The new rear-wheel-drive cars from Chrysler will be priced to compete with V-6 versions of popular Japanese models such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, says Tom Marinelli, Chrysler Group vice president of marketing. "We have not been a major player on the passenger car side," Marinelli acknowledged. The introduction of the new Dodge Magnum sport wagon and Chrysler 300 series should re-energize the company's passenger car sales. The Chrysler 300C, with its striking design and powerful Hemi engine, is a bold powerful vehicle, Marinelli said. From a size perspective, it is a "great North American car but it has European driving characteristics and in price targets the mid-size Japanese car," said Marinelli. Chrysler, which has been criticized for overpricing the new Pacifica last spring, intends to price the new models so they will match up with their popular Japanese contemporaries, he said. Final prices won't be announced until the cars go on sale early next year, Marinelli added, and Chrysler officials declined to offer any projections on sales and production. Comparable Accords and Camrys are priced in the $25,000 range. -Joe Szczesny
Dodge says Magnum is a truck; Chrysler 300 gets all-wheel drive
By MARY CONNELLY | Automotive News
DETROIT -- Dodge will classify the 2005 Magnum wagon as a light truck for corporate average fuel economy purposes, says Craig Love, Chrysler group vice president of the premium and activity vehicle product team.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can object to the company's classification.
The company also said at a press event here on Friday, Nov. 7, that the 2005 Chrysler 300 will be offered with all-wheel drive. The Magnum and the 300 are new rear-drive models due next year.
Previously, the company had only confirmed that the Magnum would be available with awd.
Base models of the 300 will be priced against V-6 versions of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, says Tom Marinelli, vice president of Chrysler brand marketing.
When the 2004 Chrysler Pacifica debuted, the brand aimed for a more upscale audience.
It's always nice to have a pickup around. It's doubly nice when it's powered by the baddest pickup engine in the business.
The Chrysler Group relegated its light-pickup competitors to the back seat this year when it offered the new 5.7L Hemi Magnum OHV V-8 in its half-ton Ram pickup.
The Hemi's 345 hp and 375 lb.-ft. (508 Nm) of torque squashes General Motors Corp.'s 5.3L OHV V-8 — and even newer V-8s from Ford Motor Co. (5.4L 3-valve Triton, 300 hp/365 lb.-ft. [494 Nm]) and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s Endurance (5.6L DOHC V-8, 305 hp/379 lb.-ft. [513 Nm]). In the U.S.'s ever-brutal pickup wars, horses are king — and the Hemi's got the mostest.
Did we mention it sounds spectacular, too? Five months into our year-long evaluation of the Hemi, drivers still wax eloquent in the Ram's logbook about the Hemi's aural persuasions.
WardsAuto.com Editor Barbara McClellan knows the Hemi intimately, having used the Ram to tow a ‘round-the-world sailboat from the East Coast to Detroit. “The Hemi and the truck performed wonderfully pulling about 7,000 lbs. (3,175 kg),” she says, although she notes the hauling seemed to bother the Ram's often indecisive 5-45RFE 5-speed automatic transmission (mandatory when opting for the Hemi).
“There was a lot of searching for gears, especially on some gradual upgrades at 3,000 ft. (914 m) above sea level,” she reports. She says the driveline soaked up everything the boat-hauling duty demanded, however, including arduous tugs over some of the Allegheny Mountains' more inhospitable grades.
Speaking of tugging, the Hemi hasn't given up its habit of tugging bills of large denomination from our collective editorial wallet. The Hemi does seem to have loosened with the extra break-in mileage since our original report, though: Overall fuel economy has “improved” to 12.5 mpg (18.8L/100 km). Nonetheless, the Hemi's thirst is fodder for constant griping from stingy journalists.
We can't complain about service costs, at least. The Hemi's running like a top, requiring only a routine oil change to refill the deep sump (7.5 quarts! [7L]) at 6,000 miles (9,655 km), although our spec box doesn't reflect the cost of a similar service due at 12,000 miles but not yet performed when this was written.
It's business as usual for the robust Hemi as it rolls into the second half of its long-term test. One entry tirelessly repeated throughout the Ram's logbook, sums our feelings so far about what the Hemi does for the well-constructed, sweet-riding Ram: