Number of Cylinders: 8
Model: Other Pickups
Drive Type: rear
Number of Doors: 4
Middletown, Connecticut, United States
We all knew That Kid. As a freshman, he was a big kid, overweight but surprisingly strong. Still, he was often picked on for his size. Then, he chatted with the football coach, who convinced him that his true calling was on the team's offensive line. After a season on the freshman squad and a summer of two-a-days, this mild-mannered, husky high schooler returned for his sophomore year as a big, imposing, solid piece of muscle. Needless to say, the same bullies that picked on him were praying he'd forgotten about them as a 10th grader.
That's the V8-powered 2015 Dodge Challenger. It arrived on the scene with a max of 425 horsepower and a bit of a weight problem. It completed its proverbial freshman year with a nice 2011 refresh, where the SRT8 was bumped up to 470 hp, but it still had some work to do.
Enter 2015, and fresh off three months of constant burpees and wind sprints, the newest Challenger is as big and powerful as it's ever been, but it's now got poise and potential, and my goodness, it's fun in a way that Dodge's muscle car has never been.
After almost a year on the market it, it is becoming more clear to Dodge how customers like to option out their Darts, so the automaker has combined popular features into three special edition packages and sweetened the prices. Start with a standard 2013 Dart and add either the SXT or Limited "Special Editions" or Rallye Appearance Group, and you'll save yourself a lot of box checking.
The $595 Dart SXT Special Edition takes the trim just above the base model and adds a new grille, dark-tinted headlights and projector fog lights, LED racetrack taillights, cruise control and audio controls on the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Limited Special Edition starts with the top-end model and adds a power sunroof, heated front seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and Nappa leather seats among other features, for $1,810.
The Rallye Appearance Group (pictured) is a package for the SXT, and it blacks out the front fascia, throws on 17-inch wheels and some badging for $395. The new special editions are reaching dealers now and could help the Dart's sales to further improve after a slow start. You can find out more about them in the press release below.
When people look back at today's automotive industry, what do you think they'll remember us for? The emergence of hybrids? Ever more expensive and exotic supercars? The dawn of the self-driving car? All likely scenarios, but so is the blurring of lines between one bodystyle and another, giving rise to hardtop convertible coupes and crossovers of every shape and size. But one bodystyle the North American auto industry has stayed largely away from in the past couple of decades is a car nose and chassis with a pickup bed.
It's a bodystyle immortalized by the Chevrolet El Camino, but with few exceptions, we haven't seen too many of these automotive platypuses in recent years on our turf. Subaru tried with the Baja and the low-volume Honda Ridgeline soldiers along largely unchanged, but the genre's biggest adherents are still Down Under, where ute versions of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon live. With a few other examples scattered to the four corners of the earth, that's really about it. But if these spy shots are anything to go by, it looks like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could be working to bring it back.
Spied undergoing testing in Michigan, what we appear to be looking at is a heavily disguised Fiat Strada being prepared - like the Fiat Ducato-based Ram ProMaster and the smaller Doblo-based ProMaster City - for Stateside duty as a Ram product. The Strada, for those unfamiliar, is a product of Fiat Automóveis in Brazil and is based on the Palio economy car. The nameplate has been around South America since 1996 and was originally designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro (long before Volkswagen monopolized his talents), and takes a more rugged approach in the form of the Strada Adventure.