How To Rebrand Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles: Dodge
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles has issues. The merged company has long not known what to do with the brands they own but the issue hit critical mass in June 2018. Some brands like Maserati got a plan that would help turn the direction it was headed in for the better. Other brands got plans that would help continue or add on to their current success. However, the brands that you could arguably say matter the most, Fiat & Chrysler, as well as Dodge, didn’t get plans that would showcase & ensure their future, rather laying the seeds for these brands demise. So this article is part two of an eight-part series, showcasing how I would position the brands the FCA owns to be more successful. Previously, I explained how to rebrand Jeep and Ram. This article is particularly about the brand that’s all performance, all the time. It’s time to join the Brotherhood of Muscle. It’s time to revise Dodge.
This is a brand that I’m going to love writing. Dodge already has a brand identity. It’s the brand with all-performance, all the time. It just needs to enforce and drive that point home in every model that it has. Become the home of the affordable driver's car. The brand that offers cars & C(S)UV’s to people that have a need for speed. A brand that’ll make more engaging vehicles for consumers who would rather one with spirit than rivals Honda, Toyota & Hyundai can offer. On another note, Dodge can get this type of brand “personality” or identity over in the American market better than a brand like Mazda. That said, they need to do one thing. Kill SRT.
Now before you come for me with pitchforks, let me explain. Yes, the Hellcats will remain. We are just killing SRT as it pertains to the Dodge brand. Trust me, it will return in a similar fashion to what the FCA did with it in 2013. By removing SRT from Dodge, it will remove confusion when the FCA reveals a new brand (wait for an upcoming article) and give more credence & relevance to the R/T line. Dodge has already started doing so as seen with the Challenger & Charger SRT 392 as they are now R/T Scat Packs. Sure the Dodge Durango foolishly threw an SRT badge on the performance version of that SUV. I understand it was to drive market interest but that’s why I’m starting this rebuild in 2019. So let’s go.
Charger & Challenger
In changing the Charger & Challenger, there are trim changes. A new SE trim will be at the bottom of the lineup, slotting below the SXT trim with a 2.0L Multi-Air I4 first introduced in part one of this article series. Making 230 HP, it’s a solid four-cylinder introduction to the lineup. The SXT introduces a new 3.0L V6 making 300 HP while the GT has a version of the V6 making 310 HP. The R/T now has a 5.7L HEMI V8 making 380 HP. AWD is now an option for the R/T trim and all trim levels below it. The R/T Scat Pack remains RWD with the 6.4L HEMI. The SRT Hellcat & SRT Hellcat Redeye trims are simply renamed the R/T Hellcat & R/T Hellcat Redeye. Specifically for the Charger, a track version is made similar to the Jaguar XE Project 8. If the Dodge Demon is the straight-line drag monster, the Dodge Charger R/T Hellcat Daytona is the unlikely track rat…cat. With a widebody & AWD paired to a Hellcat engine making 717 HP, it will be quite the car. An “Impel” package will be available as a luxury option for the GT and R/T trim levels excluding the Charger Redeye.
Dodge Durango SRT
The Durango is slightly different however as the trim levels shift downward. What I mean is this. The SXT Plus, GT Plus, Citadel & SRT trims get deleted but the Citadel name gets revived later as an actual model. The contents of the SXT Plus & GT Plus trims become the “Impel” luxury package for both the SXT & GT trim levels. A “Platinum” package is added available on GT trim levels incorporating what the Citadel trim level used to be. A SE trim-level slots in below the SXT, using a 3.0L V6 making 300 HP. The SXT trim-level gets a 310 HP version of this engine. The GT trim now becomes what the R/T trim used to be, housing the 5.7L HEMI V8 making 380 HP. And the R/T trim becomes what the SRT trim was. The 6.4L HEMI 392 V8 performance variant. And it will have the full 485 HP this time around. An R/T Hellcat trim also comes featuring the 707 HP beast of an engine.
The Dodge Journey gets continued into the 2019 model year with changes made to iron things out. All FWD versions get wiped from the lineup like the Thanos snap, ensuring the remaining AWD versions take center stage. The SE trim stays but its engines are different. The 2.0L I4 making 230 HP takes center stage. The SXT trim gets the 300 HP 3.0L V6. The Crossroad trim dies but the name will return as an actual model. Replaced by the GT trim, this trim level gets an optional “Impel” package & a 5.7L HEMI V8 making 360 HP. A new R/T trim comes in with a new 6.0L HEMI V8 (also from the previous article) making 440 HP & behind the scenes SRT goodies. Third-row seating is available on all models.
