February 15, 2005

2006 Dodge Charger

While the original Charger was a two-door coupe, the 2006 Charger is designed to look like a coupe in silhouette, but is actually a 4-door.

The current version of the legendary HEMI will be offered in the Charger, producing 340-horsepower with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The standard engine is the 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and, like the original Charger, the 2006 is rear-wheel drive.

With standard ABS, Electronic Stability Control and three different available suspension packages, the 2006 Charger will deliver braking and handling to match the acceleration.

The Charger shares a platform with the popular Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum sport wagon. Styling is quite different from these other models - the Charger sports a more agressive-looking grille and large fender flares.

Production of the 2006 Dodge Charger begins this spring at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, alongside the 300 and Magnum. The new Charger is expected to begin arriving in showrooms in May of this year.

06:07 AM in Dodge | Permalink

January 25, 2005

No girlie cars please -- we're Dodge!

DaimlerChrysler has no qualms about ignoring female tastes -- at least when it comes to selling Dodge cars.

The new Dodge Magnum sport wagon and a soon-to-be-released Dodge Charger, a modern update of the classic muscle car from the 1960s, are very much targeted at a male audience, said Trevor Creed, design chief at the company's U.S.-based Chrysler unit.

"It does scream male, there's no doubt about that. We found that in our market research and focus groups," he said at an automotive conference in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

Creed was responding to a comment from the audience that suggested that the brassy styling of the vehicles -- broad-shouldered and with massive hoods to pack in big V-8 Hemi engines -- had a testosterone feel about them that might not appeal to most women.

"But I don't think there's anything wrong with that. There can be an awful lot wrong with doing the opposite," Creed said.

In an earlier speech, Creed jokingly referred to how Chrysler's 300 sedans -- a big hit in the U.S. car market since last year, have become "the poster child for the 'Pimp My Ride' movement and Dub magazine."

He was referring to how the 300 -- which features a low-slung roof and massive egg-crate grille -- has become a success among hip-hop artists as well as normally staid businessmen.

"Pimp My Ride" is a popular television show in which the host, a native Detroiter now based in Los Angeles, uses his car shop to transform vehicles seemingly overdue for the jump heap into hot new street rockets.

06:10 AM in Dodge | Permalink

2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe

Return of the tintop serpent.

Sun-in-face and wind-in-hair have been celebrated as essential sports-car joys ever since we discarded the horse, but these joys do have limits. When wind-in-hair is occurring at velocities north of 100 mph, it gets to be more like hair-in-wind, as the strands attempt to separate themselves from the follicles. Our experiences with this phenomenon include a 1990 session in a Viper prototype with none other than Robert Lutz at the helm, hurtling down Arizona back roads at a buck-fifty while his passenger's hair stood resolutely vertical.

Chrysler was still an independent business entity at the time, Lutz was its president, and the Viper was his baby. In the afterglow of this ride, while Lutz was discussing the joys of barely sublight speeds with a member of the Arizona protect-and-serve, we reflected on the distinction between closed and open cars and concluded, again, that having a solid roof and side windows (the original Viper possessed neither) is a Good Thing, in the sense of hair retention (assuming you have hair), general comfort, and going fast. Okay, make that going faster. No one would characterize a Viper roadster as slow, but thanks to cleaner aero, coupes are almost invariably faster than roadsters of equal power, even when the roadster is operating with its top up.


06:08 AM in Dodge | Permalink