ 6,350
    Torque @ RPM: 268 @ 4,800
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/30/23
    Curb Weight: 3,885.2 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
    Base Price: $26,995
    As Tested Price: $34,965 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    SXT Plus 3.6L V6 Package 21V - $3,000.00
    Driver Convenience Group - $1,095.00
    Sound Group II - $795.00
    Blacktop Package - $695.00
    Super Track Pak - $695.00
    UConnect 8.4 NAV - $695.00

    Edited by William Maley



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    10 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

    No thanks. V8 or bust in this segment. Especially in the Chally.

    Agreed.

    I actually think the small turbo mills are more enticing than the V6's. Just something about them that I like more than torqueless V6's...

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    And to this I say: Meh. V8s are overrated.

    Yes, they make a good noise. Yes, they offer more in the way of straight-line speed. But so what?

    I can claim ownership of both a fourth-gen Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, a Dodge Challenger and a late-model Ford Mustang. None of those cars were equipped with their optional V8s; they were all lowly V6 models.

    But that doesn't mean they were any less fun.

    Actually, what you give up in raw grunt you earn back in handling (it's especially true for the Mustang). And, personally, I relish good handling over a V8's thump since I find myself traveling more on Kentucky's curvy backroads versus our interstate highways or bypasses. However, for the times I have traveled on straighter blacktop, I've always found the V6 to be adequate.

    Then there's the money you save on the purchase price and, obviously, on insurance costs and at the gas pump.

    I guess what you do lose and never gain back is image. But, you know, I could care less about my car giving some mediocre middle-aged bald spot a hard-on between traffic lights. I didn't buy my car for someone else to enjoy -- selfishly, it's for me and me alone.

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    Not in those older generations you don't gain handling capabilities back with their skinny tires and soft suspensions.

    "that doesn't mean they were any less fun" - Yes. Yes it does mean they are less fun! lol

     

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    7 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    Not in those older generations you don't gain handling capabilities back with their skinny tires and soft suspensions.

    "that doesn't mean they were any less fun" - Yes. Yes it does mean they are less fun! lol

    Certainly, you do realize you've just made an argument here that's about as watertight as the Titanic.

    Skinny tires? My fourth-gen, six-banger Camaro and Firebird were both equipped with the same exact 16-inch wheels and tires as the Z28 and Trans Am, respectively, for 1998.

    (Only SS and WS6 models had 17-inch wheels and tires. Additionally, all Camaros and Firebirds used the same dual-piston brakes starting that year, regardless if they were V6 or V8-equipped.)

    In fact, the Firebird I owned was also equipped with the Y87 performance package that earned the car a V8 steering box and an upgraded suspension. I can't remember if the Camaro I had also packed the Y87 package, but I'm leaning toward yes since it had the Z28's 16-inch wheels and I remember the window sticker showing the car to be pretty much a fully-loaded V6 car, save for leather seats. So then, so much for a downgraded suspension.

    Let's also dig a little deeper, think with an open-mind for a second. Those V6 cars actually had most of the engine's weight placed behind the front wheels, and weighed a few hundred pounds less than their V8 counterparts. Obviously, these factors had positive effects on how the V6 cars handled.

    Facts aside, driving impressions are, like styling, ultimately a subjective matter. The stock tires on a Scion FR-S, for example, are actually pretty frickin skinny. But, if I recall correctly, most reviewers praise the FR-S as being fun to drive and a good handling car, just slow. Hmmmm...

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    9 hours ago, Blake Noble said:

    Certainly, you do realize you've just made an argument here that's about as watertight as the Titanic.

    Skinny tires? My fourth-gen, six-banger Camaro and Firebird were both equipped with the same exact 16-inch wheels and tires as the Z28 and Trans Am, respectively, for 1998.

    (Only SS and WS6 models had 17-inch wheels and tires. Additionally, all Camaros and Firebirds used the same dual-piston brakes starting that year, regardless if they were V6 or V8-equipped.)

    In fact, the Firebird I owned was also equipped with the Y87 performance package that earned the car a V8 steering box and an upgraded suspension. I can't remember if the Camaro I had also packed the Y87 package, but I'm leaning toward yes since it had the Z28's 16-inch wheels and I remember the window sticker showing the car to be pretty much a fully-loaded V6 car, save for leather seats. So then, so much for a downgraded suspension.

    Let's also dig a little deeper, think with an open-mind for a second. Those V6 cars actually had most of the engine's weight placed behind the front wheels, and weighed a few hundred pounds less than their V8 counterparts. Obviously, these factors had positive effects on how the V6 cars handled.

    Facts aside, driving impressions are, like styling, ultimately a subjective matter. The stock tires on a Scion FR-S, for example, are actually pretty frickin skinny. But, if I recall correctly, most reviewers praise the FR-S as being fun to drive and a good handling car, just slow. Hmmmm...

    1998 Camaro v6's has tire options of 215/50R16 and 235/55R16 and the SS came with 275/40R17s. Z/28 has a super awkward tire size of 245/5016. Those are very much different tire sizes. Not just section width but a more aggressive aspect ratio as well. And yes those taller sidewalls made for a squishy feeling.

