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Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep Deserve More Credit


I think Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep don’t get enough credit. They do some pretty cool stuff.

It really seems like FIAT Chrysler isn’t in love with the same old automaker business model. I don’t see Jeep and Dodge or even the parent company FIAT doing the same old thing because “that’s what we’ve always done.” Perhaps Kodak or Blockbuster Video were more in love with their specific business models, rather than their overall missions of pursuing photography or in-home video regardless of the avenue it took to get there. I don’t think that’s true of Chrysler. Chrysler seems to be in love with the overall idea of personal mobility and individual expression through cars and transportation.

Here are some of the things the Chrysler company has done over the years: First, they basically invented the American minivan and later gave it all-wheel drive, something that’s still a desirable feature. They currently have the only hybrid minivan available in the U.S. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in, so you can drive 30-40 miles on just electricity. Plus, it’s pretty nice inside — much more luxurious than every other minivan currently available. Frankly, it’s Lexus-like in many ways. The Pacifica Hybrid gets 84 MPGe.

Dodge recently showed off the Demon, a car that is the polar opposite of a hybrid minivan. The Demon is basically a street-legal drag car with 840 horsepower and enough cool twists, tools and gear to all but ensure it hits the million-dollar mark at Barrett-Jackson 30 years from now. The 707-hp Challenger Hellcat is a slightly more useful muscle car, but still mind-blowing just for the fact that they actually make it. The 475-hp Dodge Durango SRT is a family-friendly SUV that gets from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds — now Mommy can drop off the kids and have a little fun taking the scenic route to work.

Even the small-but-quick FIAT 500 Abarth is really cool in its own way, as is the electric FIAT 500e. And the FIAT 500X is certainly unique in a world where everyone is basically trying to copy the RAV4.

Other examples include the 1955 Chrysler 300, arguably the first muscle car; the new Dodge Challenger GT, an all-wheel-drive sporty coupe; the Dodge Viper; the Dodge RAM SRT-10, a Viper-powered pickup; the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland; the Chrysler Crossfire; and the Chrysler Atlantic concept.

The Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited continue to be unique and accomplished in their own way. This attitude even makes its way into the everyday cars the company builds.

I recently took a road trip in the Dodge Durango — specifically the Citadel Anodized Platinum AWD version (yes, that’s its real name) — and found it be very useful, with a little of the sort of muscle-car vibe you’d expect from Dodge.

If you want a car that’s more personal-expression and less transport-pod, consider something like the Pacifica or Pacifica Hybrid, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Dodge Challenger GT, Dodge Charger Hellcat or Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler or Chief. Each of these cars has a unique vibe that stands out from the crowd. In a world of cookie-cutter houses, baby names and fake Twitter accounts, I think a lot of people are looking to make their own personal statements, whether it’s painting two smoky black stripes the entire length of the employee parking area or driving a car that uses little to no gasoline.

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Brian Moody
Brian Moody is an author specializing in transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used, and certified pre-owned advice. He also specializes in liking ridiculous cars like the Buick Reatta, Studebaker Lark, and the GM A-Body wagons from the late 80s and mid-90s. Why? You'd have to ask him. Brian graduated from Cal State Long Beach and has been creating written... Read More about Brian Moody

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1 COMMENT

  1. FCA gets a bad rap because they fill their car interiors with so much cheap plastic that I feel like I’m getting an unhealthy dose of phthalates just by sitting in one. The Dodge Charger is the worst car I’ve ever driven, and my buddy’s Jeep Renegade is constantly having electrical problems.

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