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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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      The Ridgeline proved to be a very comfortable pickup truck thanks to supportive leather seats, and power-adjustments for the driver. I took this truck to Northern Michigan and back during the holidays, and I never felt tired or had any soreness afterward. The back seat provides more than enough head and legroom for passengers. The bottom cushion of the back seat can also be folded up to provide a decent amount space for carrying larger items.
      Honda’s infotainment system in the Ridgeline has to be one of the most frustrating systems we have ever come across. The eight-inch system gets off on the wrong foot by using touch-sensitive controls for the volume and other functions that don’t always respond whenever pressed. At least you can use the steering wheel controls for a number of these functions. HondaLink needs a serious revamp in terms of its interface as trying to do simple things is very convoluted. For example, if I want to pick a podcast episode from my iPod, I have to jump through a number of menus to just to get to the listing of the specific show I want to listen to. You can avoid using HondaLink by plugging in your iPhone or Android phone and using CarPlay or Android Auto. 
      All Honda Ridgeline’s come with a 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with a six-speed automatic. The base RT to the RTL-T has the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The RTL-E and Black Edition only come with all-wheel drive. No other V6 truck in the class can match the performance of the Ridgeline’s V6. Acceleration is strong whether you’re leaving a stoplight or making a pass. The run to 60 mph is said to take around 7 seconds, making this one quick midsize truck. The six-speed automatic delivers fast and smooth shifts.
      All-wheel drive Ridgelines like our tester come with Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management system. This system quickly redistributes the amount of torque going to each wheel to improve handling and traction. AWD models also get the Intelligent Traction Management system which adjusts the settings of the powertrain to help you get through whatever terrain you find yourself in. We put these systems to the test by driving through an unplowed road with deep snow. The Ridgeline was able to make it through without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t make the Ridgeline a truck you want to take on an off-road trail as it only offers 7.9-inches of ground clearance and no low-range.
      The Ridgeline’s payload is towards the top the of class when compared with other midsize crew cab trucks. Front-wheel drive models can haul between 1,447 to 1,565 pounds in the bed. All-wheel drive models have a payload capacity of 1,499 to 1,584 pounds. For towing, the Ridgeline falls a bit short. Front-wheel drive models have a max tow rating of 3,500 lbs, while AWD models are slightly higher at 5,000 lbs. For most people, the Ridgeline will be enough to handle various towing needs. If you need a bit more, then the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are ready to help.
      The EPA rates the Ridgeline AWD at 18 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed at 23.6 mpg in a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
      Previously, we’ve considered GM’s midsize trucks as having the best ride in the class. The Honda Ridgeline now holds that honor. The unibody platform and four-wheel independent suspension setup give the Ridgeline a ride that is almost equal to a passenger sedan. Bumps and other imperfections are smoothed out. The Ridgeline is a decent handling truck as well. There isn’t much body roll and it feels stable when going into a corner. We do wish Honda would make the steering slightly heavier for the Ridgeline.
      The Honda Ridgeline may not meet the true definition of a pickup truck, but it is one in spirit. Yes, the unibody architecture does limit the capabilities of the Ridgeline as it cannot haul or tow heavy items. Nor can it go deep into the wilderness due to decisions made by Honda on the Ridgeline’s off-road capability. But it is in other areas that the Ridgeline begins to stand out such as the clever ideas in the bed, comfortable interior, and a ride that is more in tune with a regular car. They might not be the advantages you would expect in a truck, but they are something that Honda believes will bring in those interested in a pickup minus a lot of the issues that other models have. 
      To put it another way, the Honda Ridgeline is like Festivus from Seinfeld; they’re both for the rest of us.
      Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Ridgeline, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Honda
      Model: Ridgeline
      Trim: RTL-E
      Engine: 3.5L SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC V6
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,515 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, Alabama
      Base Price: $41,370
      As Tested Price: $42,270 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Is the Honda Ridgeline a truck or not? Depends on to whom you ask this question. A truck person would say no since the Ridgeline isn’t a body-on-frame vehicle. Instead, it uses a unibody platform from the Honda Pilot. A consumer would say yes because it looks like a truck and has all the attributes you would find on one such as a bed. I spent some time in a Ridgeline over the holidays to see if I could figure out the answer.
      The previous Ridgeline looked like an auto show concept squared-off shape and missing the design cues you would expect on a truck such as a gap between the cab and bed. This put a lot of people off from looking at the Ridgeline. The new model looks more in line with the current crop of midsize trucks as Honda adopted the standard cab and bed design. This includes the gap between the bed and cab, although this is more of a design touch. Stick your hand in the gap and you’ll realize that both parts are connected (thanks unibody construction).
      The front end is where you’ll make your decision as to whether you like the Ridgeline or not. There is an imposing grille with a long chrome bar on top. A set of large headlights sits on either side of the grille. Other design items to take note of are the sculpted hood and front bumper. Personally, I found the front end to a bit over the top. Honda was trying to make the Ridgeline look tough and imposing, but the end result is a look that is trying too hard. 
