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FiatChrysler Outlines Changes for 2017 Beyond the New 124 Spider, Pacifica

Twilight for the Dodge Viper and Other Model Year 2017 News

There are the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider and the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. And then there's the rest of the 2017 model year Fiat Chrysler lineup. Like its competitors in the auto industry, FCA relies on updates, new paint colors, and trim-level adjustments to keep mainstream consumers interested.

Beyond the sports car, biggest news for enthusiasts is that "Dodge has developed five serialized special edition models to commemorate the end of production and the 25th anniversary" of the Viper. For 2017, the Dodge Viper is available as the 1:28 Edition ACR, GTS-R Commemorative Edition ACR, Snakeskin Edition GTC, VooDoo II Edition ACR, and Dodge Dealer Edition ACR. The 2017 Dodge Viper GTC and ACR are available in "more than 50 million unique build configurations" via its one-on-one customization program.

This probably qualifies as the first official confirmation of the Viper's demise, though it has been discussed for so long that we can't keep track. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has kept open the possibility that the Dodge Viper could return in a somewhat different guise someday, perhaps on a Ferrari-, Maserati-, or Alfa Romeo-based platform with something other than a V-10 truck engine under its hood. Such a project certainly would face boardroom discussion as FiatChrysler, like all its competitors, concentrates on the high demand for sport/utility vehicles, but a reborn Viper has at least one prominent proponent in design chief Ralph Gilles.

For value-minded families and retirees, the big model-year news is that Fiat Chrysler's Windsor, Ontario, plant will continue to assemble the old, boxy Dodge Grand Caravan alongside the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Dodge has cut Grand Caravan trim levels from six to a still healthy four, enough diversity to ensure that the Dodge minivan is not just a rental lot queen. It also serves to prop up transaction prices for the more upscale Chrysler Pacifica.

The Grand Caravan SE, SE Plus, SXT, and GT come with equipment upgrades for 2017. The base SE model starts at $25,090, which is $1,100 less than the 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan SE.

Elsewhere in the Fiat Chrysler lineup, three of our favorite mainstream full-size American cars (in part because they're rear-wheel drive)—the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Challenger—benefit from the new fourth-gen UConnect system and 8.4-inch navigation touchscreen. The latest version features Apple CarPlay and Android for Auto, faster startup times, more processing power, and sharper, higher resolution graphics. The 2017 Chrysler 300 receives a facelift that adds a new exterior sport appearance package with a more aggressive front fascia and unique LED foglamps. For the 300S, sculpted side sills and decklid spoiler are standard with the V-8 engine and optional with the V-6. An interior sport package features premium perforated leather and more pronounced bolsters, and available ventilation and suede trim. Get one while it's still RWD, before it's replaced with a Pacifica-based sedan.

As for the front-wheel-drive Chrysler 200, it's not gone — yet. In fact, there are three new trim levels for 2017: the 200 Touring, 200 Limited Platinum and 200C Platinum.

The Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats for 2017 come with new, 20-by-9.5-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels that save 4 pounds of unsprung weight per corner. The Charger/Challenger SRT 392 now comes with an illuminated white steering wheel logo, and Hellcats receive logos illuminated in red.

Elsewhere in the Dodge lineup, the Durango Limited and Journey R/T are renamed Durango GT and Journey GT.

At Jeep, the Cherokee gets new, premium options including heated and ventilated front seats in Nappa leather, eight-way power for the driver's seat, and a new Overland package. There's a new Trailhawk model of the Jeep Grand Cherokee with the Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system and electronic limited-slip differential, a unique version of the model's Quadra-Lift air-suspension, red tow hooks, 18-inch Goodyear Adventure tires reinforced with Kevlar, new badges, and red accents. Keyless Enter-N-Go is now standard, and high-intensity discharge and automatic high beams are optional in the Renegade. On the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited, new LED head- and foglamps are optional on the Sport and Sport S trims and standard on Sahara and Rubicon. A cold-weather group available on Sport S and Rubicon includes 17-inch BF Goodrich KO2 tires, engine-block heater, all-weather slush mats, heated seats, and remote start.

Ram adds the new Power Wagon and 2500 4x4 Off-Road to the heavy-duty lineup. The 1500 and 1500 Rebel pickups receive additional standard and optional features, and tow capacity and gross combination weight ratings are up by 1,000 pounds for 3500, 4500, and 5500 commercial chassis trucks. The 118-inch wheelbase ProMaster van is no longer available with the diesel engine.

Not much changes at Fiat. The 500, 500L, and 500X lines are simplified to three trim levels each, and option packages can now be combined "so customers can get the features they desire."