Daily News Briefs: June 7, 2012

Dodge Durango

Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne has decided to keep the number of offerings at Dodge and Chrysler brands to no more than five models, according to Automobile Magazine. The Chrysler brand is already below that level at four models, but Dodge has seven models. Primed for the chopping block are the Dodge Avenger and, over time, the Dodge Durango SUV, the magazine reports. The Durango will be replaced by a seven-passenger Jeep model, says the magazine.

In other news:

By Colin Bird | June 7, 2012 | Comments (0)

Incentives Diet: Buy This, Not That

Buy This, Not That - sedans

In this latest round of Buy This, Not That, we focus on soon-to-be-discontinued midsize luxury and mainstream sedans. Included in this rundown are the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ, Dodge Avenger and Mitsubishi Galant. All are on death's door in their current incarnations.

All the trim levels picked for these comparisons include an automatic transmission, air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and power locks/windows/side mirrors. Final prices include destination charges.

By Colin Bird | May 16, 2012 | Comments (7)

Manual Transmissions Fading Out of Midsize Sedan Lineups

2012 Subaru Legacy

Soon a majority of mainstream midsize sedans will have standard automatic transmissions and no manual transmission option.

It's been a long time coming. The stick shift has stuck around longer on midsize sedans than on other body styles, probably due to the broad appeal of the segment; these cars still make up the most vehicle sales in the U.S. The manual-transmission option also allowed marketing departments to advertise the highest fuel-efficiency figures and the lowest base prices, which were usually found on the manual-equipped models.

By Colin Bird | May 10, 2012 | Comments (10)

Dodge Expands Avenger V-6 Lineup

2012 dodge avenger
Dodge is adding a V-6 to its entry-level Avenger. Previously available only on uplevel models, the 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission are now available on the base Avenger SE. It's EPA-rated at 19/29 mpg city/highway.

For 2012, the Avenger comes in five trim levels: SE, SE V-6, SXT, SXT Plus and R/T. The 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine continues to be standard on the entry-level SE and volume SXT models.

Aside from the powertrain, the new SE V-6 adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual exhaust with bright tips and a body-colored rear spoiler to the base SE. It starts at $21,495, excluding destination. Four-cylinder SE models start at $18,995.

By Jennifer Geiger | March 13, 2012 | Comments (2)

Dodge Dart Shines Light on Future Chrysler-Fiat Vehicles

2013 Dodge Dart
The 2013 Dodge Dart is the first compact sedan from Chrysler in nearly seven years. That in itself is a milestone, but the car also looks competitive against the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze.

Chrysler's compact car plans are thanks to its new partner, Fiat. In the Dart we get the first real-world example of what to expect from upcoming replacement vehicles for the Jeep Liberty, Chrysler 200 and others in the future.

Chrysler has stated that the Dart's underpinnings are based off a new basic platform originally used to design and produce the Alfa Romeo Giulietta in Europe. Chrysler says the Dart platform — called Compact U.S. Wide — will also underpin most of its upcoming midsize and large sedans, crossovers, SUVs and minivans. The exceptions are the Jeep Wrangler, which will remain body-on-frame, Ram's trucks and the 2013 SRT Viper.

By Colin Bird | January 24, 2012 | Comments (8)

Year-End Deal Reality Check: Chrysler Group

2012 Dodge Avenger

Chrysler's had a very successful year overall, with sales up 25% through November. Part of that has to do with the automaker's redesigned and refreshed vehicles, and part of it has to do with Chrysler's seemingly eternal and robust incentive spending. The end of the year is no different. Under Chrysler's cross-branded “Big Finish 2011” sales event, there are plenty of attractive financing and cash-back deals to be had.

Starting with the Chrysler brand — which has the most aggressive incentive offers – there are 0% financing deals on the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country and 2012 Chrysler 200 sedan for 60 months and for 60 to 72 months on all 2011 Chrysler brand models. The Town & Country ($1,250), 200 ($2,500), 300 ($1,500) and 200 convertible ($1,000) also have generous cash-back offers.