    Looking up what exactly this Y87 Performance Package entails.. Nothing to do with suspension. 3.42 gears, Zexel-Torsion LSD, 235/55R16 Goodyear Eagles, Dual exhaust, 4 wheel disc brakes, and the V8's steering rack.

    The little FR-S/BRZ twins do have relatively skinny tires, and they also come with low rolling resistance tires from the factory. 214/45R17. The car has a boxer engine and it sits extremely low in the car bringing the CG down a ton in comparison. Yes, the V6 Camaros and Mustangs of those older generations weighed less because of less engine but you'll never objectively explain how the V6(of those older generations because the new ones are a completely different story with 1LE packages and north of 300hp and such) could be more fun than their V8 counterparts. Sliding around a 2700-2800lb car with exceptional balance is not the same as a 3300-3500lb, not well balanced, car.

    "Also critical in it’s handling dynamics is the BRZ has one of the lowest centers of gravity of any production car in the world at just 18.1 inches. This is because of Subaru’s Boxer engine design with its inherently low height and its mass concentrated low in the chassis. It contributes to all Subaru’s having this important characteristic, but BRZ takes maximum advantage of this."

    http://www.torquenews.com/1084/three-things-make-2015-subaru-brz-special-sports-car

    For what it's worth, C/D compared the Mustang and Camaro back in 1999 and the V6 Camaro ran a 16.1@87mph. That's not exactly fun speed either.. The little BRZ does the same in 15.0@94mph. Not the greatest comparison. Slow and overweight vs quick and light.

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    15 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    1998 Camaro v6's has tire options of 215/50R16 and 235/55R16 and the SS came with 275/40R17s. Z/28 has a super awkward tire size of 245/5016. Those are very much different tire sizes. Not just section width but a more aggressive aspect ratio as well. And yes those taller sidewalls made for a squishy feeling.

    Looking up what exactly this Y87 Performance Package entails.. Nothing to do with suspension. 3.42 gears, Zexel-Torsion LSD, 235/55R16 Goodyear Eagles, Dual exhaust, 4 wheel disc brakes, and the V8's steering rack.

    The little FR-S/BRZ twins do have relatively skinny tires, and they also come with low rolling resistance tires from the factory. 214/45R17. The car has a boxer engine and it sits extremely low in the car bringing the CG down a ton in comparison. Yes, the V6 Camaros and Mustangs of those older generations weighed less because of less engine but you'll never objectively explain how the V6(of those older generations because the new ones are a completely different story with 1LE packages and north of 300hp and such) could be more fun than their V8 counterparts. Sliding around a 2700-2800lb car with exceptional balance is not the same as a 3300-3500lb, not well balanced, car.

    "Also critical in it’s handling dynamics is the BRZ has one of the lowest centers of gravity of any production car in the world at just 18.1 inches. This is because of Subaru’s Boxer engine design with its inherently low height and its mass concentrated low in the chassis. It contributes to all Subaru’s having this important characteristic, but BRZ takes maximum advantage of this."

    http://www.torquenews.com/1084/three-things-make-2015-subaru-brz-special-sports-car

    For what it's worth, C/D compared the Mustang and Camaro back in 1999 and the V6 Camaro ran a 16.1@87mph. That's not exactly fun speed either.. The little BRZ does the same in 15.0@94mph. Not the greatest comparison. Slow and overweight vs quick and light.

    Jesus, dude...

    Alright then, let's do this, I guess...

    1. The 245/50R16 tire size you mentioned for the Z28 were a Z-rated tire offered as optional equipment for 1998. They were not the standard tire for that year. All base Z/28s had 235/55R16 tires... and, hey, wouldn't you know it? Those are the same tires that my V6 Camaro had.
    2. I've discovered there's some confusion as to whether or not Y87 cars had upgraded suspension parts. I've seen a few sources say yes, others no. I've been under the impression the suspension was upgraded somehow over a basic non-Y87 car. So I decided to do a little research. It appears whatever source you've quoted is ultimately correct. However, with that said, it's possible Y87 cars likely use different steering arms from base V6 cars to use the V8 steering box. If so, I suppose some sources might be counting that as an "upgraded suspension." My apologies for further propagating that confusion.
    3. ...But, while researching the above topic, continuing on with V6 vs V8 suspension differences, all '98 and up V6 and base V8 F-Body cars actually use the same rear coil springs (code TJ). Obviously the front springs are different between the two to account for a lighter/heavier engine, not necessarily to make the handling worse or the ride any softer. Again, only SS and WS6 cars had upgraded springs all the way round. So, once again I'll ask, what downgraded suspension?

    So to recap:

    • The Camaro I owned had the same 235/55R16 tires as a base model Z28 for 1998.
    • The Camaro I owned I believe had the Y87 package, which meant it shared the same steering box and rear differential as a 1998 Z28. It's also possible the steering arms are shared as well.
    • The Camaro I owned had the same rear coil springs as a base model '98 Z28. The front coil springs were different to compensate for difference in weight of the V6 versus the V8 engine, not to compromise the ride or handling. This is true for all 1998 Camaros -- base V6, Y87 V6 and base Z28 -- with the exception of SS models.
    • As an aside, at this point, it wouldn't surprise me if even the shocks are the same between base V6, Y87 V6 and base Z28 Camaros built in 1998, although I haven't researched this yet.

