Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is in the heart of a major overhaul as it continues to transition from building low-profit cars to increasing its truck and SUV volume. The big profits are with the Jeep and Ram brands, while consumer demand for small cars such as the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 has fallen short.
But there is one line of cars that continues to attract a strong and loyal following and won’t soon be eliminated, at least not in the short term.
These models are the full-size Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans as well as the Dodge Challenger. All three share the same architecture, and the current generation of each has been in place since 2011.
Originally, a new trio of these vehicles was slated to roll out in 2018, but a recent report indicates each model will be refreshed for 2018 and continue in production through 2020. That report comes from Automotive News Canada and is based on the recently ratified four-year labor contract between Unifor and FCA. Unifor is the Canadian automotive workers union representing employees at Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario, plant where all three vehicles are manufactured.
We already know that the rear-wheel drive platform underpinning the upcoming Alfa Romeo Giulia will be extended and likely widened to power future North American-based products such as the Dodge Charger. Beyond that, the future is less clear, although there are some things we do suspect about FCA’s product planning:
1. A refresh is coming. Last updated in 2015, the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300 will be refreshed again come 2018. Instead of readying all-new models, the trio will receive important interior and exterior changes as well as new trims. This is good news for owners who savor the current style and worry that a clean sheet redesign might sock it to used car values.
2. All-wheel drive heads to the Challenger. Since its 2008 roll out, the Dodge Challenger has been a rear-wheel drive model just like the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro. An all-wheel drive version is being readied and should appear in time for the 2018 refresh, giving the Challenger an important edge in the segment. However, you’ll probably only find all-wheel drive with the V6 versions, just as it is currently offered in the Charger and 300.
3. Making room for a ‘Cuda. Although Plymouth is long gone, there is still much fondness for the Barracuda name. In August 2015, FCA showed dealers a convertible Dodge it dubbed Barracuda. This model could very well be revealed in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on the product releases appearing at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month and at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
4. The long-term prognosis for the Chrysler 300 is unknown. FCA continues to move away from model duplication across brand lines and the 300 may be sacrificed. Another option is that a future 300 might be based on the Pacifica minivan architecture, offering standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive as reported by Motor Trend. Just how well this model would sell is open to debate, although it would compete against established front-wheel drive players such as the Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Azera and Chevrolet Impala.
FCA: Looking Ahead
Big changes are on the way for FCA’s Dodge and Chrysler product lines. The Dodge model line will include two or three performance vehicles, although the future of current models such as the Journey, Durango and Grand Caravan is less certain. If the Chrysler 300 is discontinued, the Pacifica minivan would become the last Chrysler model standing.