Behind The Wheel

2020 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack Plus Review: Good power, Widebody package makes it a nonstarter

The Charger Widebody adds exterior width to a model that's already wide.

Photo courtesy. of FCA US LLC

The Dodge Charger brand name is nearing its 60th birthday. While the current generation isn't quite that old, the handling and ride quality of the car are helping it show its age. Still, there's plenty to like about the 2020 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack Plus.

The Charger hasn't massively changed in appearance since its 2011 generational debut. It's been tweaked here and there, as well as the interior, to help it keep up with modern equipment and appearances. As delivered, the car had the Widebody format, adding a variety of equipment and width to the model.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody Scat Pack models get unique bee badging.Photo courtesy. of FCA US LLC

The tester came with a Go Mango orange paint job - a bold color matching the boldness of the car's engine.

The Charger Scat Pack, the model the tested Charger is built on, comes with a V8 engine under its hood. The 6.4-liter HEMI gets 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The power output is robust and throttle response is proper. The engine is the best part of the car.

Dodge has given the Charger Widebody six-piston Brembo brakes, body color fender flares, a performance shift indicator, leather flat-bottom steering wheel, and the Widebody Competition Suspension with active damping, and unique wheels and tires for an additional $6,000 on top of the base price.

However, the car's handling can't keep up with the power. Dodge has given the sedan a beefy steering wheel, which feels appropriate for the model, but keeping the car steering safely on the road is a chore and borderline dangerous for the average driver when they give the V8 the go ahead with a full push on the throttle.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody The Charger hasn't changed too much inn the last decade.Photo courtesy. of FCA US LLC

It would be one thing if the car delivered a connected drive with responsive steering. It is quite another with a model that has numb steering, body roll, and a suspension that lets allows the car to do more gliding over the road than showing off its stick-to-itiveness.

The steering isn't any better when it comes to parking. After a week behind the wheel, the car was no easier to park on center than it was the first day of driving. There are no forward-facing cameras to aid in the process. Also, the car's wide 305/35ZR20 front and rear tires, sitting on 20-inch x 11-inch Devil's Rim aluminum wheels greatly limited the angle the car was able to turn when pulling into a backing out of a parking spot.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody The car's seats are comfortable and provide good support.Photo courtesy. of FCA US LLC

Setting aside the drive, the ride is actually quite decent with comfortable seats, enough space for four adults, and a relatively high-riding seat position that feels chair-like when adjusted for someone who doesn't mind what grandmothers across the country would stress is proper posture.

The Uconnect infotainment system is easy to use and works as advertised. The available 8.4-inch screen feels right-sized for the spacious interior. Though the cabin's styling doesn't impress, nor feel like it's worthy of the over $50,000 price tag that was on the tester, it's straight from the Dodge DNA and that's respectable enough.

Though the car lacks the boatload of safety tech that comes on lesser priced models from Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, the lack of them gives the car a sort of sportiness that harkens back to what could be called "the good old days."

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody The Charger's cabin is spacious.Photo courtesy. of FCA US LLC

The 2020 Dodge Charger starts at $29,895. As tested, the model came in at $50,180. For that price, I'd rather own a mid-grade used Porsche Panamera with its connected drive and potent engine, and put the extra $10,000 in a rainy day fund for when tires, an oil change, and mechanical improvements are needed.

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The Jeep Wrangler Islander is now aviallable to order.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep is bringing back its popular Islander special edition SUV for the 2021 model year, but with a twist. This year, the Wrangler and Renegade are getting the treatment. This is the first time the Jeep Renegade has been available with this special edition treatment.

"Our Jeep enthusiasts expect legendary Jeep 4x4 capability, and they also embrace the Jeep brand's fun 'go anywhere, do anything' adventure lifestyle," said Jim Morrison, Vice President, Jeep Brand North America. "With Surf Blue accent stitching, Islander-embroidered front seats and available white three-piece hardtop on the Wrangler, you can't help but think summer and the beach life when you see these new Islander special editions."

2021 The Jeep Renegade Islander beings the spirit of coastal communities to the off-roading family hauler.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021

The Wrangler Islander has been gone for 11 years after being first introduced as a special edition in 1988. The new model is based on the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport S with either two- or four-doors. It comes standard with the following features and equipment:

  • Jeep Command-Trac 4x4 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio
  • 17-inch Rubicon aluminum wheels in Silver Finish with all-terrain tires
  • Rubicon Rock Rails
  • Uconnect 4 with a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Dual-zone temperature control
  • Exterior details include a Tiki Bob hood decal; interior details include a Ceramic White mid-bolster and black cloth seats with an embroidered Islander logo and Surf Blue accent stitching
  • Available white three-piece hardtop
  • Optional Islander Plus Package by Mopar adds front/rear grab handles, cargo tub liner, solid sunbonnet top and Tiki Bob soft spare-tire cover

The Jeep Wrangler Islander is available in Billet Silver, Black, Chief, Granite Crystal, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Hellayella, Sarge Green, Snazzberry and Sting-Gray.

