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    Review: 2014 Dodge Durango Citadel AWD and Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 30th Anniversary


    • A Tale Of Two Passenger Carriers

    Say you are looking for a vehicle to carry you, your family, and all of their stuff; what do you get? Previously you could get a station wagon or an SUV. But both types of vehicles have fallen out of favor for different reasons and new types of vehicles have mostly taken their place. Those vehicles in question happen to be the crossover and minivan. For most people, the crossover is the more appealing choice instead of a minivan because they don’t want to be seen as a ‘soccer mom’. That doesn’t mean crossovers get away scot-free. Their biggest problem is the ‘can do everything, but not really well’ conundrum.

    So which one should you consider? Well, I happened to have the Dodge Durango Citadel and Grand Caravan SXT 30th Anniversary within a couple weeks of each other. So why not compare the two and figure out which one is better.

    Design:

    Let’s begin with the Grand Caravan first. The overall shape of the a rounded rectangular box hasn’t changed since it was introduced back in 2007. 2011 saw Dodge give the model some tweaks with a new front end treatment, somewhat revised rear, and new wheel choices. Compared to other minivans on the marketplace, the Grand Caravan sits somewhere in the middle.

    2014 Dodge Durango Citadel 9

    Then there is the Durango, which in my books is one the best looking crossovers on sale today. The look is mean and aggressive which such details as the large crosshair grille, race track inspired taillights, and the twenty-inch aluminum wheels that come standard on the Citadel. The Durango has the look that it could beat up on other crossovers.

    Interior:

    The Grand Caravan’s interior does show some of its age by keeping the same dash layout and certain controls from 2007. The plus side is that the layout is very easy to understand where everything is. Materials range from soft-touch on the dash and certain parts of the door panels, to hard plastics in other parts. I believe this is a good mix of materials since the Grand Caravan will likely be carrying kids and you want something to stand up to that.

    Passenger space is very good with all three rows getting a decent amount of head and legroom. Front passengers get power adjustments and heat. Cargo space is a slight disappointment with the third row up as it measures only 33 cubic feet, the smallest space for all minivans. However when you fold the third row down, the Grand Caravan’s cargo space grows to 83.3 cubic feet. The Stow n’ Go seating Dodge introduced in the last generation vans is surprisingly easy to use when putting the seats down. Putting them back up is a little bit more difficult as you have to follow the instructions to a T for them to go back up correctly.

    2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 30th Anniversary 11

    The Durango on the other hand is a really nice place to be in. Dodge gave the interior some tweaks last year to bring it more in line with the rest of their lineup. The dash layout is reminiscent to the Charger and Dart with a simple design and the large 8.4-inch touchscreen smack dab in the middle. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement compared to the 2012 Durango. One disappointment I did have is that that Citadel really didn’t feel that luxurious to me. I mean there are such touches as the Nappa leather and the ventilated seats for the front passengers, but I was expecting something more for the price tag.

    Comfort-wise, the Durango features very supportive front seats with power adjustments for both passengers. The second row in my tester featured bucket seats that provided a decent amount of head and legroom. The third row is best to be folded into the floor as it's a bit hard to get back there, and there isn’t enough head and legroom unless you are a small child. Folding the third row also increases the cargo space from 17.2 cubic feet to 47.7 cubic feet.

    Tech:

    Another sign that the Grand Caravan is old is the optional infotainment system. The Grand Caravan still uses the first-generation UConnect system on a smallish 6.5-inch screen. The interface is somewhat clunky looking and isn’t nice to look at. But the first-generation system is very much easy to use and features such as navigation, satellite radio, and more are here. The Grand Caravan also came equipped with an optional BluRay player with a screen for the rear passengers.

    2014 Dodge Durango Citadel 15

    The Durango is bit more modern in this department. It begins with a seven-inch color screen in the instrument cluster that handles the speedometer and trip computer duties. The screen is clear and vibrant, til the sun hits it and the screen becomes a bit washed out. The 8.4-inch touchscreen features the latest version of UConnect that features an integrated 3G connection and an app store. Sadly I didn’t get the chance to try out either feature during the Durango’s week-long stay. What I can say about the latest version of UConnect is the system retains the easy-to-use interface that I have praised before.