The Grand Caravan also gets killed as a model, replaced in 2020 by a new, redesigned Grand Caravan based on the new Pacifica platform. Using both the 250 HP 2.0L I4 & the 300 HP 3.0L V6, it’ll have to do, for now.
2020 also brings about other changes for the brand. All newly redesigned vehicles are designed & engineered with driver’s dynamics in mind. Having fresher styling & more of a focus on driver fun, the interior quality is also raised. Essentially, vehicles the driver could have fun in. Driver’s cars. With that in mind, the Dodge Raider comes back to compete as a Chevy Trax, Toyota CH-R & Ford Ecosport sized CUV. Using a 1.4L I4 making 190 HP, it’ll have SE, SE Hybrid, SXT Hybrid, GT & R/T trim levels. The hybrid trim levels will have 200 HP. And the R/T trim level will have a 2.0L I4 making 210 HP. An “Impel” package will be available as a luxury option for the GT and R/T trim levels. The GT gets a performance package, increasing HP by 5, but adding suspension enhancements.
The Dodge Caliber also makes its comeback as a BMW X1 sized CUV. A new 2.0L Multi-Air I4 making 230 HP mated to an 8-speed automatic is utilized. Trim levels include the base SE, SE Hybrid, SXT, SXT Hybrid, GT and the R/T range-topper. Hybrids make 240 HP. The GT gets a new 3.0L V6 making 300 HP and a performance package that increases handling potential. An “Impel” package will be available as a luxury option for the GT and R/T trim levels. The R/T trim will use a supercharged version of the V6, making 380 HP.
In the middle of 2020, the Dodge Nitro gets reintroduced into the lineup as a BMW X3 sized, five-passenger CUV. Trim levels include the base SE, SE Hybrid, SXT, SXT Hybrid, GT & R/T trim levels. The base trim levels use a 2.0L Multi-Air I4 making 250 HP and mated to an 8-speed automatic. Hybrids make 260 HP. A 3.0L V6 making 340 HP is optional. The GT gets a 6.4L HEMI V8 making 470 HP. The R/T gets a tuned version of the 6.4L HEMI making 505 HP. An “Impel” package will be available as a luxury option for the GT and R/T trim levels. A limited run R/T Daytona utilizes a supercharged 550 HP 6.4L V8.
The Dodge Journey bumps up in size as the Nitro replaced it. In doing so, it becomes a legit seven-passenger, three-row CUV, taking the Durango’s place in the lineup. Also new is a two-row, five-passenger sibling of the same size called the Dodge Crossroad. I told you the name would come back. The engines of the new Journey/Crossroad carry over from the 2019 Durango as a gift to officially fill in the big boy shoes, as do the trim levels. The SE, SE Hybrid, SXT, and SXT Hybrid trims get a 3.0L V6 making 310 HP or 320 HP in Hybrid trim. The GT trim makes 485 HP from a 6.4L HEMI V8. The R/T makes 580 HP from a supercharged 6.4L HEMI V8. The R/T Hellcat makes 707 HP. An “Impel” package will be available as a luxury option for the GT and R/T trim levels.
Potential Dodge Durango
The new Durango fills in a segment that Dodge has not had an actual answer for in a while, if ever. Available in regular & long-wheelbase versions, it’ll be the competitor for the Chevy Tahoe & Suburban. The Durango will also have a sibling in the form of the Dodge Citadel *wink*. The Durango and Citadel are both available in SE, SE Hybrid, SXT, SXT Hybrid, GT & R/T. The long-wheelbase version shares all trim levels. The base engine is a supercharged 3.0L V6 making 380 HP. The GT trim level uses a 500 HP version of the 6.4L HEMI V8. The R/T trim gets a supercharged 6.4L HEMI V8 making 590 HP. The Citadel & Durango in regular wheelbase gets an R/T Hellcat trim level making 707 HP. An “Impel” package will be available as a luxury option for the GT and R/T trim levels.
A new Grand Caravan is also introduced as the world’s first driver-oriented minivan. With its muscular styling, Dodge could even make a marketing slogan along the lines of, “The Minivan you want to take to the track.” But it will undoubtedly be, the world’s fastest minivan. That claim is made possible due to being available only in AWD and its engines. The SE & SE Hybrid, SXT, and SXT Hybrid all start out with 300 HP from a 3.0L V6. The GT trim comes with a 3.0L V6 making 320 HP. The R/T trim makes 340 HP from a twin-turbo 3.0L V6. Why? Because this is Dodge. We toned down the insanity, we didn’t eliminate it.
