2017 Chrysler Portal Concept
Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show turns up some outlandish but cool technology or conceptual technology that could one day be in our future. This year, Chrysler showed up on the scene with a new concept known as the Chrysler Portal – a vehicle that Chrysler claims is “designed to keep the driver and passengers connected to each other, to the vehicle and to the surrounding world.” The Concept was built, in part, with Panasonic, and uses the brand’s Cognitive Infotainment platform as a foundation for the technology contained within. To put it simply, the concept car showcases a future for vehicles where device sharing, social media interaction, and individual recognition of passengers is commonplace.
On the outside, this concept looks oddly familiar to the Volkswagen ID concept – at least as far as generalized design goes, while the interior is wildly futurist and looks like something straight out of Star Trek. With touch panels and a massive display suppressing the need for mechanical buttons to go with a two-handled steering wheel, this thing is quite literally a space shuttle on wheels. The only thing it’s missing is a self-sustaining atmosphere, an impulse drive, and gravity plating. Otherwise, this thing could be shipped off to space for an interplanetary joyride.
Okay, in all seriousness, we’re still a ways off from that, but this concept does showcase a unique interpretation to technology, future vehicles, and perhaps a future where autonomous cars don’t actually take away our ability to manually drive a vehicle, should we choose to do so. So, let’s take a quick walk down the page and see what all the hype is about.
5G Cellular Networks are Bringing Automotive Competitors Together
4G hotspots in cars haven’t really been around that long, but it has already had a major impact on our daily commutes. It allows all of the semi-autonomous cars out there to communicate, and it has become the basis for Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) communication that has helped to shape our future autonomous car network. Cars like the Tesla Model S can receive OTA updates, while kids can watch Netflix, and your creepy uncle can watch porn in the back seat during family road trips. In the grand scheme of things, we haven’t had 4G very long, but 5G mobile networks are on the horizon, and it’s a pretty big deal. Not only for those of us who are stuck to our cell phones 24/7, but for our cars as well. And that’s exactly why Audi, BMW, and Daimler AG, along with various tech companies, have formed the “5G Automotive Association.”
In partnership with Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, and Qualcomm, the aforementioned luxury automakers believe 5G networks will open the door for better support in C-V2X communications and connected mobility solutions. As such, these tech and automotive companies are looking to work together by defining and harmonizing use cases, technical requirements, and implementation strategies; supporting standardization and regulatory bodies, certification and approval processes; addressing vehicle-to-everything technology requirements, such as wireless connectivity, security, privacy, authentication, distributed cloud architectures and more; and running joint innovation and development projects leading to integrated solutions, interoperability testing, large-scale pilots and trial deployments.
Alfons Pfaller, the Head of Infotainment Development for Audi AG, said, "Connected cars will shape the future of individual mobility, and next generation mobile networks will take car to X connectivity to a new level. The key to success is in cross-industry collaboration. This is why we set up the 5G Automotive Association where experts from all relevant fields are teaming up." And Sajjad Khan, the Director of Digital Vehicle and Mobility for Daimler AG, said, "The connected car enables us to offer our customers services, both inside and outside the vehicle, which make their daily routine tasks easier, increase comfort and safety and thus create considerable added value. The fundamental basis for this is a reliable and fast connectivity technology whose standards have global validity."
So what does all this mean to you? Keep reading to find out.
1946 - 1949 Chrysler Town & Country Convertible
Although the Chrysler Town & Country is mostly known as the minivan that the company launched in 1989 as a more luxurious alternative to the popular Dodge Caravan, the nameplate was originally used on a station wagon. First introduced in 1940 as a four-door, eight-passenger hauler, it was maintained in production for no fewer than eight generations, until 1988. However, while all generations of the Town & Country were station wagons of various sizes, the first-generation model also had sedan and convertible models. The drop-top was offered for the 1946 to 1949 model years.