By Colin Bird | December 29, 2011 | Comments (0)

2012 Toyota Camry Earns Five-Star NHTSA Rating

2012 Toyota Camry
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its first batch of 2012 model year ratings this month. Under the stricter guidelines, only three 2012 models — the Chevrolet Camaro, Cadillac CTS and Toyota Camry — have earned five-star composite scores from the safety agency. In fact, as we previously reported, the Camaro is the only vehicle to earn a perfect rating across the board since the new guidelines took effect for the 2011 model year.

NHTSA’s composite scores are composed of five-star ratings for frontal, rollover and a combined side pole and barrier tests. The side pole test, which is new, simulates a 20-mph side-impact crash into a 10-inch-diameter pole or tree at a 75-degree angle just behind the A-pillar on the driver’s side.

The redesigned 2012 Camry earned a five-star overall rating, getting four stars in the frontal test, five stars in the side-crash test and four stars in the rollover test.

By Colin Bird | December 6, 2011 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2012 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep Vehicles

2012 Chrysler 200Chrysler is recalling about 667 2012-model-year vehicles equipped with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 over an engine issue that can lead to power loss, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2012 models included in the recall are the Chrysler 200, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Charger, Dodge Durango, Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Journey and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In the affected vehicles, which were built between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, the engine blocks weren’t cleaned properly. The result is hard debris can damage the connecting rod, main bearings and crankshaft, leading to engine failure. If the engine seizes up while driving, the risk of a crash can increase.

The recall is expected to begin in early October. Chrysler dealerships will replace the engine, free of charge. If owners already have repaired the problem, Chrysler will reimburse the expense if it wasn’t covered by the warranty.  Owners can call Chrysler at 800-853-1403 or NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236 for more info.

By Colin Bird | September 30, 2011 | Comments (5)

What's the Most Affordable Midsize Sedan?

What’s the Most Affordable Midsize Sedan?
The midsize sedan is by far the most popular car segment in the U.S., with more than 2 million sold so far this year. So it’s no surprise that some of the best-selling vehicles in the country are midsize family sedans, such as the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. It’s also one of the most competitive markets, with over 20 moderately priced models on sale today.

Over the past few months, the market has heated up even more. Toyota is launching the all-new 2012 Camry this month, and it will boast more features, improved gas mileage and more-affordable pricing for midlevel trims. The redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Passat is now a legitimate player in the moderately priced family sedan category, moving away from the premium category. Its starting price of $19,995 offers novel features, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, standard.

So which sedan is the best-equipped — and also the most affordable — car for the money? For this latest affordability study, we decided to pit the redesigned 2012 Camry and 2012 Passat against the 2012 Hyundai Sonata and the 2012 Fusion. All four have attractive pricing with lots of features.

By Colin Bird | September 19, 2011 | Comments (20)

2012 Chrysler 200, Dodge Journey, Dodge Avenger See Prices Drop

2012 Dodge Avenger RT For the 2012 model year, both the 2012 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger see their starting prices drop to $18,995, which is a $250 decrease from last year. The 2012 Dodge Journey now starts at $20,995, which is a more dramatic $1,450 price drop. Those prices exclude a $750 destination charge for the sedans and an $800 charge for most Journey trims.

The price changes make the Avenger and 200 the most affordable midsize sedans on the market today, beating out value leaders like the Suzuki Kizashi ($18,999), Ford Fusion ($19,850) and Kia Optima ($19,200).

The Journey is now one of the most affordable midsize crossovers on the market, too, beating competitors like the Kia Sorento ($21,250) and Mazda CX-7 ($21,990). The Subaru Forester still beats the Journey, though, with its $20,495 entry price.

Continue reading below for more trim details.

By Colin Bird | August 15, 2011 | Comments (5)

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