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    The Brief: 2015 Chrysler 300S and Dodge Durango R/T AWD


    • What Are Two of Chrysler's Vehicles Like When Equipped With A V8?


    Last year at the LA Auto Show, Chrysler gave the 300 lineup a modest refresh. A new grille and headlights for the exterior, while interior boasted a new gauge cluster and dial for the gear shifter. Some people thought Chrysler should have gone farther, but we think the right call was made here. Our 300 came in the S trim which brought a blacked-out grille, headlights, wheels, and new lip spoiler. Paired with a coat of red paint, the 300S strikes a nice balance of aggression and handsomeness. Despite the looks, the 300 is still a tricky vehicle when it comes to overall visibility. Due to the limited area of glass, the 300 has large blind spots that make it tricky to park or safely change lanes. We highly recommend optioning the park assist and blind spot systems to make the 300 that much easier to live with.

     

    Powertrains haven’t changed much since we last checked out the 300 back in 2013. A 3.6L V6 with 292 horsepower (300 horsepower for the S) comes standard, while a 5.7 HEMI V8 with 364 horsepower is an option. No matter which engine you choose, an eight-speed automatic is standard. We had the V8 in our 300S tester and it fits the vehicle's persona. With a distinctive engine note at idle and plenty of punch throughout the rev range, the V8 is perfect for those who want power. The new eight-speed automatic is very fast with shifts and helps boost fuel economy to 16 City/25 Highway/19 Combined.

     

    In terms of handling, the 300S gets a retuned suspension to help reduce body roll and feel more planted. It does make a difference as the S feels slightly more capable around corners than the standard 300. Steering is quite good with the right amount of weight and feel. For day to day driving, the 300S is very comfortable as the suspension is able to glide over bumps. Wind and road noise are kept in check.

     

    The Chrysler 300S starts at $34,895 for the V6 and $37,895 for the V8. Our tester came to an as-tester price of $42,865 with a couple of options. So while the Chrysler 300 may not have gone under the dramatic changes many wanted, the changes Chrysler did make keep the 300 as one of the best bang for your buck vehicles.

     

    Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the 300S, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: Chrysler
    Model: 300
    Trim: S
    Engine: 5.7L HEMI MDS VVT V8
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 363 @ 5,200
    Torque @ RPM: 394 @ 4,200
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19
    Curb Weight: 4,326 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
    Base Price: $34,895
    As Tested Price: $42,685 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    300S Premium Group - $3,295
    5.7L HEMI MDS VVT V8 - $3,000
    Redline 3-Coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $500

     

    Next Page: 2015 Dodge Durango R/T


     

    The Dodge Durango is already an imposing looking crossover with its boxy shape, crosshair grille, and a long taillight. But what if you want something more aggressive in a Durango? Dodge has you covered with the R/T trim.

     

    The R/T begins with changes to exterior such as a body-colored grille element, twin-exhaust ports, and a set twenty-inch wheels finished in a dark gray. These little changes increase the aggressive look that Dodge is conveying with the Durango. The interior is the same as any other Durango with a clean dash and seating for six or seven people. But the Durango is on the lower end in terms of cargo space. With all three rows up, the Durango offers 17.2 cubic feet. This increases to 47.7 cubic feet with the third row folded and 84.5 with both rear rows folded. Those who want more cargo space should look at GM’s full-size crossovers.

     

    The other change for the R/T is the 5.7L HEMI V8 with 360 horsepower becoming standard. This engine fits the attitude that the R/T is presenting. Start the Durango R/T and the V8 comes alive with a burble that is reminiscent of a muscle car. That impression continues when you step on the accelerator and engine roars to life, delivering power at a very quick rate. This is helped by a new eight-speed automatic which provides lightning-fast shifts to keep the V8 in the zone of power. Fuel economy may be the big downside to the V8 as it is rated at 14 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. We got 17.1 MPG during our week. Handling-wise, the Durango is a delight. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice feel of the road. The ride is very smooth and quiet, making it a perfect long distance cruiser.

     

    As for pricing, the 2015 Dodge Durango R/T starts at $42,495. Our tester with a few options climbed to $48,525. Considering the performance and styling tweaks the R/T offers, along with the amities of the standard Durango, the R/T is very much worth a look.