    Powertrain:

    One item both vehicles have in common is the engine, which happens to be the 3.6L Pentastar V6. In the Grand Caravan, the V6 makes 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The Durango makes do with 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. How the power gets down to the road is a bit different for both vehicles. The Grand Caravan makes do with a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, whereas the Durango utilizes an eight-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive (rear-wheel drive is standard).

    As I have previously written, the 3.6 Pentastar is a wonderful engine as it's really smooth and moves both vehicles with authority when you climb up in the rev range. However, I felt the Grand Caravan was a little bit quicker than the Durango. This comes down to Grand Caravan’s curb weight of 4,510 pounds, versus the 5,097 pounds of the Durango. As for transmissions, both are very smooth and are able to pull the most out of the 3.6. The Durango had the better average fuel economy for the week, with 20.5 MPG. The Caravan only got 19.4 MPG for the week. Thank the extra two gears in the Durango for that.

    2014 Dodge Durango Citadel 11

    Ride and Handling:

    The two models have similar ride and handling characteristics, which is somewhat surprising. On the daily drive, both models provide a very comfortable ride. Bumps and road imperfections are mostly ironed out in both models. As for quietness, the Durango is slightly better than the Grand Caravan when dealing with road noise. Both are equal when it comes to isolating wind noise. As for driving on the back roads, both models are surprisingly fun to drive. The Grand Caravan hunkers down when you decide to push it. Steering is very responsive. Meanwhile, the Durango is surprisingly nimble for its size. When you decide to have a bit of fun, the suspension keeps body roll to a reasonable level. Steering is excellent with good weight and feel.

    Verdict:

    The crossover and minivan have their respective places in the automotive marketplace, with their high and low points. Most people will go towards the crossover, as it offers the look and space of an SUV. But keep in mind that you’ll end up with some of the downsides of many vehicles. Minivans have an image problem. But if you have a lot of people and stuff to move around, then a minivan becomes a perfect option.

    But what about the two vehicles in question, the Durango and Grand Caravan. Well, both vehicles happen to be impressive choices in the respective classes. The Durango is a sharp looker and not a bad crossover to drive around in. The Grand Caravan is excellent a value for what you get and can still give newer vans a run for their money.

    No matter which one you choose, you’ll end up being very happy.

    Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Durango and Grand Caravan, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Dodge

    Model: Durango

    Trim: Citadel AWD

    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6

    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/19

    Curb Weight: 5,097 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan

    Base Price: $43,395

    As Tested Price: $50,570 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Technology Group - $1,995

    Rear DVD Entertainment Center - $1,995

    Trailer Tow Group IV - $995

    Second-Row Fold/Tumble Captain Chairs - $895

    Second-Row Console w/Armrest and Storage - $300

    Year: 2014

    Make: Dodge

    Model: Grand Caravan

    Trim: SXT 30th Anniversary

    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6

    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 283 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,400

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21

    Curb Weight: 4,510 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario

    Base Price: $26,795

    As Tested Price: $32,475 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Dual DVD/Blu-Ray Entertainment - $2,295

    Customer Preferred Package 29P - $1,200

    UConnect 430N CD/DVD/MP3/HDD/NAV - $795

    Security Group - $395

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Nice write up, I love the current Durango and that they went back to mid size like the first generation. This CUV is a perfect auto for most people.

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    The Durango is a VERY well done and polished piece, taking the "guts" success of the Grand Cherokee to a bigger package, more useful for those needing 3 rows and not that much off road equipment.

     

    It just took 1st place in a Motor Trend comparo of Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Mazda, etc. 3 row utes too:

     

    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/suvs/1408_the_big_test_2014_three_row_crossovers/

     

    As long as the reliability stays up, and they can work on resale, they may be getting somewhere. Durango still needs marketed more...reviewers love it, but still not everyone in the 3 row crossover/SUV class recognizes it as a choice since years back.

