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What's happening within the Chrysler Group:

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Supercharged!

Dodge has officially unveiled the most powerful vehicle to ever wear the Challenger name - the SRT Hellcat - complete with over 600 horsepower courtesy of a supercharged, 6.2-litre Hemi V8. It will be offered alongside the 485-hp Challenger SRT.

The new, force-induced V8 isn't just the most powerful ever fitted to the Challenger, it's the most powerful eight-cylinder Chrysler Group has ever built. Power figures aren't finalized, so expect to see "over 600 hp" bandied about quite a lot. That fury will be channeled through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Yes, over 600 ponies through an eight-speed auto. Sadly, we don't have performance metrics just yet, although if this thing can't crack four seconds to 60 miles per hour, we'll be pretty surprised.

As is the theme nowadays, the 2015 Challenger SRT features a number of driving modes, governing power output, shift speeds for the 8AT, steering effort, traction control settings and suspension settings. There are three pre-programmed options - Default, Sport and Track - and a Custom mode that allows drivers to mix and match to their heart's content.

The SRT Hellcat will arrive with two keys, one red and one black. The red key is the one we want, as it unlocks the car's full potential, while the black key is more or less a valet key, limiting output of that supercharged beast under the hood.

Both the SRT Hellcat and the lesser SRT model will ride on unique 20-inch alloys. An eight-spoke design, wrapped in either Goodyear Eagle RSA2 all-seasons or Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, will be offered on the naturally aspirated model. The Hellcat and Track Pack-equipped SRT will get wider 20s and Y-plus-rated Pirelli PZero Nero tires. Corralling the SRT Hellcat's 600 ponies will be the task of a set of 15.4-inch, two-piece Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers.

Finally, the SRT Hellcat's extra oomph certainly demands some aesthetic tweaks. On the exterior, a Viper-like hood scoop dominates the head-on appearance of the 600-hp Challenger. That functional scoop is flanked by an equally functional set of air extractors, while the new vertical-split grille is a styling item borrowed from the 1971 Challenger. And in case all this visual aggression isn't enough, Dodge has added a very, very conspicuous "SUPERCHARGED" badge to the Challenger Hellcat's fenders.



The Refreshed 2015 Dodge Charger & Challenger

For 2015, the Dodge Charger & Challenger have received a big freshening, boasting strongly revised front and rear ends and an all new redesigned interior.

The centre stack's last-gen display has been replaced by an expansive, 8.4-inch UConnect system. Material quality sees a solid boost with the new cabin, as well.

For the Challenger, the exterior sees a revised front fascia with LED halo lights, as well as new grille inserts. A functional shaker hood scoop is a must-have extra on the V8 models, while the back of the car is highlighted by a new set of LED taillights that don't use the "Racetrack" design of Dodge's other models.

In terms of output, the 3.6-litre V6, 5.7-litre Hemi V8 and 6.4-litre SRT-spec V8 are carryovers from 2014. An eight-speed auto can now be had with all three engines, while a six-speed manual is also available on the V8 Challengers.

For the 2015 Dodge Charger, along with interior and exterior changes, an eight-speed automatic becomes standard across the range.

What hasn't changed is the choice of engines under the Charger's long hood. A 3.6-litre V6 serves as the base mill, and can be had in both rear- and all-wheel-drive varieties, while the 5.7-litre V8 HEMI is an optional item and can be had in rear-drive only. Outputs are also carried over from last year, with 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque for the six-pot, while the Hemi V8 delivers 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque.

The new exterior treatment is a fairly large departure from the styling tone set by the Charger since its reintroduction to the North American market in 2006. The blacked-out, crosshair grille and new headlamps are the biggest changes for 2015, though there are other, less immediately noticeable updates, such as the more rounded "Racetrack" taillamps that, like the front fascia, draw some inspiration from the Dart.

The cabin, meanwhile, is freshened with a new gauge cluster, complete with a seven-inch display, a steering wheel lifted from the Jeep Grand Cherokee and a standard 8.4-inch touchscreen display in the center stack.



