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Before last year, many of us car guys had no idea who John Varvatos was. That all changed when the Detroit-native fashion designer lent his talents to the Chrysler 300 to create the snazzy, special-edition 300C John Varvatos models. The fashionable sedan returns for 2014 with two versions (Luxury and Limited), and the only big news here is that the latter model will be getting an optional all-wheel-drive system.
Distinguishing the Luxury and Limited models, the Luxury comes with Platinum exterior accents and is offered in a handful of colors while the Limited gets darker Titanium accents and only comes with a Phantom Black Tri-Coat paint job. Both cars get an exclusive interior design with special leathers, patterns and colors worthy of the designer's name and logo. The JV Edition is the only 300C to offer a V6 engine, but V8 lovers can still opt up for the powerful Hemi engine.
It would appear that the Luxury Edition is already on sale, but you'll have to wait until March for the 2014 JV Limited Edition, which, according to a Chrysler spokesperson, will be "limited from a production timing standpoint." The JV Luxury Edition starts at $41,195 and the Limited Edition will have a starting price of $44,480 (*not including $995 for destination) - both cars can be optioned with all-wheel drive for $2,500. Scroll down for the press release on the 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition.Permalink | Email this | Comments
What do the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Ram 1500 all have in common? Yes, they're all Chrysler products, and two of them are based on the same platform. And we're sure you could find more similarities between them all, but the common trait we're looking at here is that, while they all come standard in rear-drive form, they're also available with all-wheel drive. And it's the transmission in those models that's the subject of the latest recall notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The output shaft on the eight-speed automatic transmission supplied by ZF to Chrysler for the AWD versions of the 300, Charger and Ram 1500 is apparently prone to fracture. That in the end could leave the vehicle without power and could, according to the NHTSA investigation, increase the chance of a crash. The vehicle could also roll away if even if left in Park without the handbrake applied.
That's why Chrysler is calling in 4,194 examples of those three models from the 2013 model year. Dealers will be responsible for inspecting the transmissions and, where necessary, replace the entire unit. See the full recall notice below for all the details.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Tags: 2013 Dodge Charger, 2013 ram 1500, nhtsa, ram, ram 1500, Recall, recalls, Sedan, Transmission, Truck, zf
Outside of the SRT variant, if you want the sharpest-looking Chrysler 300, you'll probably want the 300S trim. This showy variant has traditionally sported larger wheels and some subtle body changes to set it apart from the herd, along with its own unique take on the big sedan's interior.
For 2014, the S will be set apart even further. A number of exterior items will be blacked-out, including black chrome around the grille and Chrysler badges finished in a liquid-chrome finish with a black center. Black moldings are standard, while owners can get an extra dose of style by opting to have the roof painted Gloss Black. Hyper Black 20-inch wheels are standard on the rear-drive model, while 19s are fitted to the all-wheel-drive variant. Smoked tail and headlights round out the package.
The cabin, meanwhile, gets a new trim option - Ambassador Blue. The pale, blue Nappa leather features contrasting, silver French stitching found on the seats and the door armrests.
Outside of the trim and aesthetic changes, the 300S remains largely the same. Both Pentastar V6 and Hemi V8 engines available, with ZF's excellent eight-speed automatic dispatching power to either the rear or all four wheels. Scroll down for the press release from Chrysler on the updated 2014 300S.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Who is John Varvatos? If you're like me, that's the question you were asking after seeing commercials that advertised a limited-edition model of the Chrysler 300 with this mystery man's name attached. If you're not like me and consider yourself a fashionista even in the slightest, then you probably already know that John Varvatos is a successful menswear designer who cut his teeth in the fashion houses of Ralph Lauren's Polo and Calvin Klein. He's also a native of Detroit, which makes the joining of his brand and that of Chrysler's more intelligible, what with the Auburn Hills-based automaker still eking efficacy from its nearly three-year-old "Imported from Detroit" tagline.
Whenever one of these co-branded vehicles crosses my path, I try to judge them according to some simple questions. The first is, does the co-branding make sense for the target audience? And the second is, do the changes improve or diminish the experience of the standard vehicle? With this partnership, both brands are clearly aiming at the same target, or perhaps Chrysler hopes its aim will improve by partnering with the JV set, bringing it closer to that bullseye of style-conscious trendsetters.
The second question, meanwhile, can be answered with your eyes alone, as no mechanical changes are included among the Varvatos upgrades. Despite that, the 300C John Varvatos Edition is priced above - well above - all other 300 sedans save the 300 SRT8, suggesting that cool is not sold by the barrel (was it ever?) and Mr. Varvatos is a dealer in the stuff. Yet while I couldn't actually tell you if John Varvatos was a designer or a ditch digger before Chrysler introduced us, I do like his style, and the man knows how to dress a car.
- There are actually two separate John Varvatos models of the 300C available. The murdered-out one you see here is priced from $44,345 and available only with rear-wheel drive, and there's a less expensive version called the John Varvatos Luxury Edition, available with either rear- or all-wheel drive, that loses the emo look in favor of shiny, happy platinum chrome trim and three other available (though still dark) colors. However, only the more expensive model gets a serialized badge on the center console. Chrysler offered just 2,000 examples for the 2013 model year (this one is No. 15), and while the automaker has confirmed that the Limited Edition will be back for the 2014 model year, it's unclear at this time exactly how many examples will be made.
- The visual changes focus on an entire blackout of the 300C's exterior, which includes the deeply rich and sparkly Phantom Black Tri-Coat Pearl paint and the 20-inch Titanium painted wheels. A black grille surrounded by a titanium-finish frame, and titanium-finish fog lamp rings, headlight bezels, mirror caps and exterior badging complete the Darth Varvatos look. It's actually quite fetching in person thanks to the contrast that's still present between the pure black paint and titanium-finish pieces.