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    Our company vehicle is a dodge journey which I have put probably 4 or 5 thousand miles on myself. There have been times I pulled 28 mpg with it and the pentastar is great. First and second row room is not much different from this pair. It drives alright and is much cheaper than the Durango. I'd recommend to anyone looking at this pair to look at the Journey too. I still would buy one because it's a Chrysler but I would recommend it to others. I would also recommend the minvans because they are good and a great value. I have nothing I like about the Durango. It makes no sense to me.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

     

    The refinement and driving dynamics are very different, as is the feel. The Durango is a different ballgame compared with the big & soft Lambda's and the 3.6L/6-speed that can feel lazy, and the Explorer that's all over the place, with a not overly comfortable interior. Small seats, big space, awkward feel. It's strange to say but back to back, the Durango is the premium feeling and performing offering. When the big reviewers say so...that's saying something. The only downfall of that is, like the 1st SRX, it doesn't mean buying public always notices if they don't know to test drive.

     

    I was looking at a few out of curiosity, and a "Citadel" or other high end AWD model loaded up is still not far from $40k. The 3.6L/8-speed is a great combo, I was very impressed by it on a test drive in a new Jeep GC and another friend's new 2014 GC.

     

    The Journey and Caravan, as in GM speak, are "old Chrysler" rehabs. Not that they are all bad, but they are not the same level of vehicles.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

     

    No way on the Explorer over the Durango... just not even a contest.  The Lambdas aren't really that dated and they are the cargo kings of the segment... but they are more soft-roaders than the Durango.   The Durango you could take on a rutted country trail... the Enclave not so much.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

    My Trailblazer SS AWD I would put up against anything the germans put out. My SUV it tight, handles amazing and blows most sports cars away. American LS V8 power with Driving Dynamics that eats up a curvy road! :metal:

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    Why buy a Durango over any other American midsize SUV/CUV?

     

    Hemi.  :wub:  Also has the most usable 3rd row between it, the Explorer (not even close), and the Lambdas (by a slim margin IMO).

     

    Funny how the Durango is called a CUV by a lot of people, even though it shares bones with the Grand Cherokee, which has never been a crossover...

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    Why buy a Durango over any other American midsize SUV/CUV?

     

    Hemi.   :wub:  Also has the most usable 3rd row between it, the Explorer (not even close), and the Lambdas (by a slim margin IMO).

     

    Funny how the Durango is called a CUV by a lot of people, even though it shares bones with the Grand Cherokee, which has never been a crossover...

    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

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    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

     

    Now, unless we're going to retroactively add to the generally accepted crossover meaning of "an SUV built on a car platform with less SUV capability...."

    Edited by Lamar
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    Why buy a Durango over any other American midsize SUV/CUV?

     

    Hemi.   :wub:  Also has the most usable 3rd row between it, the Explorer (not even close), and the Lambdas (by a slim margin IMO).

     

    Funny how the Durango is called a CUV by a lot of people, even though it shares bones with the Grand Cherokee, which has never been a crossover...

    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

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    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

     

    Now, unless we're going to retroactively add to the generally accepted crossover meaning of "an SUV built on a car platform with less SUV capability...."

     

    Showing my age as Jeep used to make true SUV's that were Body on Frame. With the Grand Cherokee, it became from the very first generation a CUV.

     

    I think the only SUV Jeep makes is the Wrangler now.

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    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

     

    Now, unless we're going to retroactively add to the generally accepted crossover meaning of "an SUV built on a car platform with less SUV capability...."

     

    Showing my age as Jeep used to make true SUV's that were Body on Frame. With the Grand Cherokee, it became from the very first generation a CUV.

     

    I think the only SUV Jeep makes is the Wrangler now.

     

     

     

    Not really.  The term Crossover, when it came about, generally meant a SUV that was built on a platform originally meant for a car.  So, vehicles like the CR-V (Civic related), RAV-4 (Corolla related), Aztek (Chevy Lumina APV/ Venture related), and Lexus RX (Toyota Camry related).    The Grand Cherokee, from the start, was only ever built on its own platform.   Yet tiny SUVs like the Geo Tracker and the very first Kia Sportage were true small SUVs and not crossovers because they were body on frame and not based on a car. (The Sportage was very distantly related to a commercial Mazda van chassis).

     

    But just being Unibody doesn't mean the GC is a crossover.   The Range Rover has been Unibody since 2002 and no one would consider that "not an SUV"

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    Now, on the other hand, if we want to hold that "unibody = CUV," I move that we call the last B-bodies and Panthers "trucks."  For the sake of consistency.

