by Pete Doll
Related: 2015 Dodge Challenger • 2015 Dodge Charger • Jeep Renegade • Other car shows
On Thursday morning, The New York Auto Show set the stage for Dodge’s unveiling of the 2015 Charger and 2015 Challenger. Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO of Dodge Brands, made the presentation.
Mr. Kuniskis stated that Dodge is known as the “performance brand; it’s in our DNA” and has been successful in marketing to Generation X and the Millenials that follow. The Charger, with new sheet metal, sports a cleaner, more modern look than its predecessor, while the Challenger is a substantial refresh featuring a new 1971-inspired grill, 1971-inspired rear fascia, and a new interior.
Dodge displayed one Charger, a red R/T. Contemporary LED driving lights now help guide the Charger’s way. However, with a nod to the original 1966 Charger, the rather plain front grill could benefit from the addition of a “Fratzog” in the center of the crosshairs as well as a script “Charger” emblem in the R/T badging. Simple details like this can help convey the sense of continuity Dodge seems to want with its brand, as the Charger passes from one generation to the next.
The 292-300 hp 3.6L Pentastar V6 and 370 hp 5.7L Hemi V8 engine choices carry over from last year, now both mated to the new 8-speed automatic, the only transmission available. In the interior, a new center console mounted shifter manages that 8-speed transmission. A disconnecting AWD system, available only with the V6, helps to improve all-wheel-drive fuel economy to 27 mpg on the open road (the RWD setup is around 31 mpg). Leaner looking, and according to Mr. Kuniskis, with a more athletic stance, the 2015 Charger R/T should certainly appeal to those in search of a high-performance 4-door sedan.
If you prefer a traditional 2-door muscle car, Dodge has you covered with the retro 2015 Challenger — Mr. Kuniskis says, “an everyday muscle car.” Two Challengers cruised up on-stage, a Sublime R/T, and a Silver Scat Pack.
While both the 5.7L Hemi V8 and 3.6L Pentastar V6 return for 2015, the new factory “Scat Pack” edition finds the 470 HP SRT 6.4L Hemi V8 under the hood and that hood can be a “Shaker!” Both V8s are available with either the 6-speed manual transmission or the new 8-speed automatic transmission, with the V6 still backed up by the automatic only.
Color choices range from the classic “B5” blue to the appropriately named “Sublime” green. Behind the wheel, gauges reminiscent of the 1967-69 Barracuda greet the driver (designer Dan Zimmerman happily confirmed the inspiration).
The well-designed instrument panel works nicely, and the retro theme carries over to the gauge graphics on the 7-inch gauge cluster and 8-inch touch screen.
Until now, the recently introduced “Scat Pack” performance packages have only been available through Mopar as retrofit kits for the Challenger, Charger, and Dart, rather than as new cars. Debuting in 1968, the original factory “Scat Pack” cars were the Dart GTS, Coronet R/T, Super Bee, and Charger R/T.
The original Scat Pack cars were identified by distinctive “bumble bee stripes” traversing the rear deck lid. The Silver Scat Pack Challenger did not carry on this rear deck lid stripe tradition; instead, a stripe package ran front to rear. Interestingly, the 2014 SRT Super Bee does have the “bumble bee stripe” but it is not a “Scat Pack” car. When questioned about this, a Chrysler spokesman could not directly answer the question at this time.
It will be interesting to see if other Mopars earn their “Scat Pack” stripes too.
See the captions for more of Pete’s commentary.
Boots are a nod to models in 1970-71 Dodge and Plymouth ads.
Challenger’s red seats were, according to a Chrysler rep, inspired by the color of Detroiter Joe Louis (Joseph Louis Barrow)’s boxing gloves. That color is probably not reproduced faithfully in these photos — red is hard to get “just right” on computer monitors.
A collection of classic cars, including a Chrysler “woodie,” an Auburn, a Cord L29, Olds W30, and this Duesenberg J, formed part of a display from America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.
The Renegade has a roomy interior, but the X-design reverse lights, integrated into the red brake lights, are odd at best. The car will likely be a big sales success but a Jeep rep said they did not even try to run it on Chrysler’s carefully-maintained replica of the 1990s Rubicon Trail. It did run on “an offroad course” but the company was not specific on which. The dimensions and specifications seem favorable compared with Cherokee, which makes one wonder what is preventing more extensive testing.
SRT lauched their anodized Viper TA — a whole ten of them will be made, complete with number plates. There will be fifty anodized-carbon Vipers made in total; the TA does 0-60 in 3.3 seconds, with the quarter mile in “the low 11s.”
Dodge timeline and antique-tools-and-artifacts cases made their way from Detroit.
Some of the tools in the Dodge displays belonged to designer Dan Zimmerman’s grandfather. Mr. Zimmerman turned out to be very knowledgeable about Dodge’s past.
Power Wagon will be powered by a truck version of the 6.4 V8, and have a six-speed automatic only. Ram 2500 should be the most comfortably and best-handling pickup in its class, with its independent link/coil suspension.
by Brian Kapral
After the presentation of the Jeep Renegade, I was able to talk to Philip M. Jansen, the Vehicle Line Executive, A/B Segment, Minivan, and current C/D Segment.
I asked him if the Renegade had crossed the famed Rubicon Trail, and he said that it had not, but had been on one of Jeep’s testing grounds. He elaborated that for the “Trail Rating” of the Jeeps, they assign a ranking of 1-10 with 10 being the best. The rating equate to what kind of trail it should be able to handle.
Mr. Jansen gave the Renegade a rating of a 4 out of 10, which would mean they would not recommend it for a trail such as the Rubicon. Part of the reason, according to Mr. Jansen, is the Renegade’s focus on power over torque; the latter would be needed to climb boulders and such for the likes of the Rubicon trail. He then said that the Wrangler is rated at a 8 – 9 out of 10, and would be able to go over the Rubicon trail with no problems.
When I had asked him if the Renegade had any styling or influence from the Fiat 500L, he said that were some shared modules such as the seating, steering column, and other small things. The differences were the wheel openings (which have the typical Jeep trapezoid opening), a unique front suspension, different transmission, and some other things. Mr. Jansen also said that while both the 500L and the Renegade both use the small wide design, the design is different due to 500L using the front wheel drive version while the Renegade uses the AWD version.
[Editor’s note: Pete Doll later confirmed that the Renegade had not been tested at the Chelsea Proving Ground’s replica of the Rubicon Trail circa 1998.]
Parking lots raise their rates dramatically for the show ($50, cash only). Generally, and ironically, driving is not the most attractive option.
Cherokee on off-road simulation course, just outside the Javits Center
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