• Ford Police Interceptor protects against armor-piercing bullets

    March 11, 2016

    Ford is now offering improved armor protection for its Police Interceptor duo of law-enforcement vehicles.

    The company claims to be the first automaker to offer Type IV hard armor on a pursuit-rated vehicle. The Department of Justice standard requires the armor to protect against armor-piercing .30-06 (.30 caliber, M2) ammunition.

    Ford claims shootouts with criminals using high-powered rifles with armor-piercing rounds are becoming more common, though it is unclear if the statement is backed by statistics. Such scenarios are exceedingly rare but, in any case, there appears to be demand for higher levels of protection.

    “Officers globally told us they needed protection from armor piercing ammunition and we added increased ballistic protection to an already great product – that’s continuous innovation,” said Ford Police Interceptor Arie Groeneveld chief engineer.

    Buyers can still choose lesser Type III ballistic panels, resistant to penetration from all handgun bullets and non-armor piercing rifle founds up to 7.62x51mm NATO M80 ball ammunition.

    The Type IV armor is available for both the Explorer-based Interceptor Utility and the Taurus-based Interceptor Sedan.

  • Jeep Details seven concepts for Easter Safari

    March 11, 2016

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has detailed seven concepts that will be heading to Moab, Utah, for the annual Easter Jeep Safari.

    The lineup includes several models modified with off-the-shelf Jeep and Mopar parts, along with a few classic or retro-themed vehicles and extreme concepts that are unlikely to be considered for series production.

    The Crew Chief 715 concept pays tribute to Jeep’s historical military vehicles, namely the Kaiser M715. Based on the Wrangler Unlimited, the open-air off-roader features 40-inch military tires, an on-board air compressor system, and a five-foot cargo bed, among other modifications.

    The Jeep Shortcut continues the throwback theme with unique body elements inspired by the CJ-5 of the ’50s and ’60s. The concept was built with a combination of available aftermarket parts and custom bodywork, shortened by over 12 inches compared to the modern Wrangler donor. Red paint, red leather seats and plaid fabric help visually distinguish the Shortcut.

    Engineers and designers started with an original 1960 Jeep FC 150 to create a mechanically modernized model. The original body was retained, complete with a full-length cargo box, while the chassis has been swapped for that of a 2005 Wrangler. It is powered by an 4.0-liter PowerTech inline-six, mated to a three-speed automatic transmission.

    Blending modern and retro styling, the Comanche Concept essentially represents a stretched pickup conversion for the Renegade. Its color scheme is described as “Beige Against the Machine,” with a matching soft top and a satin black hood.

    At the other end of the spectrum, the Trailcat concept is presented as the ultimate off-road machine. It has been equipped with FCA’s supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8, delivering 707 horsepower via a six-speed manual gearbox. Engineers started with the Wrangler and stretched its wheelbase by 12 inches, while shaving two inches off the windshield for a sleeker look.

    The Trailstorm concept showcases a wide range of available performance parts for the Wrangler, ranging from Fox shocks to winches and big tires. The Renegade Commander concept also features available accessories, including off-road parts and modest interior enhancements.

    FCA appears to have put extra effort building unique concept vehicles for the latest Jeep jamboree, celebrating the Safari’s 50th year and the brand’s 75th anniversary. The gathering starts on March 19 and continues through the 27th.

  • Chrysler lowers Pacifica price to undercut rivals

    March 11, 2016

    Chrysler has lowered the Pacifica‘s base price to undercut rivals in the minivan segment.

    The Town & Country’s replacement now starts at $29,590 (including $995 freight), representing a savings of $1,400 compared to the previous generation. The Pacifica’s entry price is now lower than the Honda Odyssey ($30,300 with freight) and the Toyota Sienna ($29,750 with freight).

    “The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica offers more features – and at a better value than our key competitors – on each and every trim level,” says FCA North America passenger-car brands head Timothy Kuniskis.

    The range-topping Limited edition carries an MSRP of $43,490. The interior features Nappa leather upholstery, power third-row seats, ventilated front seats, navigation and an integrated vacuum cleaner. Exterior upgrades include HID headlights, LED fog lamps, handsfree doors and a panoramic sunroof.

    The redesigned minivan is also more competitive in terms of fuel efficiency, nearing the Odyssey’s figures with a city/highway rating of 18/22 mpg.

    The first production run will arrive in showrooms later this spring. The company has not yet announced pricing details for the hybrid edition.

  • Spied: Ram working on Hellcat-powered pickup?

    March 11, 2016

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles looks hellbent on putting its Hellcat engine in just about every vehicle it has with an engine bay large enough to fit the 6.2L supercharged V8. The Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Jeep Grand Cherokee and even the Jeep Wrangler have already been blessed with the Hellcat treatment, and the Ram pickup truck might be the next vehicle to join that list.

    Two very conspicuous Ram prototypes caught the eye of our spy photographer earlier on Thursday. The two prototypes looked to be based on the Heavy Duty version of the Ram pickup and are clearly sporting solid axles and some serious looking tires. But the most intriguing part of these trucks is their modified front ends.

    Both trucks feature a modified hood with a large, central air scoop. That hood scoop could be feeding FCA’s 6.2L supercharged Hellcat V8. If true, that means these trucks could be pushing more than 700 horsepower, which would give Ford’s latest F-150 Raptor a run for its money.

    Although a seemingly wild idea, the notion of a Ram Hellcat could make for an interesting business case. The Hellcat Charger and Challenger have provided a boost in interest for the more mundane versions of those cars, not to mention a boost in profit for FCA. Moreover, as we’ve seen with the 6.4L-powered Ram Power Wagon, FCA isn’t afraid to spread its SRT engines to the Ram line.

    It remains to be seen if a Ram Hellcat will ever see the light of day, but a significantly revised Ram is expected in 2017 or 2018, so we might only have to wait a year or two for a definitive answer.

  • Honda considering NSX Type R with RWD?

    March 11, 2016

    Honda is reportedly mulling a rear-wheel-drive NSX to serve as a track-focused limited edition, one of several variants that could be added down the road.

    Potentially known as the Type R, the package could save hundreds of pounds by omitting some of the hybrid components that are used to drive the front wheels, according to Autocar. The standard build is said to have around 330 pounds of electrification gear, including motors and batteries.

    NSX Dynamic Development head Nick Robinson and his brother James, a powertrain engineer at the company, will both be racing modified NSX vehicles at the 2016 Pike’s Peak hillclimb. Hinting at the potential Type R powertrain, James’ car eliminates the hybrid system in favor of an electric compressors to supplement the 3.5-liter V6′s twin exhaust-driven turbochargers. It is expected to be much more powerful than the standard powertrain.

    A recent report claimed the V6 engine still has significant room for improvement, producing ‘just’ 143 horsepower per liter in its current form. The hybrid system could also be revised to deliver more power, potentially paired with lightweight materials to reduce heft without eliminating the hybrid system.

    The Type R could be preceded by a convertible version of the standard NSX, consistent with the previous-generation car.