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    I have never considered Land Rover a true SUV since they left Body on Frame. I also never see them off road around here or even on the mountain passes at ski resorts. They seem to be stuck in Seattle and the suburbs and along the highway as I always see them broken down. So Landrover is CUV's to me also.

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    So a tall wagonlike vehicle more capable off-road -- the exact antithesis of the definition of a crossover -- than any Suburban you've driven... is a crossover?

     

    Heh.  Wow.

     

    tumblr_lwru33NE821r803nno1_500.jpg

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    I have never considered Land Rover a true SUV since they left Body on Frame. I also never see them off road around here or even on the mountain passes at ski resorts. They seem to be stuck in Seattle and the suburbs and along the highway as I always see them broken down. So Landrover is CUV's to me also.

     

    Aside from the fact that most ride on Dubs these days, Range Rovers (not Land Rover, that's the entire brand) are still one of the most capable off-roaders one can buy that side of a Wrangler. Pretty much your only other choice that would equal the Range Rover off-road is a loaded Grand Cherokee with the height adjustable suspension.

     

    That means, yes, the uni-body Range Rover and Jeep GC are more capable off-road than a Trailblazer, Tahoe, or Suburban.

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    So a tall wagonlike vehicle more capable off-road -- the exact antithesis of the definition of a crossover -- than any Suburban you've driven... is a crossover?

     

    Heh.  Wow.

     

    tumblr_lwru33NE821r803nno1_500.jpg

    I see at the landrover dealership by my house they take people on their fake rock, wood and cement bump trail but that is the extent of ever seeing Land Rover any place other than in the city. You do not find them in the PNW 4x4 club that is for sure, but I see plenty of Tahoes, Suburbans, Especially Wranglers, trailblazers, Cherokees First generation. If it is body on frame, you find it on the mountain ski pass and off road clubs.

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    That's because no one goes off-roading with a vehicle that bases at $84,000.

    Range Rovers are at ski-resorts all the time...but perhaps you aren't allowed through the gates of those. :-P

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    Basically, just because a vehicle isn't used for the purpose it was built doesn't mean it's incapable of performing that task (re: Land Rover).

     

    RE: the Durango -- its Jeep bones allow it to still be more than competent off road, according to reviews.

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    That's because no one goes off-roading with a vehicle that bases at $84,000.

    Range Rovers are at ski-resorts all the time...but perhaps you aren't allowed through the gates of those. :-P

    :rofl:

     

    You crack me up, I see plenty of BMW, MB, Acura, Infinity, Lexus and Cadillac CUV/SUV's. Maybe the ski resorts just deny Land Rover access. :P

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      Dodge is doing something that can be considered as sacrilegious in the muscle car class. They are adding an all-wheel drive version of the Challenger to their lineup.
      The 2017 Challenger GT will go on sale early next year with a base price of $34,990 (includes $1,095 destination charge). The all-wheel drive system that the Challenger will use is the same one found in the Charger AWD - power is sent to the rear wheels until slip is detected, at which point the front axle will hook up to the transfer case and get power. The bad news is that you can only get the GT with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 305 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque, and eight-speed automatic. On the plus side, the GT will come with the Super Track Pak that brings launch control, performance pages, and other items.
      Not much sets the Challenger GT apart from other models in terms of the exterior. The GT comes with a new hood, LED head and taillights, decklid spoiler, and a set of 19-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires.
      Source: Dodge
      Press Release is on Page 2


      New 2017 Dodge Challenger GT Is World’s First and Only All-wheel-drive American Muscle Coupe
      Dodge Challenger GT Joins Charger AWD to Complete the Dodge Lineup of All-wheel-drive Muscle Cars, Delivering Unparalleled Year-round Performance Segment-first: 2017 Dodge Challenger GT is the first two-door American muscle car with all-wheel drive, providing muscle car enthusiasts all-weather driving confidence exclusive to Dodge Challenger GT features the same high-performance all-wheel-drive system found in the award-winning Dodge Charger AWD with active transfer case and front-axle disconnect Dodge’s award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is standard, delivering 305 horsepower at 6,350 rpm and a responsive 268 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm New 2017 Dodge Challenger GT model has a starting U.S Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $33,395 (excluding $1,095 destination charge) Dodge Challenger GT AWD production is scheduled to begin in January 2017 and vehicles will be available in dealerships the first quarter of 2017 December 7, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Designed and engineered for world-class precision, the new 2017 Dodge Challenger GT all-wheel drive (AWD) delivers the performance, power and all-weather capability to carve through some of the worst weather Mother Nature can dish out.
       