    The tire and suspension differences are so minor between the car I owned and a base Z28 I don't see how anyone could argue the V8 absolutely handled better, unless we're talking about an SS model which could boast a slight advantage over both the V6 and Z28. But at that point, what engine the car has becomes completely irrelevant. Sure, you can say there's a V8 better than the V6, but you'd be choosing to be ignorant to the fact that it's also better than a similar V8 car as well.

    Moving forward now...

    1. Using quarter mile times in a discussion about handling is totally irrelevant. I don't think you make left and right hand turns in a straight-line drag race. Or are you onto some new fun trend that you'd like to share?
    2. Curb weight has little to weight distribution. For example: it's possible for one car to weigh 3,000 lbs. and the other 3,500 but both have the same 55/45 weight distribution. So your point is... ?
    3. The V6 Camaro has 57/43 weight distribution. The FR-S is 53/47. I thought that was interesting.

    Ultimately, though, you are missing the point of my mention of the FR-S in the last bit of my post, just like how you're missing the entire message of my original post.

    On that last note, let's see if using a British accent fixes that, for whatever reason:

    Does that make it any clearer? You're trying to dispute that entire notion based on -- what? -- two out of the four cars I've owned that I'm basing my impression on?

    I need a goddamn Advil now.

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    32 minutes ago, Blake Noble said:

    You're trying to dispute that entire notion based on -- what? -- two out of the four cars I've owned that I'm basing my impression on?

    This is all that needed to be said.. you're defensive of them because you've owned them..

    I'm not intentionally coming off aggressive.. That's the stupid internet's fault or not capturing my light-ness of discussion. My bad there, brother.

    The reason I brought up 1/4 mile times/0-60 times was because you said "fun". You said they were more "fun" and that's why I looked into more than just maximum handling capabilities.

    Thank you for informing me on those v6 and z/28 similarities. Way closer than I would have thought but I'm still coming up with 245's and 235's for the z/28, both on 16 inch wheels. That seems like not enough tire for the LS1..just sayin'.

    The point of weight distribution is handling capabilities. A Camaro with a v6 or v8 over the front axel is going to have a lot more weight over the front end than a BRZ with a boxer 4 tucked lower and further back. The BRZ and '98 Camaro will be night and day in corner carving.

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    1999 z/28 test results

    1999 Camaro v6 test results

    I realize they are 1999 and not 1998, FYI. But that's the same generation for the Camaro so I assumed it was okay.

    Found it interesting that the z/28 held a higher maximum lateral g's but the v6 did the emergency lane change a good amount quicker(nearly 5mph). They also took the same distance to brake 70-0mph. Interesting, indeeeeeeed.

    Edited by ccap41

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    The Challenger needs the 5.7L V8 to be relevant. It weighs too damn much and lacks handling/braking in its class overall, but especially in V6 trims. A V6 Challenger will not drive better because you saved 100 lbs, as the car's most redeeming quality is being a muscle car and the V6 struggles to keep up with common family cars with 2.0Ts and V6s. Fun in a Challenger is a rip-roaring V8 laying a patch of rubber, not getting 30 mpg and losing races against grocery getters.

    The same argument can easily be applied to the Camaro and Mustang prior to the late 2000s. It's an incredibly unpopular stance to claim that a 90s pony car is just as fun (or moreso) without a V8. Some things are "subjective opinion" but come on.

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    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    This is all that needed to be said.. you're defensive of them because you've owned them..

    I'm defensive of them because not necessarily because of my ownership of them, but because these cars deserve to be judged and enjoyed based on their own merits and not what they lack compared to their V8 counterparts. These cars do have a unique flavor of their own to offer and appreciate. 

    Let me touch on this thought of mine for just a minute: I sincerely believe the "no replacement for displacement" mentality that lingers over the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger like a sour fart is what'll ultimately doom these cars when internal combustion engines go the way of the carrier pigeon, Soviet Union and Member's Only jackets. And what I've seen unfold in this thread only further solidifies that notion, honestly.

    If these cars survive electrification, it'll be nothing short of a damn miracle because the shear number of all of the old folks and folks who are "old at heart" dying from heart-attacks at the silence of a electric Mustang burnout alone will likely justify some sort of government '90s assault weapons-style ban on electric cars, despite the fact an all-electric Mustang could give way to the best driving Mustang of all time, if not simply the best all-around Mustang ever.

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    The reason I brought up 1/4 mile times/0-60 times was because you said "fun". You said they were more "fun" and that's why I looked into more than just maximum handling capabilities.

    I said they were more "fun" because you can use more of the car in legal driving conditions. Remember the driving conditions I mentioned earlier? I've never set a tire on a drag strip and I don't carry a stopwatch around. I do plenty of driving on curvy country roads and backroads (US 421 in particular is a real treat) and anything packing more than 300 to 325 horsepower would be pretty much useless. Really, 300 horsepower can be a bit too much at times.

    Reference that James May segment I posted. There's less power with a V6 Camaro, Mustang or Challenger, sure, but there's more usable power. Sure, with a V8 model you can go 0-60 faster than the taco squirts, and down the quarter mile quicker than an ape with a hot fire poker up its ass, but those are ultimately just numbers on paper. It doesn't count for much if you can't use those numbers in the real world.

