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2009 Chryslers, Dodges, and Jeeps: "Official" Changes

We are not responsible for errors or omissions. Source: Chrysler press materials. We have full pages on each of these vehicles, personal driving impressions, and an in-depth view of 2009 technologies.

November 3, 2008 changes to the 2009 Chrysler and Dodge cars

Chrysler changed the trim lines on Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler 300, and Dodge Avenger to match customer needs for the 2009 model year. The moves went beyond previously announced 2009 model-year changes, and were designed to provide customers with desirable options on lower-priced cars.

The Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger lineups were dramatically simplified, cutting costs while increasing value. The Limited had standard leather, heated seats, and chrome accents, at the price of the previous Sebring Touring model, $23,380 including destination, with the four-cylinder engine (achieving 30 mpg on the highway). With the standard 3.5 liter V6, six-speed automatic, dual exhaust, and 18 inch chrome wheels, the Sebring Limited came in at just $25,630.

Similarly, the Dodge Avenger R/T came with the four cylinder, leather, and heated seats for $22,790 including destination; with the 3.5 liter V6 and AutoStick, 18 inch aluminum wheels, performance tires, firm feel power steering, dual exhaust, and sport tires and suspension, the Avenger R/T was just under $25,000, a price drop of $1,160. The entry-level Avenger was the SXT, with a base price of $21,255.

The Chrysler 300 Touring was now the base model 300; the price remained the same as the old base model, at $27,415, but included the Touring interior and exterior and a front grille. The WPC Touring Signature Edition price dropped to $31,825, and included big chrome wheels and power adjustable pedals; optional features included all-wheel drive, navigation system, and side airbags.

The 300 Limited had the same interior and exterior as the 300C, but used the 3.5 liter V6; the price started at $36,035. Meanwhile, the Hemi-powered 300C started at $37,585.

Across the board

The MyGIG™ system was renamed to UConnect, which used to denote the Bluetooth™ cellphone link; various varieties of UConnect are used for the hard-drive storage system, navigation system, television, etc. Like numerous other features, this is discussed in more detail in our in-depth view of 2009 technologies.

MyGIG iPod

Chrysler adjusted the badge placement of many vehicles, for what we believe to be a more sensible and pleasing appearance.

Stability control was available on every vehicle except for the PT Cruiser and Ram 2500, 3500, 4500, and 5500. Electronic Roll Mitigation was available on the Ram 1500, all Jeeps, Journey, and all SUVs (except PT); and Trailer Sway Control is on Aspen/Durango, Nitro/Liberty, Ram 1500, Journey, and Commander/Grand Cherokee. The Enhanced Accident Response System, which turns on interior lighting, unlocks all doors, and cuts fuel to the engine after the airbags fire, was available on nearly every vehicle.

Dodge

dodge avenger

Avenger got substantial noise reductions, and numerous feature/package changes. ABS, a rear spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and fog lamps were made standard on SXT and R/T, 18-inch chrome-clad wheels became standard on Avenger R/T, and a trunk mat, sunglass holder, floor mats, cabin air filter, and deck lid liner became standard across the board. Cosmetically, the silver paint was made lighter, and the two-tone gray interior was switched to "dark slate gray." The premium convenience group was expanded and the ultimate performance tire and wheel group (with 2.7 liter engine) was given the 18 inch UltraBrite wheels and P215/55 tires. We were told earlier that the all wheel drive version was being dropped, but it was merely being restricted to the R/T model. As for the myriad of smaller exterior details we believed were coming — none were announced by Chrysler.

2009 dodge caliber

Caliber got the former MyGIG system, with the cellphone connections and 30 gigabyte hard drive, satellite traffic reports, and satellite radio. Engine noise was cut with added insulation and exhaust system upgrades. Cosmetic changes include changes to the beige and blue paints, liftgate badging, carpet color changes, larger floor mats (SXT and R/T), and body-color door handles (SXT and R/T). MusicGate was made standard on SXT Sport, and ABS became standard on SXT. Numerous package changes were made; of note, the SXT Security Group got an engine oil cooler with the 2.0 liter engine. On the SRT4, the new performance pages (providing 0-60 times, quarter mile reports, G-forces, and braking distances) and an EVIC were made standard. Since the interior is different from the similar Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass, the changes made to those vehicles were not carried into the Caliber.

