Chrysler-300s-Jacobys-Web
Two Allpar reporters, Bill Cawthon and Patrick Rall, were invited to test drive the latest Chrysler 300 in the Texas Hill Country. Mr. Cawthon chose a 300C with all wheel drive and the V6; Mr. Rall chose a 300S with rear wheel drive. Both reviews have now been posted to allpar.com: 300S300C.

The changes for 2015 are evolutionary, except for the mating of the eight-speed transmission with the 5.7-liter V-8. The transmission that has made the 300S with the Pentastar V-6 such a pleasure to drive will finally be available to those who want a Hemi under the hood.

The base price of the 300 Limited remains at around $32,000 plus destination charges, which is the average price for a new vehicle transaction, according to the experts at KBB.com.

For a brand that is targeted at mainstream buyers, the flagship 300C still has upscale credibility, especially with new Platinum trim line with real wood accents, Nappa leather seats, and a Poltrona Frau leather-wrapped steering wheel. Prices for the 300C Platinum start at about $43,400. (Full pricing).

Mr. Cawthon and Mr. Rall both agreed that the 300 was a pleasure to drive, and Mr. Cawthon noted that Chrysler and Dodge have a surprisingly large share of the American large car market.

ProMaster-F38Side

Allpar had the opportunity to drive the new Ram ProMaster City at an event in Austin, Texas, and our first impressions were very favorable.

The small van, which does incorporate the new styling of the just-unveiled Fiat Dobló, has a number of advantages over competing trucks from Ford, GM and Nissan. These include more power, a 9-speed transmission, an ergonomic driver cockpit and a superior suspension.

We drove the ProMaster City Wagon in downtown traffic, in suburbia and in the countryside and found it has a lot to offer to commercial van buyers looking to downside, whether it’s because of fuel economy, ease of operation or just the lower price.

Allpar has now posted an in-depth look at the van/wagon.

CTS-V-Hellcat-Web
Cadillac has taken the wraps off the 2016 CTS-V, the performance version of their mid-size luxury car.

Boasting a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that cranks out 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque and is mated to an 8-speed, paddle-shifted transmission, the next-generation CTS-V is the hottest Caddy ever. According to GM, 0-60 comes in 3.7 seconds and the CTS-V’s top speed is 201 mph.

Cadillac says the new engine has more horsepower and torque than the twin-turbo Mercedes-Benz 5.5L V-8 and BMW’s twin-turbo M-series 4.4L V-8.

But nowhere in the announcement does it mention the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

One wonders why GM made such an omission?

Perhaps it’s the Charger SRT Hellcat’s 707 horsepower, 650 lb-ft of torque, 2.9-second 0-60 time (3.7 seconds on street radials) and top speed of 204. All in a package that is heavier, has more comfortable front seats and more rear seat room than the Cadillac CTS.

And, considering that a base 2015 CTS-V starts at about the same price as the Charger SRT Hellcat, it’s reasonable to assume this new, hotter CTS-V is going to carry a hefty premium price tag, as well.

Yes, the CTS-V does have some bells and whistles not available on the Charger SRT Hellcat, but a buyer who wants the car for more than show is looking for power, not plush. Those who want to show the money are going to go for the Mercedes or Bimmer, anyway.

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but, sincere or not, GM’s copy just doesn’t match the original.

rubicon

ExtremeTerrain having a sweepstakes to send one person to the Rubicon Trail in California, where they can explore the iconic trail in a modified Jeep Wrangler. The trip now includes an expert to help navigate the trail, three days wheeling (two nights of camping), and free travel and lodging. Enter here.

Ram-Share-Web

IHS Automotive recently released the results of a study showing that the race for market share is becoming tighter over time. IHS says this is good for consumers because automakers have to fight harder for every sale.

The IHS study covered the 21st Century starting with the year 2000 and compared the shares of the major players in that year to their positions as of October 2014. IHS based their numbers on registrations instead of manufacturer reported sales.

U.S. Market Share for Leading New Vehicle Manufacturers
Manufacturer 2000 Manufacturer 2014*
General Motors 28.20% General Motors 17.60%
Ford Motor Company 24.10% Ford Motor Company 14.70%
DaimlerChrysler 15.70% Toyota Motor Sales 14.50%
Toyota Motor Sales 9.30% FCA US LLC 12.70%
American Honda 6.70% American Honda 9.40%
Nissan Motors America 4.30% Nissan Motors America 8.60%
Volkswagen of America 2.50% Hyundai Motor America 8.10%
Hyundai Motor America 2.30% Volkswagen of America 3.30%
Data Source: IHS Automotive *As of October 2014

One of the problems with such a comparison is that it’s not so much apples to apples as it is apples to aardvarks.

DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors have significantly different product lines today. Long gone are Plymouth, Mercury, Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn. Ford divested itself of Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo while GM dumped Saab. The Daimler is gone from Chrysler and Fiat has been added. The Daewoo name is gone: they’re now called Buicks and Chevrolets.

Rather than attempting to equalize the companies as they existed in 2000 with what they have become, Allpar opted to compare individual brands and to extend the comparison to November 2014. The only adjustment made was recombining the Dodge and Ram brands.

In all, excluding niche brands like Ferrari, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, there were 28 marques that were on the market continuously in the period 2000-2014.

As might be expected, Toyota gained the most share, up 4.08%, followed by Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Honda and Subaru.