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    Thank you for informing me on those v6 and z/28 similarities. Way closer than I would have thought but I'm still coming up with 245's and 235's for the z/28, both on 16 inch wheels. That seems like not enough tire for the LS1..just sayin'.

    Well, hey, it was the late '90s. Compared to what automakers were using less than 10 years prior, those tires were probably something for the Camaro then. Today, we're used to 17 inch wheels as standard equipment on Camries and Malibus.

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    The point of weight distribution is handling capabilities. A Camaro with a v6 or v8 over the front axel is going to have a lot more weight over the front end than a BRZ with a boxer 4 tucked lower and further back. The BRZ and '98 Camaro will be night and day in corner carving.

    Well, yah.

    I really don't know where to go here but I wasn't originally trying to directly compare the Camaro to the FR-S...

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    I'm not intentionally coming off aggressive.. That's the stupid internet's fault or not capturing my light-ness of discussion. My bad there, brother.

    No worries. I didn't mean to come across abrasive, either. Defensive, maybe. But then again, I'm not used to an argument being this civilized around here, sadly.

    19 hours ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    The Challenger needs the 5.7L V8 to be relevant. It weighs too damn much and lacks handling/braking in its class overall, but especially in V6 trims. A V6 Challenger will not drive better because you saved 100 lbs, as the car's most redeeming quality is being a muscle car and the V6 struggles to keep up with common family cars with 2.0Ts and V6s. Fun in a Challenger is a rip-roaring V8 laying a patch of rubber, not getting 30 mpg and losing races against grocery getters.

    The same argument can easily be applied to the Camaro and Mustang prior to the late 2000s. It's an incredibly unpopular stance to claim that a 90s pony car is just as fun (or moreso) without a V8. Some things are "subjective opinion" but come on.

    I'll agree that the Challenger is a Fatty McFatpants that needs to go on a diet. But I'm sticking to what I said earlier: the V6 SE and SXT cars are better at backroad exploration than the R/T models.

    But, really, a Challenger is best at cruising down boulevards and interstates and going on long distance trips. It's a big, comfortable car. It's half family car, half grand tourer. It's basically a Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe wearing a pony car pelt. (Not much different, then, than the Challenger in Vanishing Point if you think about it a bit.) And, really, what engine you have under the hood is moot when all you do is loaf around on straight-stretches of road.

    And I'm proud to march to the beat of different drum here.

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    I own a 5.7 Challenger R/T. I love it, but could a V6 Chally replace it? Sure. Why not? It's is a rare event when I get a chance to stretch the Hemi's legs. It's my go to car for road trips, and on rare occasions I drive it down some winding, twisting mountain roads near where I live, but that is usually a waste of time because of the number of families out for a weekend cruise on the same mountain roads that muck-up any opportunity for me to unwind the Challenger, and that is the problem. There really isn't any safe legal way to reach the potential of these cars unless one spends his weekends at the track, drives dangerously, or temps fate with the local law enforcement and most people have little time for that, so most of these cars are really nothing more than daily driver's, and who really cares if it is a V8 or V6?  

     

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      The plan would bring around 6,500 total jobs to the region.
      FCA Press Release on Page 2


      FCA to Expand Production Capacity in Michigan to Grow Core Brands, Electrify Jeep® Vehicles

      $4.5 Billion to Build New Assembly Plant in Detroit and Add Production at Five Existing Michigan Facilities, Creating Nearly 6,500 Jobs
       
      FCA total committed investments in the U.S. grow to nearly $14.5 billion since 2009, with nearly 30,000 jobs created to date Investment would be next step in Company’s U.S. industrialization plan, announced in 2016 to expand Jeep® and Ram brands Introduces two new Jeep-branded “white space” products in key market segments Enables electrification of new Jeep models $1.6 billion investment would convert Mack Avenue Engine Complex into manufacturing site for next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV, creating 3,850 new jobs $900 million investment at Jefferson North to retool and modernize plant for continued production of Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee with 1,100 new jobs expected Warren Truck 2017 investment increases to $1.5 billion for production of all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, as well as continued assembly of Ram 1500 Classic with addition of 1,400 new jobs All three assembly sites would also produce plug-in hybrid versions of their respective Jeep models with flexibility to build fully battery-electric models in the future Sterling Stamping and Warren Stamping plants to receive more than $400 million total investment to support additional production, potentially creating about 80 new jobs at Sterling $119 million investment to relocate Pentastar engine production currently at Mack I to the Dundee Engine Plant; production at Mack would end by Q3 2019 Projects contingent on land acquisition and the negotiation of development incentives with the cities of Detroit, Sterling Heights, Warren, Dundee and state of Michigan City of Detroit has 60 days to deliver on commitments outlined in Memorandum of Understanding related to Mack and Jefferson North projects February 26, 2019 , London - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) confirmed today plans to invest a total of $4.5 billion in five of its existing Michigan plants, and to work with the city of Detroit and state of Michigan on building a new assembly plant within city limits. The move would increase capacity to meet growing demand for its Jeep® and Ram brands, including production of two new Jeep-branded white space products, as well as electrified models. The proposed projects would create nearly 6,500 new jobs.