The first-gen was launched in 1940, but production was discontinued after the 1942 model year due to the U.S. entering World War II. The marque was revived in 1945, but the station wagon was dropped, being replaced by two cars – a four-door sedan and a two-door convertible. The sedan was discontinued in 1948 and the convertible ceased to exist in 1949. For 1950, the final model year of the Town & Country, Chrysler sold the nameplate as a two-door coupe only. Beginning with the 1951 model year, all Town & Country vehicles were station wagons until 1988, when Chrysler decided to use the name for the minivan we all know today.
The Town & Country Convertible was one of the most luxurious vehicles when it was introduced in 1945. Priced from $2,743 in its first year, almost as much as a Cadillac, with only the Crown Imperial being costlier, the drop-top had a beautifully appointed interior and one of the best looking wood body panels. It also featured Chrysler’s most potent engine at the time. Only some 8,700 examples were built, making it one of the rarest and most sought-after American classics.
Continue reading to learn more about the Chrysler Town & Country.
The Ghia L6.4 was just about as exclusive as you could get in the 1960s, as it was designed and built only for actors and other high rollers in Hollywood. The final of the 26 Ghia L6.4s ever built was built for one of the largest stars of that era, Dean Martin. Martin was not the only Rat Pack member to own a L6.4, as Frank Sinatra also owned one, as did other Rat Pack members.
Recently, one of the 26 Ghia L6.4s built, the one owned by Dean Martin, was put up for auction on eBay as Hyman Ltd. got its hands on Martin’s old L6.4. For a car of its age, the modern features are plentiful, but it still wasn’t enough for Dean Martin, as he shipped the car off to George Barris, “Hollywood’s King of the Kustomizers,” to have even more customizations performed on this already rare vehicle. This customization turned Martin’s L6.4 into a one-of-a-kind vehicle.
Update 08-19-2016: This article has been updated with new images from RM Sotheby’s Auction at Monterey Car Week in 2016.
Click past the jump to read the full review on this vehicle and see how it has held up throughout the years.
Hackers Have Stolen More Than 30 Jeeps and Have Finally Been Arrested
A while back news surface of high-tech thieves that managed to steal a Jeep in a matter of minutes. So far, the tally of Jeeps stolen by hackers in the Houston area has risen to more than 30, but Local police have finally caught up with these two hackers and have arrested them. As reported by local media outlet ABC 13, the local police had been aware of the robberies, but until a home surveillance video caught the thieves in the act, they had very little to go by.
The two that have been arrested go by the names Michael Arcee and Jesse Zelaya, but local police say there is a possibility that they aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the vulnerability. According to the report, the hackers were using pirated software to infiltrate the vehicle’s built-in security system and bypass it. This enabled them to start the vehicle and roll away in as little as six minutes. It’s not exactly like Gone in 60 Seconds, but six minutes isn’t very long either. According to HPD, the jeeps were being stolen and smuggled into Mexico.
It is important to note that outside of the Pirated software, the hackers also had to gain entry into the vehicle without setting off the alarm. Most stock alarm systems are set to only go off if the door is opened from the interior after it has been locked, so to prevent that the thieves either climbed through a broken window or the vehicles were unlocked – the latter of which is the most likely scenario. Once they were in, it is safe to assume the laptop was plugged into the OBDII diagnostics port with a simple USB adapter available at multiple online outlets. The software that was used is still unknown at this time, but it’s safe to assume that it was likely FCA internal software that was stolen at one point or another.
Keep reading for the rest of the story.
Has FCA been Reporting Fraudulent Sales Performance Reports to Investors?
Back in January of 2016, a civil lawsuit was filed against FCA by dealers in Illinois and Florida that claimed FCA was using dirty reporting tactics to pad its sales numbers. The suit came after FCA posted record sales numbers for December of 2015, and has finally garnered a lot of attention. According to Bloomberg, FCA is now being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission over the alleged sales padding scheme.
