Since Fiat took ownership of Chrysler in 2009 and formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in 2014, the automaker has wielded some of the longest-standing and most desirable automotive brands in the market. Though FCA technically oversees more than a dozen entities, the typical consumer only interacts with Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, RAM, and Fiat vehicles.
After a recent trip to Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds to sample the full range of 2017 model-year vehicles, I’ve decided to take a stab at condensing FCA’s offerings into more useful categories. And while the average Joe would love to tool about in an Alfa Romeo or Maserati, for our purposes, we’ll leave those nameplates out of this roundup.
Sub-compacts have been around for a while now, but have regained popularity as fuel prices have risen. Though this class of vehicle has steadily increased in size, its smaller footprint means better maneuverability and a cheaper price tag. Here’s FCA’s spread of 2017 subcompacts.
Since the Fiat 500 hit the market in 2012, the pint-sized throwback has been selling quite well for the brand. With VW’s Beetle out of the “cutesy car” picture, the 500 is running unopposed for those who need a fun, cheap city car. There are now several 500-branded models, but only four classic body styles: the original 500, the convertible version (500c), the EV (500e), and the boy racer (500 Abarth). The gas-powered 500 models use inline four-cylinder motors, the Abarth adds turbocharged power, and the EV uses a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery. Prices for the base 2017 Fiat 500 have been lowered to $14,995.
This subcompact crossover doesn’t look as dainty as its 500 and 500L siblings, but offers the same great features. Premium trims add extra styling with larger wheels, leather seats, and high-tech convenience features. The entry-level 500X Pop comes standard with a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 160hp. Like the Renegade, the 500X’s only engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. Other standard features include 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, driver knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, air conditioning, 16″ steel wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, and electronic stability. Prices for the 2017 Fiat 500X start at $20,000.
Think of the Fiat 500L as a taller, longer 500. It is, in my opinion, the weak link of the Fiat lineup, lacking the visual appeal of the 500X or the maneuverability of the classic 500. Still, if you must have four doors, then the 500L will fit the bill. The 500L shares a 1.4-liter Multiair turbocharged four-cylinder with the 500X that makes 160hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, but, for whatever reason, the 500L costs $995 more than the 500X. At least the 2017 model year comes with a six-speed automatic standard.
Though the Renegade is technically a crossover, its small stature fits better within the subcompact segment. Based on the Fiat 500X platform, the Renegade wraps off-road engineering within an affordable, clever package. Those who enjoy breaking from technology every once in a while will appreciate the Renegade’s sizable cargo volume and generous ride height. There are a few different trims available on the Renegade, but the most rugged of shoppers will want the Trailhawk edition, which includes a one-inch lift, tow hooks, all-terrain tires, and more durable bumpers. For 2017, there are new options like keyless ignition, HID headlamps, automatic high beams, and a 7.0-inch TFT driver display. The Renegade is the perfect introduction to the Jeep brand at $17,995.
If you were to ask the typical American buyer to picture a car, chances are, they’d envision a compact vehicle. That’s because almost every major automaker has a compact model that combines efficiency, affordability, and reliability. Here’s what FCA has to offer for 2017:
Yes, the Compass is a crossover, but proportionally, it aligns with compact vehicle characteristics. Unfortunately for Jeep, the Compass hasn’t sold terribly well the past few years, and it will be phased out after this model year. Because of its limited lifespan, the 2017 Compass carries over unchanged for 2017, but still packs a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder or optional 2.4-liter unit with 172hp. Though Jeeps are known for their ruggedness, the Compass comes as a front-wheel drive model (with 4WD available), meaning you’d best steer clear of the trails. Prices for the 2017 Compass start at $19,795.
Like the Compass, the Patriot is an affordable, compact-sized crossover from Jeep. It will share in the Compass’s fate after this year, being replaced with a new, sleeker crossover that Jeep hopes will play nicely with the Cherokee and Renegade. Go ahead and copy/paste everything I said about the Jeep Compass into this section, because the Patriot is basically just a boxier version of that car with fewer features. That said, it’s also pretty darn cheap. Prices for the 2017 Patriot start at $17,695.
Yes, sedans are now only the second most popular type of vehicle sold today, but that still means an incredible number of them are ushered in and out of dealerships each month. Only the Dodge and Chrysler brands currently offer vehicles in the U.S., but Alfa Romeo will introduce its Giulia sedan before long.
The Chrysler 200 is the brand’s entry-level model, and while it hasn’t sold quite as well as FCA would like, it’s still a compelling car for the money. This year, Chrysler has introduced three new trims, each loaded with goodies: Touring, Limited Platinum, and 200C Platinum. Buyers can choose from either a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 295hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. The latter motor is quite the motivator, but is somewhat constrained by the standard nine-speed automatic. Prices for the 2017 Chrysler 200 start at $21,995.
Larger and more in-charger? The Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 fill out the full-size sedan category.
Arguably the best looking mid-size sedan on the market, Dodge’s Charger has improved significantly in the last several years, especially when it comes to the interior. All 2017 model-year Chargers will be offered with Chrysler’s superb 4th generation UConnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and certain trims sport new wheel designs. Even the base Charger makes plenty of power from a Pentastar V6, but the real fun starts with Dodge’s HEMI 5.0-liter V8 in R/T cars and just gets more exciting from there. SRT models pack 485hp from a 6.4-liter HEMI V8, and the range-topping Hellcat makes a ludicrous 707hp from a supercharged 6.2-liter V8. Prices for the 2017 Charger start at $27,995.
Many luxury car shoppers make the mistake of overlooking the Chrysler 300. Sure, it may have been on sale in its current form for many years, but in the case of the 300, that means a more refined product than ever. Where the 300 differentiates itself is in the value, boasting cutting-edge convenience features and a punchy powertrain for less than $40,000. Whether you’re enjoying its sophisticated UConnect infotainment system, or stellar handling characteristics (especially for its size), the 300 is an excellent luxury car alternative. For 2017, the 300 is offered with a new sport appearance package, Alloy Edition package, and Ceramic Gray paint color. Prices start at $32,260.
The buzzword of the decade. Automakers can’t seem to make these vehicles fast enough, at least when the models themselves are good. FCA relies on its Jeep and Dodge brands to handle the compact and full-size crossover sales for now, but that could change before long.
Laugh at its awkward face all you want, the Jeep Cherokee is a good crossover (and it’s selling like it). Unlike the Renegade, the Cherokee is a true Jeep affair, meaning its off-road chops are remarkable, especially when you add an inch of ground clearance from the Trailhawk package. For 2017, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and Pentastar V6 engines carry over, but new trim levels like the Overland, Altitude, and High Altitude are packed with luxury materials and features.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
It’s been said plenty by now, but the Grand Cherokee is a home run for Jeep. With handsome styling, a comfortable, feature-rich interior, and tremendous off-road capabilities, the Grand Cherokee can steal buyers from within its own category, or luxury segments above it. For 2017, Jeep has added a Trailhawk package for off-road enthusiasts, but the entry-level Laredo will only require $29,995.
Did you forget about the Dodge Journey? Because I did. The crossover/minivan model seems to fill a hole no one wanted filled, but apparently people continue to buy it, because Dodge hasn’t killed it yet. The 2017 model replaces its R/T trim with a GT package that includes a 283hp V6, leather seating, and a six-speaker sound system. Also new this year are two paint colors: Blood Orange and Bruiser Grey. If you really must know, the Journey is priced from $20,995.
While the consuming public is encouraged to forget the Journey, Dodge’s largest crossover, the Durango, is worth remembering. A sleek exterior, powerful engine, and well-equipped cabin keep the model relevant within teeming crossover competition. Like the Journey, a GT trim will become the top-end package for 2017, replacing the Limited trim. Dodge’s Blacktop appearance package also turns the Durango into one of the coolest full-size crossovers around. Just remember: say yes to the HEMI. Prices for the 2017 Durango kick off at $29,995.
The definition of practicality. Vans care not for aesthetics; they only seek to bring their owners maximum utility. While there are a number of commercial vans under the RAM brand, we’ll keep this list to consumer and light-duty models.
Dodge Grand Caravan
Ah the Grand Caravan. While definitely long in the tooth, I still regard the Grand Caravan as one of the most exciting minivans on the market. Yes, that is a limited qualifier, but I dare you to mash on the throttle and not enjoy Chrysler’s Pentastar V6. For 2017, Dodge streamlined the Caravan lineup to just three trims: SE, SXT, and GT, while lowering the price on the SE to $23,995. It’s looking like this will be the last year for the GC, so if you want to drive the un-minivan, this is your final call.
