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Auto blogThu, 07 Nov 2013 14:21:00 EST
The annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas can often be a sensory overload of overwrought madness, with cars that don't even look drivable anymore. But every once in a while, a modestly modified show car graces our presence, like the customized Dodge Durango you see here, which, in addition to giving us our first glimpse at the aftermarket possibilities for the refreshed-for-2014 model, proves that a car doesn't have to be slammed, scooped, donked and Lambo-doored to have presence.
Sure, this Durango has custom hood inserts, dark 22-inch wheels and custom fender flares, but as far as external modifications go, that's it. Inside, Dodge has fitted new door sill guards, an ambient lighting kit, bright pedals, premium floor mats and - of course - Katzkin leather. The automaker has even added wireless internet connectivity as part of the excellent Uconnect infotainment system.
Performance upgrades are minimal on this Durango R/T, which comes packed with Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Larger brakes have been fitted, as have lowering springs (though it certainly doesn't look that much lower) and a custom exhaust.
We won't beat around the bush: The all-wheel-drive Dodge Charger is not a brand new car. This generation launched in 2011, AWD models and all. But for 2013, Chrysler has added an optional sport package to the AWD model, available with both the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or the sweet, sweet 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The upgrades for this new sport pack are mainly cosmetic; a gloss black grille, new 19-inch alloy wheels and body-colored rear spoiler make up the list of exterior changes. Inside, there are new sport seats and paddle shifters, and the eight-speed automatic transmission has been reflashed for better performance.
But because vehicles like the Dodge Charger mainly stick out in our minds as being rear-drive bruisers, Chrysler wanted to give us the opportunity to test out the LX platform's foul-weather prowess. And perhaps no place more appropriate to test such a system was way up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in the dead of winter.
Dodge is just days away from unveiling refreshed versions of the Charger and Challenger at the 2014 New York Auto Show, models promising updated styling and new powertrain options. Depending on how you look at it, the company is either so confident in its forthcoming 2015 models that it's offering an interesting Double-Up lease deal on the current vehicles, or it's so eager to clear out existing stock that it's resorting to novel lease deals. In any case, what they present is an interesting scenario, one which allows buyers to get the existing model right now, and then trade up to the facelifted 2015 models in one year.
Starting April 17, when the refreshed cars debut through the end of August, buyers can lease a 2014 Charger or Challenger for one year and exchange it for a three-year lease on a 2015 model next year, with no additional money down and the same monthly payment. Customers can even switch vehicles when the new lease starts. If drivers want to buy the '15, they get $1,000 off the purchase price. To be eligible, both leases must use the same dealership and be financed through Chrysler Capital. The Double-Up deal excludes the SRT versions of both cars and Charger SE models.
To offset the flood of one-year-old models coming back to dealerships, Dodge has struck a deal with rental car agency Enterprise, which has agreed to buy them all. "One-year leases are highly unusual in the industry," said company spokesperson Ralph Kisiel, and the fleet sale deal is what makes it possible.