Dodge’s Muscle Cars Push Aside the Minivan

The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is a hot rodder?s dreamThe Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is a hot rodder?s dream: With 707?horsepower it has a top speed of 204?mph and covers a quarter-mile in about 11?seconds. Parent Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) bills the Hellcat as the fastest production sedan on earth.

Derided not so long ago for selling nondescript vans and sedans, Dodge is remaking itself as a muscle-car brand that appeals to guys in their 20s and 30s. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne has called Dodge ?the best-kept secret in the house.?? There is a unique place in the American mind for Dodge. And we need to satisfy that?need.?

Traditionally, Dodge cars were priced to sell, often to rental-car companies and drivers with weak credit. ?Dodge was the cheaper little brother of Chrysler,? says David Kelleher, a Dodge Chrysler dealer in Glen Mills, Pa. ?It was always for the working-class person, and Chrysler was for the more affluent.?

When Fiat took control of Chrysler Group (which now calls itself Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US) in 2009, Dodge wasn?t admired for much except its reliable Ram trucks. Marchionne split off Ram into its own brand that same year, leaving a disconnected lineup that included the Avenger family sedan and the Grand Caravan minivan.

The company decided to reimagine the Charger and Challenger, cars originally created by Dodge in the ?60s to take on General Motors? (GM) Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Motor?s (F) Mustang. This year new versions appeared?the Charger in the fall and the Challenger over the summer?with more power, cockpit technology such as navigation systems, and designs that mirror the?originals.