Challenger details are all on our Dodge Challenger page.

2009 dodge charger

Dodge Charger got the revised Hemi V8 with variable cam timing, good for roughly 370 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque (the fleet version is listed as having just 355 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque, in both standard-fleet and squad form); all wheel drive models got a new system that brings rear-wheel-drive style gas mileage, by only connecting the front axle when it's needed, spinning it up to speed on demand. New tail lamps, standard aluminum wheels (SE), and moving the antenna to the rear window freshened the exteriors. Inside, the Charger SE interior was upgraded with better floor mats and silver accents, while the trunk got a cargo net and scuff plate. The SXT with leather and the R/T got LED lights in the map pockets; all models got LEDs in the front cupholders. The EVIC provided an indication of whether the driver was in rear or all wheel drive (on AWD models), and flashed ECO when the Hemi was on four cylinders. R/T models switched to an axle ratio of 2.65:1, while AWD models went to 3.06:1. Finally, the tire pressure monitor warning switched to LO TIRE.

Horsepower for the 2.7L engine has been revised to 178HP at 5500RPM (down from 190HP @ 6400RPM.) Gas mileage remains the same, 18/26.

charger taillights

Dodge Charger SRT8 got the Dodge Challenger suspension tuning for a nicer ride, along with the new tail lamps. New standard features were dual-zone auto temperature control, automatic headlamps, express up/down windows, remote start, air filtration, and heated front seats; and the front head rests were redesigned. The ABS was recalibrated for less brake knockback, and better gas mileage (no mention of how this was done) lowered the gas tax.

A new Super Bee model was to be added, in Hemi Orange with numbered dash plaques; this package included silver calipers, special wheels and decals, standard hard-drive stereo, and orange seat accents.

blind spot monitoring

Dodge Grand Caravan got optional blind spot monitoring, rain-sensitive wipers, and rear cross path systems; the 4-liter SXT (with 28L package) will get a new sport-tuned suspension. Caravan SE got standard Stow n Go and stain-repellant seat fabric, cruise, a nicer gauge cluster with tachometer, three rows of power seats, floor mats, tinted glass, and body-colored door handles and moldings. SXT was given a roofrack and, optionally, better steering wheel with EVIC controls. Crimson and green paint were added to SE and SXT's list, and badging was changed across the board. SXT 28L packages got chromed daylight opening trim. The UConnect phone option on SXT included an iPod interface. Across the board, upgraded brakes reduce noise and harshness while improving performance. Options packages were upgraded. With late availability, larger nine-inch dual overhead DVD screens with swiveling third row was added.

Gas mileage on the 4-liter models shot up 8% over 2008s, while horsepower went from 240 to 251 hp. The minivan got 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway.

cargo van

The Dodge Caravan Cargo Van got vinyl window shades outside (for privacy), full-width cargo dividers, wire mesh and solid metal window interior inserts to avoid broken windows, a cargo-area floor mat, and molded wall liners; fleet orders got new premium options and the ability to delete side-curtain airbags and interior trim.

dakota

Dodge Dakota got all sorts of new features including a more powerful 4.7 liter V8 engine the previous year, and was pretty much unchanged in 2009; the SXT was replaced by the more evocative Big Horn and Lone Star models, while slow-selling SLT, Sport, and TRX 4x2 trim levels were all dropped. New colors included white, blue, and tan; underseat crate storage was made standard on Big Horn and Lone Star, along with 18 inch wheels and the V8 engine. Tilt wheel was added to ST, cloth buckets on Laramie, and bolstered buckets on TRX4.

durango

Durango, on the other hand, got the new Hemi, at 365 or 356 horsepower (Chrysler's materials reference both numbers in several places; we think it's 365) and 390 lb-ft of torque, as well as the hybrid system (see our review of the similar Aspen hybrid). Other changes included a new teal color, satellite video added to the rear-seat video, and a 30-gigabyte hard drive stereo option.

