NAIAS 2018 | Episode 4 : Fiat Chrysler {FCA]

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) followed the trend of the show focusing its announcements on trucks and SUV’s.  A new, tech-heavy Ram pick-up was introduced keeping pressure on Ford and GM for sales in this lucrative segment.  The Ram remains the only player in the segment with a coil spring, multi-link rear suspension.  The exterior has more sharply defined shapes and feature lines, although there are now some similarities with the Chevy Silverado.  Storage bins in the sides of the bed are carried over from the prior model.  The 12-inch touch screen (with split screen capability) in the center of the instrument panel is a unique feature in the segment.  The Ram also has plenty of in-cab storage with a notably large centre console.

The latest edition of the amazingly successful Jeep Wrangler, debuted at the Los Angeles show and was strongly featured on the FCA exhibit in various body styles.  The only missing version was the Scrambler or pick-up version that is expected to join the range later this year.  The carefully evolved design retains the familiar look, but with subtle changes.  This model, the “JL” is more user-friendly than its predecessors, yet somehow even more off-road capable and lighter too.  The 3.6L V6 is standard a 2.0L turbocharger 4 cylinder optional.  Jeep’s Ecodiesel with 442 lb-ft of torque will be available in 2019.

Also introduced at the show was a face-lifted version of the mid-sized Jeep Cherokee.  The controversial front end with its column of three stacked lights has been replaced by a more conventional look and the tail-lamps have been refreshed too.

NAIAS 2017 | Episode 4 : Fiat Chrysler FCA

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) chose to reveal their Portal concept, a minivan for the future, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas prior to the NAIAS. FCA is lagging the industry in the hybrid and electric vehicle area, although it now has the Pacifica hybrid minivan as well as the Fiat 500 all-electric available for sale. The hi-tech Portal is intended to burnish FCA’s image in the advanced propulsion and future-tech areas of the business.

The Portal is a semi-autonomous, battery electric vehicle with a 250-mile range. It features twin sliding doors on each side providing a 5-foot opening for easy entry and egress to the three-row reconfigurable seating. It was shown with two-handle yoke style steering and a glass roof with an interesting inner cruciform structure. The styling broke plenty of new ground and was full of interesting features and elements including the ball shaped rear view cameras. FCA hasn’t shown a concept at an auto show since 2009, but the Portal is clearly a success and worth the wait.

FCA introduced the new Jeep Compass at the show. It replaces both the old generation Compass and the Patriot. Neither will be missed, but they both sold well until the end in this SUV dominant market. FCA recently discontinued the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200. Both cars were decent, modern vehicles, but they have been swept away to make room for more profitable SUV’s and trucks. The new Compass follows the very successful Jeep formula — well packaged, very capable off-road, nicely equipped and with the look of a small Grand Cherokee.

On the separate Alfa Romeo stand, there were 6 Guilia’s and one of the new Stelvio SUV’s. Let’s hope that these long awaited cars make it to the dealer showrooms very soon. The question remains, however, can these good-looking cars make a lasting impact in the tough premium sedan market against the well-established brands like BMW, Mercedes and Audi.


Next is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA – not exactly a ‘domestic’ anymore, but becoming more of a force in the market every month.  Under the Fiat banner and Marchionne’s expert guidance, the Chrysler Group has recovered dramatically from the dark days of 2007/2008 — are you watching Daimler? – are you watching Cerberus?
Introductions at the show for FCA included the Fiat 500X, the Alfa Romeo 4C cabrio, the Jeep Renegade, the Ram 1500 Rebel and the facelifted Chrysler 300.  The 500X should be a big plus for the Fiat distribution network in North America.  Having struggled for a long time with just the 500 that was only recently supplemented by the homely looking 500L, US dealers must be breathing a sigh of relief that they have a car in the 500X that they can actually sell in decent quantities.  The styling is more ‘good’ than ‘fantastic’, but the car is “cute” enough to perhaps create the cult following among younger people that the brand desperately needs.  Thumbs up for Fiat on this one.
The Jeep Renegade, built on the same platform as the 500X and in the same plant in Italy (a first outside the US for Jeep), looks a little bit awkward at first due to its compact dimensions.  On closer examination, however, the interior is certain to win over a lot of buyers.  The package is excellent and the interior styling, materials and features are extremely well executed.  Two hits on the same Platform.
FCA cleverly has the displays for Alfa Romeo and Maserati on the outside of the big central FCA stand – separate, but together.  Alfa displayed some historic racecars to reinforce the brand image, while Maserati featured the previously introduced Alfieri concept – a beautiful design that we all hope they build.  The wheels are especially interesting with unusual rod spokes finished in a blue accent colour that was also used to highlight other areas of the car.