      The plant actions detailed in today’s announcement represent the next steps in a U.S. manufacturing realignment that FCA began in 2016. In response to a shift in consumer demand toward SUVs and trucks, the Company discontinued compact car production and retooled plants in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan to make full use of available capacity to expand the Jeep and Ram brands. Those actions have resulted in the recent launches of the award-winning all-new Jeep Wrangler and all-new Ram 1500, and the introduction of the newest member of the Jeep family, the all-new Jeep Gladiator, at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.

      “Three years ago, FCA set a course to grow our profitability based on the strength of the Jeep and Ram brands by realigning our U.S. manufacturing operations,” said Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, FCA N.V. “Today’s announcement represents the next step in that strategy. It allows Jeep to enter two white space segments that offer significant margin opportunities and will enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles.”

      The city of Detroit has 60 days to meet the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding, which requires the acquisition of property critical to the execution of the Mack project. The additional investments are subject to the successful negotiation and final approval of development packages with the state and other local governments.

      Plant Investment Details
      FCA would invest $1.6 billion to convert the two plants that comprise the Mack Avenue Engine Complex into the future assembly site for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, adding 3,850 new jobs to support production. The Company intends to start construction of the new Detroit facility by the end of Q2 2019 with the first three-row vehicles expected to roll off the line by the end of 2020, followed by the all-new Grand Cherokee in the first half of 2021.

      Also as part of this announcement, the Jefferson North Assembly Plant would receive an investment of $900 million to retool and modernize the facility to build the Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. FCA expects to create 1,100 new jobs at Jefferson North.

      The reborn Mack facility would be the first new assembly plant to be built in the city of Detroit in nearly three decades. In 1991, Jefferson North was the last new assembly plant built in the city. When complete, Mack would join Jefferson North as the only automotive assembly plants to be located completely within the city limits of Detroit.

      The Pentastar engines – the 3.6-, 3.2- and 3.0-liter – currently built at Mack I would be relocated to the Dundee Engine Plant as part of a $119 million investment. Pentastar production at Mack I would end by Q3 2019. Mack II has been idle since it ceased production of the 3.7-liter V-6 in September 2012.

      FCA also confirms the investment at Warren Truck to retool for production of the all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, announced in 2017, along with their electrified counterparts, would increase to $1.5 billion. Production is expected to launch in early 2021. In addition to the new Jeep models, the plant would continue building the Ram 1500 Classic, which is being extended to meet market demand. It is expected that 1,400 new jobs would be added. As a result of this investment announcement, production of the all-new Ram Heavy Duty will continue at its current location in Saltillo, Mexico.

      To support the additional production, the Company’s Warren Stamping (Warren, Michigan) and Sterling Stamping (Sterling Heights, Michigan) plants would receive investments of $245 million and $160 million, respectively, with Sterling Stamping expected to add more than 80 new jobs.

      This investment is part of the Company's capital spending plan presented in June 2018.

      Realignment of FCA U.S. Manufacturing Operations
      Over the past two years, FCA has realigned production at four plants in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan to increase capacity for the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500 light-duty truck, and created additional manufacturing capacity for the Jeep Gladiator in Ohio.

      The investments included:  $350 million in the Belvidere Assembly Plant (Illinois) to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which moved from Toledo, Ohio, in 2017. More than 300 new jobs were added to support production, which launched in June 2017. $700 million in the Toledo Assembly Complex (Ohio) to retool the North plant to produce the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. Approximately 700 new jobs were added to support production, which began in December 2017. $1.48 billion in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (Michigan) to build the next-generation Ram 1500 truck, adding more than 700 new jobs. Production of the new truck began in March 2018. Production of the Ram 1500 Classic continues at Warren Truck (Michigan). $273 million in the south plant of the Toledo Assembly Complex to prepare the facility to produce the all-new Jeep Gladiator. The new truck is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019.   In total, FCA has committed to invest nearly $14.5 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations, creating nearly 30,000 new jobs since June 2009.
      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Fiat-Chrysler announced a $4.5 billion investment today to build a new assembly plant in Detroit and add production at five existing facilities in Michigan. The move will increase capacity for Jeep, Ram, and Dodge Durango. 
      $1.6 billion will go to the Mack Avenue Engine complex to convert the site into a manufacturing facility for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV. This will create 3,850 new jobs. $900 million will go to Jefferson North for retooling and modernization for production of the Dodge Durango and next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. This will create 1,100 jobs. The investment into Warren Truck increases to $1.5 Billion for the production of the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, plus continued production of the Ram 1500 Classic. This will create 1,400 new jobs. In addition to the plant investments, FCA has announced that future Jeep products will be electrified.  All three facilities will be able to produce plug-in hybrid versions with fully electric model capability in the future.  
      The project is contingent on land acquisition near the Mack Avenue plant.  FCA plans to move quickly and start construction on the new facility in late Q2 2019.  When complete, the facility will be the first new vehicle assembly plant built in the City of Detroit since 1991.  The Mack Ave I plant currently builds the 3.0, 3.2, and 3.6 liter Pentastar V6. That production will move to the Dundee Engine Plant. 
      The plan would bring around 6,500 total jobs to the region.
      FCA Press Release on Page 2


      FCA to Expand Production Capacity in Michigan to Grow Core Brands, Electrify Jeep® Vehicles

      $4.5 Billion to Build New Assembly Plant in Detroit and Add Production at Five Existing Michigan Facilities, Creating Nearly 6,500 Jobs
       