Journey is new.

dodge nitro

Nitro got some suspension updates for better cornering, a change to one blue color, and bright red replacing electric blue paint. Floor mats, rear dome lamp, automatic transmission, and automatic unlocking became standard across models; remote express-open front windows became standard on SLT and R/T. The 4.0 V6 muffler was retuned; the suspension was retuned with updated rear axles and shafts, springs, shock, roll bas, and steering gear for more precise handling and feel. The brakes got a retuned booster, low-rollback calipers, and revised pedal ratio for better feel. Various packages were also changed, particularly in the electronics arena.

dodge viper

Viper ACR model was lightened, with aero works that increase downforce. The Dodge Viper also got a modified steel frame, fuel tank, and filler tube, with four new paint colors, new optional wheels, and a revised center console bezel with recessed window switches.

The 2009 Dodge Ram got a brand new 1500 model; the heavy duty versions with gas engines got the new VCT Hemi at 355 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque.

dodge ram 2500

The Dodge Ram heavy duty 2500/3500 pickups got the variable valve timing Hemi for 355 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque, with a standard automatic on 2500 models; all 3500 models got a standard 6.7 liter Cummins turbodiesel and limited slip rear axle. Larger front and rear brake rotors were fitted (360 mm and 358 mm), with twin-piston calipers. The manual transmission-Hemi combination was dropped, and remote start made optional on 6.7-liter Cummins engines. Power Wagon continued, but now only in Quad Cab form. The Ram 2500 Box-Off continued with the same changes.

ram 3500

The Ram Chassis Cab 3500 also got a variable-valve-timing Hemi, with horsepower ratings unreleased at press time; new optional axle ratios of 3.42 (manual transmission) and 3.73 (automatic) were added for better gas mileage. New brakes extended service intervals and cut stopping distances while improving gas mileages, while the GCWR rose to class leading 24,000 pounds. A new ambulance prep package was added, while the PTO pump rating increased 55%; the PTO prep package was extended to Laramie trucks. A new tailpipe and resonator was added to the Hemi, cruise was made standard (with an optional delete), and the Cummins 6.7/automatic got an optional remote start.

chassis cab

The Ram Chassis Cab (4500/5500) diesel had 50-state emissions and an exterior label that bypassed idle limits in ARB states; an ambulance prep package was added and PTO pump rating increased 55%. The automatic-transmission 6.7 engine came with remote start, and cruise control became standard (with an optional delete). Dodge confirmed that front brakes last three times longer, and rear brakes last four times longer, than comparable Ford brakes; the Ram was certified for a 1,172 pound payload advantage over the Ford F-450 and F-550.

sprinterSprinter went on an options refresh, losing the gas engine and premium sound package, but gaining an optional power sliding door, various stereo/phone options, emergency windows, 180-degree rear door opening, two-stage side door opening, wheel chocks, roof rails, and auxiliary fuel tap. Chassis cab options were expanded to include a frame-mounted spare, rear crossmember, exterior mirror extensions up to 96 inches, and lamp failure monitoring delete.

Jeep

jeep liberty

Jeep Liberty, like the similar Nitro, was retuned with rear axle and shafts, steering gear, springs, shocks, brakes, and anti-roll bars all getting tweaks. Floor mats and auto unlock became standard; the usual satellite radio option was added; and equipment packages were changed around. The Limited model was considerably enhanced to make the extra cost well worth it, with remote express-open front windows and, in Jeep’s words, “soft-touch door uppers, all monochrome/dark gray interior, soft door armrest, leather-wrapped shift knob, dual in-mold film for instrument panel and console and leather-wrapped parking brake, steering wheel and grab handles.”

2009 wrangler

Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited met ULEV II standards with manual transmissions; hill-start assist was standard with manuals and trailer sway control was optional.

commander

Grand Cherokee and Commander got the new VCT Hemi, boasting 357 horses and 389 lb-ft of torque with better mileage. The Grand Cherokee instrument panel was upgraded to include tire pressure monitoring and fuel saver notification; the rear DVD went to a 9 inch screen; and an iPod interface became available with the nav system. A new leather group was made optional on Limited and Overland.

grand cherokee

Commander Overland was given auto-levelling HID headlights, optional on Limited; Limited got body-color exterior mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers became optional on some Sport models. Limited got leather-trimmed front seats, with a map pocket on the passenger side (Overland got map pockets on both sides). Wheels changed across the board. Other changes followed Grand Cherokee.

Grand Cherokee SRT8 got the performance pages system, better leather, and a bigger DVD screen.

