What do off-roading enthusiasts, muscle car aficionados, and soccer moms (and dads) have in common? FCA has a new vehicle in its portfolio of brands that will excite each of these diverse customer groups. We met up with the FCA team at the beautiful Danada House situated among an expansive forest preserve outside of Chicago to get a tour of the upcoming lineups from Jeep, Ram, Dodge, and Chrysler. Between the redesigns, refreshes, and newsworthy concept vehicles, we had a lot of ground to cover.
Jeep was our first stop on the product tour, and our small group of auto journalists was greeted by a trio of vehicles including the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept, the Jeep Wrangler 392 Concept, and the Jeep Wrangler 4xe (the first plug-in hybrid Wrangler) that's coming to market this December.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept
Of course, we beelined straight to the Grand Wagoneer, and who would blame us? We were among the first few to see the new concept vehicle displayed in person. The Grand Wagoneer has a commanding presence and proudly wears the nostalgic nameplate of its predecessor, honoring the first luxury 4x4.
According to Scott Tallon, Director of Jeep Brand Product Marketing, the new Grand Wagoneer is a modern interpretation of the last generation Grand Wagoneer and a modern approach to a premium American SUV. It is not intended to be a retro-themed vehicle, yet Jeep made sure to incorporate the famous wood details in a more subtle way. Instead of the traditional wood appliques on the body as we envision the early Wagoneers, the new SUV strategically incorporates teak wood trim within the headlamps and the roof rack.
With an exterior as statement-making as the Grand Wagoneer's the interior has to live up to the high expectations. Inside the cabin, Tallon describes every passenger seat as "a first-class seat" with each passenger getting their own screen. For a change of scenery, a panoramic glass roof stretches across all three rows.
A total of 7 screens can be found in the Grand Wagoneer and the unique "Relax Mode" lets occupants choose a serene environment to counteract any anxiety traffic may cause. The on-site vehicle had a calming fire crackling as we explored its luxury-packed cabin.
Jeep Wrangler 392 Concept
Next, we got to take a closer look at the Jeep Wrangler 392 Concept. Under the hood is a 6.4-liter V8 with 450-horsepower, 450 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 under 5 seconds. This off-road capable Wrangler Rubicon sits on 17-inch Beadlock wheels with 37-inch mud-terrain tires. Additional off-road prowess comes from the Dana 44 axles, full-time two-speed transfer case, electric front- and rear-axle lockers, and a two-inch factory lift kit. On-road, the 392 Concept's quick acceleration comes courtesy of the new V8. As Tollen puts it "the guy next to you in a Mustang will be pretty surprised that you smoked him in a Wrangler."
The Wrangler 392 concept gets unique styling elements inside and out with custom half doors, Granite Crystal paint, and bronze accents on the hooks, shocks, and wheels. Inside, the 392 Concept sports unique Red Rock-colored leather seats with gold stitching and a performance steering wheel.
Jeep Wrangler 4xe
Our last stop on the Jeep product tour was the first-ever plug-in hybrid Wrangler 4xe. This revolutionary Wranger features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, two electric motors, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The result is 375 horsepower, 470 lb-ft of torque, and an estimated 50 MPGe. The new hybrid Wrangler can run on electric power only for up to 25 miles, while the high torque output makes off-roading effortless. The goal was to electrify the model without making any sacrifices to its performance, on-road, or off. The 4xe marries hybrid efficiency and fun including offering a quick 0-60 time of 6 seconds.
One-of-a-kind styling elements include new 'Electric Blue' coloring on the front and rear tow hooks, as well as on the hood, Jeep badge, and the Trail Rated badge. Inside, the Wrangler 4xe Rubicon includes matching Electric Blue stitching on the seats and trim. A black hood decal is outlined in the exclusive color with “4xe” that lets the body color show through.
Ram 1500 TRX
Ram was the next stop on our tour which meant a closer look at the highly-anticipated 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. This high-speed off-roader gets a 74% new frame constructed from high-strength for extra durability and it also features an all-new unique suspension system with active damping inspired by desert off-roading. Perhaps the most important features on the new TRX, according to the Ram team, are new front and rear 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks. The exclusive system boosts capability by offering faster reaction time, damping, and improved heat dissipation for reaching off-road speeds over 100 mph.
The TRX makes an aggressive statement with an 88" wide body (8" wider than the standard Ram 1500), 18"x9" wheels with 35" All-Terrain tires, TRX exclusive tow hooks, a unique flow-through grille, and the performance hood scoop responsible for 50% of the air take. The TRX also gets unique skid plates, advanced forward-looking blacked-out headlamps, and functioning vent curtains.