Repositioning the lineup with SUVs first ensures the SUV-apocalypse doesn’t kill the brand rebuild prematurely for solely having cars in sales. However, the old cars need to get a proper send-off first. The year is 2023 and everything with a Hellcat motor gets a Final Edition 797 production car run. Final editions are available with all performance and luxury options standard. All vehicles with the 6.4L HEMI V8 get a final edition run of 600 cars. The supercharged 3.0L V6 also gets a 380 car final production run on the Jeep Renegade Trackhawk. This is to officially send off all the good, iconic engines with a bang and replace them with new, better engines. The Gen 3 HEMI V8’s slowly get phased out for the new, more fuel-efficient & powerful Gen 4 HEMI V8 engine family. Used in various light and heavy-duty applications, the new 5.0L, 6.0L, 6.2L & 7.0L engines are the centerfold in all-new Dodge, Jeep & Ram products. All engines will take a more European approach to engineer, using lower displacement and better tech to squeeze out more power. Active fuel management, cylinder deactivation & other technology to improve fuel economy while retaining American muscle. A heavily revised 1.4L I4, 2.0L I4 & 3.0L V6 also get rolled out as the new engines. Uconnect 9 debuts as well and even though it has the same name as its predecessor, it’s a radically different & wildly improved infotainment system. Standard interior quality is also greatly improved, and the Impel luxury package will actually be a significant upgrade, throwing the Dodge lineup into BMW territory without the price whenever a vehicle is equipped with it.
Because of these changes, the rest of the lineup fills in its blanks with upgraded interior quality, infotainment systems, and the new engines. The new 1.4L replaces the old 1.4L on the Raider, making 200 HP in SE, SE Hybrid, SXT, and SXT Hybrid trim levels. The GT trim receives the 2.0L I4 making the same 205 HP as the 1.4L it replaced but makes more torque and produces better fuel economy. The R/T trim level also gets the new 2.0L I4, still making 210 HP but also boasting improved torque & fuel economy. The Caliber also gets the new 2.0L I4, pumping out 240 HP. Mated to an 8-speed automatic, the new engine delivers more torque & better fuel economy. The GT trim level gets the new 3.0L V6, making 305 HP, more torque & better MPG. The R/T trim level replaces the old 5.7L HEMI V8 with a new Twin Turbo 3.0L V6 making 380 HP. An electric turbo reduces lag while torque figures match the old V8. However, MPG is up significantly. The Nitro also receives the new 2.0L I4, making 260 HP in this configuration. A twin-turbo 360 HP 3.0L V6 is standard on the GT trim, replacing the 6.4L HEMI. The R/T replaces the supercharged 6.4L HEMI with the new 6.0L HEMI V8 making 515 HP in this configuration. The Journey & Crossroad receive a Twin-turbo 3.0L V6 making 360 HP. This is the standard engine for SE, SE Hybrid, SXT, and SXT Hybrid trims. The GT trim receives the 490 HP 6.0L HEMI. The R/T trim gets the 6.2L Twin-Turbo HEMI V8 making 680 HP using an electric turbocharger to defeat turbo-lag and deliver a lot of torque. The Durango & Citadel offer the 3.0L V6 on the base SE & SE Hybrid, making 320 HP. The SXT & SXT Hybrid trim levels offer a 5.0L HEMI V8 making 360 HP. A 6.0L HEMI making 490 HP is offered on the GT trim. The R/T offers the 6.2L Twin-Turbo HEMI V8 making 680 HP, but only on the more balanced & off-road/track-capable Citadel. The Durango has to “live” with a potent Twin-Turbo 6.0L HEMI V8 making 590 HP.
Adding Cars and a Snake...
Keeping the muscular styling cues, the all-new Charger debuts upon a new, more corner ready platform. The Dodge Magnum also returns as a station wagon sibling on the same platform. Introduced in 2023 as a 2024 model, the SE base trim comes with the 2.0L I4 making 240 HP mated to a 10-speed automatic. An SE plug-in Hybrid trim level will make a solid 250 HP. The SXT uses a Twin-Turbo 3.0L V6, making 360 HP. An SXT plug-in hybrid trim pops in above it, receiving no power gains but improved fuel economy. The GT trim level receives a 6.0L HEMI making 490 HP. AWD is available for all trim-levels below the R/T. The R/T trim level is the hellcat replacement, making less than the 707 HP car it replaces. But such is the world in 2023. And I’d rather a turbo 600 HP V8 than no V8 at all. The 6.2L Twin-Turbo HEMI V8 makes 680 HP using an electric turbocharger to defeat turbo-lag and deliver a lot of torque. A limited production run Charger R/T Super Bee will happen. The track-focused variant will include a 7.0L “Hot V” Twin-Turbo HEMI V8 making 616 HP in this configuration. A dry-sump set-up, this engine will only be used in select cars as a specialty engine. Paired to an AWD system, this car will be absolutely lethal around the track. A manual is optional as is a weight reduction package. These will be sold very similarly to how Volvo sells Polestars, with only 50-100 made a year.