The suit filed back in January claims that FCA was paying dealers to create false delivery reports, which in turn, made it look like the brand was selling way more vehicles than it really was. There was also a similar lawsuit filed previously by a Maserati dealership, which also claimed FCA was paying its dealers to pad their sales numbers. According to Bloomberg, Fiat Chrysler announced that “an internal investigation concluded the padding allegations were baseless and the lawsuit was nothing more than the product of two disgruntled dealers” as early as January 14, 2015, but that wasn’t enough to keep investigators off their back.
In fact, multiple media outlets are reporting that the FBI and SEC hasn’t only raided FCA offices, but the homes of staff as well. According to Automotive News, Federal staff attorneys paid a visit to FCA headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan on July 11 and that employees were advised not to speak with investigators without counsel present. These allegations of performance padding, should they turn out to be true, could be a massive blow for FCA and could turn out to be the next big automotive scandal.
Keep reading to learn about what this means to FCA and why it is such a big deal.
FCA Boss Hints At Front-Wheel-Drive System For The Next-Gen Chrysler 300
Intentional or not, FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne has hinted on a significant change for the next-generation Chrysler 300, one that involves a shift to front-wheel drive for the traditionally rear-wheel drive full-sized luxury sedan. Marchionne made the comments during the Chrysler Pacifica’s launch in Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario production facility.
The FCA boss stopped short of confirming his comments when asked to clarify on them. He likely realized that his words could be taken out of context so instead, he clarified that the Windsor facility is “capable” of making a production run since it’s possible to use the underpinnings of the Pacifica for the next-generation 300. The facility in Ontario will be the production base of the new minivan and while it would be interesting to see a front-wheel drive 300, Chrysler signing off on such a proposal could entail moving the production of the 300 from its current facility in Brampton, Ontario. The proximity between the two facilities – around 217 miles – could make for an easy transition and would see the 300 leave behind the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger in the Brampton facility.
That said, Marchionne’s comments should be taken with a grain of salt considering that he set the record straight, saying his comments shouldn’t be treated as a commitment to a dramatic shift in production strategy. But it does open the possibility of seeing the next-generation 300 come with a front-wheel-drive configuration. Having that should equate to a more refined driving experience, improved fuel economy, and a bigger and more efficient use of interior space, three characteristics that are likely to be high on the checklist of prospective customers for the next-generation 300.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
April Fools’ 2016 – Recap
These days, it can be a little tricky figuring out when something is real and when someone is just messing with you. Sometimes it’s obvious, but other circumstances warrant a careful second look. That’s doubly the case on April 1st. Of course, the auto industry loves chain yanking, but when you have 1,500-horsepower production cars and Maserati SUVs running around, it’s always a good idea to double check. But don’t worry – we found the best automotive April Fools’ pranks, and we assembled them all right here for you in this recap.
Included is a driverless RV, a pair of highly desirable Minis, a kinetically powered Vauxhall, a very expressive Honda, a smoke machine Nissan cargo van, and Lexus’ latest interior upgrade, not to mention the hottest minivan to ever grace a suburban driveway. In fact, looking over a few of these “jokes,” I can’t help but see some excellent real-world applications…
Continue reading for a recap of April Fools’ 2016.
Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat Canceled, FCA Reports
Just hours after TopSpeed broke the news that FCA would be building a 707-horsepower minivan, the automaker has abruptly canceled the project. The news comes from a company insider close to the action. “I just know it’s not happening,” the unnamed source said.
Answers unfolded when we contacted Mike Manley, the global head of both Ram and Jeep brands, about the cancellation. “Honestly, I can’t have the Chrysler guys using my Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powertrain and stealing my customers away. The Jeep project was started first, plus I’m not allowing the Pacifica to make my Jeep look slow!”
While this sort of inter-company drama is rarely leaked to the media, it makes sense for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk to reside atop the Hellcat heap. Such a vehicle would further boost the Jeep brand’s market presence in preparation for the upcoming Grand Wagoneer launch. That high-end, ultra-luxurious SUV is set to compete with the Cadillac Escalade and BMW X5. FCA would be foolish to thwart its own progress.
