Auto blogWed, 28 Nov 2012 00:01:00 EST
Chrysler has officially confirmed that Ram will develop an all-new large van for the US market based on the Fiat Ducato. The commercial rig will go on sale in the third quarter of next year, joining the Ram C/V on the company's professional van line. Expect to see the Promaster face off against the Ford Transit and revised Chevrolet Express.
Chrysler is pretty skimpy on details when it comes to the Promaster, but it has said the vehicle will make use of "familiar Ram Truck styling cues." The van will reportedly also bow with powertrains targeted specifically at the North American market.
Chrysler and Ram made the announcement ahead of the LA Auto Show alongside news that the company will launch a new Ram commercial truck division.
Chrysler is adding a third shift at its Warren Truck plant to meet demand for the new 2013 Ram pickup. And with tight supplies of its Pentastar V6, the company is also boosting output at its Mack Engine plant.
The expansions will add 1,250 jobs and are part of a $238 million investment by Chrysler in the Detroit area. Warren's third shift will begin work sometime in the spring, a Chrysler rep told Automotive News. Mack's increased Pentastar production a could include both 3.6 and 3.2-liter engines.
The company says it also plans to invest $40 million in its Trenton Engine plant to allow for production of a 3.2-liter V6 as well as the Tigershark inline-four for the upcoming Jeep Liberty replacement.
Nearly every automaker doing business in the SUV or pickup truck segments offers a package designed to improve the off-road capabilities of its wares. But, of course, not all such factory kits are created equal. How, then, to separate the wheat from the chaff? Gather each of them up and put them through their paces, naturally.
The folks from Four Wheeler and PickupTrucks.com joined forces to run just such a comparison test, with the winner named the Ultimate Factory 4x4. A total of seven vehicles showed up to the fight: the 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, 2012 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X and Xterra PRO-4X, 2012 Ram Power Wagon, and 2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail and Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Series.
With the contestants in place, the whole crew put each vehicle through a battery of tests that included skidpad and acceleration measurements, a hillclimb, a rocky stairstep course and a rock garden. Considering the nature of the beasts, on-road ride and comfort were not part of the routine.
Chrysler first introduced us to its Ram Runner exactly two years ago at SEMA, but for buyers of this Raptor-like truck who don't want to go through dealerships for the upgrades, VWerks has just the thing. Looking every bit as mean as the dealer-built Ram Runner, the VWerks Ram KTS gets a wide-body treatment and upgraded off-road performance suspension similar to its Mopar contemporary.
Starting life as your everyday Ram 1500, the Ram KTS on display at SEMA features a beefed-up KORE long-travel suspension system and off-road tires that allows the truck to tackle tough terrain at high speeds. From there, VWerks also added wider front and rear fenders, matte black 17-inch wheels and a Flowmaster performance cat-back exhaust system. For buyers looking for the rough and rugged look of the KTS but not needing the high-speed, off-road abilities, VWerks also offers the Baja Series kit that replaces the performance suspension system with a set of 20-inch wheels.
The VWerks Ram KTS and Ram Baja Series kits are available on any 2009 through 2013 model year Ram 1500, but there is no word on pricing for either kit yet. Scroll down for more information about both kits, and check out the KTS in our live gallery above.
Auto writers around the country tend to specialize in different vehicles based on the trends of our respective home markets. The New England Motor Press Association, for example, presents an award every year for the best winter vehicle. With that in mind, it is fitting that the Texas Auto Writers Association doles out an annual truck award. This year, the TAWA "Truck of Texas" is the 2013 Ram 1500.
In a announcement from TAWA, the new Ram took top honors based in no small part on, "a new 3.6-liter V6 that boasts 42 percent more power, improved fuel economy, infotainment upgrades and available eight-speed automatic transmission and air suspension." And according to Ram CEO Fred Diaz, "Automotive reporters have reacted extremely favorably to the new 2013 Ram 1500, and our research tells us that resonates with truck buyers." The Ram 1500 unseated the previous Truck of Texas, the 2012 Ford F-150.
The Texas Auto Writers Association Truck Rodeo was also an occasion for journalists to award an SUV of Texas, and thankfully, the distinction is made between SUV and CUV. The Jeep Grand Cherokee took top honors in the SUV department, with TAWA pointing to models like the off-road-ready Trailhawk and feature-laden Overland Summit. It is the third consecutive year that the Grand Cherokee has achieved this accolade. The award for top crossover went to the 2013 Buick Enclave, which is in its first year of a new design. To read more on the Truck of Texas award and all the finalists, check out the press release below.
Perhaps no car company has made bigger splashes in the last two years at the Super Bowl than Chrysler, and the automaker's marketing chief, Olivier Francois, said today that he plans to be all over the big game again in February.
Last year, the company made an ad featuring Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood. The spot achieved viral status quickly when pundits charged that Eastwood's lines were politically motivated; meant to appeal to progressive voters/viewers favoring a second term for President Obama. In 2011, agency Wieden & Kennedy burst into the game with a now famous commercial featuring Eminem. Both ads have supported Chrysler's "Imported from Detroit" marketing platform.
Francois briefed reporters Monday at the Detroit Opera House while he also debuted a new series of ads for the Ram brand.
Chrysler is issuing a recall for the 2009 and 2010 Ram 1500 and Dodge Dakota pickup trucks due to improper installation of the rear axle pinion nut. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 44,300 trucks are affected by the recall, and there have been 12 confirmed incidents including one crash.
The issue on both trucks is that the pinion nut is loosening on some trucks due to a lack of thread adhesive, and it is causing the rear axle to lock up resulting in loss of vehicle control. NHTSA's recall notice says that eight incidents occurred at speeds over 35 miles per hour and most also exhibited driveshaft failures as well since the loss of the pinion nut would cause the gear to separate from the driveshaft. In one complaint, the driveshaft separated from the rear axle and punctured the gas tank.
Chrysler will begin sending out recall notices to affected owners in November, but scroll down to see the official NHTSA notice.
Auto enthusiasts often point to the pony car wars as the last bastion of one-upsmanship among Detroit's automakers, but the truth is, the pickup wars are every bit as competitive - if not more so. Auburn Hills keeps a ready eye on what their rivals in Dearborn and Detroit are doing, and vice-versa. Today, that battle is renewed with the introduction of Ram's 2013 Heavy Duty and Chassis Cab lines at the State Fair of Texas. Why a state fair? The Banner State is the perfect battleground for pickup supremacy, as Texas accounts for one of every five pickups sold in the U.S.
Towing and hauling metrics are poised for a substantial improvement. "... and not just by a little bit."
On the HD front, Chrysler is boasting that its brand-new heavies will bring best-in-class towing, torque, payload and Gross Combined Weight Rating, but thus far, it's declining to cite what those figures are. For the moment, though, Fred Diaz, President and CEO of Ram told us at an Auburn Hills background event earlier this month that key towing and hauling metrics are poised for a substantial improvement. "And not just by a little bit. I think we're going to shock the world," said Diaz.