2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8

The Chrysler 300 is great, and the  SRT version is even better. Although the 300 is essentially a Dodge Charger with  different sheetmetal, the more elegant exterior design makes it appealing to a  larger audience than the ostentatious Charger. Adding a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 and  subtle design changes makes the car even more appealing to me. There’s still not  enough refinement in the 300 package to seriously challenge the German  juggernauts (despite the platform descending from the E-class during the  DaimlerChrysler era), but you can get a very fast, very spacious car for  $50k.I wouldn’t rush out and buy a 2013 300  SRT8, though. Jeep just introduced the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT and it benefits  from an eight-speed automatic  transmission.  The 300 will certainly get the eight-speed within a few months, so a wise  shopper would hold off until that happens. The eight-speed gearbox won’t  magically make the SRT8 a fuel sipper, but every mpg makes a difference when  you’re feeding 6.4 liters of fury.

Read more: http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/editors_notebook/1303_2013_chrysler_300_srt8/viewall.html#ixzz2QjJg8WEh


2013 Fiat 500e First Drive

Driving a pure electric car like the 2013 Fiat 500e makes you think about range a bit differently. Halfway through our drive, the charge meter told us there were about 32 miles of range left, yet we thought nothing of it.

In a gasoline-powered Fiat 500, 32 miles of range would have the fuel gauge buried on empty accompanied by a blinking fuel light. If it could, the car’s computer would be yelling, “You have one gallon left; find a gas station already.”

But in an electric car that touts a range of 87 miles, having 32 miles left seems like a nice cushion. Add to that the Fiat 500e’s impressive regeneration capabilities, and a few downhills later we were back to well over 40 miles. It’s an odd and completely different kind of range anxiety.

It’s Not the Only Issue Getting over range anxiety is one of the many issues Fiat has to face as it starts pushing the 500e on buyers in California, the launch market for the new coupe. Unlike a hybrid like say, the 2013 Chevrolet Volt, running out of juice in the 500e means you’re dead in the water. No back-up engines here.

There’s also the cost issue. The 2013 Fiat 500e has a base price of $32,500, pretty steep for a subcompact hatch. It does get you a fairly loaded car, but standard 500s are less than $20K to start. To get over cash anxiety, Fiat has added its own incentives to go along with the many that are offered by state and local governments. Pile them altogether and Fiat says the 500e lands around the same price as a similarly equipped 500.

And if that isn’t enough, there’s one final pitch: free access to rental cars. Yep, buy a 500e and you automatically get points at Enterprise so you can borrow something bigger or with more range when you need it. Fiat executives told us the idea is to make the 500e as easy to own as a regular 500.

It’s Definitely Easy To Drive Removing barriers to buyers is one thing, but the 500e still has to function like a regular car to make it worth the trouble. In most ways it does feel very much like a standard, gas-powered Fiat 500. The engineers behind the 500e managed to maintain a very respectable 53/47 front-to-rear weight distribution and kept most of that weight of the battery pack low in the chassis. Chief Engineer Brett Giem says the 500e is about 10 percent stiffer than a 500 Lounge model, so there’s no obvious feeling of driving a car with a few hundred pounds of batteries slung underneath the chassis.

In fact, thanks to the instant torque of the 111-horsepower electric motor, the 500e feels quick from a stop and continues to pull briskly all the way to highway speeds. Once on the highway, the rate of acceleration drops off considerably, which is not surprising given the car’s estimated top speed of 85 mph. The various aerodynamic tweaks made to reduce drag on the 500e make it quiet, too.

This 500’s weakest dynamic issue is the overly light steering. There’s just nothing there to give you any sense of what the front tires are doing, so it’s not much fun to toss around corners. It’s a shame, too, as the 500e is otherwise enjoyable from behind the wheel thanks to its small dimensions, tightly tuned suspension and instant power. Even the brakes feel very natural, a common sore spot with EVs.

Very Much a 500 In keeping with its promise to make the 2013 Fiat 500e just another member of the family, changes to the interior are minimal. The only obvious difference is the standard push-button transmission setup that sits where the shifter normally resides. All other controls are standard issue, which is a good thing, as the 500 has a uniquely simple layout that works.

The other notable change is a new instrument cluster screen that blends a traditional speedometer with a battery charge meter and other EV-centric information. It’s a setup that’s easy to use and manages to deliver all the relevant information you need without looking like an overly cluttered computer desktop. It’s necessary, too, as the 500e can go through some pretty wild swings when it comes to its projected range. To help guide you in the right direction, there’s even a “trend” indicator that gently reminds you when you’re on the fast track to a depleted battery.

On our drive, the range dropped quickly from its fully charged state and then leveled off during mixed driving. Some aggressive maneuvers further shaved the projected range, but once we settled down a bit and concentrated on conservation, we saw the range slowly creep back up. There’s not a significant amount of drag from the regenerative brakes when you let off the gas, so we were a bit surprised to see just how quickly the 500e gained back mileage on downhill sections.

A Slightly Different Kind of EV On paper, the 500e isn’t all that different from the various entry-level EVs already on the road. Its maximum range is roughly the same, its price is competitive and the features it offers are right in line with the competition.

What really separates this Fiat from the crowd is the fact that it still looks like a Fiat. Other EVs try to promote their green credentials with bizarre styling that borders on the absurd. The 500e is almost indistinguishable from the standard models save for a few unique body panels.

That alone should be enough to give the 2013 Fiat 500e a chance in the increasingly crowded EV market, especially in California, where style points count as much as anything. The rest of the package is well done in terms of performance, price and flexibility. Sure, the range anxiety issue is always going to be there, but Fiat isn’t trying to change the world with the 500e. It’s merely attempting to make it a little less of a compromise. For that, it works, and works well.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel test drive

Jeep’s latest Grand Cherokee has been an Autoweek favorite since it went on sale roughly 2.5  years ago, but Jeep fans who are also diesel devotees—more than one AW staffer  matches the profile—have moaned about the lineup’s lack of an oil burner ever  since Jeep  dropped its old 3.0-liter V6 diesel after the 2008 model year.

Fiat’s  takeover of Jeep parent Chrysler unlocked the cross-Atlantic sharing of  platforms and technologies (see Dodge’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based Dart), which  benefits the 2014 Grand Cherokee in the form of a clean-burning, 3.0-liter  turbodiesel V6 cranking out 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Still available are  the familiar 3.6-liter, 290-hp, 260-lb-ft Pentastar V6 and the 5.7-liter,  360-hp, 390-lb-ft V8.

The Italian-built EcoDiesel V6 meets global emissions standards thanks to the  use of urea after-treatment and a particulate filter; the 8.5-gallon tank of  urea should last about 10,000 miles, meaning you’ll need to replenish it at the  same time you change the oil.

Opting for the EcoDiesel means you’ll pay a $2,300 premium over the optional  V8

on Limited, Overland and Summit models; it is not available on the  entry-level Grand Cherokee Laredo. The premium rises to $4,500 compared to a  similarly optioned V6 model—and while the cheapest V6-powered Laredo stickers  for $29,790, you can’t touch a diesel Grand Cherokee for less than $41,290.

The EPA rates the engine at 22 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway for  two-wheel-drive models and 21/28 for 4WD. That’s significantly better than the  gas V6, which gets 17/25 (2WD) and 17/24 (4WD). (Jeep’s old oil burner carried a  rating of just 17/22, so we’ve come a long way.)

Diesel buyers get better fuel economy without giving up prowess: The diesel  equals the 2WD V8 with a 7,400-pound towing capacity.

Also new and notable is an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission standard on  all models, replacing the previous five- and six-speed gearboxes. Along with  quicker acceleration, especially apparent in the midrange, and better fuel  economy, the eight-speed offers a crawl ratio of 44.1:1 (when you opt for the  two-speed transfer case).

Our initial impressions of the EcoDiesel are a mixed bag. The engine is not  as smooth or as quiet as other modern diesels on the market, a characteristic  most noticeable at idle and on partial throttle openings when accelerating away  from stops; it’s light-years ahead of its predecessor but feels more “diesely”  than what we have become accustomed to. That said, it’s impossible to ignore its  towing grunt and solid mileage. Its 24.6-gallon fuel tank provides a potential  730-mile driving range.

Do you want the EcoDiesel? It depends greatly on how you intend to use your  Jeep. If the V6 model’s towing capacity (6,200 pounds in both 2WD and 4WD  versions) doesn’t meet your requirements—and you also do not want to take the  mpg hit with the V8, and don’t care about all-out speed and response—then, by  all means, the EcoDiesel is worth considering. If your driving consists of  suburban duty and limited towing, it’s hard to justify the $4,500 price  hike.

Turbodiesel or gasoline, the 2014 editions are extremely solid improvements  that will hold us over just fine until an all-new Grand Cherokee arrives, likely  in 2016.