      From winding through twisty stretches of mountain roads, escaping away to a snow-covered ski resort, to daily commutes through the slush and snow of Northeastern and Midwestern winters, the Challenger GT AWD is built to handle it all.
       
      “Dodge is shifting the muscle car paradigm with the new 2017 Dodge Challenger GT – the world’s first and only all-wheel-drive American muscle coupe,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. “The Challenger has always been the most wide-ranging and functional muscle coupe, and now, with the new 305-horsepower all-wheel-drive Challenger GT, we are stretching the functional and geographic boundaries even further.
      Available this winter
      The new 2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD model has a starting U.S Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $33,395 (excluding $1,095 destination charge).
       
      With production beginning in January, the all-wheel-drive Dodge Challenger GT is scheduled to arrive at Dodge dealerships nationwide in the first quarter of 2017.
      Power, precision and prowess
      The 2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD features Dodge’s award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, delivering 305 horsepower at 6,350 rpm and a responsive 268 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm.
       
      A tuned induction system and dual exhaust from the manifolds back to the tips help deliver more than 90 percent of the engine’s peak torque from 1,800 to 6,400 rpm – all for outstanding drivability and responsiveness. With the standard TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, Challenger GT offers up to an EPA-estimated 18 city/27 hwy miles per gallon (mpg).
      The Dodge Challenger GT features Dodge’s high-performance all-wheel-drive system. Also found in the Charger AWD, this technologically advanced system includes an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect for excellent all-season performance and fuel economy. The Challenger GT seamlessly transitions between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive with no driver intervention. Under normal driving conditions, the front axle is disengaged and 100 percent of the engine’s torque is directed to the rear wheels. This preserves the outstanding fun-to-drive performance and handling characteristics inherent to rear-wheel-drive vehicles. When sensors indicate the need for additional traction, the system automatically engages the front axle, instantly transitioning Challenger GT into all-wheel-drive mode.
       
      Enhanced with Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), the Challenger GT AWD has impressive handling on all surfaces, especially snow and ice. VDC provides excellent traction on slippery surfaces and also helps the driver maintain the desired vehicle path. Enhancing the on-road dynamic performance using precise front-to-rear torque control integrated with the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, VDC maintains Challenger’s fun-to-drive character, regardless of road conditions.
       
      In addition, the new Dodge Challenger GT AWD features paddle shifters and Sport mode. With Sport mode active, gear changes are quicker and revs are held higher for even more performance-oriented acceleration and higher shift dynamics. For even more control, the driver can also use the die-cast steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and view gear election through the full-color Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) centered in the instrument cluster.
       
      The Challenger GT Super Track Pak button activates Dodge Performance Pages and launch control features embedded in the 8.4-inch touchscreen radio. Visible performance information, such as reaction times, 0-60 times, G-force indicator and lap times, can be monitored, and even mirrored, in the 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) customizable cluster display. The new Challenger GT model also features three-mode ESC with “full-off” mode, a fun feature for drifting through snowy scenes.
      All-weather traction all year long, rain, sleet, snow or shine
      For muscle car enthusiasts who want more all-weather traction, the new 2017 Dodge Challenger GT delivers premium amenities inside and out, including 19-inch aluminum wheels with Hyper Black finish and P235/55R19 BSW all-season performance tires, projector fog lamps, a deck-lid rear spoiler, ParkSense rear park assist and ParkView rear backup camera.
       
      Challenger GT is equally well equipped on the inside with standard features, such as premium Nappa leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats with four-way power driver lumbar adjustment, heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescoping column, Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six Alpine speakers with 276-watt amplifier, bright pedals, universal garage door opener and Hectic Mesh aluminum bezels.
       