Slotting below the Charger & Magnum, we have the Dodge Avenger in sedan, coupe, convertible and station wagon form. It’ll have muscular styling but it will be a drivers car. Think Camaro SS 1LE handling prowess. Using the 2.0L I4 to make 280 HP, it will be paired to an 8-speed automatic. The I4 will cover the SE, SE Hybrid, SXT & SXT Hybrid trim levels. The Twin-Turbo 3.0L V6 will make 400 HP, also mated to the 8-speed for the GT trim. The R/T trim comes with a 6.0L HEMI making 515 HP & mated to an 8-speed automatic.
Slotting below the Avenger as the last car on the lineup, we have the Dodge Dart. The Dart is configurable in Coupe, Convertible, Sedan, Station Wagon, and two & four-door hatchback variants. And all Darts will come with 4WD. A fun driver's car, the Dart would come with the 1.4L I4 making 200 HP. This would be standard equipment on the SE, SE Hybrid, SXT, & SXT Hybrid trim levels. The GT trim level borrows the 2.0L I4 from the Avenger, making 280 HP. The R/T trim uses a Turbocharged version of the 2.0L I4, making 380 HP. A 6-speed manual is optional. An ACR version is also available with no horsepower increase but an assortment of suspension upgrades. However, it’s a trim level that will only be available on the sedan & station wagon. A lightweight package is available for ACR buyers wanting an extreme experience.
With that covered, the Dodge Challenger makes its debut in mid-2024 as a 2025 model. Retaining its retro-styling, this muscle car is on a diet. It’s a serious handler now. The challenger is still, however, a very capable drag car, as not to estrange a customer demographic. It also finally has a convertible version. A 2.0L I4 making 280 HP is standard on the SE trim levels. The SXT trim uses a 3.0L V6 making 360 HP. The GT trim level receives a 6.0L HEMI making 490 HP. The GT also comes with a 1320 package meant for quarter-mile runs. AWD is available for all trim-levels below the R/T. The R/T trim also replaces the Hellcat with a 6.2L Twin-Turbo HEMI V8 making 680 HP using an electric turbocharger to defeat turbo-lag and deliver a lot of torque. Slotting above the R/T is the R/T Scat Pack, using a “Hot V” set-up, making 727 HP. There is also a limited run Challenger T/A, a track-focused variant making 616 HP using a 7.0L “Hot V” Twin-Turbo HEMI V8 using a dry-sump configuration. It will slot right between the GT and R/T.
Of course, every brand needs a halo car. After a seven-year hiatus, the Viper returns as a proper supercar this brand needs, roadster included. It’s gonna make some mad that a manual transmission is not available for the Viper, as it would hurt performance and fuel economy, but however, would come with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. Paddle shifters standard. The engine is a big factor however, with major engineering done to make the engine as fuel-efficient as possible. It will use a 5.5L HEMI V10 with slight hybrid technology incorporated, but not in the traditional way. Taking a page out of Lexus’s playbook, the 5.5L V10 will operate on the Atkinson cycle when cruising to save on fuel, changing back to the traditional Otto cycle to improve performance. An aluminum engine block with gold-lined cylinder sleeves for faster cylinder movement, titanium valves, forged connecting rods and an air-cooled oil-cooler for durability. It should be a 2+2 sports car with 50/50 weight distribution. Trim levels should start with the base GT making 560 HP. It's available with a TA package. The GTS significantly increases power to 650 HP. There's also a limited run GTS-R, keeping the same amount of ponies but turning the performance-tuned suspension up and going half shovel. The R/T adds more luxury features to the viper. The ACR returns as the range-topper, including a supercharged version of the engine making 760 HP, available with a sequential transmission, and gone full shovel. AND A NURBURGRING LAP RECORD SHOULD BE THE GOAL!!! The Viper will keep that muscular yet classic styling.
From here, Dodge is a solid, well-rounded brand that will have a future for years to come. In another article, ill explore what should happen to SRT.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Joshua Nightshade