2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel

Base price: $41,290 DRIVETRAIN: 3.0-liter, 240-hp, 420-lb-ft turbodiesel V6;  RWD, eight-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT: 4,545 lb 0-60 MPH: 7.8 sec (est) Fuel  economy (City/Hwy/Combined): 22/30/25 mpg

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130415/carreviews/130419942#ixzz2QYNVb8Ag Follow us: @AutoweekUSA on Twitter | AutoweekUSA on Facebook

2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: Car Seat Check

The four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, a five-seat SUV, is often asked to pull family duty over its two-door Jeep Wrangler sibling. While its high ride height means kids will be asking parents for a boost to get into it for a long time, it did work well with our child-safety seats. For 2013, the Wrangler Unlimited received new supportive seats in both rows.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.


The front seats are adjusted to a comfortable position for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The three child seats are installed in the second row. The booster seat sits behind the driver’s seat, and the infant seat and convertible seats are installed behind the passenger seat. We also install the convertible seat in the second row’s middle seat with the booster and infant seat in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit. If there’s a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.

Here’s how the 2013 Wrangler Unlimited did in Cars.com’s Car Seat Check:


Latch system: There are two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats. The anchors that are closest to the doors have exposed anchors (photo above), but the inside anchors are buried in the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet. Three tether anchors are found at the base of the second row’s seatbacks.

Booster seat: The backseat is flat, making it an easy fit for our high-back booster seat. A child sitting in the booster might need a parent’s help when it comes to reaching the seat belt; it’s anchored several inches behind the backseat on the Wrangler Unlimited’s pillar. Buckling up might be a stretch too, because the seat belt buckle has a floppy base.


Convertible seat: The forward-facing convertible fit well, but the fixed head restraint pushed the car seat forward. To fit the rear-facing convertible, we had to move the front passenger seat nearly all the way forward. This left the front passenger with her knees touching the glove box.


Infant-safety seat: This rear-facing seat also required the front passenger seat to be moved into its forward-most position. The Latch anchors were easy to use with the infant seat’s hooklike connectors.


How many car seats fit in the second row? Two, but three nearly fit. A different combination of child-safety seats might allow three to fit across the backseat.

Editor’s note: For three car seats — infant-safety seat, convertible and booster seats — to fit in a car, our criterion is that a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat.

Brand new video: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT inside and out

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is one of the fastest, most technologically advanced vehicles Chrysler Group LLC builds in the United States. It is a full size crossover that’s been turned into a full blown sports wagon. Nothing is normal or common about the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. It is a power- titan among street vehicles and mighty good looking too.

Most importantly, it has a massive, 470-horsepower, 6.4-liter (392 cid) HEMI V8 that makes 465 lbs-feet of torque. All of that power is fed through an eight-speed automatic transmission that feeds all four wheels. It’s all-wheel drive (AWD) to the max.

Take my word for it, you have never been in a vehicle that weighs over 5,000 lbs that feels the way the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee does.

In this video,  supplied via Chrysler Group LLC, Jeep Design takes us through the thinking behind the design of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Sparing few details, we get a in-depth look at what they did to make such an interesting and entertaining machine.

Recently, Jeep brought The Fast Lane Car out to Austin, Texas to try out the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. The Circuit Of The Americas is the home of the Formula One US Grand Prix that takes place in November and that’s where we got to test the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

Check out this video of the thought process that went behind the styling of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT!

2014 Dodge Durango bows with eight-speed auto, updated looks

Dodge has significantly updated its full-size Durango for the 2014 model year, giving the seven-passenger hauler a fresh look and a well-rounded boost of competitive features as it enters its fourth year in the showroom.

Cosmetically, it is hard to miss the revised front end with projector-beam headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, “floating” crosshair grille, a taller front bumper and a new lower fascia. The rear end of the facelifted Durango has been redesigned with the automaker’s now-signature LED “racetrack” taillamps and resculpted rear fascia. All of the wheels are new too, with 18- and 20-inch options for each trim level with a variety of factory finishes.

Inside the cabin, buyers can select the automaker’s latest Uconnect infotainment system with a full suite of infotainment features and connectivity accessed through an 8.4-inch touchscreen. Other optional goodies include a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seating and a Blu-Ray player capable of running unique programs on the twin individual rear monitors.

Mechanically speaking, Dodge has fitted an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment to both the 3.6-liter V6 (290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque) and the optional 5.7-liter V8 (360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque) which should improve both performance and economy. As an added benefit, the Pentastar V6 now boasts a best-in-class driving range of more than 600 miles on one tank of fuel, but thus far, Dodge isn’t discussing much in the way of additional performance metrics, saying only that the Pentastar should get 25 miles per gallon on the highway cycle.

We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of new features, so scroll down to watch an official video and see the full press release for all of the details.

2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8

The Chrysler 300 is great, and the  SRT version is even better. Although the 300 is essentially a Dodge Charger with  different sheetmetal, the more elegant exterior design makes it appealing to a  larger audience than the ostentatious Charger. Adding a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 and  subtle design changes makes the car even more appealing to me. There’s still not  enough refinement in the 300 package to seriously challenge the German  juggernauts (despite the platform descending from the E-class during the  DaimlerChrysler era), but you can get a very fast, very spacious car for  $50k.I wouldn’t rush out and buy a 2013 300  SRT8,  though. Jeep just introduced the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT and it benefits from an  eight-speed automatic transmission. The 300 will certainly get the eight-speed  within a few months, so a wise shopper would hold off until that happens. The  eight-speed gearbox won’t magically make the SRT8 a fuel sipper, but every mpg  makes a difference when you’re feeding 6.4 liters of fury.

The Hemi in all its forms is a deliciously vocal and  addictively powerful engine that transforms every vehicle into which it’s fitted  into a better, more entertaining version of itself. The 300 SRT8  is no different. Then again, it also helps that the 300 is so good to begin  with. To their credit, the folks at SRT have beefed up the steering, brakes, and  chassis rather than just dropping in a big engine and calling it a day. What’s  most likable about the 300 SRT8 is that it’s very Mercedes  AMG-like-not-un-ironically since it’s distantly based on a Mercedes-Benz-in its  ability to be both a smoky-burnout hooligan and an effortless and rewarding  grand tourer.For 2013, the adaptive damping  system has been made more customizable. I played with it a bit and felt a slight  difference among the three available modes but was hoping for a bit more  compliance from the comfort setting. The fact that the system is accessible only  in Uconnect is disappointing, too. I’d much rather see a switch mounted on the  dash where it could be easily accessed and put to use more often.

Read more: http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/editors_notebook/1303_2013_chrysler_300_srt8/viewall.html#ixzz2PyS03Z8o

2013 Chrysler 200 convertible: It makes the scene, sir

In a classic “Simpsons” episode, Homer objects when his wife wants to leave a ritzy private club because she’s uncomfortable with all the high-brow snootiness. “But, Marge,” Homer protests, “it’s the first time anyone’s ever called me ‘sir’ without adding ‘you’re making a scene.’ ”

I can relate.

During our recent stint with the 2013 Chrysler 200 Limited convertible, the surprising elegance of this affordably priced drop-top drew a bevy of gushing compliments. Among them was one from a young lady strolling past our top-down 200:

“I’d sure love to have your car, sir.”

I said to my wife: “Honey, that’s the first time . . . .”

Well, you know.

The raves, I should note, are elicited specifically by the open-air version of the 200. It’s also available as a sedan but, in the case of these siblings, the convertible got most of the looks and personality.

The 200 is available in three versions: base Touring, tony Limited and sporty S.

Touring gets a 173-horsepower I-4, which you’ll want to avoid; 200’s 283-horsepower V-6, standard on Limited and S, optional on Touring, is far livelier and – stop the presses! – it gets better fuel economy, too, despite two additional cylinders! Either way, a six-speed automatic is standard.

All trims feature a tight-fitting soft-top while Limited and S can be had with an optional folding hard top. Both are power, of course, and both fold into the same storage space. The result is that the folded soft top gobbles as much trunk room as the folded hard top. So, whether the top is soft or hard, you’ll have just 7 cubic feet of top-down cargo room. On the other hand, the 200 boasts a generous 13.3 cubes of top-up cargo space.

The trunk lid, by the way, made large to cover that stowed top, is heavy to open.

We drove a Limited soft-top, which looked great and sealed well. At speeds up to 60 mph, the cabin is quiet. Above 60, wind and road noise begin to make their presence felt.

Inside, room is great up front. In back, it’s better than you’d expect, although the cheap seats are park-bench firm and front passengers will have to be kind if rear riders are to have any leg room.

Overall, this ride is classy, fun and reasonably practical by four-seat convertible standards. All spring and summer you’ll be making a scene – in a good way.

6 Jeep concepts get dirty at the 2013 Moab Jeep Easter Safari

The annual Easter Jeep Safari may not be well known outside the realm of hard core off-road enthusiasts, but it’s been a top-priority event at Jeep headquarters for decades and 2013 this year was no exception.