      GT Interior Package
      The all-new GT Interior package, which is unique to this Challenger AWD model, includes performance Nappa leather and Alcantara suede seats – available on a V-6 for the first time – nine Alpine speakers, including a subwoofer and a 506-watt amplifier, and the Dodge performance steering wheel. U.S MSRP for the GT Interior package is $995.
      Performance-inspired design, all year round
      1971-inspired design, both inside and out, the Dodge Challenger GT features refined exterior styling and heritage muscle-car appearance with split grille, pronounced and functional power bulge hood, LED halo headlamps and LED tail lamps.
    • By William Maley
      FCA US Reports November 2016 U.S. Sales
      Ram Truck brand sales up 12 percent compared with same month a year ago; Ram pickup truck sales up 8 percent All-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan sales up 13 percent compared with previous month of October Jeep® Renegade sales up 30 percent; all-new 2017 Jeep Compass makes its U.S. debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show December 1, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC today reported U.S. sales of 160,827 units, a 14 percent decrease compared with sales in November 2015 (187,731 units).
      FCA US retail sales of 126,780 units were down 2 percent year over year in November, representing 79 percent of total sales for the month. Fleet sales of 34,047 units were down 42 percent year over year in November as FCA US continues to reduce its sales to the daily rental segment. Fleet sales represented 21 percent of total FCA US sales in the month.
       
      Ram Truck brand sales were up 12 percent in November versus the same month in 2015. Ram ProMaster van sales increased 126 percent in November, while Ram pickup truck sales increased 8 percent. The Jeep® Renegade small SUV had a strong November with a 30 percent sales gain, while sales of the Fiat 500 were up 18 percent compared with the same month a year ago.
       
      Sales of the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica – launched earlier this year – were up 13 percent in November compared with sales in the previous month of October. November sales represented the minivan’s second best sales month this year.
       
      Ram Truck brand sales are up 11 percent calendar year to date through November compared with the same 11-month period in 2015. Jeep brand sales are up 8 percent calendar year to date as well.
       
      Ram Truck Brand
      Ram Truck brand sales, which include the Ram pickup, Ram ProMaster and Ram ProMaster City, increased 12 percent in November versus the same month in 2015. With its 126 percent sales gain, the Ram ProMaster van turned in the largest year-over-year percentage increase of any FCA US vehicle in November. Sales of the Ram pickup truck increased 8 percent in November. The Ram 1500 earned Best Buy awards last month from Consumers Digest and Consumer Guide Automotive. Also last month, the Green Car Journal named the Ram ProMaster City its 2017 Commercial Green Car of the Year for the second consecutive year – the first time a vehicle has won one of the magazine’s titles consecutively. Ram Truck brand sales are up 11 percent calendar year to date compared with the same 11 months in 2015.
      Jeep Brand
      Jeep brand sales were down 12 percent compared with the same month a year ago. The Jeep Renegade turned in a strong 30 percent increase in November compared with the same month in 2015. The Renegade earned Best Buy awards last month from Consumers Digest and Consumer Guide Automotive in the subcompact SUV segment. In addition, the Jeep Grand Cherokee earned a Consumers Digest Best Buy for the seventh consecutive year in the mid-size SUV category. Jeep brand sales are up 8 percent calendar year to date compared with the first 11 months of 2015.
       
      The all-new 2017 Jeep Compass made its U.S. debut last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The global compact SUV delivers unsurpassed 4x4 capability, world-class on-road driving dynamics, advanced fuel-efficient powertrains and premium styling. The Compass will be manufactured in Brazil, China, Mexico and India, for consumers in more than 100 countries around the world.
       