Speaking of being foolish, you, our loyal readers, might be considered one should you believe any of this. Yep, happy April Fools day. And no, FCA is not building a Pacifica Hellcat – and it never was. (At least to our knowledge!) We also never had a “candid conversation” with Ralph Gilles, though we’d never turn down the opportunity. We hope you had as much fun reading these jestful Pacifica Hellcat stories as we had writing them.
Continue reading to see our full coverage of the Pacifica Hellcat joke.
The Pacifica Hellcat – Industry Game Changer Or Inevitability?
At this point, you’ve no doubt heard the news that Chrysler is cramming the supercharged Hellcat V-8 into its Pacifica minivan, while also adding AWD, performance suspension, and all the accompanying bells and whistles needed to harness such prodigious output. While it might seem a bit crazy at first blush, we should have seen it coming.
I’ll explain. These days, high-level performance is available in just about every shape and size imaginable. Sure, you still have the traditional lead-sled muscle cars and nippy track carvers – those never went away. But if you look around, you’ll also notice 200-mph luxury cruisers, hot rod SUVs, and all-electric super sedans. With that in mind, the Pacifica Hellcat actually makes sense.
Which raises a few very interesting questions – what should we expect from the competition, and more importantly, what will the future of performance vehicles look like now that the Pacifica Hellcat is a reality?
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat Test Mule Spotted
As Chrysler gears up to release the new Hellcat-powered Pacifica later this year, our spy photographers managed to snag a shot of a pre-production mule undergoing road tests just outside FCA’s Auburn Hills headquarters. While the mule lacks a few of the aerodynamic enhancements we expect to see on the finalized design, the plus-sized wheels and meaty tires are clear indicators of the van’s sporting intentions.
For now, it looks like the tester is equipped with lightweight, five-spoke rollers wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero rubber. Our photographer also managed to catch the tire sizing – 265/40/R22, leading us to believe the Pacifica Hellcat may get larger-diameter wheels than its Charger and Challenger siblings. Looking at the slim fender gap, it’s also obvious this tester is equipped with the Hellcat’s upgraded suspension package, which means Chrysler is already looking into real-world NVH development.
Hopefully, we’ll get to see the supercharged minivan undergoing furthering testing at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds soon, which should point to a timeframe for the debut of Chrysler’s latest performance model.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is building a Hellcat-powered Pacifica minivan! That’s what Ralph Gilles, FCA’s Head of Design, tells TopSpeed in an exclusive phone interview. The automaker, with the help of SRT’s engineering team, will produce the heavily modified family-hauler for the 2017 model year.
You may recall Gilles’ January Instagram post of a hand-drawn sketch showing a low-slung
looking vehicle with low-profile tires on large wheels and pronounced aerodynamic features. The post, which has received more than 700 likes and 60 comments, started the Pacifica Hellcat rumors.
“The Instagram post was something done in pure fun over dinner,” Gilles said in the phone interview. “But it quickly turned into something else. It made the email rounds here at the office and soon ended up in Sergio’s inbox.” Gilles laughed, saying he thought he was in trouble when FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne called him into his office. “Mr. Marchionne didn’t sound amused when he paged me, but when I walked in his office, he had my sketch printed out. ‘Can you build it?’ he asked. I told him ‘absolutely.’” Gilles admitted the project requires a sizeable investment, both in cash and engineering hours.
SRT’s engineering team is handling the project. The Pacifica‘s chassis is being completely reworked in order to fit the Hellcat V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission, and AWD configuration. Gilles says the powertrain is borrowed from the upcoming Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – itself a Hellcat-powered SUV with AWD.
Though the final design hasn’t been set in stone, Gilles did give us a few ideas how the high-powered minivan will look. “It’s the perfect sleeper,” he chuckled during the candid conversation. We then had our in-house designer construct what the Pacifica Hellcat might look like. There’s also more details about the vehicle past the page break.
Continue reading to learn more about the Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat.
What is the Least Expensive Chrysler?
Chrysler’s cheapest vehicle used to be the 200 sedan, but that car went belly up in 2017. It was a decent car, but Chrysler’s poor build quality (just ask 300 owners about clunky front ends and constantly failing, $100, HID headlights) and lack of differentiation in design amongst models eventually led to the car’s demise. Today, the cheapest Chrysler you can get is the entry-level Pacifica, which starts out at $26,985 – not even $3,000 less than the entry-level Chrysler 300 sedan.
What is the Sportiest Chrysler?
Since Chrysler fancies itself as an entry-level luxury automaker, the brand doesn’t know the slightest about “sporty.” The only model that even comes close is the Chrysler 300C, but it looks more like a luxury sedan with cues stolen from a 2000’s Bentley and hair of German DNA hidden here and there. The only thing that helps its case is the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 under the hood that’s good for 363 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. It tops out at 149 mph and will get to 60 mph in just over six seconds. Of course, this is actually kind of amazing considering how boxy it is and the fact that it weighs nearly 4,400 pounds. It’s not exactly a corner bender, either, so it might be quick in a straight line and is RWD, but that’s about all it has going for it.
What is the Most Popular Chrysler?
The most popular Chrysler model is the Pacifica Minivan. For that last two years, Chrysler has managed to more than 118,000 examples of the Pacifica each year (double what it sold in 2016.) Its only runner up; the 300 sedan, saw sales figures of 46,593 in 2018, which accounts for the sixth year in a row that its sales have declined. At this rate, the Pacifica won’t only be the most popular Chrysler; it’ll be the only Chrysler. In the mid-2000s, Chrysler was able to move more than half a million vehicles each year. Today, its total sales, two-thirds of which come from the Pacific, totaled just 165,964 models for 2018, and that’s down from 188k the year before, 239k the year before that, and more than 300,000 in the years before that.
What is the Most Expensive Chrysler Model
Chrysler’s most expensive vehicle is the Pacifica Hybrid in limited trim. That’s the range-topping hybrid model and comes with an MSRP of $45,795 – just shy of $6,000 more than the entry-level Pacific Hybrid at $39,995. The range-topping Pacific Limited (non-hybrid) comes close at $44,695 while the Chrysler 300C – the range-topping 300 model – comes in at $41,945.
What is the Fastest Chrysler
No surprises here – the fastest Chrysler is the 300C sedan with the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that delivers a reasonable 363 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. It’ll hit 60 mph in around six seconds and tops out at below 150 mph. You didn’t think we’d say the Pacifica, did you?
Are Chryslers Reliable?
Chrysler’s have a bad rapport for being poorly put together, clunky, and generally undependable. And, rightfully so, the last-gen 300C had a horrible front suspension design that was always clunky and the whole headlight fiasco with HID ballasts failing once a month made things worse. Today, however, Chrysler is ranked No. 17 by J.D Power in its yearly, 2019 vehicle dependability study. That places it in the middle of the pack and one spot higher than Ford (sorry Ford guys) but below other industry leaders like Lexus, Porsche, Toyota, Buick, Mini, and even Volkswagen and Subaru. On that note, it’s the highest-ranking FCA company, however, with Jeep, Ram, Dodge, and Fiat falling much lower on the list. Fiat, for example, is ranked worst at No. 32. When you have only two models in your lineup, you kind of have to build reliable vehicles, right?
As far as cost of ownership goes, Repair Pal ranks the Chrysler brand, as a whole, at four out of five stars. It reports that the average annual repair costs only amounts to $531 — $100 below average – while the frequency of unscheduled repairs among all Chryslers on the road is 0.3 times per year. Only 11-percent of Chrysler’s unscheduled repairs are said to be severe. Perhaps Chrysler has made some improvement over the last decade.