This was the 47th year Jeep owners gathered at Easter time in Moab, Utah, for a week of dirty driving, testing their machines and skills in the spectacular red rock country surrounding this vacation destination in the southeast part of the state. And over the decades, Jeep has been on hand to provide technical support and also to test reaction to Jeeps loaded with ideas from the factory.

For 2013, the Moab show properties included a half-dozen vehicles, all functional, all but one of them Wrangler-based, three created by Jeep’s design staff, and three from Mopar, Chrysler’s aftermarket parts operation. Mopar’s Moab trio will serve to promote a new Jeep Performance Parts subdivision.

Aimed at what Chris Nowak, a Mopar senior product development manager, affectionately characterizes as Jeep’s “lunatic fringe,” the new performance parts umbrella will include suspension components, exhaust systems, engine hardware, wheels, tires, and cosmetic elements.


The Factory Concepts

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk  Characterized as the “most extreme Grand Cherokee ever,” the Trailhawk’s bright trim has been removed, and sports a hood and front fascia from the hot rod SRT8. It rides on Dodge Durango trailer tow rear springs with 35-inch tires, and is propelled by Jeep’s new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6.
Jeep Wrangler Stitch

Jeep Wrangler Stitch  Noting that serious rock-crawlers tend to load their Jeeps with gear that adds mass, the Stitch concept is designed to suggest ways to reduce curb weight without giving up off-road enhancements. Highlights include fabric body panels, a carbon fiber hood, aluminum control arms, and a chrome moly roll cage. All told, the package is about 3000 pounds, lighter than a stock Wrangler Rubicon according to Jeep.

Jeep Wrangler Flattop

Jeep Wrangler Flattop  Though it’s well fortified with off-road hardware, including 37-inch tires, the Flattop concept is about style. Copper trim accents and a two-inch top chop distinguish the exterior. Copper highlights are repeated inside, and dark saddle tan leather seats lend an upscale look inside.


The Mopar Concepts

Jeep Wrangler Mopar Recon

Jeep Wrangler Mopar Recon  With a 470-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V8 under its hood, the battleship gray Recon is loaded with Mopar parts, including two prototype components yet to appear in the catalogue — a new 4.5-inch long arm lift kit, and eight-lug beadlock wheels wearing 39-inch tires. Awaiting DOT approval, the wheels keep tires from de-beading when they’re deflated for certain traction situations.

Jeep Wrangler Slim

Jeep Wrangler Slim  Not as radical as the Wrangler Stitch, the Slim entails a number of weight-reducing details by Mopar. Based on the Wrangler Sport, and lighter than the Wrangler Rubicon, the Slim is conceived to provide comfort as an everyday driver, as well as rugged off-road use.

Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper II

Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper II  An update on the Sand Trooper displayed at the 2012 SEMA show, the high-riding Trooper II features a 375-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8, as well as a long list of Mopar hardware. The prototype beadlock wheels wear 40-inch knobby tires, and LED lights are mounted in the wheels wells for rock-hopping at night.

New Chrysler 200 coming early next year

Chrysler’s midsize sedan will get a thorough makeover when it goes into  production early next year, leaked documents have revealed.

Automotive News stumbled  across internal documents that state plans for a shortened model year for  the 2014  Chrysler 200  sedan, which will go into production this summer but wrap up in January – about  six months too early.

The 2014’s short production run is because the automaker’s Sterling Heights,  Michigan, assembly plant will be retooled to build the next 200.

The industry journal said that the documents don’t reveal anything about the  Dodge  Avenger, the 200’s platform-mate. A midsize Dodge sedan is expected, but  details remain rather fuzzy on its future.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 will  probably be introduced at next year’s North American International Auto Show in  Detroit, although a debut at the Los Angeles show this fall is also  possible.

Not a whole lot is known about the next-generation 200,  although it’s expected that the new  Jeep Cherokee’s 9-speed automatic transmission will be available, as will  the  Dodge  Dart‘s 2.4-liter engine and a new 3.2-liter V6 based on the 200’s existing  3.6-liter mill. Underneath, the 200 is likely to ride on a Fiat-derived  platform.

The current 200 has seen sales increase significantly, but  that’s due in part to the 200’s popularity with fleet buyers. The 200  Convertible’s (pictured) future is said to be in jeopardy, but Chrysler  essentially owns the large front-wheel-drive non-sporty convertible segment, so  it’s possible the droptop will make it into a fourth generation.

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