Oakland, Maryland, United States
It's been known by many names: the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, Chrysler Voyager, Lancia Voyager, Volkswagen Routan, Ram Cargo Van... but the bottom line is that Chrysler's minivans have defined the segment for 30 years now. In fact, Chrysler says it has sold 13 million of them since 1983, helped along by the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan that accounted for nearly half of all minivans sold in the United States just last year. So to celebrate this three-decade milestone, the Auburn Hills auto has announced a pair of new special editions.
The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary Edition starts the Touring-L trim and includes such special touches as 17-inch wheels, unique badging, available Granite Crystal Pearl paint and an interior decked out in black Alcantara and Nappa leather, piano black trim and all the optional bells and whistles bundled in.
The 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan 30th Anniversary Edition, meanwhile, starts off with either the SE or SXT trims and also upgrades with 17-inch alloys as well as color-keyed mirrors and an interior with silver stitching, piano black trim, power everything, and of course, those special badges.
Meet the refreshed 2015 Dodge Charger; notice anything different? You would have to be pretty farsighted to miss the sedan's new Dart-like nose, and it's likely going to be quite polarizing to the car's fans. Gone are the previous furrowed, aggressive headlights in favor of a wider, friendlier look.
While the more rounded headlights and narrower grille are going to be the first thing most people notice, Dodge claims its designers have made changes to nearly every panel on the Charger. The hood dips down deeper at the front, and the doors show off a more angled version of the car's shoulder blister. LED running lights and taillights are standard on all models, and SXT and RT trims get LED foglights. Even though the front might not be as intimidating, Dodge has hung onto the sedan's muscular stance with angular contours making up the rest of the redesign.
Under the hood is the same engine range you've come to know over recent years. Both the 5.7-liter V8 and the 3.6-liter V6 return for 2015, with the Hemi making 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque, and the standard Pentestar outputting 292 hp and 260 lb-ft. All models are now equipped with Chrysler's TorqueFlight eight-speed automatic as standard. Fuel economy for V8 Chargers is predicted at 16 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway, compared to 15 mpg / 25 mpg last year with a five-speed automatic. All models also come with electric power steering, and the axles are cast from aluminum to save weight.
Hidden amidst the overall very positive sales figures that Chrysler released earlier this week were a few disappointments, the biggest of which may be the Dodge Dart. While Dodge sales in general were down 11 percent from a year ago, the Dart's poor figures stood out from the rest - with 4,888 units sold, the Dart was down 37 percent in February.
It comes as little surprise, then, that the automaker has announced layoffs at its assembly plant in Belvidere, IL. According to The Daily Herald, Dodge will temporarily lay off 325 workers "to balance vehicle supply with current sales demand." Put more simply, there are more Darts than buyers at the moment...
We don't think the Dodge Dart is a bad car, but it's playing in a market that offers a few standout sellers, like the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. According to AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan, as quoted by The Daily Herald, "great incentives on the Dodge Avenger" are also partly to blame for the Dart's poor showing.