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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Return of the Avenger

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Revived Avenger Takes Charger Cues in Sheetmetal and Hobbies: Avenger Race Car Part of 2007 NASCAR Car of Tomorrow Program
At the 2006 Paris auto show, Dodge showed off an Avenger Concept. At the time, we offered up our first impressions of the new sedan (click here for our story). A mere four months later, Dodge revealed the production version at the 2007 North American International Auto Show. Avenger is important to the Dodge franchise and promises to be a far better competitor than the defunct Stratus was in its end days, but VehicleVoice readers will not be surprised that the Avenger name replaces Stratus, or that the production car is much like the concept, minus the concept’s SRT-like bodywork.

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Dodge also reinforced their commitment to motorsports with a Car of Tomorrow Avenger NASCAR also on stage. NASCAR driver Kurt Bush helped Dodge introduce the updated Viper, but Juan Pablo Montoya was on hand to help introduce the racing Avenger.
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Dodge needs Avenger to play an important role in its car lineup, replacing the Stratus, which dropped after the 2006 model year. Despite initial comments about some confusion in its styling details, the Avenger is more successful at incorporating the Dodge family elements than the Sebring is for Chrysler, but that would not have been difficult. The two share nearly the same overall dimensions, but Avenger’s Charger-inspired shoulders give the rear a more finished look than the truncated Sebring’s short deck allows. Avenger’s competition will include the Ford Fusion, Saturn Aura, and Chevrolet’s all-new 2008 Malibu (also revealed this January in Detroit), as well as the older Mazda6 and the even less expensive Kia Optima. The mid-size sedan segment has historically been highly competitive, and the 2007/2008 model years are no easier. The Detroit reveal gives us the chance to bring you more details on the production car and its available equipment, but in February we’ll have our first driving impressions.
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2007 Detroit Auto Show: 2008 Dodge Magnum

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Lose the Cartoon, Keep the Attitude
Three years ago, Dodge brought American muscle to a wagon at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. In the best Dodge fashion, the Magnum arrived with a tough, mean look; made no apologies for being either pure American muscle or for being a wagon; and we loved it, though its personality was never subtle or refined. Three years later, Dodge introduces a new face that adds sophistication without losing its edge. The changes for 2008 are minor in nature may not sound all that significant. But the result is a vehicle with some style and grace added to its edge.

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Though sales don’t begin until later in the year, an updated Magnum was but one of Dodge’s reveals at the 2007 Detroit auto show. Magnum keeps its goodness, including the HEMI V8 with cylinder deactivation in the R/T and the grocery-getter/weekend racer in the 425HP SRT8, but trades in some of the cartoon aspects of its pumped-up look for a more sophisticated approach. There is a smoother, cleaner look for the standard cars and the dad-racer SRT8. The Magnum has grown up, while keeping its devilish personality.
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Family Face Updated
New headlights and hood allow for a raised-eyebrow look similar to the Charger sedan and all-new Avenger, with creases in the hood also reminiscent of Charger, for the basic Magnum range. Combined with the subtly redesigned lower fascia, the changes allow for a less clumsy face. The new wider grille is every bit as aggressive as before. The new chrome accents below the headlights are just enough to brighten the face. The SRT8 also gets a new grille, redesigned hood, and front fascia. The new hood scoop on SRT8 is functional as well as adding to its take-no-prisoners look.
Redesigned Interior Continues Upscale March
The interior has been redesigned as well, with what Dodge calls a more driver-oriented layout. The chrome rings around the gauges are among the elements that give the interior a more upscale look, versus the overdone thick chrome rings they replaced. SRT8 models get the new ambient LED cupholder and door-map pocket lighting standard, while that new feature is optional for the rest of the range. The SRT8 now boasts a ReConfigurable Display in the cluster for getting instant feedback on just how fast you got around that autocross course, or maybe more likely, to the grocery store and back.
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2007 Detroit Auto Show: 2008 Dodge Viper

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Damn the Torpedoes!
What do you do to improve an icon like the Dodge Viper? More Power. How do you do it? Displacement. While not rocket science, the formula fits the vehicle (and the brand).

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With all the subtlety of a jack hammer at a wedding, Dodge revealed in the 2008 Viper SRT-10 at Detroit’s Cobo Hall at the 2007 North American International Auto Show. After a rock and roll opening that included the 1964 Kinks hit “You Really Got Me”, the press was treated to “Even more venom” in the 2008 Viper.
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Blowing Off the Lot – the Hot Sellers

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Since we have identified the vehicles that have the longest days supply, we have been asked to show which vehicles have the shortest days supply. Which vehicles are so hot they just blow off the dealer’s lot? As with the slower moving vehicles where we arbitrarily cut off the days supply at 150 days, here we are using 50 days as the cut off point. The details are shown “below the fold”


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Stuck to the Dealer's Floor – Inventory Numbers Tell the Story

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Which cars and trucks are planted to the dealer’s floor? In other words, which vehicles take the longest to sell? Who cars? Why does it matter, anyway?
Well, while it may not seem that important to you, it’s critically important to the industry s a whole… from the manufacturese, component suppliers, dealers and quite a few financial institutions. First, if you know the time it takes to sell a vehicle, you know how much it is dragging on the dealer’s floorplanning costs. Floorplanning is the term for the amount it costs the dealer to finance the a vehicle in inventory waiting to be sold. If a vehicle has been hanging around for weeks, he’ll be more likely to deal aggressively to get rid of it. Also, vehicles that have high days supply may be less popular. From that perspective, they may be the ones you want to stay away from.


