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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 LLC Sales Summary November 2016
      Reflects New Methodology
                      Month Sales
      Vol %
      CYTD Sales
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      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
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      4,635
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      12,537
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      0
      New
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      0
      New
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      7,201
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      41,877
      82,041
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      15
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      45
      1,294
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      6,804
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      88,200
      88,323
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      4,297
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      59,176
      61,813
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      45
      38%
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      627
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      8,023
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      10,926
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      89,833
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      5,644
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      42,955
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      481,084
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      34,145
      8%
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      408,724
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      Cargo Van
      0
      2
      -100%
      21
      2,157
      -99%
      ProMaster Van
      4,702
      2,084
      126%
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      23,658
      51%
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      924
      1,721
      -46%
      14,625
      8,015
      82%
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      42,511
      37,952
      12%
      492,254
      442,554
      11%
      Giulia
      0
      0
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      7
      0
      New
      Alfa 4C 
      23
      34
      -32%
      457
      603
      -24%
      ALFA BRAND
      23
      34
      -32%
      464
      603
      -23%
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      1,147
      974
      18%
      14,026
      22,243
      -37%
      500L
      96
      231
      -58%
      3,016
      7,275
      -59%
      500X
      822
      1,621
      -49%
      10,869
      7,785
      40%
      Spider
      350
      0
      New
      2,225
      0
      New
      FIAT BRAND
      2,415
      2,826
      -15%
      30,136
      37,303
      -19%
      TOTAL FCA US LLC
      160,827
      187,731
      -14%
      2,051,796
      2,038,953
      1%
                        Total Car & MPV
      38,142
      57,802
      -34%
      545,787
      647,421
      -16%
          Total UV's
      80,174
      91,977
      -13%
      1,013,755
      948,978
      7%
          Total Truck & LCV
      42,511
      37,952
      12%
      492,254
      442,554
       
    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A

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