|Chicago Auto Show
||[Feb. 16th, 2006|02:41 am]
Modern Mopar Owners & Enthusiasts
Dodge Caliber SRT-4
If you liked the Neon-based SRT-4, you’re gonna love the Caliber version. The Caliber is Dodge’s daring replacement for the Neon, and the SRT-4 is its ultimate expression. SRT stands for Street and Racing Technology, the DaimlerChrysler skunkworks devoted to making not-so-fast cars faster, and fast cars faster still. Although the displacement is roughly the same as the previous SRT-4 powerplant, this is an all-new four-cylinder aluminum engine, developed jointly by the DCX Chrysler Group, Hyundai Motor, and Mitsubishi. Dubbed the World Engine, it’s produced in Dundee, Michigan, and in SRT tune it sports turbocharging, intercooling, variable valve timing, balance shafts, and a dual-mass flywheel. Output — 300 horsepower, 260-pound feet of torque — is formidable, and the power finds its way to the front wheels via a six-speed Getrag manual gearbox and limited slip differential. It’s a hot package, and looks it, with raceworthy bucket seats, a functional hood scoop, huge brakes, oversize calipers, 19-inch cast aluminum wheels, and low-profile W-rated Goodyear tires. The new SRT-4 is due in Dodge showrooms in mid-2007. Look for a base price of about $26,000.
Dodge Nitro R/T
Unveiled as a concept at the ’05 Chicago show, the Nitro gives Dodge an entry at the small end of the SUV spectrum, something conspicuous by its absence in Dodge showrooms. The foundations are shared with the Jeep Liberty, but the Nitro is a bigger package, with a 108.8-inch wheelbase (about 4.0 inches longer than the Liberty), more interior room, more macho styling, and more power. The base engine is an SOHC 3.7-liter V-6 (210 hp, 235 lb-ft of torque), the Liberty’s top powerplant, and there’s a 4.0-liter upgrade option, an all-new SOHC 60-degree V-6 rated for 255 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. The new engine, part of the uplevel R/T model, is paired with a five-speed automatic, while the 3.7-liter V-6 is offered with either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Although it’s not designed for serious off-road use, the Nitro offers two four-wheel-drive options — on demand and full-time — as well as a sport suspension package, and towing capabilities range up to 5000 pounds. The Nitro goes on sale this fall as a 2007 model, and pricing is expected to start at about $18,000.
Dodge Rampage Concept
The Rampage concept suggests some new notions for the pickup truck playbook, perhaps slotted between Dakota and Ram? The hood is short and there’s almost no front overhang, but there’s a 345-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 in there, as well as a five-speed automatic transaxle. Why a transaxle? Because the power gets to the ground via the front wheels. There’s more. Check the doors. The front doors open conventionally, but the rear doors slide open, similar to minivan portals. Inside, the rear and right front seats can be folded into the floor, à la the Stow 'n Go seats developed in Dodge minivans. When the seats are up, the system yields storage bins beneath. The rear of the cab opens up, like the Chevy Avalanche mid-gate, to expand the cargo capacity of the five-foot cargo bed, but the Rampage takes cargo versatility a step further. The rear fascia flips down to open a weatherproof sub-cargo bed stowage hold. A final touch: the three position tailgate has a built-in extension and can function as a ramp for dirt bikes or ATVs.