2009 jeep compass

Compass and Patriot got a far better interior with more padding, better materials, and more graceful lines and curves. A partial-zero-emission-vehicle version of the 2.4 liter engine was available with front wheel drive. The suspensions were also retuned for a better on-road feel. Patriots were available now at some dealers (so we don’t feel bad about posting the photo — not that many haven’t already shown up elsewhere.)

patriot dash

The Compass and Patriot still had an identical interior; a new instrument panel, door trim panel, and center console were accompanied by a soft-touch door armrest and center console with split lid for more storage. Chrome accents were added to the vents and shift bezel on Sport, and to those areas as well as the door and cluster rings on Limited. Floor mats replaced the vinyl load floor, and LED-illuminated cupholders were added.

compass interior

An optional 30-gigabyte-hard-drive music system with the ability to show custom images (and to play movies on the screen while in Park) was added, along with a nav/traffic system, the latter standard on the Limited. Numerous changes were made to options packages, including a rather comprehensive and credible Freedom Drive II group. The liftgate appliqué was switched to mold-in-color (all Patriot, and Compass Sport; Compass Limited got a body-color appliqué).

jeep patriot

Engine compartment and floor sound insulation and a larger resonator on front drive vehicles (and the addition of a resonator on 4WD models) slashed unwanted noise. For Compass, revised suspension tuning on Sport models gave a more comfortable, smoother ride. Other changes included making a PZEV option on FWD CVT models, and making the Sport's suspension more comfortable and smooth.

patriot dashboard

Chrysler

2009 chrysler minivans

Chrysler Town & Country got pretty much the same changes as the Dodge Grand Caravan, above — plus minivan-first SmartBeam® headlamps on Touring and Limited. Gas mileage on the 4-liter models shot up 8% over 2008s, while horsepower went from 240 to 251 hp. The minivan got 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway.

2009 aspen

aspen hybrid

Chrysler Aspen, like the Durango, got the new Hemi, at 365 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, as well as the hybrid system (see our review of the Aspen hybrid) with 380 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Park bench seats continued, but the satellite TV system and a new nav system were available (standard on Limited hybrid). For more, see the Durango section.

300C

Chrysler 300 got the new VCT Hemi with 359 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque; the 2.7’s power was restated to 178HP at 5500RPM (down from 190HP @ 6400RPM.) Gas mileage remained the same, 18/26.

All wheel drive models had a new system that brings rear-wheel-drive style gas mileage, by only connecting the front axle when it's needed, spinning it up to speed on demand. The 300C Heritage used the Dodge Charger Daytona suspension tuning for a better feel. Navigation system, stereo, satellite TV had all been updated. The SRT8 got a new grille and ABS, while ordinary models had an optional higher-grade interior.

2009 chrysler sebring

Chrysler Sebring: essentially got the same changes as the Dodge Avenger, not surprisingly; though a leather wrapped shifter knob with chrome accents became standard on Touring and Limited, a sunglass holder became standard across the board, and a trunk cargo organizer became standard on Limited. As with Avenger, interior noise was dramatically reduced. LED lighting was optional on Touring, an eight-way power driver's seat standard on Touring and Limited, and Remote Start, heated/cooled cupholder, heated front seats, and phone system became standard on Limited. ESP became standard on Touring; four-wheel ABS disc brakes standard across the board.

convertible

Chrysler Sebring Convertible: 18 inch chromed wheels were made standard on Limited; a dark gray interior replaced the two-tone gray; trunk mats, floor mats, cabin air filtration, and deck lid closing assist handles were added to all models, which also got the acoustic package from the Sebring. Limited got standard heated front seats, remote start, automatic headlamps, garage door opener, auto temp, and heated/cooled cup holder; both Touring and Limited got ESP standard. The Convenience and Premium Auto groups were enhanced.

pt cruiser

PT Cruiser was not changed much, as it enters what is probably its last year. The light-pressure turbocharged engine, producing 180 hp, was still around; this was a nice balance of performance and day to day convenience, as it came without the hard ride and poor turning radius of the abandoned GT model. For 2009, badging also changed, with Chrysler saving money on the letters U, R, B, and O: the badge was a Volkswagen-like 2.4T rather than "2.4 TURBO." Rear badges were PT Cruiser on the left, and Limited or Touring above 2.4T on the right. The Dream Cruiser Series 5 had a low price, two-tone paint, loads of chrome, and other special features.

Now what?

Personal driving impressions • 2009 technologies.

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