      FCA total committed investments in the U.S. grow to nearly $14.5 billion since 2009, with nearly 30,000 jobs created to date Investment would be next step in Company’s U.S. industrialization plan, announced in 2016 to expand Jeep® and Ram brands Introduces two new Jeep-branded “white space” products in key market segments Enables electrification of new Jeep models $1.6 billion investment would convert Mack Avenue Engine Complex into manufacturing site for next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV, creating 3,850 new jobs $900 million investment at Jefferson North to retool and modernize plant for continued production of Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee with 1,100 new jobs expected Warren Truck 2017 investment increases to $1.5 billion for production of all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, as well as continued assembly of Ram 1500 Classic with addition of 1,400 new jobs All three assembly sites would also produce plug-in hybrid versions of their respective Jeep models with flexibility to build fully battery-electric models in the future Sterling Stamping and Warren Stamping plants to receive more than $400 million total investment to support additional production, potentially creating about 80 new jobs at Sterling $119 million investment to relocate Pentastar engine production currently at Mack I to the Dundee Engine Plant; production at Mack would end by Q3 2019 Projects contingent on land acquisition and the negotiation of development incentives with the cities of Detroit, Sterling Heights, Warren, Dundee and state of Michigan City of Detroit has 60 days to deliver on commitments outlined in Memorandum of Understanding related to Mack and Jefferson North projects February 26, 2019 , London - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) confirmed today plans to invest a total of $4.5 billion in five of its existing Michigan plants, and to work with the city of Detroit and state of Michigan on building a new assembly plant within city limits. The move would increase capacity to meet growing demand for its Jeep® and Ram brands, including production of two new Jeep-branded white space products, as well as electrified models. The proposed projects would create nearly 6,500 new jobs.

      The plant actions detailed in today’s announcement represent the next steps in a U.S. manufacturing realignment that FCA began in 2016. In response to a shift in consumer demand toward SUVs and trucks, the Company discontinued compact car production and retooled plants in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan to make full use of available capacity to expand the Jeep and Ram brands. Those actions have resulted in the recent launches of the award-winning all-new Jeep Wrangler and all-new Ram 1500, and the introduction of the newest member of the Jeep family, the all-new Jeep Gladiator, at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.

      “Three years ago, FCA set a course to grow our profitability based on the strength of the Jeep and Ram brands by realigning our U.S. manufacturing operations,” said Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, FCA N.V. “Today’s announcement represents the next step in that strategy. It allows Jeep to enter two white space segments that offer significant margin opportunities and will enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles.”

      The city of Detroit has 60 days to meet the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding, which requires the acquisition of property critical to the execution of the Mack project. The additional investments are subject to the successful negotiation and final approval of development packages with the state and other local governments.

      Plant Investment Details
      FCA would invest $1.6 billion to convert the two plants that comprise the Mack Avenue Engine Complex into the future assembly site for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, adding 3,850 new jobs to support production. The Company intends to start construction of the new Detroit facility by the end of Q2 2019 with the first three-row vehicles expected to roll off the line by the end of 2020, followed by the all-new Grand Cherokee in the first half of 2021.

      Also as part of this announcement, the Jefferson North Assembly Plant would receive an investment of $900 million to retool and modernize the facility to build the Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. FCA expects to create 1,100 new jobs at Jefferson North.

      The reborn Mack facility would be the first new assembly plant to be built in the city of Detroit in nearly three decades. In 1991, Jefferson North was the last new assembly plant built in the city. When complete, Mack would join Jefferson North as the only automotive assembly plants to be located completely within the city limits of Detroit.

      The Pentastar engines – the 3.6-, 3.2- and 3.0-liter – currently built at Mack I would be relocated to the Dundee Engine Plant as part of a $119 million investment. Pentastar production at Mack I would end by Q3 2019. Mack II has been idle since it ceased production of the 3.7-liter V-6 in September 2012.

      FCA also confirms the investment at Warren Truck to retool for production of the all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, announced in 2017, along with their electrified counterparts, would increase to $1.5 billion. Production is expected to launch in early 2021. In addition to the new Jeep models, the plant would continue building the Ram 1500 Classic, which is being extended to meet market demand. It is expected that 1,400 new jobs would be added. As a result of this investment announcement, production of the all-new Ram Heavy Duty will continue at its current location in Saltillo, Mexico.

      To support the additional production, the Company’s Warren Stamping (Warren, Michigan) and Sterling Stamping (Sterling Heights, Michigan) plants would receive investments of $245 million and $160 million, respectively, with Sterling Stamping expected to add more than 80 new jobs.

      This investment is part of the Company's capital spending plan presented in June 2018.

      Realignment of FCA U.S. Manufacturing Operations
      Over the past two years, FCA has realigned production at four plants in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan to increase capacity for the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500 light-duty truck, and created additional manufacturing capacity for the Jeep Gladiator in Ohio.