     

    Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Durango R/T, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: Dodge
    Model: Durango
    Trim: R/T AWD
    Engine: 5.7L HEMI MDS VVT V8
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 360 @ 5,150
    Torque @ RPM: 390 @ 4,250
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 14/22/16
    Curb Weight: 5,331 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Detroit, MI
    Base Price: $42,495
    As Tested Price: $48,525 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    Rear DVD Entertainment Center - $1,995
    Premium Nappa Leather Group - $1,295
    Second-Row Fold/Tumble Captain Chairs - $995.00
    UConnect 8.4AN AM/FM/SXM/HD/BT/NAV - $750.00

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    User Feedback


    That is hands down the best looking Chrysler 300 I've ever seen. The ONE THING holding back the exterior from coming together and truly feeling premium is that big squared off grille smack in the middle of the design flow. The right tweaks to the shape and size could've really gone a long way.

     

    Oh well, the 300S V8 is an appealing package. Looking forward to Chrysler's follow up sedan, assuming it retains RWD.

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    • By William Maley
      It may not be the electric Pacifica we were hearing about last month, but Chrysler does have an electric minivan concept that will be debuting later today at the Consumer Electronics Show. Meet the Portal concept which Chrysler describes as "created by millennials for millennials."
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      A single electric motor provides the motivation for the front wheels. Under the floor lies a 100-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that can provide an overall range of more than 250 miles. When plugged into a 350-kW fast charger, the Portal's battery pack can be recharged to have a 150 mile range within 20 minutes. 
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      Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles 
      Press Release is on Page 2