Jeep was No. 7, with a share increase of 1.34% to 4.19% of the total U.S. light vehicle market. The next-largest gain for an American brand was GMC, which came in at No. 18. GMC added just 0.08% to its slice of the pie. Every other American brand lost share with Ford down the most.

Market-Share-Change-Web

Dodge/Ram was third from the bottom but that was primarily due to shrinkage at the Dodge brand: the Ram pickup is a different story altogether.

Ram’s market share has increased more than any other full-size pickup. In fact, Ram’s market share as of the end of November is 2.88%, its biggest piece of the pie since 1999.

In 2000, Ram was 1.27% behind the Chevrolet Silverado. Today, that difference has been trimmed to just 0.56%.

Pickup-Market-Share-Web

If the Ram pickup’s December sales equal its November numbers, 2014 would be the truck’s best year since 2003 and quite possibly the second-best sales year in Dodge/Ram pickup history (certainly the second-best year since 1996).

With Jeep on track to hit a million or more worldwide sales, an all-time record, and Ram poised to post some of the best numbers it’s had since Dodge started making pickups, it’s well worth digging past the headlines to get to the real story.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger is having its first recall, for around 11,600 cars made through October 8, 2014; instrument cluster problems could cause gauges to fall to zero and the theft alarm indicator to light. The number of cars affected is currently unknown. Recall P74 began on December 15, and involves a software upgrade only.

The pickup truck recall affects 2005 Dodge Ram 1500s made from January 28, 2004, to August 3, 2005, and involves an undersized spline on the pinion gear which can cause the rear axle pinion nut to loosen and the rear axle to seize, resulting in a loss of control. The recall, #P77, involves adding a retention device to the pinion nut. This recall should begin around February 13, when parts are available; around 257,000 trucks are affected.

The NHTSA investigation noted that there was little or no warning prior to the lock-up. Seven incidents occurred at speeds of 50 mph or greater, two causing the pickup to go into a spin.  There have been 15 complaints overall, a failure rate of around 0.006%.

Finally, in a recall that seems to be entirely about public relations, Chrysler is recalling over three million vehicles (2.9 million in the US alone) that have Takata driver’s-side airbag inflators. The company specified:

Neither FCA US, nor Takata Corporation, the supplier, has identified a defect in this population of inflators. These components also are distinct from Takata inflators cited in fatalities involving other auto makers.

More than 1,000 laboratory tests have been performed on these components. All deployed as intended, but FCA US continues to study the suspect inflators, which are not used in the Company’s current production vehicles.

Outside of Florida, one of the areas covered by the original action, no FCA US vehicle has been linked to an air-bag deployment of the type that has raised public concern. Nevertheless, the Company is replacing the Takata components tied to that concern.

The former Chrysler Group said a single injury was appeared to be tied to the airbags, in southern Florida; however, in a past release, Chrysler said that they were unable to access that airbag for analysis due to an ongoing lawsuit. The recall includes the following 2004-07 model-year vehicles:

  • Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Magnum
  • Dodge Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 (both pickups and chassis cabs)
  • Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen
  • Mitsubishi Raider and Dodge Dakota

It will take time to make replacement parts, and the company will notify customers when they can schedule an appointment. Priority is being given to customers in areas with persistent, high humidity.

2017 minivan spy shots

We may have the first clear 2017 Chrysler Town & Country minivan spy shots, adding to a small “phone pic” shot posted some time ago. The vehicle, parked with the Chrysler Technical Center in sight, has camouflage and padding, but you can clearly see the openings for the side and front door handles. The photo gives some idea of the relatively length [...]

Two Chrysler engines in Ward’s Top Ten

This year’s winners of the prestigious Ward’s Top Ten were (in alphabetical order) the BMW 5-series electric motor, the Corvette Stingray’s 6.2 liter V8, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat V8, the Ford Fiesta three-cylinder, one-liter turbo, Hyundai Tuscon fuel cell vehicle, Mini Cooper 1.5 turbo three cylinder,  the Ram 3-liter VM diesel, Subaru WRX four-cylinder turbo, VW Golf 1.8 liter [...]

Motor Trend: Ram bests aluminum F-150

The Ram 1500 faced down the aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 and new Chevrolet Silverado in Motor Trend’s half-ton truck shootout. The three contenders were put through a broad array of testing, including a 260-mile drive through California and Arizona. Measurements included: Testing without load: 0-60 mph and 1/4-mile acceleration, 60-0 mph braking, and maximum lateral grip (Ram was Limits-handling without load: closed-course cornering, braking, [...]

Linked? Durango, Charger, Wagoneer…

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has long expressed his desire to slash the number of Fiat and Chrysler platforms, emulating Volkswagen’s “back to the future” move of putting just about everything onto a single platform. Mr. Marchionne has allowed major exceptions; the combination of an over-ambitious plan and a grip on reality delayed the Jeep Renegade and some other cars, because the [...]

The Chrysler-Alfa-Maserati balancing act

Some time ago, Sergio Marchionne, head of Fiat Chrysler, said that the only way to reboot Alfa Romeo would be by amortizing engineering costs with Dodge. That’s gone down the memory hole, now. It had to. The Alfisti will have fitsies if they overtly share with Chrysler. The D-RWD platform is now Giorgio, an Italian name for something developed largely in Auburn [...]

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Driven: 2015 Chrysler 300S

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