Ram pickup goes mellow while Ford overhauls its F-150

The 2019 Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck has been redesigned to smooth out its most aggressive styling details. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2019 Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck has been redesigned to smooth out its most aggressive styling details. COURTESY PHOTO  Twenty-five years ago, Chrysler was selling the country’s stodgiest full-size pickup truck. Boxy and characterless, the 1993 Dodge Ram lacked the gently curved body of the Ford F-150 or the extra-brash angularity of the Chevrolet C/K.
The company flipped the script for the 1994 model year. A prominent crosshairs-style chrome grille stood tall and proud on the front end, with low headlights swelling into bold fenders.
Though it remained the country’s No. 3 best-seller, always behind its Ford and Chevrolet competitors, the Ram continued to be the most aggressive American truck. It solidified its image by introducing the famous “Hemi” V8 engine in 2003 with best-in-class horsepower.
But with its latest redesign, which just hit dealerships as a 2019 model, the Ram has become more mild-mannered. An all-new front end design raised the headlights and revised the grille, abandoning the signature look of the last two and a half decades. Gone are the fender bulges and the crosshairs grille. If it weren’t for the big “RAM” lettering on the new grille, the front end would be almost entirely anonymous. LED light bands ringing the headlights resemble the Dodge Charger sedan’s, but for several years Ram has been its own brand anyway, no longer a Dodge.


Hybrid van saves gas while Miata adds hardtop


2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid cropped for webThe 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan can travel 33 miles per electric charge and then operates as an efficient gas-electric hybrid. COURTESY PHOTO  Imagine a vehicle that can carry you and six other adults from Rockville to downtown Washington and back without using a drop of gasoline — or do the trip solo in I-270's HOV lanes.
There are two vehicles that can pull off this achievement, both using electric motors and Maryland's perks to drivers of electric cars. One is the Tesla Model X, an all-electric luxury crossover with a base price of around $80,000. The other is the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid version of Chrysler's popular minivan.
The EPA estimates that the Pacifica Hybrid can go 33 miles on an all-electric charge and then switch over to its gas-electric operation, which manages 32 mpg. Both figures are impressive.


Chrysler minivan is family gold while Audi sedan justifies price

2017 Chrysler Pacifica -- cropped for webThe 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, priced from $30,090, is the most well-rounded minivan sold today. COURTESY PHOTO  

For a large family car, it's difficult to beat the minivan. Vast expanses of passenger and cargo space put SUVs and crossovers to shame, and these merits are joined by pleasant driving dynamics, decent gas mileage, ample safety and convenience features, and relatively affordable prices.
And for a minivan, at least today, it's difficult to beat the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. The all-new replacement for the popular Town & Country represents a major advancement for Chrysler and also breaks new ground against its competitors.


Dodge, Ford offer varied takes on the American performance car

2016 Dodge ChallengerThe 2016 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack is big, bold and loud, with 485 horsepower for under $40,000. COURTESY PHOTO  

The Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger are American performance icons, sporty coupes with retro styling hearkening back to the years when imported cars occupied a quaint little niche rather than the heart of the automotive market.

It's not merely cosmetic. With lots of power – including from available V8 engines – today's Mustang and Challenger fulfill the longstanding American tradition of cars that can go crazily fast even at relatively attainable prices.

But Ford and Chrysler have taken different approaches with the Mustang and the Challenger.


Reviews of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and 2016 VW Golf R

New Chrysler Pacifica van is the ultimate utility vehicle

2017 Chrysler PacificaThe minivan is generally the most useful vehicle for a large family, and the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is the best minivan on the market today. COURTESY PHOTO  

Recent Chrysler minivans – the Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan – have occupied the budget end of the marketplace. Honda, Toyota and then Kia introduced more sophisticated vans with higher levels of comfort, safety and refinement; the Chryslers' main advantage was a relatively low price. 

But Chrysler has once again taken firm control of the class it created back in 1984. The all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which replaces the Town & Country, impresses in every way. Ride and handling have improved; the van is smoother and less cumbersome, plus quicker and more fuel efficient. 

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