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Odyssey, Pacifica Top IIHS 2018-19 Minivan Rankings

Toyota Sienna falls from top ranking.

by on Aug.16, 2018

The Honda Odyssey earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2018-19.

The competition among minivans is already tight and the most recent ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the current model year have only made that wrestling match tighter.

The Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey are 2018 Top Safety Picks. They were among the qualifiers when IIHS announced initial winners of the 2018 awards last December. Both earned a superior rating for front crash prevention and have acceptable-rated headlights. Better headlights would have secured Top Safety Pick+ awards – the group’s top rating – for these minivans.

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To earn a 2018 Top Safety Pick, according to IIHS, a vehicle must have good ratings in all IIHS crashworthiness tests except the passenger-side test. Other requirements are a front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating and headlights that earn an acceptable or good rating.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

The love child of a Hellcat and a Demon.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Smokin'! The Challenger Hellcat Redeye's Line Lock lets you spin the rear tires before launch.

In barely the time it takes to say its full name, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody will already be blasting past 60, on its way to a top speed of 203 mph.

Think of the Redeye as “the child that came out of the marriage of the Hellcat and Demon,” suggests Chris Cowland, the otherwise mild-mannered Brit who has overseen powertrain development for some of the fiercest muscle cars ever unleashed on public roadways.

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The new-for-2019 Redeye is the latest in the Dodge performance line-up, offering yet one more variant on the Challenger platform. While not the most powerful version ever – a distinction that belongs to the limited-edition, 2018 Demon – the Redeye has nothing to be ashamed about. As Cowland suggests, it is, indeed, what you’d expect from the lovechild of a Hellcat and Demon, as we found during a day’s driving through the Maine Countryside, wrapped up with lap time on the Club Motorsports track an hour outside Portland.

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Former FCA CEO Marchionne Dead of Stroke at 66

A “force of nature,” the Italian-born exec rescued two car companies.

by on Jul.25, 2018

Sergio Marchionne was a dynamic game-changer that many could only watch as he raced by.

Sergio Marchionne, a man more than once called “a force of nature,” has died from a stroke at the age of 66, an unexpected complication following what had been expected to be “routine” shoulder surgery last week.

In an era when many businesspeople crave anonymity, Marchionne’s public appearances often turned into events, rather than mere news conferences. And perhaps for good reason considering there are few executives who could lay claim to having saved two separate automakers, Fiat and Chrysler, before bringing them together to form a global powerhouse.

Word that something had gone wrong came around noon Eastern time on Saturday when FCA issued a brief statement revealing that the Italian-born and Canadian-educated Marchionne experienced “unexpected complications,” and that his conditions had “worsened significantly in recent hours.” Subsequent news reports from Europe indicated the executive had suffered a stroke, fallen into a coma and was placed on a ventilator at a Swiss hospital. FCA issued another terse statement indicating his passing early this afternoon in Europe.

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Manly Manley Facing Tough Challenges at FCA

Great track record at Jeep, Ram, but lots more to do, observers caution.

by on Jul.23, 2018

New Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley is not sliding into a cushy job, rather it is a position that faces several difficult challenges in the near and long term.

The head of Fiat Chrysler’s European, Mideast and African business operations reportedly has stepped down, the apparent departure of Alfredo Altavilla kicking into high gear what could become a period of significant turmoil in the automaker’s senior ranks touched off by the unexpected departure of long-time CEO Sergio Marchionne over the weekend.

The 66-year-old Marchionne, who brought Fiat in as a white knight to save Chrysler after its 2010 bankruptcy, was replaced over the weekend by Michael Manley after suffering a grave decline in health following seemingly routine shoulder surgery last week.

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The 54-year-old Manley was considered the front-runner to replace Marchionne when he retired nearly a year from now, but the unexpected shake-up will put plenty of pressure on the new CEO to hold things together while also moving ahead with the new FCA five-year plan Marchionne unveiled barely two months ago. Altavilla was seen as one of the other senior execs positioned to succeed Marchionne and it remains to be seen if his departure could be followed by others. (more…)

Marchionne Out, Manley In as Fiat Chrysler CEO

Questions about health issues blamed for Marchionne’s early departure.

by on Jul.21, 2018

Larger than life: Marchionne outlined a broad 5-year-plan during a day-long June session in Milan.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on Saturday that Jeep and Ram brand boss Michael Manley will replace CEO Sergio Marchionne, who due to complications from recent surgery is gravely ill and will not return to work.

