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Chrysler 3.0L EcoDiesel V6: Autoblog Technology of the Year finalist

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:00:00 EST

Offering a diesel engine in an American pickup is anything but new - Ford, General Motors and Chrysler all offer excellent and almost impossibly powerful oil-burning engines in their various fullsize trucks. What is new and novel about the 3.0L EcoDiesel, though, is its size, and the variety of vehicles that use it. It's the smallest engine, as far as displacement is concerned, currently offered in a large truck in the US, and, for 2014 and 2015, it is available in the Ram 1500 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Though it may be small, it's got muscle. While 240 horsepower isn't particularly impressive these days, the engine's 420 pound-feet of torque more than makes up for that. The torque rating is even greater force than even the big 5.7-liter Hemi can muster. Chrysler's well-regarded eight-speed automatic transmission makes the most of all that bull-headed pulling power in both the Ram and Grand Cherokee. Chrysler claims the Ram EcoDiesel 1500 can tow as much as 9,200 pounds when properly equipped, which makes it "90-percent of the Hemi with a night and day difference in fuel economy."
Make no mistake; it's that promise of a sizable fuel economy improvement that many long-haul truckers will be most interested in. In the Ram 1500 that we tested for our Tech of the Year competition, the diesel engine costs $2,850 more than the gas-fed V8, and Ram estimates that EcoDiesel buyers will pay off their investment when compared to the Hemi engine in less than three years, which is considerably less time than the 4.5 or so years the average buyer will keep his or her fullsize pickup. The more you drive, the more you'll save, and the math proves equally as effective in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango to lose color options temporarily

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:29:00 EST

In the market for a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Dodge Durango? Well, if you fancy a more expressive color for your new SUV, you'd better get your order in, or plan on waiting until well into 2015.
The SUVs will be limited to just four monochromatic shades - black, white, silver and gray - until at least February, thanks to an upgrade to the paint shop at the two vehicles' Jefferson North factory. For the Grand Cherokee, that means it's losing more than half its color palette while the Durango is dropping two-thirds of its color catalog.
The loss of colors is inconvenient, but the upgrade will have a slightly bigger effect on the overall supply of SUVs, as Chrysler will need to end its relentless build pace at the factory for a three-week shutdown starting on December 22. The good news for fans of the SUVs is that once the work is completed, we should see a gradual expansion of the color palettes for both the Durango and Grand Cherokee, beyond even what's offered now.

GMC boss wants a Jeep Wrangler rival

Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:29:00 EST

Challengers come and challengers go, but the Jeep Wrangler continues to push forward even after vehicles like the Toyota FJ Cruiser and the entire Hummer brand have been shut down. Now GMC reportedly wants to take a stab at the quintessential Jeep, as well.
The news comes directly from Buick-GMC vice president Duncan Aldred, speaking with our compatriots over at Edmunds. Although Aldred said there are no plans currently on the table to expand GMC's lineup beyond the current range, "there is plenty of room everywhere in the hierarchy."
That could include a rival to the Wrangler, as well as a flagship luxury SUV positioned above the current Yukon Denali (pictured above). Just when (or for that matter, if) such models might come into fruition remains a big question mark, but it's certainly interesting to see what GM's dedicated truck brand has on the drawing board.

Six 'shut up and take my money' cars

Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:30:00 EST

Any time you see this iconic moment in pop culture - Shut up and take my money! - posted in response to a new car reveal, rumor for an upcoming model or even lip-service to a vehicle that should exist, you can bet there's some intrinsic good in the idea. Though depending on the person offering up the cash, that good could take the form of extraordinary form, functionality, weight savings, power, handling, etc. You get the idea.
In fact, when I first proposed this list, I reached out to the Autoblog staff to help me brainstorm. Here are some of the ideas they offered up that I ultimately didn't use: Jaguar XE Coupe, Pagani Huayra Roadster, Mercedes-Benz S-Class "parade car" (cabriolet), Morgan 3-Wheeler with Ducati V-twin, Ford Transit Connectamino (pickup), Mercedes CLA63 AMG, Ford Fusion 5.0, BMW i8 Spyder, Lexus RC-F Shooting Brake, Volvo XC90 Polestar. Oh, and things we collectively wanted to stick Dodge's Hellcat in were almost as numerous as models that Fiat Chrysler Automotive currently makes (though none quite so compelling as the Grand Cherokee you see above.)
Ultimately though, while I used a couple of ideas from my colleagues, the list of cars I'd shell out for unquestionably is very personal. Though it isn't complete, what follows is a selection of cars whose very existence would prompt me - or the trust-fund-baby versions of me - to utter without hesitation: "Shut up and take my money."

Jeep gives a trio of customs an encore showing at SEMA

Wed, 05 Nov 2014 17:40:00 EST

While Jeep certainly had some new customs on display at this year's SEMA show, it wasn't afraid to recycle a few that people might have missed from earlier this year. The maker of many beloved off-roaders already displayed the Jeep Cherokee Dakar, Maximum Performance Wrangler and Wrangler Mojo at the 2014 Easter Safari, but they all made it to SEMA for an encore.
Based around the Trailhawk, the Cherokee Dakar (pictured above) imagines an even more off-road-capable version of the crossover. The concept wears a mix of Silver Steel Stain paint with Flame Red graphics and rides on 17-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires. To back up the rugged look, the Dakar is fitted with rock rails and skid plates protecting the oil pan, front suspension, fuel tank and other underbody parts. It also sports prototype parts from Jeep Performance Parts, including a lift kit and fender flares.
The Wrangler is one of the paragons of off-roading, and as the name suggests, the Maximum Performance Wrangler concept is meant to be the ultimate example of what it can do. The custom features locking Dana 60 axles front and rear, a 4:1 Rock-Trac transfer case, prototype 4-inch lift kit and 37-inch Mud Terrain tires over beadlock wheels. To stay on the trails well into the night, a bar of LEDs is mounted above the windshield. And finally, the Mopar Blue exterior kind of makes the vehicle look like the world's toughest blueberry.

