Dodge’s Dart takes a rare position in the small car marketplace in which it plays – it seeks to win its customer’s hearts rather than their minds. It’d be easy for your head to dismiss the Dart based purely on its on-paper specs – particularly the trim level we’re driving, which is saddled with the smallest-displacement engine in its class (1.4L) and the highest curb weight – nearly 3,300 pounds on our tester. Hardly the combination car guy dreams are made of. Although Dodge couldn’t return the bundle parent company Fiat left on their doorstep – the chassis and turbo powertrain are hand-me-downs from the Alfa Giulietta–they decided to imbue the Dart with enough personality to overcome its spec sheet deficiencies instead.
Dodge will be ringing in the New Year with a host of new Blacktop packages to complete its lineup of factory-customized family vehicles at a great value. For the 2013 calendar year, the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, Durango seven-seat SUV and Journey mid-size crossover join the Challenger, Charger and Avenger to complete the Dodge brand’s offering of sinister-looking Blacktop packages.
For nearly 100 years, Dodge has been synonymous with innovation, style and value, and now they are all perfectly merged together on the brand’s highly versatile, stylish and affordable vehicles. Built to give customers a sporty, distinct look customized by the factory at a tremendous value, the Dodge Blacktop vehicles add unique Gloss Black wheels, select exterior paint colors, Gloss Black-painted “split-crosshair” grilles with Gloss Black matching grille surround, darkened headlamp bezels, as well as some unique Blacktop interior touches.
“Our Blacktop packages have been so well received on Charger, Challenger and Avenger that we’re expanding it to our innovative Grand Caravan, Journey and Durango,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Dodge Brand. “All three of these Blacktop vehicles offer class-leading attributes with seating for up to seven and a customized one-of-a-kind appearance package starting at just $295 MSRP.”
Dodge Durango Blacktop will start arriving at dealers in the first quarter of 2013. The Journey and Grand Caravan Blacktop editions arrive in the second quarter of 2013.
Dodge Grand Caravan Blacktop
The Blacktop package is available on Dodge Grand Caravan SXT models and adds 17-inch polished aluminum wheels with Gloss Black pockets, a Gloss Black grille, black headlamp bezels (late availability) and fog lamps. The interior receives a customized all-black interior, including the headliner, door panels and class-exclusive Super Console. Silver accent stitching adorns the Grand Caravan Blacktop’s black cloth seats, door trim and leather-wrapped steering wheel. A leather shift knob finishes off the interior enhancements.
Representing a tremendous value, all of these features are available for a U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of only $595.
Customers can order the Grand Caravan with the Blacktop package in Billet Silver, Brilliant Black, Maximum Steel, Redline and Stone White exterior colors.
The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan – America’s best-selling and most awarded minivan ever – continues to innovate in the segment it created and offers an unprecedented level of functionality, convenience, safety and value. With a starting U.S. MSRP of $19,995 (excluding destination), the Dodge Grand Caravan is the most affordable minivan and most affordable seven-passenger vehicle in the United States. Its standard, award-winning Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers best-in-class 283 horsepower and tow rating of 3,600 lbs. Grand Caravan features a segment-exclusive fuel economizer mode and gets up to 25 miles per gallon, or up to 500 miles driving range. This IIHS Top Safety Pick also has more than 45 safety, security and technology features, including new-for-2013 Trailer Sway Damping and a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Grand Caravan’s latest minivan innovation is the new dual-screen Blu-ray DVD rear-seat entertainment system; a system that plays both Blu-ray and standard DVDs, and has High Definition Media Input (HDMI) connectivity and standard higher-resolution second-row and third-row screens.
Dodge Durango Blacktop
Available on the sportiest Dodge Durango models – the Rallye and the R/T – the Blacktop package comes with a distinctive Gloss Black crosshair grille and Gloss Black 20-inch aluminum wheels with gloss black center caps for the special price of only $295 U.S. MSRP.
Adding to the already sporty looks of the Rallye, the interior can be upgraded to the R/T’s trim with premium Digital Suede seat inserts, complemented by Capri bolsters and red accent stitching, Black Comodo Elm trim and a power 12-way driver’s seat, including power lumbar, for a U.S. MSRP of only $595.
Customers can order the Durango with the Blacktop package in Bright White, Brilliant Black, Granite Crystal, Billet Silver and Redline Red paint colors.
With its four-wheel independent suspension, near 50:50 weight distribution and responsive steering and handling, Durango has driving dynamics unlike what you typically find in a sport-utility vehicle (SUV). Durango features more than 30 storage areas, 50 seating configurations with available second row captain’s chairs, and a rear cargo area of nearly 85 cubic feet that fits a 6-foot couch with room for a coffee table or a 10-foot ladder with the front passenger seat folded flat. The Dodge Durango also features more than 45 safety and security features, and is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick.
Durango also delivers the perfect blend of power and fuel efficiency. Its award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine delivers a best-in-class 295 horsepower on Rallye models, along with a best-in-class driving range of more than 550 miles on one tank of fuel. The available HEMI® V-8 engine with Fuel Saver multi-displacement technology delivers a best-in-class 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines deliver best-in-class V-6 and V-8 towing with standard trailer sway control on all models (V-8 – up to 7,400 lbs. and V-6 – 6,200 lbs.).
Dodge Journey Blacktop
Available with four-cylinder or V-6 engines, five- or seven-passenger seating, and front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and a color palette consisting of Bright Silver, Bright Red, Brilliant Black, Brilliant Red Tri-Coat, White, Pearl White Tri-Coat and Storm Grey, customers are offered a lot of choices on Journey SXT Blacktop editions.
