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To Hell and Back in the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

The most powerful factory muscle car ever also shows a practical side.

by on Jun.30, 2015

To Hell and back - Hell, Michigan, that is.

I’ve been to Hell and back. And with 707 horsepower under the hood it didn’t take me long to get there.

Hell, Michigan seemed like the appropriate place to take a spin in the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – not just because of the kindred name but because the little town is gateway to some of the best driving roads within a couple 100 miles of Detroit. While there are plenty of flat, wide roads in the Motor City to test the Hellcat’s 0 to 60 prowess, we wanted to see how it handled something a lot more demanding.

Muscle Up!

For those who’ve somehow missed the headlines, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – and its sibling, the Challenger SRT Hellcat – are the most powerful factory-built muscle cars ever to roll out of a Big Three assembly plant. They share a massive, 6.2-liter supercharged version of the familiar Hemi V-8 that makes a jaw-dropping 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

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Dodge Dart Inside-Out

Maker offers an additional peek at new Fiat-based compact.

by on Dec.13, 2011

Dodge plans to give a decidedly upscale look to the new Dart - which will feature a high-tech reconfigurable TFT display.

Preparing for what could be the company’s most important launch since its 2008 tie-up with Italy’s Fiat, Chrysler is continuing to dole out small sugar cubes of images and information about the new Dodge Dart it plans to introduce at the Detroit Auto Show next month.

Those who count themselves part of the Baby Boom generation will undoubtedly recall the original Dart as one of the more popular of Detroit’s compact offerings in the 1960s and 1970s.  The model that will join the automaker’s line-up for 2013 likely won’t ever come close to that model’s popularity but will nonetheless be essential if Chrysler plans to maintain its recent momentum.

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The 2013 Dodge Dart notably will be the first product developed jointly by Chrysler and Fiat off what they have dubbed the new Compact U.S. Wide, or CUSW, architecture.  It will replace the largely forgettable Dodge Caliber, the result of a misbegotten triangle that paired former partners Chrysler, Daimler AG (once known as DaimlerChrysler) and Japan’s Mitsubishi.

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Dodge Viper Redux

Chrysler confirms late 2012 launch…and more.

by on Apr.15, 2011

A Dodge Viper "mule" undergoes testing before the snake's planned return in late 2012.

The snake is back.  Well, almost.  We were pleased to get a teaser shot of the 2013 Dodge Viper, though we’d have been a lot happier if it was the actual next-gen 2-seater, rather than a “mule” using the old model’s body and the ’13 Viper’s mechanicals.

Still, Dodge muscle aficionados will have something to crow about, Chrysler confirming earlier promises to revive the legendary sports car.

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The latest corporate missive is short on details, though it does suggest that the maker has given into modern realities and won’t follow the path blazed by the first-generation Viper, which eschewed high-tech niceties, such as anti-lock brakes.  One of the few things the Dodge news release reveals is that the 2013 Viper will be getting stability control for the first time.

We’ll have to wait to see just how much more high-tech gadgetry and gimmickry it will feature, but the full array of brake-derived systems is a likely.  More advanced chassis controls may also be in the mix considering competitive realities.

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Carrying the Torch: Dodge Seeks its own Identity

“The challenge is getting the word out.”

by on Feb.11, 2011

Ralph Gilles serves dual roles as Chrysler's corporate design chief - and as head of the Dodge brand.

Chrysler is in the midst of a major turnaround – or so it hopes — and of the company’s five marques, perhaps Dodge, which has been repositioned the mainstream performance brand, is the biggest torch-carrier for the company.

A lot of the credit for that arguably goes to Ralph Gilles, the president and CEO of the brand – as well as the head of design for Chrysler itself.

The youthful Gilles, who favors designer jeans and casual button-down shirts, rather than the suit-and-tie uniform, resonates with the media and enthusiasts precisely because he comes across as a car guy and not a stuffed shirt.

Now he needs to get his brand to have the same favorable image with a skeptical public.  And no one knows that better than Gilles himself.

“We need to re-open a discussion with America,” Gilles said. “Get our own identity.”

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First Drive: 2011 Dodge Durango

Return of the “man van.”

by on Jan.03, 2011

A first look at the 2011 Dodge Durango.

Conventional wisdom would have it that Chrysler is in a holding pattern this year, awaiting some of the big new product launches promised as part of its new affiliation with Italy’s Fiat.  But, yet again, conventional wisdom would be wrong.

True, some of the most important launches are yet to come, but the troubled U.S. maker is turning out a significant assortment of all-new and updated models for 2011, including eight under the Chrysler and Dodge brand names.  That includes an all-new version of the Dodge Durango, which the maker is billing as “the return of the man van.”

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There was reason to be skeptical, of course, as we headed to California for a first ride in the 2011 Dodge Durango.  Chrysler has a history of wrapping the same basic product under a variety of different wrappers, and one could only wonder whether the ’11 Dodge SUV would be little more than a warmed-over version of the new, 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee remake.

To our surprise – and satisfaction – what we discovered when we got a first close-up look at the 2011 Dodge Durango was a crossover/ute with a decidedly distinct appearance, both inside and out, and on-road manners that are notably different from those of the Grand Cherokee.

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Dodge To Offer First-Ever Mopar Challenger

A high-performance alternative to SRT?

by on Jul.07, 2010

For the first time in its history, Dodge bolts the Mopar badge onto one of its production models.

In the long history of Dodge and its in-house parts division, Mopar, the two have never collaborated on a vehicle together. That changes with the introduction of the limited-edition Dodge Challenger Mopar ‘10.
Dodge will build a low-volume version of the 2010 Challenger with unique stripes, black 20-inch wheels, black grille, a functional hood scoop, upgraded Super Track Pac suspension and hood pins. Only 500 will be produced and each will come with a sketch of the car signed by designer Mark Trostle and a special boxed customer kit.

The Mopar ‘10 will be offered in black only, but there will be three accent colors: blue, red and silver. The accent is used on exterior stripes and trim on the seats and other details.

“The vehicle looks absolutely sinister in black,” suggested Ralph Gillies, Dodge president and CEO, during a Wednesday teleconference.

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The Mopar ‘10 is powered by the same  5.7-liter Hemi V-8 from the Challenger R/T, where it makes 357-horsepower.

Mopar President and CEO Pietro Gorlier said the hood scoop does more than just look good.  It is expected to add an additional 15 horsepower to the base engine, but he didn’t offer an exact horsepower figure, waiting to get final EPA-certified numbers. Gorlier and Gillies also did not say if the performance boost would affect fuel mileage.

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