The Ram TRX will be the quickest and most powerful truck on the market thanks to a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 engine mated to a high-torque-capacity eight-speed automatic transmission. The TRX is rated at 702 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. In addition to providing extreme off-road capability, the TRX will get up to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and gets a 0-100 mph in 10.5, reaching a top speed of 118 mph.
Driver selectable drive modes include Normal, Sport (which firms the suspension and quickens shifts), Snow, Mud/Sand, Custom, and Baja (which locks the transmission to keep the engine spinning at the optimal RPM, freeing up the suspension for tough off-road conditions).
Inside, the Ram TRX stands out just as much as on the exterior. The TR2 model displayed features black leather seats with a red accent package that offers red stitching, logos, and racing stripes. A carbon fiber package adds 12 unique carbon fiber accents throughout the interior. Inside, drivers will also find aluminum paddle shifters, performance pages, 8 drive modes, a unique instrument cluster with the TRX badge, a dual-pane sunroof, and a center console-mounted shifter.
After learning more about FCA's off-road-focused trucks and SUVs, we moved on to the muscle car portion of our product tour with Dodge's 2021 lineup. On-site we found the 2021 Challenger SRT Super Stock (the world's fastest and most powerful muscle car), the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat (the most powerful 3-row SUV), and the 2021 Charger SRT Red Eye (the fastest mass-produced sedan). At the core of all three models - performance, horsepower, grip, and handling.
Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock
The Challenger SRT's Super Stock package takes this muscle car up a notch or two to create the ultimate drag racer. The Super Stock uses the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 from the SRT Hellcat Redeye and tweaks the powertrain calibration to boost power output to a massive 807 horses. The result is a 0-60 mph in 3.25 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 10.5 seconds at 131 mph, and a top speed of 168 mph, making it the fastest and most powerful muscle car in the world. The widebody comes standard on this model which makes room for the bigger 18" x11" wheels.
Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
A muscle car disguised as a 3-row family SUV, the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat becomes the most powerful SUV ever. It used the 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat V8 engine paired with the quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission to offer 710 horsepower and 645 lb.-ft. of torque. The SRT Hellcat will be limited to the 2021 model year and gets a 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 11.5 seconds, and a 180 mph top speed. Aside from the impressive power and speed, the Durango out tows its class and even vehicles above its class. Durango SRT Hellcat, SRT 392, and R/T Tow N Go models offer a best-in-class towing capability of 8,700 pounds. A refreshed exterior sports thinner, more modern headlights, and the interior gets a slimmer center stack to make the cabin feel more spacious.
Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Red Eye
The final vehicle for the Dodge tour was the 2021 Charger SRT Red Eye, or as described by the Dodge team "a family sedan with the heart of a muscle car". Inspired by the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon, the Charger Redeye gets a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 for 797 horsepower and 707 lb.-ft. torque. A top speed of 203 mph, 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, and a quarter-mile time of 10.6 seconds at 129 mph make the Charger SRT Red Eye the fastest and most powerful mass-produced sedan on the market. Its widebody kit comes standard and offers room for the 20"x11" lightweight carbon black wheels.
For families that want a more traditional kid-hauler than the Dodge Durango SRT, FCA has the Chrysler Pacifica. This minivan gets redesigned with significant improvements for 2021, including the addition of AWD. Chrysler brought the Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid and the Pacifica Limited AWD models along to show off the new features.
The Pacifica is the first minivan to offer both a hybrid and gas model. The plug-in hybrid offers over 80 miles MPGe in electric-only mode, an all-electric range of more than 30 miles, and a total range of more than 500 miles. The gas-powered models now offer a fully-automated AWD system that can transfer all available engine torque to the rear wheels, or whichever wheels have more available traction. To improve efficiency, the system can sense and stop the driveshaft from spinning when AWD is not in use.
Also available in the Pacifica gas model are convenient Stow ‘n’ Go second-row seats that enable owners to use the floor to store gear and to fold the captain's chairs down completely. The Chrysler team describes the premium Pinnacle model as a "living room on wheels" offering exclusive features such as a new integrated Ultra console that flows into the instrument panel, and a new quilted Caramel Nappa leather interior.
While comfort, storage, and styling are important, safety is a top priority for Chrysler's redesigned minivan. The 2021 Pacifica offers families peace of mind with the most standard safety features in the industry. 14 freshly-added standard safety features include new LED lights and new Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking. Another handy feature for parents is a new FamCAM interior camera that provides a high-definition image including a view of rear-facing child seat occupants, split-view display, and a “zoom-to-seat” feature. Whether families are looking for all-weather capability with advanced AWD, a premium interior with ample storage, or an efficient family-hauler, the 2021 Pacifica lineup has something to offer.