Replacing the tired Town & Country is Chrysler’s all-new Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid. By far the best looking minivan on sale, the Pacifica is equally brilliant inside, with a quiet, comfortable, luxurious cabin. The hybrid version also boasts 80 MPGe, a best-in-class figure. Chrysler’s classic V6 is paired to a nine-speed automatic for smooth, bountiful power. The 2017 Pacifica retails for $28,595 in LX trim.
RAM ProMaster City
Those who need minivan utility without flash or comforts will appreciate RAM’s ProMaster City. Powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 178hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, the ProMaster City can’t haul a full load of cinder blocks, but it can move junk better than just about anything. 2017 models add rear-door reflectors and a brighter shifter illuminator. The RAM ProMaster city boasts best-in-class fuel economy at 29 mpg and starts at just $23, 130.
Work and play are blended together in the truck segment, with some buyers interested in appearance, and others demanding rugged performance. FCA’s trucks are confined to the Jeep and RAM brands, and not much has changed for the 2017 model year.
Anticipation for the next generation Wrangler can’t get any higher, but until it debuts next year, we’ll have to make do with the proven, beloved Wrangler on sale today. Only a few vehicles can match the Wrangler for off-road maneuverability, and most of them cost tens of thousands more. 2017 models will benefit from LED headlights and fog lights standard, but the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 carries over from last year. Prices for the 2017 Wrangler two-door start at $23,895.
RAM’s bread-and-butter truck continues to be refined each year, and the 2017 model year adds standard features like a five micron cabin air filter, remote start and security (on Sport models), and automatic temperature control (on Big Horn models). The RAM Rebel off-road package also includes automatic dual-zone climate control, a rear backup camera, UConnect’s 8.4-inch display, and an anti-spin differential. The 1500 may not be innovative, but it’s a proven truck with efficient powertrains. The base RAM 1500 will set you back $26,295.
Those who plan to haul small planets will require the services of RAM’s 2500 and 3500 trucks. This year, RAM has focused on off-road capabilities with a new Power Wagon inspired by the 1979-80 “Macho Power Wagon” and a 4×4 off-road package with hill descent control, tow hooks, transfer case skid plate, Bilstein shocks, off-road tires, and a limited-slip differential. If you’re after HEMI power, you’ll have a choice of 5.7-liter or 6.4-liter V8s, but the 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel inline six-cylinder is the most efficient option. Prices for the RAM 2500 start at $32,095.
When the name of the game is driving pleasure, the sports car category is the only one worthy of investigation. FCA’s high-end marques may be beautiful and thrilling, but even the more affordable sports cars have plenty to offer.
Fiat 124 Spider
Before the sun sets on the manual transmission; before rear-wheel drive is dubbed “too dangerous” for modern transportation; before alternative energy powertrains saturate every corner of the market – we can still play out our automobile-personified dreams. The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is here to help. Based on the brilliant Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 124 Spider uses a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to make 160hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Though it isn’t the most attractive car out there, it’s a blast to drive. Prices start at a very reasonable $24,995.
The most retro-styled of all modern muscle cars, the Dodge Challenger hasn’t changed much on the outside in recent years, but the interior is top notch. Like the Charger, 2017 Challenger models can be equipped with Chrysler’s 4th generation UConnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and some trims get new wheels. Though their power figures vary slightly, engine options also mirror the Charger, meaning a Pentastar V6, 5.7-liter HEMI V8, 6.4-liter HEMI V8, and the Hellcat’s 6.2-liter supercharged V8. The Challenger isn’t a one-trick pony either: it can hustle around curves despite its size. Prices for the 2017 Charger start at $27,995.
The enthusiast community mourns the loss of the Dodge Viper this year, but before it’s put out to pasture, Dodge has prepared five special edition ACR editions in its honor: the Viper 1:28 Edition ACR, Viper GTS-R Commemorative Edition ACR, Viper Snakeskin Edition GTC, Viper VoooDoo II Edition ACR, and Viper Dodge Dealer Edition ACR. America’s supercar has never been tamed, and will be remembered as a vicious, sexy performance car. Grab yourself a 2017 Viper before they’re gone forever. Prices start at $87,895.
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