The All New 2015 Jeep Renegade

With 16 powertrain combinations, a huge host of features, and some off-road chops, the 2015 Jeep Renegade could be Chrysler's ticket across the bridge between old Jeep fans and new ones, and spread their brand around the world. Yes, you can order a manual.

Designed in the US and built in Italy, the Renegade represents a key component of Chrysler's quest for world domination. They're hoping the Renegade will get the Jeep brand into the hearts and consciousnesses of more markets around the world, and they just might succeed- it's a cracking little cute ute.

An all new and first-for-segment nine-speed automatic will probably be the most commonly ordered gearbox, but two manual and one dual-dry clutch transmission (DDCT) will also see duty in Renegades.

Nine speeds sure sounds like a lot, but it will allow the gearbox to operate through a larger range of ratios than a CVT would. Jeep's engineers say it will also achieve better efficiency. Plus, better reliability.

The 4x4 system in all Renegades except the Trailhawk is Jeep's "Active Drive" with a fully-automatic power take-off unit that disconnects the rear axle to improve fuel efficiency when four wheel drive isn't needed. Jeep promises engagement is instantaneous. The range-topping "trail rated" Renegade is full-time 4WD.



Cherokee: AJAC SUV of the Year

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee was declared the 2014 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) (as well as "best new SUV/CUV under $35,000"). Twelve category winners were eligible for the top honors of either Car or Utility of the year. The winners were voted on by a large group of Canadian auto journalists, who test drive new and updated vehicles for five days in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The results are based on objective data and evaluations by 80 journalists, driving vehicles in a category back-to-back on the same day, under the same conditions, on closed and public roads. Details are individually rated in secret ballots, with over 40,000 data fields.



Motortrends 2014 Truck of the Year: Ram 1500

Ram announced that Motor Trend had awarded the Ram 1500 as Truck of the Year, the first time any vehicle has won the Car of the Year or Truck of the Year award for two years in a row. Curt Towne, Warren Truck Assembly Plant Manager, introduced the event and Ed Loh, editor-in-chief of Motor Trend.

Mr. Loh noted that he had gotten 628 miles from a single tank of gas (at 28.2 mpg), with around 21 miles still left in the tank, without limiting his speed ("80, 85 mph") or driving style. "That's game-changing efficiency and economy right there."

Mr. Loh also praised the RamBox; he took duck fat and meat, with a bottle of whiskey, on his trip, and since alcohol cannot not be stored in the cab (by state law), the RamBox came in handy. He said that a friend who drives German luxury cars was surprised by how luxurious and comfortable the interior was.

The diesel returned up to 28 mpg on the highway, according to the magazine, which lauded the Ram 1500's power, transmission, handling, and comfort. The addition of the diesel engine and other changes allowed Ram 1500 to compete for two years in a row, and to win for the unprecedented second consecutive year.

The Ram 1500 beat new Ford and Chevy trucks, including the Silverado and new Nissan cargo vans. "They didn't bring game-changing technologies. They didn't risk as much as Ram did?.it's absolutely a huge gamble to bring diesel to the light duty market."

Sergio Marchionne accepted the award, noting that Ram has won it for three of the last five years, and that this year marks the 75th anniversary of Warren Truck (part of the "Dodge City" complex). He also announced that the quality metrics of the Warren plant are at the highest level in their history, though one third of the workers have been on the job for less than two years. Warren Truck employees will receive a $500 quality award bonus, possibly this week; all American workers will get this quality bonus (some will get more).

Mr. Marchionne also pointed out that Ram sales have been rising rapidly, and that the trucks have gained market share as well. He and Mr. Lowe both praised the workers at Warren Truck, and at the second Ram pickup plant near Saltillo, Mexico.