      The Chrysler Portal concept is designed to keep the driver and passengers connected – to each other, to the vehicle and to the surrounding world.
      Starting with today’s widespread use of the Internet and social media for communication and information, the FCA User Experience (UX) team, and an internal UX Tiger team from the Panasonic Automotive Advanced Engineering function, jointly picked a blend of emerging and future technologies to engage the next generation of vehicle users.
      “When our teams began imagining the user experiences inside the Chrysler Portal, we set out to identify a long-time supplier partner who could help push the limits of customization and personalization,” said Scott Thiele, Chief Purchasing Officer for FCA NV and Head of Purchasing and Supplier Quality for FCA – North America. “Working with Panasonic Automotive on this concept vehicle is just one example of how FCA is engaging strategic suppliers early in the development phase to bring to life innovations that can become industry benchmarks.”
      Tapping the Panasonic Cognitive Infotainment (PCI) platform as the foundation of the UX feature set, the Chrysler User Experience team matched future consumer needs (life, finances and new technology) to those new technology solutions now exhibited in the Portal concept.
      “Working together, FCA and Panasonic Automotive are showing a more cognitively enhanced set of technologies that can give drivers and passengers a superior, more accurate, just-in-time in-vehicle experience,” said Tom Gebhardt, President, Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America.
      “In fact, we are so delighted by the partnership, Panasonic has created a complimentary technology exhibition to further showcase our joint interests in UX, software, hardware, and cloud services specifically featuring a unique e-commerce retail use case.”
      The battery-powered Chrysler Portal concept electric vehicle was unveiled today at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
      Facial recognition, voice biometrics provide a seamless, personalized experience
      For members of the millennial generation, the target audience for the Chrysler Portal concept, technology is more than a tool – it’s an integral part of their lives.
      The hub of this technology is the mobile phone. The Chrysler Portal concept is engineered to seamlessly detect and connect with passengers’ mobile devices, expanding the social canvas.
      Recognition and user authentication is the next level of personalization and a primary driving factor for the user experience. Facial recognition and voice biometric technologies work together to provide a seamless personalization experience. As a result, all passengers can set up individual and group settings for an enjoyable, customized experience. For example, facial recognition tells the Chrysler Portal who is in the vehicle and how to automatically configure preferred settings, such as music, lighting, vehicle temperature, heated or cooled seats, etc. Internet cloud-based technologies, combined with facial and voice recognition, keep those preferred settings in sync should a passenger move to another seat.
      Accessing technology inside the vehicle is naturally intuitive using a blend of voice controls with familiar touch controls. With an array of microphones inside the Portal concept, voice control is available to all occupants. Advanced speech software can identify who is speaking to accurately determine an action, such as which display screen to access. Embedded interior and connected portable device cameras also facilitate conversations and interactions.
      Want to play music tailored for an individual, such as a child? Simply say, “Play Johnny’s ‘Naptime Favorites’ playlist.” Personalized audio zones enable each passenger to listen to their own content isolated to their seat without the need for headphones. 
      Facial recognition enables the Chrysler Portal concept to track the driver’s directional gaze, as a result, the intensity of the high-mount display screen can automatically dim or increase to help reduce eye strain. If the driver is looking at a specific location on the display and a critical notification occurs, such as an oncoming emergency vehicle, a message pop-up in the area where the driver is looking helps reduce reaction time.
      Turn road trips into social memories
      Social media plays a large role in the lives of many Millennials. In the Chrysler Portal concept, sharing content between passengers is as easy as a swipe to the right. A personal tablet or mobile device becomes a community display screen via a docking station in the Chrysler Portal’s headliner, making it easily viewable by second- and third-row passengers. Media such as music, images and videos from personal devices can be shared with a simple upward swipe to the display screen. The community display is ideal for road trips with family and friends. At a glance, infographics show the progress of the vehicle to the trip destination. 
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      Once at the destination, interior and exterior cameras can capture the moment with a selfie, which is then automatically downloaded to everyone’s personal device and can be shared via social media.
      Affordable, upgradeable technology designed to be added as needed
      Keeping the user experience affordable, the Chrysler Portal concept’s in-vehicle technology is designed to be adaptable and upgradeable. Cost-conscious consumers are able to decide what technology they want to add and when they want to integrate it into their vehicle, such as adding technologies to meet the ongoing needs of a new family.  For example, the vehicle’s short-range wireless network enables parents to connect a baby monitor camera to a seat, with the image appearing on the high-mount display.
      Another way consumers could integrate their personal devices is by using the Chrysler Portal Concept Companion App. Once downloaded to a mobile device, the companion app has the ability to customize vehicle lighting, control vehicle and home settings, lock/unlock doors and operate other functions from any location. 
      Advanced driving assistance
      A key element of the Chrysler Portal concept’s user experience is the graphic-rich, high-quality information available to the driver.
      The hub of this information is the high-mount display, located above where a traditional instrument panel would be placed. Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) technology in the display makes the screen brighter and sharper. The technology embedded in the Chrysler Portal collects a wide spectrum of visual, sensor-based and infrastructure data; organizes and configures the information for display; and tailors the presentation to keep the driver’s attention on the highest priority functions.
      The display, which spans nearly the entire length of the instrument panel, is positioned higher intentionally for greater visibility and to aid the driver keeping his/her eyes on the road. Maintaining visibility with the horizon helps reduce the possibility of motion sickness while interacting with the 3-D graphics, especially if Level 3 autonomous driving mode is engaged.
      The length of the screen enables three zones of information. The first section of the screen, located in front of the driver, offers traditional vehicle information, such as speed. The middle section displays a 360-degree situational awareness view, such as surrounding vehicles, GPS information and points of interest, and can be viewed by other vehicle occupants. The third section can be used for media sharing, status updates of passengers, such as their seat temperature, music or videos being played and a view of them.
      During Level 3 autonomous driving, the display communicates the status of the vehicle and the surrounding environment. Should the vehicle come to a stop or perform a quick maneuver, the viewable display makes it clear to all occupants the status of the vehicle.
      The Chrysler Portal concept is constantly using Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communication that enables the vehicle to “talk” with the public infrastructure, Internet, and other vehicles via an array of sensors. For example, if an approaching ambulance is out of sight, V2X systems will notify the vehicle that the ambulance is approaching. Graphics on the high-mount display will communicate the oncoming ambulance by simulating its approach and direction, and the audio system will provide cues that the vehicle is approaching.
    • By William Maley
      Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that.
      That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle.  Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.)
      Year: 2016
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Charger
      Trim: SRT Hellcat
      Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8
      Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16
      Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $65,945
      As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax)
      Options:
      Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00
      20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00
      275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00
      Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00

      View full article
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