Jeep Renegade gets Riptide and Frostbite customs at SEMA

Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:20:00 EST

The cute little Jeep Renegade isn't even on sale yet, but here at SEMA, the Mopar folks are giving us a taste of what's possible for the little CUV in the big wide world of customization. Part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' massive SEMA spread, the Renegade shows up in fresh Riptide and and Frostbite guises.
First up, the Riptide arrives in Vibrance Grandeur Blue with black wheels and a big ol' Jeep Performance Parts logo on the rear pillar. There are a few black accents elsewhere on the exterior, and a surfboard carrier rides up on the roof. The blue color scheme also finds its way inside the Renegade, on the instrument cluster and side panels, with contrasting white accents.
By contrast, the Frostbite Renegade reverses the Riptide's color scheme, with white being the main paint of choice, with blue accents abound. And inside, Katzkin seats wear blue upholstery. The Frostbite is a pretty functional creation, as well, with a Mopar ski/snowboard roof rack and a Jeep Performance Parts rock rail guard.

Jeep dealer buries WWII Willys GP in showroom floor

Tue, 04 Nov 2014 15:00:00 EST

The Willys MB Jeep earned icon status during World War II thanks to its ruggedness, simplicity and go-anywhere ability. Following the war, it didn't take long for the handy vehicles to be scooped up by the public, and a brand slowly grew around the vehicles that has continued to thrive. Fast-forward to present day, where it's not uncommon for auto dealers to try to grab some of the magic of yesteryear by displaying classic models to connect customers with their brands' proud histories. Now, a Canadian Chrysler Group dealer is taking that notion to the extreme by actually making a vintage WWII Jeep part of its foundation.
Bay King Chrysler in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, recently completed its new showroom, and the franchise really wanted to show its dedication to the Jeep brand. As dealer principal Jamie Richter tells Autoblog, the inspiration for the Jeep installation came from his brother, who became fascinated with a home that had a glass floor looking down into its wine cellar. The company already had the 1943 Willys MB to display, but it had originally planned to build a jungle gym around it for customers' kids. Now, the classic is literally in the floor as customers enter. Richter tells Autoblog that customer reaction so far has been "fantastic."
It's certainly a novel way to bring people into the showroom, and seemingly a nice nod not only to Jeep, but to the men and women who served in the war. If you want to see more about how the Jeep was actually installed and what it looks like, check out this video.

An inside look at Mopar's SEMA fleet

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:45:00 EST

Mopar is heading to the SEMA show in Las Vegas with a fleet of customized vehicles that appeal to enthusiasts of all stripes. There's a Dodge Viper ACR concept that follows in the lineage of the supercar's great road racing past, and a custom Ram ProMaster that might just be the ultimate outdoor party machine.
We got an inside look at Mopar's cars that will be on display at the show, which also include a Dodge Challenger T/A concept, two crazy Jeeps and a Ram 2500 Outdoorsman that could change the way you camp. While these are some of our favorites, Mopar is bringing plenty to SEMA, so let us know your top choices in the comments section.

Jeep Wrangler likely to get aluminum body, will stay in Toledo

Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:30:00 EST

Perhaps more than any other vehicle currently for sale in the United States, the Jeep Wrangler is viewed by purist fans as a vehicle that simply must maintain the status quo. In this case, that means a body-on-frame design, solid axles, a relatively large engine sitting up front and a removable top. It's always been that way, and it always will be.
Maybe.
According to the most recent reports, the next-generation Jeep will continue to soldier forth with a full steel chassis underneath its stamped bodywork. The biggest change, reports Automotive News, will be that said panels will be hewn from aluminum instead of steel, a seismic shift of a transition not unlike what's happened with the new Ford F-150. Because it won't be a unibody, the SUV will likely continue to be assembled in Toledo, OH as it (almost) always has been - the latter has been a source of heartburn in recent weeks for the Northwestern city in the Buckeye State.

Fiat-Chrysler shows its SEMA lineup

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:29:00 EST

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles already previewed its 2014 SEMA show lineup with some slick renders. Now, the automaker has finally showed us the actual cars, and among the group there are definitely some that stand out more than others.
Dodge is really showing off its muscle at this year's show with four concepts that all pump up the power of the brand's models. Perhaps most interesting among them is the Challenger T/A Concept (pictured above) in striking Sublime Green and matte black. It's meant to resemble the classic Trans Am racer from the '70s. Under the hood is a 6.4-liter V8, and to fit the vintage style there's a pistol-grip gearshift inside.
The Charger R/T also gets some attention with the Mopar concept that shows off what FCA's aftermarket performance arm can do. Mods include an updated body kit, cold-air intake for the 5.7-liter V8 and a coil-over suspension kit. Beyond that, the Dart R/T Concept looks a lot meaner with a black hood with duct work that leads straight to the air intake. The rest of the compact sedan is dolled up in O-So-Orange paint and is fitted with upgrades to improve handling like a coil-over suspension and big brake kit from the Mopar catalog.