      The investments included:  $350 million in the Belvidere Assembly Plant (Illinois) to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which moved from Toledo, Ohio, in 2017. More than 300 new jobs were added to support production, which launched in June 2017. $700 million in the Toledo Assembly Complex (Ohio) to retool the North plant to produce the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. Approximately 700 new jobs were added to support production, which began in December 2017. $1.48 billion in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (Michigan) to build the next-generation Ram 1500 truck, adding more than 700 new jobs. Production of the new truck began in March 2018. Production of the Ram 1500 Classic continues at Warren Truck (Michigan). $273 million in the south plant of the Toledo Assembly Complex to prepare the facility to produce the all-new Jeep Gladiator. The new truck is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019.   In total, FCA has committed to invest nearly $14.5 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations, creating nearly 30,000 new jobs since June 2009.
    • By William Maley
      The Kia Stinger has been one of the most hotly anticipated vehicles in recent years. Here was a model that promised to rival models from luxury brands in terms styling, performance, and handling at a lower price. It felt like Kia was bitting off more they could chew, but I was willing to give it a chance. After spending a week in a Stinger GT1, I have to say it delivers on most of those promises.
      Depending on where you look at the Stinger, the impression will range from something quite beautiful to a bit of a mess. Straight on the front, the Stinger looks like something from an Italian or German automaker with a narrow front grille, distinctive cuts on for the bumper, and a slightly contoured hood. The back is neatly shaped with a rounded tailgate, taillights that run the length of the rear end, and quad exhaust pipes. But the Stinger’s design begins to lose some elegance when looked at from an angle. Take the rear as an example. The way Kia tries to bring the coupe-like roofline, bulging rear fenders, 19-inch wheels, and taillights that extend into the fenders ends up looking somewhat awkward.
      Color also plays a big role in making or breaking the Stinger’s look. In the case of my tester, the white does help minimize some of the polarizing parts of the vehicle. Going with red only emphasizes them and that will turn off some folks.
      Compared to the outgoing and expressive look of the exterior, the Stinger’s interior is quite disappointing. The minimalist approach Kia employs in the Stinger with minimal brightwork and narrow center stack doesn’t fully fit the exclusive image being presented outside. Not helping are some of the materials used in the Stinger. Considering that Kia is pitting this model against the likes of Audi and BMW, some of the plastics don’t match up to the image being portrayed. 
      The front seats in the Stinger GT offer excellent back support, along with numerous power adjustments including side bolstering. I did wish the bottom cushion was slightly longer to allow for better thigh support. Those sitting in the back will find adequate legroom, but headroom is tight due to the sloping roofline. It was a bit disappointing that Kia doesn’t offer seat heaters for the rear, considering some of their other models like the Optima offer it. One place that the Stinger excels at is cargo space. Open the rear hatch and you’ll find 23.3 cubic feet of space. This expands to 40.9 when the rear seats are folded. Only the Buick Regal Sportback and BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe offer more space.
      The Stinger GT uses an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Kia’s UVO infotainment system. We have heaped much praise on UVO on the system being simple to use and offering a number of features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I don’t like the placement of touchscreen on top of the dash as it makes hard to reach. Kia should consider adding some sort of control knob on the center console to improve overall usability.
      GT models get a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. Our tester came with the optional all-wheel drive system. I have experienced this engine in Genesis G80 Sport and G90, and have raved about how it delivers ample power no matter the driving situation, along with minimal turbo lag. Those same traits continue in the Stinger GT as the engine moves the vehicle at a surprising rate. The eight-speed automatic transmission delivers rapid and smooth shifts.
      The big downside the twin-turbo V6 is fuel economy. EPA rates the Stinger GT at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined for both rear and all-wheel drive. My average for the week landed around 18.2 mpg partly due to me dipping a bit too much into the boost.
      Kia has been making a big deal about how the Stinger GT can rival competitors from other brands in terms of handling. They bring up how Albert Biermann, the former head at BMW’s M performance division, helped in the development of the chassis. Seems like a lot of talk, but the good news is that Kia has delivered. Down a winding road, the Stinger GT exhibits qualities seen on such vehicles like the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS 350 F-Sport with excellent body control and a willingness to quickly transition from one corner to another. Steering is where Kia could do some more work as it doesn’t quite have the same feel or weight as those models mentioned above.
      Ride quality is another area where Stinger GT is surprising. Despite the 19-inch wheels and sporty suspension setup, the Stinger GT provides a compliant ride with only large bumps making their way inside. Road noise is noticeable, due mostly to the summer tire and wheel setup on the vehicle. Wind noise was kept to very acceptable levels.
      The Kia Stinger seems to be similar in the overall idea as the K900 in serving as an attainable halo vehicle. While the K900 aimed at those wanting something along the lines of an S-Class or 7-Series, the Stinger GT serves those who something that can rival the likes the BMW 3/4-Series, Audi A4/A5, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class not only in terms of performance, but also in luxury. The end result is mixed. Kia has nailed down the performance and exterior styling, but the interior doesn’t fully match the ambitions being presented. Fuel economy could be slightly better.
      But the biggest problem for the Stinger GT is convincing buyers to spend almost $50,000 on a Kia. My GT1 AWD tester with a few options came to an as-tested price of $48,350. Telling someone you spent that much for a Kia sedan will raise some eyebrows. Despite how good the Stinger GT is to look at or drive, the Kia badge on the front will ultimately push most people away. 
      If you’re part of a small group who could care less about what badge is fitted onto a vehicle, then you’ll find the Stinger GT is a very impressive package.
      Gallery: 2018 Kia Stinger GT1 AWD
      Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Stinger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Kia
      Model: Stinger
      Trim: GT1 AWD
      Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,023 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Sohari, South Korea
      Base Price: $45,450
      As Tested Price: $48,350 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Advanced Driver Assistance Package - $2,000

