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Mopars in New York: Dodge, Ram take point

by David Zatz on

The full range of Fiat Chrysler brands are on display at the New York Auto Show, but the exact arrangement is a bit different this year.

Jeep on-the-rocks

The New York show has two floors, traditionally divided into the busy upstairs (cars) and the somewhat quieter, more spread-out downstairs (trucks, commercial vehicles, and SUVs).

This year, though, FCA put Fiat and Chrysler entirely in the lower section, but kept Durangos in the main Dodge section. During media days, there were no Caravans or Journeys on display, despite their high volumes. Does that portend changes, or will it change when the show opens to the public?

Dodge was clearly emphasizing performance; there were two Stars and Stripes edition cars, rather subtly decorated, and Hellcats were quite apparent. It’s not on sale any more, so the lack of a returning Demon was no surprise—unlike the lack of two Bondurant-decal Challengers for the racing game. Public days may see the second car show up.

Two Stars and Stripes cars were out, one green and one liquid gray, marked by subtle gray flags. 

Downstairs, Ram had some seriously muscular trucks, albeit not quite matching Chevy’s Class 6 Silverado (since Ram goes up to Class 5, despite rumors of bigger and better things some years back). The aftermarket gear on one chassis-cab clearly marked this Ram 5500  out as a real work truck, despite the clean-air badging.

The Kentucky Derby truck was also impressive with its blackout treatment.

The Gladiator was quite evident, with one running the Jeep track outside, and three more inside, all open and ready for inspection by the media. One of them was well-outfitted with Mopar gear, including tubular steel doors which fit perfectly and latched easily.

The only media gear we saw freely available from FCA, and for that matter from just about any automaker, was a color one-page photo-and-specs page. Here, our model shows it in front of one of the Gladiators; perhaps we should have chosen the matching red one?

Generally, media perks were far more restrained this year; no free lunch, generally no booth/counter giveaways, and no snacks until Ford’s hot dog stand opened after 1 pm. Alfa Romeo was an exception, with a lavish open reception in the late afternoon, and (quite good) cappuccinos until then.

Showgoers are invited to get more information on their cellphones. Different FCA brands had different color stickers.

FCA took up the entire left-hand side of the lower floor, from the entrance all the way back to the rear, starting with Ram, moving to Jeep, and ending with Fiat and Chrysler.  On the upper floor, Alfa and Maserati had the same spots as they did last year, but Dodge was the only FCA brand, and it was fairly small and far in back. Most show-goers will probably make it a point to get back there, though.

Toyota dominated the car floor, with an absolutely massive area but no common theme; they had a single new Yaris, off limits. If there were Highlanders, I missed them (Toyota debuted both in New York, the Highlander getting a global debut and Yaris a local one).

Ford may have had the best real estate, with people being funneled right between Ford and Nissan as they came in.  Nissan had, as they did last year, a fine display of vintage cars, some privately owned (and possibly not kept at the public days), to remind people of the better parts of their heritage. The only company to really go all out was Subaru, which had a neat and thorough “national park” style display on both floors.

Whether it’s because New York is too close to Shanghai, or because of the general decline in using auto shows for major announcements, traffic seemed a little light, and launches seemed less attention-grabbing this year. Still, it should be a fine show when the spectators come flooding in; Toyota has their “thrill ride” (including doing a backwards half-donut) and Jeep has their actual thrill ride, including a fine view of the city. It’s worth the trip — or, rather, it will be in around 20 hours from the time we write this.

See the New York International Auto Show site for information, directions, and tickets.

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