Each Islander model receives unique interior appointments.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The Renegade Islander is based on the 2021 Jeep Renegade Latitude. Its list of standard and available features and equipment includes:

  • Available Jeep Active Drive full-time 4x4 system
  • 19-inch Silver Alloy wheels with all-season tires
  • Dual-pane panoramic sunroof for ultimate open-air freedom
  • Uconnect 4 with a 7-inch touchscreen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Exterior details include a Tiki Bob hood decal; interior details include premium black cloth seats with an embroidered Islander logo and Surf Blue accent stitching
  • Keyless Entry with panic alarm
  • Remote start system
  • Available Alpine White painted roof

The Jeep Renegade Islander is available in Bikini, Jetset Blue, Glacier and Omaha Orange paint jobs.

The two models serve up a unique look.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

All 2021 Jeep vehicles get the Jeep Wave premium owner loyalty program with purchase. It gives access to benefits and exclusive perks like three years of worry-free maintenance at Jeep dealerships, including oil changes and tire rotations; 24/7 support via phone or chat; 24/7 roadside assistance and first-day loaner coverage; access to select Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Islander has a starting U.S. MSRP of $33,370 for two-door models and $36,870 for four-door models (all prices exclude $1,495 destination). The starting price for the 2021 Jeep Renegade Islander is $27,430.

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The Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo brings an adventurous spirit to the table.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Imagine a Porsche 911 with a long, wagon-like back end and you end up with something like the Porsche Panamera. Make the 911 a Taycan, Porsche's fully-electric sports sedan, give it a wagon-like back end and increased ground clearance, and you have the 2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.

Porsche says that the new model "draws on the strengths of its sport sedan sibling" giving buyers an idea of what to expect - a performance-focused driving style, sure-footedness, and a refined interior. The increased ground clearance via a standard air suspension and added cargo capacity make the Taycan Cross Turismo more adventure-ready.

The fresh body style give rear seat occupants 0.35 inches more legroom and 3.62 inches more headroom. With the rear seats folded, there's 42.8 cubic feet of cargo space, about 10 cubic feet less than what's in the 2021 Porsche Macan. With the seats erect, the differential is in the Macan's favor by just under two cubic feet (15.7 vs. 17.6). The Taycan Cross Turismo has 2.9 cubic feet of cargo space in the front, something the Macan doesn't have (because that's where its engine is).

2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Roof rails are standard. A roof transport system and rear-mounted bike rack are available via Telequipment. The Off Road Design Package adds additional body cladding and raises the ride height an additional 10 millimeters (0.39 inches).

The boutique automaker will launch the model in four grades: Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, Taycan 4S Cross Turismo, Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo, and Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo. All models will features dual-motor all-wheel drive, a two-speed rear transmission, Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management in conjunction with air suspension, Performance Battery Plus and its 800-volt battery architecture, adaptive aerodynamics, a panoramic glass roof.

The Taycan Cross Turismo will come standard with a Gravel drive model, meant for driving situations that need more traction than most. But, in no way should the car be considered anything more than dirt-path ready. The car is quipped with more cladding than the traditional Taycan in order to prevent paint chips and body damage.

Porsche says that Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo can accelerate from a stop to 60 miles per hour in 2.7 seconds while the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo can make the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds. The Taycan 4S Cross Turismo and Taycan 4 Cross Turismo can get to 60 mph in 3.9 and 4.8 seconds respectively.

Three years of free Electrify America charging is also included with every model.

Buyers will be able to order theres in a number of color ways, interior schemes, and Cross Turismo specific items such as the Off Road Design Package and 20-inch Off Road Design or 21-inch Cross Turismo Design wheels. There are 21,000 total combinations based solely on variant, wheel choice, exterior color, and interior selection.

Porsche's PCM infotainment and navigation system are standard. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Function on Demand, Plug and Charge capabilities, Apple Music, over-the-air updates for three years. Bose and Burmester audio systems and 14-way power-adjustable seats with massage functionality are available.

Adaptive cruise control, park assist, a head-up display, and lane keep assist will also be available.

The Taycan Cross Turismo models start at $90,900, not including the $1,350 destination charge. The Taycan Cross Turismo is expected to arrive at U.S. dealerships in summer 2021. EPA range figures will be announced closer to market launch.

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