Reid Bigland, current Ram CEO, pointed out that Ram outsells the two GM pickups (GMC and Chevrolet) combined in Canada, and is the #2 best seller in the country; it has also been outperforming sales growth of the US pickup market by a factor of three. Ram 3500 can tow 7,000 pounds more than the next closest competitor. The most powerful truck on the road, with 850 lb-ft of torque, is the Ram with Cummins diesel, while the 25 mpg highway mileage of the Ram 1500 remains unsurpassed (except by Ram 1500 diesel). He ran a new advertisement, scheduled to appear within the next couple of weeks, as well.

UAW-Chrysler leader General Holiefield gave a ringing endorsement of Sergio Marchionne, and thanked him for going above and beyond in working for the company; and praised the workers at Warren for their work - after which, Mr. Marchionne thanked Mr. Holiefield, speaking without a script, for his commitment to bringing Chrysler back and his conviction that it could be done.


The All New 2015 Chrysler 200

Leapfrogging the midsize car segment, the 2015 Chrysler 200 boasts the with the first nine-speed automatic transmission in its class, the 2015 Chrysler 200 also delivers better acceleration than the 2014s, with 13% better economy (four-cylinder; 7% higher on V6). As predicted, the nine-speed is controlled by a rotary shifter with an optional sport mode; and there is are all wheel drive and park-assist options.

The 2014's basic engines carry over, but both have been upgraded; the four-cylinder now has 184 hp and 173 lb of torque, while the V6 has risen to 295 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Chrysler 200 has also jumped forward to become the most aerodynamic mid-size sedan in America, with a cD of 0.27 - possibly the lowest drag coefficient of any Chrysler ever built - partly thanks to a standard underbody cover.

Some key options include shift paddles, park assist, and UConnect Access.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is the first mid-size sedan with complete rear-axle disconnect, which seamlessly switches between front- and all-wheel drive for full-time torque management and does not require input from the driver. The disconnect cuts parasitic losses by up to 80% compared with competitive systems, by keeping components with parasitic losses (driveshaft, ring/pinion, input clutch plates, servo-hydraulic pump assembly and planetary gear sets) stationary when the car is in front-wheel drive mode.



Fiat has acquired Chrysler.

Fiat has completed its purchase of Chrysler from the VEBA Trust (technically, "the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust.")

Chrysler Group is now completely owned by Fiat , as it was once owned by DaimlerChrysler.

The deal included payments by Chrysler Group itself, as well as Fiat; both companies paid from cash on hand..

Chrysler and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (the "UAW") agreed to continue existing agreements.

The VEBA Trust was originally set up to provide health benefits to retired union workers at Chrysler, and received equity in the new company to partly fulfill the old company's obligations. Both GM and Chrysler set up separate retiree trusts to move liabilities off their books and replace uncertain future payments with firm, timed contributions.

Fiat is now expected to change it's name to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and move its official headquarters(possibly to Holland). It is unlikely that any Chrysler's brand name will change; while Daimler-Benz replaced the word "Chrysler" with "DaimlerChrysler" on parts, cars, and official documents, it is unlikely that any customer will see the word "Fiat-Chrysler" stamped on their car.



2014 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel has best MPG of any half-ton pickup ever.

Ram beat everybody to a half-ton diesel pickup, and their EcoDiesel V6 2WD just claimed top honors for fuel economy in the segment with 28-highway MPG and 420 lb-ft of torque.

The 4WD comes in just a hair thirstier at 19/27/22 MPG in city, highway, and combined ratings- still the highest rating available in a half-ton truck with a transfer case.

Chrysler is really trying to dig their heels into the "efficiency" title among pickups. Now that the EPA has confirmed the EcoDiesel's numbers Ram can claim first and second in half-ton fuel economy, having set the record last year with the 25 MPG-highway Pentastar 3.6 V6 that's now number two.

The EcoDiesel uses a completely new block and bedplate, made of lightweight Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) to shed weight.

A common-rail fuel-injection system called "MultiJet 2" takes a massive degree of variance over how much fuel to inject based on how much power is needed, so I suspect you'd see dramatically different fuel economy figures depending on how an EcoDiesel truck was driven.

A TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic helps the Ram EcoDiesel maintain optimal engine speed, with special attention paid to transmission cooling to maximize efficiency.