Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep news from Allpar

2015 Challenger rundown (updated)

As we get closer to the 2015 Dodge Challenger’s midyear launch, it’s worth looking at what’s coming down the pike.

The Challenger is moving from its current “LC” body to the “LA” body, as noted years ago by Allpar when plans first started. Most observers expect relatively few exterior changes to the car, though the dimensions will change along with key parts (including the floorpan); the classic Challenger lines will remain, but the front fascia will change, still maintaining links to the classic 1970s Dodge Challengers. The tail is likely to be modernized with smooth “light pipe” LEDs, and BMW-style “halo headlamps” seem to be in the works (at least for some models, possibly not for the base cars).

The eight speed automatic is likely to become standard across the board, but enthusiasts can still get the manual six-speed — if they opt for a V8. So far numbers appear to be too low to justify a six-speed V6 combination. With the eight speed, it seems likely that the standard Hemi and 392 SRT engines will both post faster acceleration numbers with the automatic. That leaves the HellCat V8, rumored to generate a stunning 665 or more horsepower — which would make it the most powerful production V8 in the world in a car costing under $1 million [updated — thanks, Danno].

There has been talk of using aluminum to lighten the body, and while this might be done with some panels, it seems unlikely that the car will be much, if at all, lighter than the current Challenger. Some critics have complained about Challenger’s weight disadvantage versus some Camaros and Mustangs, without mentioning that Challenger is also a considerably larger car inside; most critics have mentioned that Challenger is also more comfortable. Given the need to handle an extra 200 or so horsepower, it seems unlikely there will be any weight loss at all, but engineers are probably working hard to minimize the weight gain by using more high-strength steel and, yes, aluminum. But it seems unlikely, given costs, technology, the length of time this Challenger will be in the field, and the need to use the existing plant without completely changing the body shop, that the car will use aluminum as part of its key structure. Perhaps in 2018-2020, or whenever the next large cars are developed, but not now.

Update: It seems likely that rumors of a lighter-weight Challenger date back to plans to replace or augment Challenger with a “Barracuda,” a shorter-wheelbase car that would compete more directly with best-seller Camaro. However, these plans were publicly acknowledged by Chrysler executives, who said that they did not work — the Barracuda name was rejected by enthusiasts (since there were no Plymouth or Barracuda cues on the proposed car) and the vehicle just did not work. Instead, a new car will be added — a midsized, rear wheel drive car whose development and engineering is being shared by Dodge and Alfa Romeo. We believe engineering is led by Dodge, with Alfa Romeo having a small team that is participating in the “base car” and having total control of their own version. There are many open questions about this new car, including whether the Dodge will have room for V8s (including 392), since the Alfa is unlikely to go beyond its Maserati-Ferrari twin-turbo V6; but these are all separate issues.

The new Challenger will have the most extensive choice of engines of any Chrysler or Dodge car, with a V6 and three V8s. The current 392 Hemi will remain, supplemented by the supercharged 6.2 motor — now believed to retain the HellCat name when it appears before the public.

A comprehensive interior upgrade is expected, bringing Charger-like amenities, a configurable cluster, along with an electronics update to UConnect 2 with all the gadgets ’n’ gizmos that brings; the option list should grow to match 300C’s, including forward sensors, rear camera, adaptive cruise, and predictive crash protection.

For more, see: 2015 Dodge Challenger: the muscle cars return 

Ford’s towing claims: brag or bluff?

Ram-3500-Ford-450-Web

In today’s print edition of Automotive News, Larry Vellequette wrote about one more facet of the ongoing battle for bragging rights among pickup manufacturers. This time, Ram is engaged in a tussle with Ford over top towing rights. Ford claims the championship over the Ram 3500, saying its 4X4 crew cab heavy-duty pickup can tow 31,200 pounds, 1,200 more than the Ram 3500 regular cab 4X2, which Chrysler maintains has “best-in-class” towing....

Proxy service advises merger approval

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San Francisco-based Glass, Lewis & Co. has recommended that its clients approve the Fiat Chrysler merger this Friday. Glass Lewis is one of the two leading proxy service companies in the world, the other being ISS which last week advised its clients to vote down the merger. According to a Reuters report, the company said the benefits of the merger outweigh concerns about voting rights....

Does Enders-Stevens strategy open the door for Johnson?

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NHRA Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens didn’t race at Sonoma and she won’t be competing at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle. Elite Motorsports owner Richard Freeman two-event “holiday” at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver. Despite her very impressive racing resume, Enders-Stevens lacks a real sponsor and it’s likely this was a major consideration, especially since she had built up a 241-point lead over Allen Johnson, who is second in the point standings, at the end of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio....

Coughlin clinches Countdown berth in Sonoma

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Jeg Coughlin Jr. became the second Mopar driver to clinch a spot in the six-race Countdown to the Championship that will determine the Mello Yello NHRA Pro Stock world championship. Coughlin joined teammate Allen Johnson in the Countdown after making it to the Pro Stock semifinals in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals that ran this weekend at Sonoma Raceway....

Categories: Chrysler.


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Italian action could help Fiat-Chrysler
2015-Charger-pursuit
Charger squads: still 5-speeds?
Ram-3500-Ford-450-Web
Ford’s towing claims: brag or bluff?
FCA-GreenLight-Web
Proxy service advises merger approval


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