Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In our highly competitive world sometimes you have to be that little bit different just to get noticed. Carmakers worked this out a while back and have recently given the automotive world some unique and progressive designs. This holds especially true in the hatchback segment where radical styling has almost become the norm. So how exactly does a new car cultivate a unique appeal in these diverse times? To get the answers, Car and SUV spent a week with the updated 2010 Dodge Caliber because it still looks like no other vehicle on NZ roads.

What makes the Caliber aesthetically different is a mixture of traditional Dodge DNA and a body shape that’s a mash-up of hatchback, crossover and sports coupe. Its styling talks loudly and offers a truly American take on the conventional hatchback. The Caliber announces its arrival with its signature Dodge crosshair grille. In profile it shows off pumped up wheel arches, a coupe like roofline and a front foot, pouncing stance. The squared-off rear features jeweled tail lamps a narrow back windscreen and a protruding chunky bumper.  Exterior changes to the updated Caliber are minimal but do include some subtle chrome trim and a new 17-inch alloy wheel design which helps give the 2010 model an even sharper edge.

Step inside the Caliber and the unique styling continues with a fully refreshed interior design. The instrument panel, centre console storage bin and door panel trims have all been redesigned using higher quality materials. The result is a cabin that is more modern and user-friendly. There are some nice touches like chromed surrounds for the instruments and air vents and smart LED lighting which illuminates the cupholders. The hot rod red plastic inserts in the centre control stack may not appeal to all tastes but it provides another unique feature and matches up with the stain-resistant red/black cloth used on the seats. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good to grip and has audio controls at your fingertips. Continue reading “Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review” »

Dodge Journey SXT 2010 Review

September 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Is your home full of family members and pets but your bank account isn’t packed full of cash? If you answered yes, then read on because the Dodge Journey SXT may be the family hauler for you. The 2010 model year has brought some small updates for the American SUV and being priced just below the $40k mark it’s ready to continue forcing itself into the consciousness of thrifty kiwi buyers. Car and SUV played mum for a week in the Journey to find out if it had the durability and versatility demanded by New Zealand families.

From the outside the Journey’s styling and proportions are striking but difficult to define. It looks like a cross between an SUV and a people mover with a chunky face surrounded by pumped up sheetmetal. There’s a definite road-focus to the styling and its relatively low ride height and colour-coded body kit make no promises of any off-road credentials. Out front there’s the chrome Dodge signature grille with the Ram’s head logo stamped in, quad halogen headlights and fog lamps mounted in the square-jaw front bumper.  In profile the Journey shows off a large glasshouse, and pushed-out wheel arches that house 17-inch alloy wheels in base-model SXT form. The rear design is a touch softer boasting jeweled four-piece taillights and a lightweight single panel lift-gate with integrated roof spoiler. While the overall design isn’t as polarizing as the Nitro or Chrysler 300C the Journey is a handsome machine and looks more expensive than its price tag suggests.

Continue reading “Dodge Journey SXT 2010 Review” »

Chrysler reveals 2011 Dodge Charger in police uniform

August 25th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

While it was known that the 2011 Dodge Charger was due for a refresh no one expected the first official image of the new model to be shown in full Police pursuit gear.

Chrysler is out to prove it’s a contender for lucrative American Police agency car contracts with its 2011 Charger Pursuit. Ford and General Motors have already introduced their next-generation police pursuit vehicles, and while the Taurus- and Caprice/Commodore-based cruisers will be tough competition for one another, the new Charger pursuit is no softie either.

The Pursuit is based on the new-for-2011 Dodge Charger, and will be available with either Chrysler’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 or 5.7-litre Hemi V8. The larger engine comes equipped with a Multi-Displacement System to shut off fuel to unneeded cylinders during lighter duty, improving fuel economy when cruising the beat.

Other special treats for the Charger on Police duty include things like heavy-duty anti-lock brakes, front and rear stabiliser bars, a two-mode police-specific stability control system and 18-inch performance tyres on ugly steel wheels.

Inside, the front cabin serves as a mobile command center, and Chrysler has got busy developing a police interface module to best integrate existing computer equipment. There’s also reinforced front seats, a column shifter to open up floor and console space and interior lighting in red and white to assist the use of night-vision equipment.

It’s one mean machine and American Police forces will be able to order the 2011 Charger Pursuit from next month.

Chrysler PT Cruiser production officially ends

July 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Just a week after the last Dodge Viper rolled off the line in Detroit (read news), production of a second iconic Chrysler Group model, the PT Cruiser, has ended at the Toluca plant in Mexico.

Originally penned as a Plymouth model, the retro-shaped and hot rod styled compact crossover ended up in the market back in 2000 with the Chrysler badge. Its polarising design was the work of Brian Nesbit who later on moved over to GM.