      At least Honda got the Ridgeline’s bed right. Compared to the last model, Honda added four inches to the overall length of the bed (64 vs. 60 inches). This gives the Ridgeline the longest standard bed in the class. Unlike competitors, you cannot option a longer bed for the Ridgeline. Honda has also fitted some clever ideas for the Ridgeline’s bed. First is the in-bed trunk that offers 7.3 cubic feet of space where you can stow tools or luggage, giving the Ridgeline a significant edge in practicality than its competitors. Second is the dual-action tailgate which allows the tailgate to be opened downward or to the side.
      The recent crop of trucks have been stepping up their game when it comes to interiors and the Ridgeline is no different. The interior is borrowed from the Pilot crossover and brings forth an easy-to-understand control layout and high-quality materials. One item that wasn’t carried over from the Pilot was the push-button transmission selector. Instead, the Ridgeline sticks with a good-ole lever. Thank you, Honda.
      The Ridgeline proved to be a very comfortable pickup truck thanks to supportive leather seats, and power-adjustments for the driver. I took this truck to Northern Michigan and back during the holidays, and I never felt tired or had any soreness afterward. The back seat provides more than enough head and legroom for passengers. The bottom cushion of the back seat can also be folded up to provide a decent amount space for carrying larger items.
      Honda’s infotainment system in the Ridgeline has to be one of the most frustrating systems we have ever come across. The eight-inch system gets off on the wrong foot by using touch-sensitive controls for the volume and other functions that don’t always respond whenever pressed. At least you can use the steering wheel controls for a number of these functions. HondaLink needs a serious revamp in terms of its interface as trying to do simple things is very convoluted. For example, if I want to pick a podcast episode from my iPod, I have to jump through a number of menus to just to get to the listing of the specific show I want to listen to. You can avoid using HondaLink by plugging in your iPhone or Android phone and using CarPlay or Android Auto. 
      All Honda Ridgeline’s come with a 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with a six-speed automatic. The base RT to the RTL-T has the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The RTL-E and Black Edition only come with all-wheel drive. No other V6 truck in the class can match the performance of the Ridgeline’s V6. Acceleration is strong whether you’re leaving a stoplight or making a pass. The run to 60 mph is said to take around 7 seconds, making this one quick midsize truck. The six-speed automatic delivers fast and smooth shifts.
      All-wheel drive Ridgelines like our tester come with Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management system. This system quickly redistributes the amount of torque going to each wheel to improve handling and traction. AWD models also get the Intelligent Traction Management system which adjusts the settings of the powertrain to help you get through whatever terrain you find yourself in. We put these systems to the test by driving through an unplowed road with deep snow. The Ridgeline was able to make it through without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t make the Ridgeline a truck you want to take on an off-road trail as it only offers 7.9-inches of ground clearance and no low-range.
      The Ridgeline’s payload is towards the top the of class when compared with other midsize crew cab trucks. Front-wheel drive models can haul between 1,447 to 1,565 pounds in the bed. All-wheel drive models have a payload capacity of 1,499 to 1,584 pounds. For towing, the Ridgeline falls a bit short. Front-wheel drive models have a max tow rating of 3,500 lbs, while AWD models are slightly higher at 5,000 lbs. For most people, the Ridgeline will be enough to handle various towing needs. If you need a bit more, then the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are ready to help.
      The EPA rates the Ridgeline AWD at 18 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed at 23.6 mpg in a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
      Previously, we’ve considered GM’s midsize trucks as having the best ride in the class. The Honda Ridgeline now holds that honor. The unibody platform and four-wheel independent suspension setup give the Ridgeline a ride that is almost equal to a passenger sedan. Bumps and other imperfections are smoothed out. The Ridgeline is a decent handling truck as well. There isn’t much body roll and it feels stable when going into a corner. We do wish Honda would make the steering slightly heavier for the Ridgeline.
      The Honda Ridgeline may not meet the true definition of a pickup truck, but it is one in spirit. Yes, the unibody architecture does limit the capabilities of the Ridgeline as it cannot haul or tow heavy items. Nor can it go deep into the wilderness due to decisions made by Honda on the Ridgeline’s off-road capability. But it is in other areas that the Ridgeline begins to stand out such as the clever ideas in the bed, comfortable interior, and a ride that is more in tune with a regular car. They might not be the advantages you would expect in a truck, but they are something that Honda believes will bring in those interested in a pickup minus a lot of the issues that other models have. 
      To put it another way, the Honda Ridgeline is like Festivus from Seinfeld; they’re both for the rest of us.
      Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Ridgeline, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Honda
      Model: Ridgeline
      Trim: RTL-E
      Engine: 3.5L SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC V6
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,515 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, Alabama
      Base Price: $41,370
      As Tested Price: $42,270 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
    • By William Maley
      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.
       