Though the 66-year-old Marchionne was known to have undergone surgery this past week for what was reported to be a shoulder problem. According to FCA’s statement, the Italian-born and Canadian-educated Marchionne experienced “unexpected complications,” while his conditions had “worsened significantly in recent hours.”

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Word of Marchionne’s departure quickly echoed through the automotive grapevine. Few industry executives have had a higher profile presence in recent decades, and even fewer could be said to have done more to shape a company in his own image as did Marchionne, who rescued the then-bankrupt Chrysler by securing a U.S. government bailout and then merging it with Italy’s Fiat S.p.A.

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Dodge Debuts 10,000+ HP Hellcat

New NHRA Funny Car to make its first race this weekend.

by on Jul.19, 2018

The new Dodge Funny Car aims to pick up design cues from the Charger SRT Hellcat.

While Dodge may have pulled the Demon out of production, it isn’t easing up its assault in the horsepower wars. In fact, it’s got a new Hellcat that it expects will churn out more than 10,000 horsepower when it makes its official debut this coming weekend.

Unlike the Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon, however, there has been no pretense at making the 2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat NHRA Funny Car street legal. It’s designed to dominate the quarter-mile adding to the 50 wins and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship the previous Dodge Charger Funny Car racked up.

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“The Dodge//SRT brand is all about performance, and the introduction of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat NHRA Funny Car body showcases our commitment to performance and excellence at the dragstrip,” said Steve Beahm, who heads up North American passenger car brands, including Dodge, for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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Dodge Boss Beahm Fills in the Blanks About Brand’s Product Plans

“Everything will have a performance element.”

by on Jun.28, 2018

Dodge boss Steve Beahm with the 2019 Dodge Challenger ScatPack discussed the brand's future.

During a daylong session in Milan, Italy, earlier this month, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ senior management team offered an in-depth look at the company’s next five-year plan – but they focused all but exclusively on four global FCA brands: Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, raising more questions than answers about the company’s two other U.S. divisions, Chrysler and Dodge.

While the fate of the Chrysler brand appears to be far from certain, there’s far more opportunity for Dodge, it appears, albeit as a niche brand increasingly focused on muscle.

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“Any vehicle in the Dodge brand going forward will have a performance element to it,” said Steve Beahm, the head of Dodge and the other U.S. passenger car brands, in a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com. (more…)

Dodge Pushing Boundaries Again With Debut of Challenger Hellcat Redeye

“Possessed by the Demon.”

by on Jun.28, 2018

Dodge continues to bring out new variants of its popular Challenger model. The Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye puts out 797 horsepower.

The Dodge Demon may be gone, but it’s certainly not forgotten, and Fiat Chrysler’s muscle car brand is again pushing the limits with another spin-off of its Hellcat line.

While the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye won’t quite match the numbers delivered by last year’s limited-edition Demon, it looks to have little to apologize for considering it will still make 797 horsepower – 90 more than the original Hellcat coupe. That will be enough to launch it from 0 to 60 in just 3.4 seconds, with a top speed of 203 mph.

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“The Dodge Brothers would be proud that we’re leveraging the power and performance of this proven engine to bring a Demon-possessed Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye to an even wider high-performance enthusiast audience,” proclaimed Dodge boss Steve Beahm, during a debut event at FCA’s proving grounds in Chelsea, Michigan.

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What’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Without Fiat and Chrysler?

Two namesake brands will survive – barely, for now.

by on Jun.04, 2018

The Chrysler Pacifica may soon go it solo as the brand continues to shrink.

It’s been nearly a decade since struggling European automaker Fiat combined with the post-Chapter 11 Chrysler, and if the 5-year plan unveiled during a day-long meeting in Milan last week comes close to being accurate, the carmaker could be in for a “brighter future” than ever, according to John Elkann, the chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the heir to the Italian side of the company’s founders.

There’s just one problem: neither the Fiat nor Chrysler brands seem poised to share in the spoils. The Fiat Capital Day briefing focused all but exclusively on just four brands – Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Maserati – expected to dominate FCA’s future. For now, Fiat and Chrysler will survive, but in greatly diminished form, and observers question whether they’ll be around for the long-term.

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“There was enough doubt…about their future because they barely showed up in the presentations,” said Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting, after attending the day-long session at Alfa’ proving grounds near Milan. Fca’s management team “took pains to say (Fiat and Chrysler will have a future, at least in the near-term. But it will be up to the next management team to determine whether they will remain in the portfolio for the long-term.”

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More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

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The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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