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Absent Ram, Dodge plans to be a sportier animal


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Absent Ram, Dodge plans to be a sportier animal

Bradford Wernle

Automotive News -- July 26, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

With Ram pickups no longer part of its lineup, Dodge is repositioning itself as a sporty brand for all ages.

As the brands diverge, Ram keeps the distinctive ram's head logo, while Dodge will have a new script logo that will be revealed this year on the restyled Charger sedan and the Durango replacement.

Sources say Dodge may eventually lose its cross-hair grille, which will stay with Ram. But spy shots show the grille remains on the restyled Charger and Durango replacement, due late this year.

Even without pickups and commercial vehicles, Dodge still will have the broadest lineup among Chrysler Group's brands. Dodge ranges from a minivan to the Challenger sporty coupe.

Subcompact car: Last November, Joseph Veltri, Chrysler's product planning chief, showed a plan that included a subcompact about the size of a Ford Fiesta. The car is scheduled to arrive in 2013, likely as a 2014 model, and will be imported from a Fiat plant.

Caliber: The Caliber got a freshened interior this year. The car will continue in its current form until mid-2012, when a Fiat-based compact sedan will replace it, likely marketed as a 2013 model.

Avenger: The Avenger sedan, along with its sibling, the Chrysler Sebring, will be reskinned and re-engineered this year for the 2011 model year. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne promises that every aspect of the Avenger will be improved. The car will get the Pentastar V-6 engine and a Fiat six-speed, dual-clutch transmission.

The exterior sheet metal will be less extensively changed than the skin on the Sebring. The Avenger will be replaced in 2013 by a mid-sized sedan based on Fiat's Compact Wide platform, likely for the 2014 model year.

Challenger: Next year Dodge's sporty coupe will get a minor reskin and interior tweaks, likely for the 2012 model year. The new Pentastar V-6 will replace the current V-6, the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 will be retained and a 6.4-liter V-8 will replace the current 6.1-liter V-8. The eight-speed automatic transmission that Chrysler is licensing from ZF Group will be available. The revised Challenger is scheduled to remain in production until 2014 at least.

Charger: A restyled, re-engineered Charger rear-drive sedan goes into production in November, and sales will begin in February or March. The Charger will get new sheet metal. Spy photos have shown the car, most likely a 2012 model, will be sleeker than the current model but will retain the cross-hair grille, which eventually will go away and become the exclusive province of Ram. From the A-pillar back, the car draws on the styling of the 1969 Charger.

The car will be offered with three engines: the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6, a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8. The Charger will get the new eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF Group, both for V-6 and V-8 engines.

Viper: Production ended July 1. In November, Veltri said a replacement was under consideration for 2012 or later.

The company is considering a more fuel-efficient entry model with a 6.4-liter V-8 Hemi rated at over 450 hp.

Nitro: In their November presentation, executives said the Nitro would be freshened in 2011, including the addition of a V-6 Pentastar engine, most likely for the 2012 model year.

The future of the crossover after that is "under consideration," the company has said. It is unclear whether the Nitro will remain in the lineup.

Journey: The crossover has been one of the few recent hits from Chrysler Group. It is based on an extensively modified Mitsubishi GS platform, which also underpins the Sebring and Avenger.

The Journey interior gets a freshening in November for the 2011 model year. The crossover also will get the Pentastar V-6.

Full-sized crossover: In the fourth quarter, Dodge will offer a seven-passenger crossover that shares a unibody platform with the redesigned five-passenger Jeep Grand Cherokee. The platform is stretched to create the redesigned Dodge. The Durango name might be replaced with Magnum.

Grand Caravan: For the 2011 model year, the reskinned Grand Caravan will get an improved interior, some exterior styling tweaks and the Pentastar V-6. The next generation of the minivan is due in 2014.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100726/OEM04/307269991/1251#ixzz0unKbx4yd

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