By David Thomas on January 7, 2010
A few days before the automotive world descends on Detroit for the 2010 North American International Auto Show, Chrysler has released the full details on a number of special-edition versions of its current lineup for the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands. It also has unveiled an entirely new naming convention for its Dodge models’ trim levels.
No longer will you buy a Dodge Nitro SE or SXT. Instead it’s a Dodge Nitro Heat, Detonator or Shock. The idea behind the change is that car shoppers don’t want a “base” model or something as droll as an SE, they want a name attached to the trim level. Heck, Audi calls its base models “Premium” and the next tier is Premium Plus, so Dodge isn’t alone in this trend. However, the flashy names it has chosen might be confusing to car shoppers, especially since each model has differing trim levels. Yep, Heat won’t be the base model for a Caliber — that’s called an Express. There is a Heat version of the Caliber, but it’s wedged between the Mainstreet and Uptown trim levels.
"The new Dodge brand lifestyle models are aimed at consumers who want the most out of life rather than models that indicate only how much they were able to afford with the previous good, better and best lineup,” a Chrysler spokesman said via email about the name changes. “They are also intended to convey our new attitude.”
We dutifully break down each model and its new trim levels below. If you have something to say about this new naming convention, tell us in the comment below.
2010 Dodge Journey
There are more variations now available in terms of packages, which bundle options together. Currently, you can get an SE for $20,490, and the next step up to the SXT jumps to $23,790. The new variations have added three trims that fall between what was the SE and SXT.
SE, SXT, R/T
Dodge Journey (no trim level designation) $20,320 17-inch aluminum wheels, cruise control, sunscreen glass, body-colored mirrors, floormats and passenger grab handles.
Dodge Journey Express $21,320
Adds a two-person third row for seven-passenger seating
Dodge Journey Hero $22,320
Adds 235 hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine with dual exhausts paired with a six-speed transmission
Dodge Journey Hero with AWD $23,320
Adds all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels
Dodge Journey Heat $24,320
Adds Uconnect phone, iPod control, Sirius Satellite Radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote start, trip computer, HomeLink universal transceiver, tonneau cover, six premium speakers with subwoofer, a tri-folding cargo floor with additional storage space beneath, 19-inch aluminum wheels and large chromed-tip dual exhausts
Dodge Journey Crew $25,320
Adds third row for seven-passenger seating, automatic climate control, premium gauge cluster, rear DVD entertainment system, 19-inch painted machined wheels, body-colored side sills and chrome interior accents, roof rack and door handles,
Dodge Journey Uptown $29,320
Adds leather-trimmed seven-passenger seating, power sunroof, navigation system with 30GB hard drive and real-time traffic, backup camera, rear DVD entertainment system, 19-inch chrome wheels and chrome bodyside molding
The 2010 Nitro is already on sale, but the 2010 we detail below is what we in the auto industry call a rolling introduction, usually it's a change mid-model year. It’s confusing on its own and throwing in the new trim level names makes it even worse. On the good side, the new 2010 comes with a more powerful V-6 engine at 260 horsepower (up from 210 hp) and new styling, but we can’t tell what the changes are in the images we have. It also starts at $23,250 versus the 2010 SE’s $21,590.
Here are the trim level changes.
Formerly SE, SXT
Dodge Nitro Heat $23,250 Standard 20-inch aluminum wheels, eight premium speakers with a 368-watt amplifier and 9-inch subwoofer, deep-tinted glass, Uconnect phone, iPod control, Sirius Satellite Radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror, speed control and security alarm
Dodge Nitro Detonator $25,250 Adds 20-inch Mopar polished/painted aluminum wheels, hood decal, eight speakers plus subwoofer, remote start, rear-park assist and color-keyed premium cloth interior that matches the exterior paint color
Dodge Nitro Shock $26,250
Adds heated leather seats and a sunroof
2010 Dodge Caliber
The 2010 Caliber hadn’t been formerly introduced with pricing until now. It gets a new interior and a price increase. The new lowest trim level, the Express, starts at $16,880; the 2009 SE model started at $16,460.
SE, SXT, R/T, SRT4 (SRT4 discontinued for 2010)
Dodge Caliber Express $16,880
Standard Uconnect phone, iPod control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Sirius Satellite Radio, 115-volt outlet, cruise control, remote keyless entry, tonneau cover, and power windows, mirrors and locks
Dodge Caliber Mainstreet $18,260
Adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, chrome crosshair grille, body-colored door handles, fog lamps, folding front-passenger seat, touring suspension, tachometer, continuously variable automatic transmission, and 60/40-split folding, reclining rear seat
Dodge Caliber Heat $17,995
Adds sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch polished-aluminum wheels, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, performance steering, color-keyed instrument panel and seats, B- and C-pillar blackout accents and five-speed manual transmission
Dodge Caliber Uptown $19,995
Adds these features to Mainstreet model: automatic climate control, leather seating, power-adjustable driver’s seat, nine-speaker Boston Acoustics stereo system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and two articulating liftgate speakers
Dodge Caliber Rush $19,995
Adds these features to Heat trim: 172-hp 2.4-liter engine, 18-inch chrome-clad wheels, SRT-designed spoiler, automatic climate control, nine-speaker Boston Acoustics stereo system with touch-screen and 30GB hard drive. A CVT is optional.
The Avenger gets added standard equipment with the new base model and starts at $1,000 less than the current SXT’s price of $20,320.
Dodge Avenger Express $19,230
Standard Uconnect phone, iPod control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Sirius Satellite Radio, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated premium cloth seats, heated exterior mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, chrome interior accents, Media Center 430 radio with touch-screen and 30GB hard drive, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, 17-inch aluminum wheels, chrome crosshair grille and automatic transmission
Dodge Avenger Heat $20,230
Adds fog lamps, rear spoiler, 18-inch aluminum wheels, body-colored crosshair grille and six Boston Acoustics speakers
Optional Boost Package adds more performance with a 235 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, chromed dual exhausts, sport-tuned suspension, performance steering and six-speed transmission with Auto Stick
Thankfully, Dodge didn’t change the naming convention for the Challenger. It still comes in SE, R/T, R/T Classic and SRT8 trim models. A Plum Crazy special edition is available for the R/T and SRT, and it comes with optional white- and purple-colored leather seats. The special editions start at $34,415 and $43,430, respectively.
Dodge Grand Caravan
There are no changes to the Grand Caravan trim levels; they remain the SE and SXT. We assume minivan shoppers don’t have enough attitude to warrant the Express and Heat names.
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David