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Dodge Nitro: Does It Live Up to Its Looks?

Dodge showed concept and production versions of Nitro at the Chicago Auto Show, in 2005 and 2006 respectively (click for our coverage of the 2006 reveal). In September, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents had our first opportunity to drive it. Starting at Broadway Pier in the San Diego Harbor, we drove the Nitro on a long, winding route to Palm Springs.

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Related to the Jeep Liberty and built in the same facility, Nitro is bigger, has an all-new suspension, and is optimized for the on-road side of life. Entering this segment late, Dodge’s best opportunity for creating a buzz was exterior styling or innovative new interior features. Dodge saw an opportunity for an in-your-face look with a decidedly male-oriented bias and went for it; the brand’s established in-your-face attitude would be best supported by an aggressive, in-your-face mid-size SUV and there aren’t many of those out there already. Nitro competes with soft-road or crossover SUV entries including Toyota RAV4, Saturn VUE, and latest Mitsubishi Outlander as well as with more traditional SUVs Nissan Xterra, Kia Sorento, and Jeep’s own Liberty. In this arena, only the Xterra wears strongly masculine styling.
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Chevrolet Avalanche 4×2 1500 – Wins Motorist's Choice Full-Size Pickup 4×2 1/2 Ton

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AutoPacific Take on Avalanche Win – Owner ratings of styling and image help propel the tough-looking Chevrolet Avalanche to the top of its class. Its flexible cargo area combined with its innovative mid-gate design make it the Swiss Army Knife of full size pickups. Power and acceleration provided by big V8 engines are icing on the Avalanche cake.
IntelliChoice Analysis – The Avalanche 1500’s Cost of Ownership over the course of 5 years was $42,431, $3300 less than comparable vehicles in its class. Factor in the amazing versatility and passionate owner base, and this is one huge Avalanche whose benefits snowball the competition.


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Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – Wins Motorist's Choice Full-Size Pickup 4WD 1/2 Ton

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AutoPacific Take on Silverado Win –
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the top rated Full Size Light Duty Pickup with its win driven primarily by owner ratings of how easy it is to use. Silverado’s strengths include its ease of getting in and out, driver’s visibility, instrument layout and easy to use audio system. Its exterior size appears to be in the sweet spot among Full Size Pickups.
IntelliChoice Analysis – Always a strong competitor in the Full Size truck market, as well as within IntelliChoice’s annual “Best Overall Value of the Year” contest, the Silverado was a BOVY winner in 2005. Over 5 years, IntelliChoice rates the Silverado 1500’s Cost of Ownership to be just over $38,000, over $3000 less than comparable vehicles in it’s class.


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Chevrolet Silverado 2500 – Wins Motorist's Choice Full-Size Pickup 2WD 3/4 Ton (Also a 2006 VSA winner)

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AutoPacific Take on Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Win – The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 tops the 3/4 Ton Heavy Duty Full Size Pickup class. Not only did it win the Motorist’s Choice Award®, it also won AutoPacific’s 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award®. The Silverado 2500 achieves this performance with its strong image for reliability, durability and dependability. Among Heavy Duty Pickups Silverado owners give kudos for Fun to Drive including: power and acceleration, braking and handling.
IntelliChoice Analysis – What else can be said about this perennial workhorse of the industry? It is a reliable and powerful tool of the American economy. The Silverado 2500 was a BOVY winner in 2005, and over 5 years, IntelliChoice rates the 2006 Silverado 2500’s Cost of Ownership to be $39,611, over $1700 less than comparable vehicles in it’s class.


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Dodge Ram 3500 Mega Cab 4WD – Wins Motorist's Choice Full-Size Pickup 4WD One Ton

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AutoPacific Take on Dodge Ram Mega Cab Win – The Dodge Ram 3500 is the top rated One Ton Heavy Duty Full Size Pickup. The Ram wins top honors among the heaviest duty pickups by virtue of the highly regarded Cummins diesel engine found in many of these trucks. High owner ratings for reliability and dependability plus strong results for power and acceleration are related to the Cummins. Owners of the Ram 3500 also give solid marks for handling, traction and quietness.
IntelliChoice Analysis – When considering the Dodge Ram’s Cost of Ownership, you can’t go wrong. While the Quad Cab version was the 2006 Best Overall Value Winner, the Mega Cab gives you more…of everything! Besides it’s mega styling and performance, this Ram delivers a 5 year Cost of Ownership of just over $46,000 compared to more than $50,000 by others in it’s class.


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