Dodge brought by a selection of its newest vehicles at a recent media event. We had the chance to photograph and test drive the next generation of Dodge vehicles, including the 2009 Challenger (SRT-8 and R/T versions), the new 2009 Ram pickup truck, and the Durango Hemi Hybrid SUV. Also on hand was the 2009 Dodge Journey, which we've already reviewed.
Plans by Chinese automakers to enter the United States have largely fizzled.
Chery Automobile, through a deal to assemble cars for Chrysler, stands a chance of entering the United States by 2011.
And Brilliance Jinbei Automotive, a small Chinese automaker, says it plans to sell cars in the United States in 2009.
But other Chinese import plans are in disarray.
Enthusiasm for Chinese vehicles was created mainly by hype from American promoters and wishful thinking from small Chinese automakers who were unaware of the difficulties of selling cars in the United States.
In July 2007, Tom LaSorda, then CEO of Chrysler, announced a deal in which Chery would assemble vehicles for
But since the announcement, Chrysler has revealed few details about its relationship with Chery. A major supplier to Chery says Chery has no definite timeline to begin exports to the United States for either Chery- or Chrysler-badged vehicles.
"We need small cars," LaSorda said in May. "Chery's cars are still not ready for that exposure into these markets." He said China-built cars probably won't be ready to meet U.S. safety and emissions standards for "three years or more."
At the Western Automotive Journalists' dinner this week, Jim Press, President of Chrysler, told me exactly what I wanted to hear. When I asked how he plans on differentiating the Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep brands, he put it this way: Jeep will remain an iconic off-roader, with no soft-roaders spoiling the brand; Dodge will be the performance brand, but will also be a volume play; and Chrysler focuses on luxury, competing with brands like Acura. Maybe this type of brand differentiation just fits conventional wisdom, but it seems like a smart plan to me. Yet, in speaking more generally about … Read more
Owners of the next iteration of the Nissan Titan will finally be able to say, "That thang's got a Hemi!"
PickupTrucks.com has confirmation from Chrysler LLC chairman Jim Press that the next-generation Nissan Titan will receive a version of Chrysler's 5.7 liter Hemi V-8 gas engine. This makes sense when you consider that last May, the Chrysler LLC and Nissan Motor Co. announced that the next Titan half-ton pickup would be built by Chrysler at its plant in Saltillo, Mexico, and that the next Titan would be based on the all-new Dodge Ram 1500. … Read more
The 2008 Acura MDX remains largely unchanged from the 2007 model, when we reviewed the then-new redesign and found it chock-full of tech options inherited from Acura's sedans, and with improved handling courtesy of similarly upgraded four-wheel-drive management. Back in 2006, the first-generation MDX had some unfinished first-generation electronics, but nonetheless impressed us with the breadth of its tech offerings.
Some minor feature additions are present on the 2008 model, which improve the overall tech experience, and its solid driving dynamics are still intact. But other luxury SUVs offer better performance, and we're ready to see Acura's … Read more
More automakers are offering iPod integration in their models, sometimes as a standard feature. With this type of integration, you can bring your iPod into the car, leave it in the glovebox or console, and access all of your music through the car's stereo interface, listening to your tunes through a full audio system. You can select your music by artist, album, genre, and playlist just as you would on your iPod. And the number of automakers offering this integration varies widely.
Of course there are BMW and Infiniti, but would you believe Ford and Hyundai, too? Take a … Read more
Maybe we've been driving too many very nice cars lately, but the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL550 didn't excite us much when it arrived in the garage. It's hard to follow acts like the Maserati GranTurismo and the BMW M6, and we tend to like shorter, more nimble sports cars. But the SL550 won us over with its handling on winding mountain roads and its striking looks with the sun blazing overhead and a nice ocean-scape in the background.
We were also prepared to be disappointed in the car's cabin electronics when we saw the old-style Mercedes-Benz interface, … Read more
Let's face it: the Honda Pilot has always looked like a brick on wheels. The new-for-2009 Pilot, with its CR-V-inspired grille, looks even worse. It doesn't get much better on the inside, with a dash dominated by cheap plastics and questionable material choices. As much as we dislike the Pilot's aesthetics, we can say that the SUV feels solid, as though it were machined out of a solid piece of metal. The ride is supple without being floaty, and the cabin is among the quietest in its class.
As fast as Audi's R8 is, there will always be someone who wants to go faster. According to Audi, the company has been inundated with requests for a race-prepped version of its halo car. Come fall 2009, Audi will deliver in the form of an Audi Sport-developed racing sports car specifically developed for customer use: the GT3 version of the Audi R8.
The GT3 R8 eschews Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system in favor of a GT regulation rear-wheel drive transmission. The R8's 500-plus horsepower is delivered via a newly developed six-speed, sequential, sports gearbox. A modified front end … Read more
After spending time with the top-of-the-line 2008 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring, we found much that we liked; however, we also found almost every positive thing we had to say about the SUV came with a caveat.
Inside, the CX-9's leather seats and ambient lighting give the appearance of luxury, but the materials feel cheap compared with a true luxury vehicle. The spec sheet touts an impressive amount of cabin tech, but the components don't work well together, creating a confusing experience. Overall, we formed a positive impression of the CX-9, but the vehicle lacks the final bit of … Read more