      FIAT Brand
      FIAT brand sales, which include the Fiat 500, Fiat 500L, Fiat 500X and Fiat 124 Spider, were down 15 percent in November. However, sales of the Fiat 500 were up 18 percent year-over-year in November. In its fifth month in the market, the all-new 124 Spider recorded sales of 350 units. The 124 Spider earned a 2017 Best Buy last month in the sporty performance car segment from the automotive editors at Consumer Guide Automotive, who noted that the 124 Spider “represents an impressive amount of fun for the money.” The 124 Spider also took home the award for Best-Looking New Car from readers of The Car Connection in November.
      Dodge Brand
      Dodge brand sales were down 21 percent in November compared with the same month in 2015. However, Dodge Charger sales increased 34 percent compared with the same month a year ago. Dodge Viper sales were up as well. The Dodge Durango earned a Best Buy last month from Consumer Guide Automotive in the large SUV category – for the fifth consecutive year. In addition, for the third time in three years, the Charger has earned the Residual Value Award in the full-size category from ALG, the industry benchmark for residual values and depreciation data. Also, the Charger and Durango were “most loved” in their respective segments for the third consecutive year making Strategic Vision’s “Most Loved Vehicles in America” list, while the Dodge Challenger earned a spot on the list in the specialty coupe category.
       
      Chrysler Brand
      Chrysler brand sales were down 47 percent in November compared with the same month a year ago. However, the all-new Chrysler Pacifica posted sales of 8,753 units in November, a 13 percent sales gain versus the previous month of October. The 2017 Pacifica minivan – launched in April – earned Best Buy awards from Consumer Guide Automotive, Consumers Digest and Kelley Blue Book last month. In the Consumer Guide Automotive competition, the Pacifica captured both the Minivan and Family Vehicle Best Buy awards. In addition, the Pacifica earned “Best Car to Buy” and “Best Family Vehicle to Buy” designations from The Car Connection. The Chrysler 300 full-size sedan grabbed an award last month as well, earning its fifth Best Buy award in the luxury car segment from Consumers Digest.
      FCA US LLC Sales Summary November 2016
      Reflects New Methodology
                      Month Sales
      Vol %
      CYTD Sales
      Vol %
      Model
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Compass
      6,984
      9,209
      -24%
      86,107
      64,188
      34%
      Patriot
      8,568
      9,933
      -14%
      114,117
      108,968
      5%
      Wrangler
      12,957
      13,948
      -7%
      176,053
      186,835
      -6%
      Cherokee
      11,479
      18,218
      -37%
      183,356
      196,092
      -6%
      Grand Cherokee
      17,230
      17,662
      -2%
      189,023
      175,746
      8%
      Renegade
      10,067
      7,719
      30%
      94,561
      52,211
      81%
      JEEP BRAND
      67,285
      76,689
      -12%
      843,217
      784,040
      8%
      200
      2,849
      10,103
      -72%
      54,651
      157,705
      -65%
      300
      2,566
      4,635
      -45%
      49,657
      48,756
      2%
      Town & Country
      350
      12,537
      -97%
      58,805
      86,908
      -32%
      Pacifica
      8,753
      0
      New
      52,083
      0
      New
      CHRYSLER BRAND
      14,518
      27,275
      -47%
      215,196
      293,369
      -27%
      Dart
      2,203
      7,201
      -69%
      41,877
      82,041
      -49%
      Avenger
      1
      15
      -93%
      45
      1,294
      -97%
      Charger
      9,138
      6,804
      34%
      88,200
      88,323
      0%
      Challenger
      3,908
      4,297
      -9%
      59,176
      61,813
      -4%
      Viper
      62
      45
      38%
      571
      627
      -9%
      Journey
      7,133
      8,023
      -11%
      96,991
      100,256
      -3%
      Caravan
      6,696
      10,926
      -39%
      120,991
      89,833
      35%
      Durango
      4,934
      5,644
      -13%
      62,678
      56,897
      10%
      DODGE  BRAND
      34,075
      42,955
      -21%
      470,529
      481,084
      -2%
      Ram P/U
      36,885
      34,145
      8%
      441,862
      408,724
      8%
      Cargo Van
      0
      2
      -100%
      21
      2,157
      -99%
      ProMaster Van
      4,702
      2,084
      126%
      35,746
      23,658
      51%
      ProMaster City
      924
      1,721
      -46%
      14,625
      8,015
      82%
      RAM BRAND
      42,511
      37,952
      12%
      492,254
      442,554
      11%
      Giulia
      0
      0
      New
      7
      0
      New
      Alfa 4C 
      23
      34
      -32%
      457
      603
      -24%
      ALFA BRAND
      23
      34
      -32%
      464
      603
      -23%
      500
      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

      View full article
    • 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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