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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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      FCA US Reports February 2017 U.S. Sales
      Ram Truck brand sales up 4 percent compared with same month a year ago Three Jeep® brand vehicles record sales increases in February; Jeep Grand Cherokee sales up 11 percent Three Dodge brand vehicles post sales increases in February; Dodge Journey sales up 55 percent  February 1, 2017 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC today reported U.S. sales of 168,326 units, a 10 percent decrease compared with sales in February 2016 (187,318 units).
       
      In February, fleet sales of 44,898 units were down 26 percent year over year as FCA US continues its strategy of reducing its sales to the daily rental segment. Fleet sales represented 27 percent of total FCA US sales in February. FCA US retail sales of 123,428 units were down 3 percent for the month, and represented 73 percent of total February sales.
       
      Ram Truck brand sales were up 4 percent in February, compared with the same month a year ago. Three Jeep® brand vehicles topped February sales from a year ago, including the Jeep Renegade with an 11 percent increase. Sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the brand’s volume leader in February, were up 11 percent as well. Three Dodge brand vehicles recorded year-over-year sales increases in February led by the Dodge Journey’s 55 percent sales gain. Sales of the Fiat 500 and the all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan were up year over year as well.
       
      Ram Truck Brand
      Ram Truck brand sales were up 4 percent in February, compared with the same month a year ago. Sales of the Ram pickup truck increased 5 percent year over year in the month. The brand introduced new special-edition Night packages for Ram 2500 and 3500 HD pickup trucks at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show in February. The new Night editions further expand the Ram factory-custom truck family from the half-ton Ram 1500 announced in September 2016 to the brand’s three-quarter and one-ton models. Production of the 2017 Ram HD Night models began in early February.
       
      Dodge Brand
      The Dodge Challenger, Dodge Journey, and Dodge Viper each posted sales gains in February, led by the Journey’s 55 percent year-over-year increase. The Challenger turned in a 19 percent increase, while Viper sales were up 23 percent in the month. The Dodge brand unveiled the new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT – America’s fastest, most powerful and most capable three-row SUV – at last month’s 2017 Chicago Auto Show. In addition, Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com announced at the show that the Grand Caravan earned its 5-Year Cost to Own Award in the minivan category for the third time in four years. The awards honor the vehicles and brands (luxury and non-luxury) with the lowest projected ownership costs, based on Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own data for new cars for the initial five-year ownership period.
       
      Jeep Brand
      Three Jeep brand models recorded sales increases in February. Both the Jeep Grand Cherokee – the brand’s volume leader for the month – and the Jeep Renegade posted 11 percent year-over-year sales increases. In addition, the Jeep Wrangler logged a 2 percent increase in February. Jeep brand retail sales were up year over year in February. The latest Wrangler – the new 2017Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon – debuted at the Chicago Auto Show last month, featuring improved off-road prowess with a stronger front axle, enhanced rock rails and heavy-duty cast differential covers. Also last month, KBB.com announced at the Chicago Auto Show that the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited earned its 5-Year Cost to Own Award in the Mid-size SUV/Crossover category for a third-consecutive year.
       
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      Pr Yr
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      8,893
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      11,363
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      300
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      58,575
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      112,468
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          Total UV's
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      87,450
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      154,765
      168,845
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      1,087
      728
      49%
      1,976
      1,253
      58%

    • By William Maley
      When it comes to hot hatchbacks, there is a line that floats around in my head from one of the earlier episodes of Top Gear.
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      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Golf R
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L TSI DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 292 @ 5,400
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 3,305 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany
      Base Price: $35,655
      As Tested Price: $36,475 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      When it comes to hot hatchbacks, there is a line that floats around in my head from one of the earlier episodes of Top Gear.
      “I love hot hatchbacks as they offer drawback free motoring. You can put a chest of drawers in the back and then take it home at a million miles per hour.”
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      The Golf R uses the same turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder found in the Golf GTI, but the wick has been turned up. The R’s 2.0L pumps out 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with either a six-speed manual (what my tester featured) or six-speed DSG. No matter the transmission, Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system comes standard. Acceleration in the Golf R is an exciting experience. It only takes a brief moment for the turbo to spool up and then hold on. Power comes on a fast and steady rate. The six-speed manual is a bit notchy when changing gears. Like other Volkswagens equipped with the manual, the take-up point for the clutch is very narrow and you’ll have to have your foot almost off the floor to find it. It should be noted that the manual is over a half-second slower than the DSG - 5.1 vs. 4.5. But the manual does give you a bit more control with controlling the engine’s performance and making you feel that you’re playing a role. The 4Motion AWD system helps put the power down and keep the Golf R glued to the road when it’s dry. But the system really comes into its own when it is snowy. A few days into my loan and Mother Nature decided to drop a bit on snow in the Metro Detroit area. Driving through unplowed roads, the 4Motion system was able to keep the vehicle moving through some deep snow. One issue that arose was a too-eager stability control system that would come on every few seconds to combat wheelspin when driving through the deep snow - something you don’t want. At least Volkswagen was smart to equip the Golf R with a sports mode for the stability control to allow some wheelspin. This made all of the difference to keep the Golf R moving. Handling-wise? It is like a Golf GTI. Entering a corner, the Golf R feels composed and doesn’t show any sign of body roll. Steering is a bit disappointment as the R doesn’t have the weight or feel you would expect in a performance car. The ride is slightly firmer than what you find on the GTI as some bumps and road imperfections will make their way inside. There are adaptive dampers, but you’ll need to spend an extra $3,000 to get it (along with some other features). Personally, I find the standard suspension setup is ok for most people. Volkswagen has made some slight exterior changes for the Golf R such as a new slim grille, 19-inch wheels, a set of quad exhaust tips. On one hand, I wished Volkswagen could have done some more work to make the Golf R a bit more exciting to look at. On the other hand, the downplayed nature of the Golf R’s changes gives it the ability to hide its true nature. The interior of the Golf R is mostly the same as the standard Golf, which isn’t a bad thing. A lot of the traits that we like in the standard Golf such as high-quality interior, loads of space for passengers, and one of the easiest infotainment systems to use. The only changes Volkswagen did make are a set of sport seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, and carbon fiber trim. If there is one problem for the Golf R, it is the price. As I mentioned in the introduction, the base Golf R is about $10,000 more than the base GTI. For some folks, this is tall order as the GTI can you 85 to 90 percent of the Golf R’s performance at a reasonable price. But for others, that extra 10 to 15 percent the R offers is very much worth the extra cash. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf R, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Golf R
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L TSI DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 292 @ 5,400
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 3,305 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany
      Base Price: $35,655
      As Tested Price: $36,475 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A
    • By William Maley
      I wasn’t too keen on the redesigned Hyundai Elantra I drove last year. In the review, I said it didn’t really do enough to compete with the likes of the Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic. But maybe the model could redeem itself with the introduction of the Elantra Sport. Hyundai made some key changes such as adding a turbo engine, revised rear suspension, and slight tweaks inside and out. 
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      Engine: 1.6 Turbo GDI DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder
      Driveline: Seven-speed DCT, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6000 
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1500~4500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/33/29
      Curb Weight: 3,131 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama
      Base Price: $22,750
      As Tested Price: $25,985 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Package for Sport - $2,400.00

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