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Friday
Apr182014

2014 Dodge Dart GT: In Search of Respect

By Christopher A. Sawyer

I have just one question to ask: How is it that this car isn’t flying off the shelves? Except for one (somewhat) major and a few minor complaints, I can’t find anything that would keep someone in the market for a handsome, roomy, fuel-efficient, sporty, four-door sedan from putting this car on their serious consideration list or in their driveway. Is it the combination of Chrysler (never a synonym for top-flight quality) and Fiat (ditto) that scares them away? Were potential buyers scared away by the confusing array of models, options, powertrains, etc. available at the Dart’s launch? Did they see some of the more garish colors available, and run away in fear that these were the only choices? Or did they not even consider the Dart because they didn’t know it existed? Was it because the Dart’s launch effort wasn’t followed up by a continuing support program that compared the Dart and its main competitors? Whatever the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a very seductive car.

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Friday
Apr182014

Selling the CLA the U.K. Way

Mercedes launched the CLA in the U.S. with an ad campaign built around the Devil (played by Willem Dafoe) tempting a young man watching a CLA billboard to sell his soul in exchange for the car. When the small Mercedes’ price is shown, he refuses the deal, and the Devil disappears. In the U.K., however, the CLA has moved from selling the idea to selling the product, and one of the items the advertising folks have decided to push is the car’s 0.29 coefficient of aerodynamic drag. To do that, they enlisted the help of William, a specially trained, docile and friendly tabby who has appeared on screen for the past decade. We’ll spare you all of the PR jabber about how the CLA’s aerodynamic shape saves fuel and lets it purr down the road, or how the car has cat-titude, and let you watch the spot for yourself. — CAS

 

Friday
Apr182014

2014 New York International Auto Show

By Christopher A. Sawyer

By the time the show opened, the weather was warmer back home in Michigan, despite an early week snowfall that helped Detroit eclipse the 1880 record of 93.2 inches of snow. And if you could wade through the nonsense, like putting the 2015 Mustang atop the Empire State Building 50 years after the first time this stunt was performed, there were many things to see on the floor of the Jacob Javitz Convention Center.

2015 Golf SportWagen

The last Golf out instead of the first new Jetta in.

At one time in Europe, Volkswagen sold both a Jetta and a Golf station wagon that were nearly identical, except for the front fascia. That idea didn’t last long, and VW dropped the Golf SportWagen in favor of the Jetta. All that changes with the introduction of the seventh generation Golf. Built on VW’s innovative MQB platform, the new Golf can be stretched and twisted any number of ways to create new vehicles. Adding a wagon to the lineup is easy. These same building blocks will be used to create the CrossBlue crossover and the replacement for the Tiguan, as well as the next-generation Jetta sedan.

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Friday
Apr042014

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

By Christopher A. Sawyer

I will admit to being very curious about this vehicle. Based on the Compact US-wide (CUS-wide) architecture, it shares its underpinnings with Dodge’s Dart and 200 and Alfa Romeo Giulietta. It is the Alfa that launched this modular platform, the first truly new base in the Alfa/Fiat/Lancia ecosphere since the late 1980s. Unlike its predecessor, this foundation was designed from the start as a premium architecture that could be adjusted for cost, content and size as needed. It isn’t a low-cost structure that must be heavily adapted for premium duty. That’s a big plus as it’s easier to adapt a more expensive platform to a less expensive vehicle than it is to do the opposite.

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