- Kudos to Mr. V for not plastering his branding all over the exterior; the only indication it's a John Varvatos Limited Edition model, besides the color, is a small badge of the designer's logo on the rear.
- The branding is much less inconspicuous inside, with Varvatos logos debossed into the seatbacks and on both the speedometer and tachometer, the analog clock, the navigation system's start-up screen and the aforementioned serialized badge on the center console. Looking past that, the white contrasting stitching on the dash looks great, and the Diesel Gray double-stitch on the seats exhibits premium craftsmanship. Even the Charcoal Hydrographic woodgrain trim is monochromatic.
- I feel obliged to give at least a couple of notes on some non-Varvotos-related items in this 300C. The seats were not as comfortable as I expected and lacked any amount of bolstering that would be helpful in hot handling maneuvers. The Chrysler Uconnect infotainment system still stands up as the most user-friendly and responsive on the market. Lastly, the Beats by Dr. Dre audio system, a $995 option on top of the Varvatos package, offers overwhelming bass even at the default setting. I turned the bass all the way down and even that level felt like the default setting of some other stereos.
- This tester has Chrysler's 3.6-liter V6 engine rated at 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. While I'd normally prefer a V8, the V6 suits the Varvatos edition better. It's still plenty powerful, very smooth and returns an EPA-estimated 19 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. The latter is thanks to the V6 model's eight-speed automatic transmission, which has the engine hardly working on interstates. Shifts are almost imperceptible, which is good because they happen so often. Its one knock is its hesitating to leave the higher gears for passing maneuvers. Using the shift paddles can override the automatic, and there's a Sport mode to keep the engine on boil all the time, though fuel economy suffers. The eight-speed is only available with the V6, while V8 buyers have to settle for the old five-speed automatic.
- The 300C in general isn't a sport sedan, so as you'd expect, it shines more on the boulevard than the backroads. The ride is smooth, even with those 20-inch rollers, and spoiling four passengers is this car's purpose in life. This model, however, has the optional Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof (a $1,495 option), which steals away some precious headroom inches. The one dynamic quibble I had was with its steering, which felt overly heavy, even at low speeds.
- While I like the look of this 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition, I find myself considering it in the same way I shop for clothes. Browsing the John Varvatos website, I'd pick out his Linen V-Neck, Hampton Fit Pant and Chuck Taylor Double Zip High Tops to wear in a heartbeat. They'd make a great outfit, but I'm not going to pay $168 for a t-shirt, $1,595 for pants and $170 for a pair of Chucks. Likewise, the JV Limited Edition starts $14,000 above a base 300C at $30,345, and with the options on this tester and a $995 destination charge, crests $50,000. I'm not so square that I think fashion shouldn't command a premium, but for these markups, I'd like more than a different color palette.
With recent news that the Secret Service has begun soliciting proposals for a new armored limousine, we've been wondering what the next presidential limo might look like. The current machine, nicknamed "The Beast," has a design based on a car that's no longer sold: the Cadillac DTS. If General Motors gets the job again, which wouldn't be a surprise considering the government still owns a chunk of the company, the next limo's shape would likely resemble the new XTS (below, left). But Cadillac hasn't always been the go-to car company for presidential whips.
Lincoln has actually provided far more presidential limousines throughout history than Cadillac. In fact, the first car modified for Commander-in-Chief-carrying duty was a 1939 Lincoln K-Series called "Sunshine Special" used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the last Lincoln used by a president was a 1989 Town Car ordered for George H.W. Bush. If President Obama wanted a Lincoln today, it would likely be an amalgam of the MKS sedan and MKT crossover, as illustrated above.
And what about Chrysler? The only record we could find of a President favoring the Pentastar is Nixon, who reportedly ordered two limos from the company during his administration in the '70s, and then another one, known today as the "K-Car limo," in the '80s after he left office. Obama, however, has a personal - if modest - connection to Chryslers, having owned a 300 himself before he took office. A 300-based Beast (above, right) would certainly earn the U.S. some style points.
Of course, we can only speculate about what the next presidential limo will look like, as what's under the skin is a closely guarded secret by the Secret Service. Like The Beast's rumored underpinnings, the next limo will probably ride atop a heavy-duty truck chassis, which any of our domestic automakers could easily provide.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Published under Cadillac, Chrysler, Chrysler 300, Lincoln, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT | send this post
Tags: cadillac xts, limousine, military, Presidential limo, Secret Service, Sedan, Specialty, Spy Photos, the beast
A monstrous supercharged V8 engine could be in store for Chrysler and SRT products, if recent rumors are to be believed. Allpar is reporting that the forced-induction V8 - Chrysler's first, if this goes down - could make its debut this summer.
The story goes that the Hellcat would be based on a 6.2-liter Hemi engine, rather than on the existing 5.7- or 6.4-liter versions of the company's vaunted mill. In any case, the general consensus is that the motor will have gobs of power. Modest estimates call for between 500 to 570 horsepower, with some outliers predicting a figure as high as 600 hp. That figure would put the output of the Hellcat awfully close to that of the 640-hp V10 in the SRT Viper, too. Allpar contends that a slightly less powerful version would allow Chrysler to keep costs below that of the more powerful Ford Shelby GT500, which might be a sweet spot.
The Hellcat could debut in a number of SRT products. SRT versions of the Charger, Challenger and 300 are all up for grabs, as is the rumored SRT Barracuda.Permalink | Email this | Comments