After a few years of uncertainty, Chrysler is once again on a roll. In partnership with its new corporate parent, Fiat, Chrysler is on the comeback trail thanks in large part to a deep reinvestment in its automotive lineup. Several new and interesting vehicles are on their way for the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands, complementing a number of already appealing automobiles currently available at dealerships across the country. Chrysler has always been known as a design leader, and with its financial house in order the company can once again take its place at the leading edge of the domestic pack.
Let’s take a look at 10 of the most intriguing vehicles that are helping to lead the Chrysler comeback.
The 2011 Ram Dakota enjoys a reputation as one of the most capable mid-size pickup trucks on the market when it comes to both towing and hauling. The Ram Dakota boast a maximum tow rating of 7,250 lbs, which places it near some of its full-size competitors, and it offers the choice of 6.4-foot or 5.3-foot cargo beds. The truck can also be equipped with a rugged four-wheel drive system and offers body styles ranging from extended cab to crew cab, with the latter providing four full-size doors.
A sizable portion of the 2011 Ram Dakota’s utility stems from its formidable drivetrain options. The vehicle starts out with a 210 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6, but buyers can choose to upgrade to a 4.7-liter V-8 that is good for 302 horses and 329 lb-ft of torque. Four-and five-speed automatics round out the Dakota’s transmission choices.
The 2011 Dodge Caliber is a unique option for entry-level compact vehicle buyers. This small crossover provides hatchback practicality (including 48 cubic feet of total cargo space) along with five different trim levels that are intended not just to mix up feature availability but also introduce a range of different driving experiences. The entry-level Express model is nicely equipped, while the Mainstreet grafts on a sport suspension and more extroverted exterior trim. The Uptown upgrades the vehicle’s brakes and adds leather seating and other interior luxuries, while the Heat further refines the Caliber’s sport potential. The top level Rush pulls it all together to provide both a premium and engaging ride.
All editions of the 2011 Dodge Caliber – save the Rush – are motivated by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that offers 158 horsepower and returns fuel mileage of 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The Caliber Rush graduates to a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that pushes out 172 horsepower while dropping fuel economy only slightly. The vehicle offers both five-speed manual and continuously variable automatic transmission options.
The 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited takes the popular off-road platform offered by the traditional Wrangler and extends it so that it offers four-doors and more comfortable accommodations for as many as five passengers. This important difference allows the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited to straddle the line between practical daily driver and capable weekend warrior. The 2011 edition of the Wrangler Unlimited also offers improved interior amenities and overall higher quality craftsmanship.
The 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited comes with all of the specialty off-road equipment found in the two-door Wrangler, including available four-wheel drive, hill-start assist, skid plate armor and exceptional ground clearance. The vehicle is powered by a 3.8-liter V-6 engine that offers up 202 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque, matched with either a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
The 2011 Dodge Nitro is a beefy-looking compact crossover that comes across as having a much bigger personality than its dimensions would suggest. The Dodge Nitro can seat five passengers and with the rear row of accommodations folded forward, it can handle up to 65 cubic feet of cargo space – more than double the 32 cubic feet lurking between the seatback and the hatch. The Nitro can also be ordered in the upscale Shock edition, which throws in items such as 20-inch wheels, full leather seats and a sunroof.
The 2011 Dodge Nitro can be ordered with one of two V-6 engines. The first is a 3.7-liter unit that offers 210 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque, sent through a four-speed automatic transmission to either the rear or all four wheels if four-wheel drive is selected as an option. Fuel mileage checks in at 16 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. A 4.0-liter motor is also available, and it bumps power up to 260 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque while providing slightly better fuel mileage than the smaller engine. A five-speed automatic transmission takes the place of the four-speed unit, and four-wheel drive remains an option.
The 2011 Dodge Avenger has been significantly retooled for the current model year, with a number of changes having been made to its styling, its interior materials and its drivetrain. The mid-size Dodge Avenger sedan now looks much more modern, and the quality of its seats and its interior trim has been elevated to the point where it is a credible competitor to its Ford and GM rivals.