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The Kia Stinger has been one of the most hotly anticipated vehicles in recent years. Here was a model that promised to rival models from luxury brands in terms styling, performance, and handling at a lower price. It felt like Kia was bitting off more they could chew, but I was willing to give it a chance. After spending a week in a Stinger GT1, I have to say it delivers on most of those promises.
      Depending on where you look at the Stinger, the impression will range from something quite beautiful to a bit of a mess. Straight on the front, the Stinger looks like something from an Italian or German automaker with a narrow front grille, distinctive cuts on for the bumper, and a slightly contoured hood. The back is neatly shaped with a rounded tailgate, taillights that run the length of the rear end, and quad exhaust pipes. But the Stinger’s design begins to lose some elegance when looked at from an angle. Take the rear as an example. The way Kia tries to bring the coupe-like roofline, bulging rear fenders, 19-inch wheels, and taillights that extend into the fenders ends up looking somewhat awkward.
      Color also plays a big role in making or breaking the Stinger’s look. In the case of my tester, the white does help minimize some of the polarizing parts of the vehicle. Going with red only emphasizes them and that will turn off some folks.
      Compared to the outgoing and expressive look of the exterior, the Stinger’s interior is quite disappointing. The minimalist approach Kia employs in the Stinger with minimal brightwork and narrow center stack doesn’t fully fit the exclusive image being presented outside. Not helping are some of the materials used in the Stinger. Considering that Kia is pitting this model against the likes of Audi and BMW, some of the plastics don’t match up to the image being portrayed. 
      The front seats in the Stinger GT offer excellent back support, along with numerous power adjustments including side bolstering. I did wish the bottom cushion was slightly longer to allow for better thigh support. Those sitting in the back will find adequate legroom, but headroom is tight due to the sloping roofline. It was a bit disappointing that Kia doesn’t offer seat heaters for the rear, considering some of their other models like the Optima offer it. One place that the Stinger excels at is cargo space. Open the rear hatch and you’ll find 23.3 cubic feet of space. This expands to 40.9 when the rear seats are folded. Only the Buick Regal Sportback and BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe offer more space.
      The Stinger GT uses an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Kia’s UVO infotainment system. We have heaped much praise on UVO on the system being simple to use and offering a number of features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I don’t like the placement of touchscreen on top of the dash as it makes hard to reach. Kia should consider adding some sort of control knob on the center console to improve overall usability.
      GT models get a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. Our tester came with the optional all-wheel drive system. I have experienced this engine in Genesis G80 Sport and G90, and have raved about how it delivers ample power no matter the driving situation, along with minimal turbo lag. Those same traits continue in the Stinger GT as the engine moves the vehicle at a surprising rate. The eight-speed automatic transmission delivers rapid and smooth shifts.
      The big downside the twin-turbo V6 is fuel economy. EPA rates the Stinger GT at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined for both rear and all-wheel drive. My average for the week landed around 18.2 mpg partly due to me dipping a bit too much into the boost.
      Kia has been making a big deal about how the Stinger GT can rival competitors from other brands in terms of handling. They bring up how Albert Biermann, the former head at BMW’s M performance division, helped in the development of the chassis. Seems like a lot of talk, but the good news is that Kia has delivered. Down a winding road, the Stinger GT exhibits qualities seen on such vehicles like the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS 350 F-Sport with excellent body control and a willingness to quickly transition from one corner to another. Steering is where Kia could do some more work as it doesn’t quite have the same feel or weight as those models mentioned above.
      Ride quality is another area where Stinger GT is surprising. Despite the 19-inch wheels and sporty suspension setup, the Stinger GT provides a compliant ride with only large bumps making their way inside. Road noise is noticeable, due mostly to the summer tire and wheel setup on the vehicle. Wind noise was kept to very acceptable levels.
      The Kia Stinger seems to be similar in the overall idea as the K900 in serving as an attainable halo vehicle. While the K900 aimed at those wanting something along the lines of an S-Class or 7-Series, the Stinger GT serves those who something that can rival the likes the BMW 3/4-Series, Audi A4/A5, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class not only in terms of performance, but also in luxury. The end result is mixed. Kia has nailed down the performance and exterior styling, but the interior doesn’t fully match the ambitions being presented. Fuel economy could be slightly better.
      But the biggest problem for the Stinger GT is convincing buyers to spend almost $50,000 on a Kia. My GT1 AWD tester with a few options came to an as-tested price of $48,350. Telling someone you spent that much for a Kia sedan will raise some eyebrows. Despite how good the Stinger GT is to look at or drive, the Kia badge on the front will ultimately push most people away. 
      If you’re part of a small group who could care less about what badge is fitted onto a vehicle, then you’ll find the Stinger GT is a very impressive package.
      Gallery: 2018 Kia Stinger GT1 AWD
      Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Stinger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Kia
      Model: Stinger
      Trim: GT1 AWD
      Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,023 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Sohari, South Korea
      Base Price: $45,450
      As Tested Price: $48,350 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Advanced Driver Assistance Package - $2,000
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