Many people don’t know that the PT Cruiser was originally conceived more as an attention-grabber than a high-volume seller but the surprisingly practical crossover turned out to be so successful that buyers joined waiting lists. For a while it was the best-selling Chrysler-brand vehicle, but without a new model its bloodlines have been left to fade away.

Check out some images of the PT Cruiser in the gallery below. Continue reading “Chrysler PT Cruiser production officially ends” »

Dodge unleashes limited-edition Mopar ’10 Challenger

July 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Arriving in American dealerships next month is the Mopar ’10 Challenger, built as a special edition version of the retro-inspired muscle car it will be produced in a limited number of 500 examples. Based off a Challenger R/T with the 5.7-litre Hemi V8, the Mopar ’10 edition gets a range of performance and styling parts directly off Mopar’s shelves.

Mopar kicks it off by adding a bonnet scoop, cold-air intake, front strut brace, unique engine cover and a strut-tower brace. Chrysler hasn’t released official performance figures, but these modifications probably draw out an additional 10 or 15 horses.

The special edition Challenger will be available exclusively in Brilliant Black and a choice of three accent colors (Mopar Blue, Red or Silver) that appear on side striping and are repeated in the stitching on the steering wheel and seats.

The Mopar ’10 also comes with 20-inch forged heritage gloss-black wheels, black-chromed grille surround, and  Mopar logos and graphics on the front fascia, hood, hood-pin caps, body-side stripes, windows and on the chromed fuel door. A special Mopar 2010 cover will also be thrown in with the vehicle.

Inside, the muscle-coupe gets Katzkin leather seating, custom leather-wrapped steering wheel with baseball-style stitching, Mopar shift handles (T-handle for automatics, Pistol Grip for manuals), and a special dash plaque with the Mopar ’10 logo.

Stateside pricing for the Mopar ’10 Challenger starts from about $38,000 (about $53,500 NZ) for the automatic model and from $39,000 for the self-shifting manual version.

Chrysler turning its back on Hemi branding

July 8th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Chrysler has introduced muscular V8 engines carrying the Hemi moniker twice in the last fifty years, and is now reportedly preparing to once again cut down the Hemi name. It’s all about marketing in this time of green credentials and eco awareness and the Hemi needs to be rebranded.  Dodge vehicles and Ram trucks will still unashamedly use the Hemi engine, and it will continue to be available in some Jeeps and the Chrysler 300, but it will be downplayed as a mere “5.7-litre V8” in those brands. So the Hemi engine will still be available in the cars where it’s not a massive selling point.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Hemi’s Multi-Displacement System will also be given more marketing angle at talking up the engine’s fuel-saving abilities. With Chrysler’s V6 finally becoming fully competitive with Ford and GM combined with a desire by the new management to bulid a more refined and efficient image, it seems that the iconic motor will be waiting behind the scenes. Who knows what the future holds for the big Hemi, but for now it lives on.

Chrysler releases Final Edition of PT Cruiser in NZ

April 15th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s been ten years since the hot-rod styled Chrysler PT Cruiser first appeared in New Zealand, and a special anniversary edition has been released.

The Final Edition of the iconic PT Cruiser, which is now on sale, has been confirmed as the last shipment for the Kiwi market.

When the last of the 50 special versions has been sold, the chapter on PT Cruiser will come to an end, with its replacement at least another year away as Chrysler works with its new partner Fiat to create an equally impressive successor.

“Interest in the Final Edition has been strong and it is a fitting way to say goodbye to what has become a modern automotive icon,” says Todd Grove, Divisional Manager, Chrysler Group at Sime Darby Automobiles NZ.

“Few cars have made a style statement in quite the same way as the PT Cruiser and it still looks as different on the road today as it did ten years ago. It will be sad to see it finally disappear from our model range, but the good thing about the Chrysler Group is that we have other vehicles that are equally individual in their styling, including a model that can take the place of the PT Cruiser — the Dodge Caliber.”

The 2.4-litre-powered PT Cruiser Final Edition is available only in a ‘brilliant black’ paint finish and deep tint sunscreen glass, set off with a solid billet chrome aluminium front grille, chrome body side trims & door handles, and 17-inch SRT design alloy wheels. Special features of the cabin include premium cloth trim with heated front seats and 6-disc CD audio system with Boston Acoustics premium speakers and 368W amplifier. Each vehicle is sold with a personalised plate covering PT 001 to PT 050.

The PT Cruiser has been an international success story since it was first shown as a concept car in the late 1990s. The car was put into production in a new factory at Toluca in Mexico in 2000 and for much of the first year supply was unable to match demand.

The combination of its one-of-kind exterior styling, interior flexibility and space struck a chord with buyers looking for something different.

Over 1.3 million PT Cruisers have been built and sold into more than 60 countries around the world.

To maintain on-going interest in the model, Chrysler has released occasional special editions in limited numbers, including the Route 66, Dream Cruiser and Sunset Boulevard. A convertible has also been sold in New Zealand.

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