The 2011 Dodge Avenger retains last year’s 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine as its base power plant (173 horsepower, 166 lb-ft of torque), but an all-new 3.6-liter V-6 is available as an option. This more robust motor grinds out 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices for the four-cylinder include four and six-speed automatics, while the V-6 is only available with a six-speed unit.
The 2011 Dodge Charger is another example of a Dodge sedan that has seen an important facelift. Sleeker, more aggressive and with a taillight design that reaches back to the iconic 1969 edition of the car, the Dodge Charger gains a much needed refresh that once again positions it as one of the few full-size family sedans with a sporty personality. Dodge has also turned quality up a notch inside the Charger, adding a more premium feel that was absent from the 2010 model.
The 2011 Dodge Charger also offers a simplified drivetrain list to go with its more refined chassis. The base model Charger starts out with an all-new 3.7-liter V-6 that generates 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, while the R/T edition benefits from a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine that is capable of providing 370 ponies and 395 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox for the Dodge Charger, and V-8 editions can be ordered with all-wheel drive.
The 2011 Jeep Compass offers fresh front-end styling that makes the compact crossover look almost like a baby Jeep Grand Cherokee, an improvement over its fairly anonymous design of the year before. The Jeep Compass has also gained the availability of Freedom Drive II four-wheel drive, as well as the Off-Road Group of features that come with it. This list includes hill descent control and hill start assist, heavy duty engine cooling, a brake lock differential and Jeep’s vaunted Trail Rating.
The 2011 Jeep Compass comes standard with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 158 horses and 141 lb-ft of torque. Also available is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that provides 172 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices for the small off-road vehicle include a five-speed manual and a continuously variable automatic.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger features a number of tweaks to its design, both inside and out, but overall the two-door mid-size coupe maintains the muscular good looks that have made it a favorite amongst retro muscle car buyers. The most interesting changes have been made to the Dodge Challenger’s engine options, as well as to its chassis, which has been given a more dialed-in suspension for greater feedback and control.
Under the hood of the entry-level 2011 Dodge Challenger is a brand new, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, a motor which is good for 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque – a bump over the motor’s output in other Dodge applications. The Challenger R/T keeps its very effective 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, which puts out 383 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque for 2011, while the new Challenger SRT8 392 model sees the installation of a larger, 6.4-liter HEMI eight-cylinder engine that offers a head-spinning 474 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices for the revised Dodge muscle coupe include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic.
The 2011 Chrysler 200 represents a brand new name for the brand’s mid-size sedan and convertible, a vehicle which replaces the now departed Chrysler Sebring. The Chrysler 200 builds on a platform that is very similar to that used by the Sebring, but both its sheet metal and its interior accommodations have been completely worked over in a successful effort to make the automobile a much more appealing choice in one of the most hotly contested vehicle segments.
In addition to its much more appealing passenger compartment and smarter looks the 2011 Chrysler 200 also provides a new 3.8-liter V-6 engine as its top of the line power plant. Capable of generating 283 ponies and 260 lb-ft of torque, the V-6 is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. A 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine offering 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque is still available as the vehicle’s standard motor, and it can be had with either a four-speed or six-speed auto gearbox.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country flagship minivan has been put through the wringer in terms of its general design and features list, helping it to stay at the forefront of the high capacity people mover market. Offering seating for seven passengers plus 143.8 cubic feet of storage space thanks to its “Stow ‘n Go” fold-flat seating feature, the Chrysler Town & Country is a utility-laden vehicle that provides a host of premium equipment not found in the typical minivan.
Like many other new Chrysler vehicles, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country also benefits from an updated drivetrain. The minivan trades in the three engines available with the 2010 model for a single 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that offers up 282 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, and the efficient new power plant allows the Town & Country to return fuel economy that is rated at 17 mpg in stop and go driving and 25 mpg on the highway by the EPA.