Exterior enhancements include 19-inch Gloss Black aluminum wheels and center caps, a Gloss Black grille, Gloss Black bezel headlamps, Gloss Black lower front fascia accent and Gloss Black exterior mirrors. The award-winning 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen is also included. All of these distinctive features are included in the Blacktop package for only $995 U.S. MSRP, representing a package discount of $400. Journey SXT Blacktop models are available with premium black cloth seats or available black leather heated seats with heated steering wheel.
The Dodge Journey, starting at a U.S. MSRP of $18,995, is the most affordable mid-size crossover in America, not to mention the most versatile and fastest-growing crossover in America. With more than 40 safety and security features, the Journey has been an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick for four consecutive years. Journey also features the latest and greatest in vehicle connectivity and customization with the Uconnect® Touch 8.4 radio, which features an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
The Dodge Journey is the only crossover in America to offer the choice of a four-cylinder or V-6 engine, five- or seven-passenger seating and front- or all-wheel drive. Journey also treats all of its passengers to premium soft-touch materials on the inside and an available 283 horsepower Pentastar V-6 with best-in-class driving range and up to 25 mpg highway. Add in segment-exclusive second-row in-floor storage bins and hidden storage within the front passenger seat and you have a vehicle that can take you anywhere as you explore all that America has to offer.
The Chrysler 700C made its way to the NAIAS show floor with no fanfare at all. We don’t know anything about this concept other than it shows that Chrysler is testing the design waters for the future of the Caravan and Town and Country. There are no radiator vents in the front which indicates that the 700C was designed to be an electrified vehicle. Other than that, there wasn’t much information available. It is a pretty radical styling departure from the current lineup of minivans but we’re not sure yet if that’s a good thing.
“I see we’ve got you booked for a minivan today- how many people will there be in your party?.” As I thought about explaining to the attendant at the Alamo desk that I’d be the only one using the van, and that I’d basically be living out of it for the next 24 hours, better judgment prevailed: “Four. Thanks.”
SSL and TTAC will be at Summit Point Motorsports Park this weekend with a Lexus IS-F and an Ford Mustang V6 Allstate Edition. Look for some track test results in the coming weeks, along with a road test of the slightly warmed over 2011 Nissan 370Z, a look at Chrysler’s refreshed Jeep Wrangler, and some comparison tests featuring the latest cross-overs from Ford and Chrysler.
Happy spring, everybody.
I’m looking out the passenger window, taking in the beautiful Southern California landscape. It’s going by rather quickly, as it happens, but that’s not unusual for today.
“That’s a hundred…”
We’re on an arrow-straight stretch of desert mountain road, climbing toward the next of what feel like endless rocky peaks. The last car we saw was an overburdened Civic, and we weren’t with them long. Everything’s brown and rocky; abrupt, but beautiful, at least in the eyes of a man who spent a good bit of his life in the desert southwest. I nod absently at his latest update.
We’re getting a bit short on straight road and the upcoming crest is obscuring my view of the scenery. My attention shifts back to the car and the journey at hand. We have a driver change coming up, then a lunch stop in–wait, what was that last bit he said?
“One hundred and tweennnnntyyy… that’s the limiter.”
I shrug slightly, taking in the sensation. Feels like seventy, I think, giving a half-nod of approval. “Not bad.”
Dates in fleet:8/28/2010 – 9/2/2010
MSRP and major options: $49,195. SRT Option Group II — electronic upgrades ($900), Kicker SRT sound system ($685)
J. BARUTH: With the LY-based 2011 model just around the corner, could our Deep Sea Blue SRT-8 be perhaps the very last LX-platform Chrysler 300 to find its way into a press fleet? It’s certainly one of the most expensive cars in history to wear the Chrysler nameplate, just knocking politely at the door labeled “Fifty Grand”. For that kind of money — less than five hundred dollars cheaper than a new BMW 535i — this had better be a very special car indeed. To find out, we crossed the country at, ahem, a brisk pace, winding up at Virginia International Raceway.
Ray Wert, the Jalop of Jalops over at www.jalopnik.com, recently wrote a piece about the HEMI brand and the upcoming 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. For those who aren’t scrutinizing the JGC’s launch on the same level as us know-it-alls, let me catch you up. Essentially, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee will no longer have a 5.7L HEMI engine. Instead, it will have a 5.7L OHV MDS V8 with Variable-valve Timing… and an engine cover emblazoned with enormous, embossed “HEMI” branding.
It’s okay if you’re confused, but it boils down to this: Jeep will no longer feature the HEMI branding within its vehicle lineup. The same engine will be branded as a HEMI in other Chrysler Group LLC products (as Jeep Brand Marketing Head Honcho Jim Morrison put it, they’ll be leaving it to “the Dodge and truck guys”), but not in a Jeep.
But why? Mr. Wert proposes that this is green-washing–an effort by Chrysler to minimize the enthusiast value of their vehicles in front of an ever-more-environmentally-focused media. It’s not a poor argument. Just look around at the rest of the industry. Ford’s twin-turbo, 350+ horsepower V6 monster is dubbed “EcoBoost,” for crying out loud. If that’s not green marketing, I don’t know what is. But in the context of Chrysler, I think Wert’s assessment, while not unreasonable, isn’t quite on the mark.
Earlier this week, the Chrysler Communications blog ran a piece that we all knew was coming, but few true enthusiasts wanted to see. The Dodge Viper SRT-10 Final Edition is here. It’s bittersweet, to be sure, the end of the line for the consummate American two-seater. Apologies to the boys and girls down in Bowling Green, but no other vehicle embodies the history of American sports car racing the way the Viper does–the biggest engine in the smallest car with the fewest frills. It’s a legacy that goes back to the days before closed circuits and seat belts.
And for the first time in nearly twenty years, the world will be without it.