      FIAT Brand
      Sales of the Fiat 500 were up 1 percent in February, compared with the same month a year ago. Sales of the new Fiat 124 Spider were up 26 percent compared with the previous month of January. The 124 Spider was named in February as one of the Best Cars for the Money in the Sports Car category by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, according to the valuation experts at Hagerty, is one of 10 vehicles this year that stand out as the likeliest to grow in value and appeal to classic car enthusiasts. That puts the 124 Spider Abarth on the “Hagerty Hot List” for 2017. 
       
      Chrysler Brand
      Sales of the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica – the most awarded minivan of 2016 and 2017 – were up in its second month of year-over-year comparisons, and increased 36 percent compared with sales in the previous month of January. The Pacifica continues to earn a plethora of awards and accolades in 2017. In February, the Pacifica was named Best Minivan for the Money by U.S. News & World Report, 2017 Family Vehicle of the Year by the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and MotorWeek’s 2017 Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Minivan. The Chrysler 300 full-size sedan turned in a 2 percent year-over-year increase in February.
        
      Alfa Romeo Brand
      Alfa Romeo brand sales of 443 units were up 843 percent compared with the same month in 2016.
       
      Maserati Brand
      Maserati brand sales of 1,087 units were up 49 percent compared with the same month a year ago.
       
      U.S. Sales Summary February 2017
                Month Sales
      Vol %
      CYTD Sales
      Vol %
      Model
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Compass
      2,737
      8,893
      -69%
      5,901
      15,164
      -61%
      Patriot
      5,512
      11,363
      -51%
      10,212
      19,947
      -49%
      Wrangler
      13,641
      13,349
      2%
      24,975
      24,336
      3%
      Cherokee
      13,615
      15,353
      -11%
      26,166
      32,136
      -19%
      Grand Cherokee
      18,925
      16,990
      11%
      36,226
      30,965
      17%
      Renegade
      7,915
      7,115
      11%
      17,280
      13,282
      30%
      JEEP BRAND
      62,345
      73,063
      -15%
      120,760
      135,830
      -11%
      200
      2,194
      6,259
      -65%
      4,055
      10,944
      -63%
      300
      5,386
      5,304
      2%
      10,094
      10,969
      -8%
      Town & Country
      108
      11,645
      -99%
      246
      23,028
      -99%
      Pacifica
      9,042
      71
      New
      15,712
      110
      New
      CHRYSLER BRAND
      16,730
      23,279
      -28%
      30,107
      45,051
      -33%
      Dart
      1,683
      5,824
      -71%
      3,080
      11,104
      -72%
      Avenger
      0
      6
      -100%
      0
      15
      -100%
      Charger
      6,930
      8,765
      -21%
      14,083
      17,547
      -20%
      Challenger
      6,107
      5,142
      19%
      9,500
      10,803
      -12%
      Viper
      54
      44
      23%
      107
      72
      49%
      Journey
      9,906
      6,375
      55%
      22,542
      17,961
      26%
      Caravan
      13,682
      13,978
      -2%
      24,452
      24,933
      -2%
      Durango
      5,516
      6,851
      -19%
      10,223
      12,852
      -20%
      DODGE  BRAND
      43,878
      46,985
      -7%
      83,987
      95,287
      -12%
      Ram P/U
      39,046
      37,087
      5%
      72,815
      69,651
      5%
      Cargo Van
      0
      0
      0%
      0
      2
      -100%
      ProMaster Van
      2,648
      2,697
      -2%
      5,999
      5,039
      19%
      ProMaster City
      1,091
      1,509
      -28%
      2,016
      2,665
      -24%
      RAM BRAND
      42,785
      41,293
      4%
      80,830
      77,357
      4%
      Giulia
      412
      0
      New
      482
      0
      New
      Alfa 4C 
      31
      47
      -34%
      69
      115
      -40%
      ALFA BRAND
      443
      47
      843%
      551
      115
      379%
      500
      1,131
      1,120
      1%
      2,349
      2,101
      12%
      500L
      72
      370
      -81%
      178
      727
      -76%
      500X
      640
      1,161
      -45%
      1,240
      2,202
      -44%
      Spider
      302
      0
      New
      542
      0
      New
      FIAT BRAND
      2,145
      2,651
      -19%
      4,309
      5,030
      -14%
      TOTAL FCA US LLC
      168,326
      187,318
      -10%
      320,544
      358,670
      -11%
          Total Car & MPV
      47,134
      58,575
      -20%
      84,949
      112,468
      -24%
          Total UV's
      78,407
      87,450
      -10%
      154,765
      168,845
      -8%
          Total Truck & LCV
      42,785
      41,293
      4%
      80,830
      77,357
      4%
                    MASERATI BRAND
      1,087
      728
      49%
      1,976
      1,253
      58%

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