Dodge will be undergoing a makeover in terms of its small car offerings over the course of the next several years, as the fruits of its partnership with European owner Fiat begin to appear in American dealerships. The most important changes that will be made to the Dodge lineup will be visible in the compact and subcompact segments, where the domestic automaker has not fielded a competitive entry for most of the past decade.
The Dodge Caliber and Dodge Nitro compact crossovers take their final bow this year, and the pair of slow-selling entry-level automobiles will be replaced by 2013 with a single sedan based on a Fiat design. According to Autoweek, the new vehicle will draw most of its cues from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, enlarged to meet the expectations of the American market. The vehicle will feature a mix of Fiat (fuel efficient) and Dodge (higher horsepower) drivetrains, both of which will offer four-cylinder power and be mated with a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. A subcompact will slot in under this new Dodge family member by 2014, an automobile that will most likely be based on the hatchback charms of the Fiat Punto.
Several other Dodge models will also undergo changes in the near future. The Dodge Avenger will be replaced completely by 2014, walking the same Fiat-sourced path as its Chrysler 200 sibling that will see the vehicle completely redesigned compared to the current model. Chrysler is working on a nine-speed automatic transmission for the Avenger which will eventually move over to other front-wheel drive vehicles built by the company. This gearbox is meant to complement the fresh eight-speed automatic that will serve as the rear-wheel drive Dodge Charger full-size sedan's major change for the upcoming model year.
The Dodge Viper will be all-new for 2013, and although details about the supercar are still closely guarded, SRT brand head Ralph Gilles has stated that the vehicle will maintain the "on-the-edge" performance and character that have traditionally defined the model. Unlike other members of the Dodge lineup, the coupe and roadster editions of the Viper will not borrow from the Fiat parts bin and will continue to offer a V-10 engine under the hood. Another Dodge mainstay, the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan will continue in its current form until 2015, when a decision will be made as to how best to split the family hauler off from its Chrysler Town & Country platform-mate.
The rest of the Dodge lineup is too new to be the target of any major changes in the near future. The Dodge Challenger coupe, Dodge Journey crossover and the Dodge Durango SUV will all hold the line and compete on the strengths of their own recent redesigns.
The Ram truck brand, formerly under the same roof as Dodge, will for the most part also hold the course by avoiding any dramatic changes to its current vehicle offerings. The Dodge Dakota mid-size pickup has already been discontinued, with no solid plans in place at this time regarding a potential replacement. The Dodge Ram 1500 full-size pickup will receive a new eight-speed automatic transmission by 2014, along with the introduction of a Pentastar V-6 engine option in order to help boost efficiency. Ram's heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 trucks benefit from a sturdier and more frugal six-speed automatic transmission as of the 2012 model year.
The real action in the Ram lineup comes in the dedicated cargo and commercial van segment, with the Ram CV (a cargo-only edition of the Dodge Grand Caravan), a compact commercial van similar to the Ford Transit Connect and a full-size commercial van all scheduled to appear between now and 2013. The latter two vehicles will be based on existing Fiat platforms.
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