By the end of this year, we should have a much better idea whether Chrysler will survive in its new partnership with Fiat. The promised product onslaught begins this summer, with the long-awaited new Jeep Grand Cherokee. This fall, Chrysler plans to launch a new 300 and Dodge Charger, along with a seven-seat Dodge Magnum. This Magnum, though, has nothing to do with the wagon that disappeared after 2008. Instead, it's a Grand Cherokee-based crossover that replaces the Durango. A deluge of significantly refreshed products for 2011 includes the Sebring and Avenger, the Dodge Journey, the Jeep Patriot and Compass, and the minivans. Expect to see much nicer interiors, especially in the Chrysler vehicles, as well as increased use of the new Pentastar V-6 engine.
The next major year on the Chrysler calendar will be 2012. That's when all-new, Fiat-designed products are scheduled to begin hitting our market. From this point forward, just about every small and mid-size offering will be built on a Fiat platform; large cars, vans, and trucks will continue to come from Chrysler and could increasingly be exported to Europe. To align brands globally, expect Lancia products to be twinned with Chryslers -- a Fiat/Dodge pairing is also under consideration. Still up in the air are the futures of the Dodge Dakota pickup and the Viper. The former could wind up reborn as a unibody truck around 2012, and the next Viper could share a platform with the upcoming Alfa Romeo 4C.
The debuts of both the charger and the Chrysler 300 aren't far off, yet company officials are unusually quiet about the coming products. Word is that's part of CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan, which has products being unveiled just a few months ahead of their showroom arrival. Will the see-it-then-buy-it strategy pay off for the automaker the same way it does for tech superstar Apple? Who knows? Despite the hush in Auburn Hills, a few finer points have slipped out, and our spy illustrator has detailed the softer, more graceful curves that the new Charger will sport. This isn't merely a face-lift, either; the mechanical changes qualify the Charger as a new vehicle. Under the hood, the next Charger will use Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6, the familiar 5.7-liter Hemi, and an upsized 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 in the SRT8 variant, which will make roughly 450 hp.
Chrysler's new 3.6-liter pentastar V-6 needs to carry a huge load for the company's comeback to succeed. For starters, it's set to replace seven different V-6 engines ranging from 2.7 liters to 4.0 liters of displacement. You can't really call it innovative, but to illustrate just how outdated some of those old engines are, compare the V-6 powerplants of the 2010 and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokees.