Not much in the way of new product. Remember, the company is rapidly reinventing itself, now that it has purged billions in so-called bad assets and almost 800 dealerships, leaving a leaner Chrysler Group to develop a revised product portfolio with its new corporate partner Fiat. (Read: "Like a Phoenix, New Chrysler Group LLC Rises.")
For the imminent future, there simply isn’t much happening. The products are largely in a holding pattern for another model year. However, if you look closely, there are numerous refinements that should make the vehicles more satisfying to own than before, though not the kind of breakthrough changes that are likely to spark showroom traffic. Below are the highlights of the Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep product updates for the 2010 model year.
We have already blogged on the notable update to Dodge Caliber’s interior. Most other vehicles that receive any update for the new model year are given a light touch. The one exception is the 2010 Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickups to be offered for the first time in a true crew-cab configuration, complimenting the regular and mega cab. All heavy-duty trucks are distinguished from their light-duty brethren by a unique grille, hood, and bumpers. Refinements throughout promise reduced noise, and the cabin boasts more storage locations. The Ram sees its various tow and capacity ratings increased, though these reflect more a change in how Dodge chooses to make its claims, more closely matching the competition, than representing engineering changes. The powerplants for the heavy-duty trucks include the venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel. Chassis cab 3500, 4500, and 5500 Rams will be available for 2011.
The Ram Power Wagon returns, with electric-locking front and rear differentials, electronic disconnecting sway bar, Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BF Goodrich off-road tires, underbody skid-plate protection, 4.56 axle ratio for hill climbing, and a custom-built Warn 12,000-lb. winch is accessible through the front bumper. The exterior has been enhanced with a new two-tone paint scheme and graphics package.
Fuel economy tweaks are made on several models, including the light-duty Ram, Dodge Nitro, and Jeep Liberty. These models now have a fuel cut off indicated by an “Eco” light activated during deceleration. Other vehicles, including Jeeps, have had this feature previously. The Nitro and Liberty have some detail updates to their various trims, such as materials updates and larger, standard floor mats.
The Jeep Wrangler receives a long list of minor updates that should add appeal to the legendary rock crawler. On all models fog lamps, tow hooks, compass, outside temperature readout, larger visors, fuel-saver indicator, and front dome lamp are standard. The Sunrider soft-top has been made easier to install. Other changes depend on the trim and options, with changes such as uplevel seating surfaces, new colors, new wheels, and the addition of Uconnect Phone added to the navigation system.
The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee in its final year sees the model line simplified to the Laredo and Limited trims, dropping the Overland. An all-new, larger Grand Cherokee will be introduced for the 2011 model year based on the Mercedes-Benz ML platform.
The Chrysler Sebring convertible and sedan has a minor exterior freshening with a new hood and wheels. Inside, the cars receive a new instrument panel and active head restraints.
And the PT Cruiser lives on for another year, despite its planned discontinuation. There is a new Classic trim that bundles popular features in a value package.
Even the Chrysler 300 receives minor updates, with the 300C now claiming keyless entry/keyless go and rear park assist as standard. Side-curtain air bags are standard on all models. An all-new 300 is expected for the 2011 model year.
The Town & Country and Dodge Caravan minivans now have active head rests and rear obstacle detection on all models.
The Dodge Journey gains the “eco” feature also added to the Nitro, seeing highway fuel economy increase 1 mpg on the highway with the V-6 model. Active head restraints are standard on all trims, as well we four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Those models with a video entertainment system now have a larger, nine-inch screen.
The Dodge Challenger adds even more performance and excitement for 2010 with the Super Track Pack, includes 20-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 Super Car tires, front and rear Nivomat self-leveling shock-absorbers, a larger rear stabilizer bar, a 3.06 rear-axle ratio, performance brake linings, and enthusiast-desired “ESP-off” stability calibration. A less extreme nostalgia trip can be taken with the SE Rallye package featuring a dramatic stripe package alternative to the R/T Classic with dual hood and decklid stripes, chromed fuel filler door, 18-inch rallye wheels with all-season performance tires, body-color deck-lid spoiler, and Micro Carbon interior accents.
And finally, the Dodge Viper lives on despite Chrysler’s previous efforts to sell it off. There are four new paint colors and tan Nappa upholstery to mark the new year.
So, while the engineers learn Italian and put together the pieces for what will be the new Chrysler going forward, these enhancements will have to see consumers and dealers through. Again, while there is little drama, the vehicles are more appealing than before.