By Joe Bruzek on July 25, 2013
Few automakers embrace the special edition like Chrysler and its Dodge and Jeep brands. With most automakers, a sprinkling of special editions turn up on performance cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels Special Edition, but Chrysler's examples span from economy to sports cars. Seemingly dozens of PT Cruiser special editions almost made that weird car interesting. Almost.
Fast forward to today and special editions of various Dodge, Jeep and Chryslers continue to grow. At our count, there are roughly 25 unique special editions called out across each brand's website. All use specific exterior and interior features to create a limited-edition package that stands out.
Each special edition ranges in execution from a colored grille and special wheels to a complete reimagining of the car's purpose; names like Glacier, Core, Freedom, Blacktop adorn each one. We dug into all 20-plus Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler special editions — check out our most and least favorite models:
While many special editions add features, these three unique variants of the high-performance SRT8 lineup remove them in the name of cheap speed. Well, cheaper speed, as the discount is up to $4,700, but the least expensive Challenger SRT8 is still $40,000. It's a method long forgotten by automakers to give hot rodders the most bang for the buck. Super Bee and Core models ditch navigation, fancy adaptive suspension, leather, expensive wheels, sunroofs and more for the sake of affordability. The 470-horsepower Super Bee and Core models are ripe for those who want to save money on frilly features in order to cushion the supercharger fund.
Detroit designer John Varvatos' influence on the full-size 300C sedan can be seen in two versions, the John Varvatos Luxury and the John Varvatos Limited. Don't even worry about checking out the Luxury version — it's the striking Limited you'll see in advertisements. The John Varvatos Limited trim has more aggressive front styling, attention-grabbing titanium-painted 20-inch wheels and a host of Varvatos touches, including a black interior that uses materials from high-end leather-maker Poltrona Frau, a hand-stitched steering wheel and a pearlescent white gauge cluster. Unlike many designer editions, you can take away the name and still have a stand-out sedan with the Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited.
Freedom editions of the Patriot, Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited aren't visually stunning, and they don't offer much in the way of unique features. What's special is Jeep donates $250 from every vehicle sold to military charities. While not stunning, the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited are nostalgic with an available World War II olive-drab-colored exterior, but this package's nobility is why it makes the list. The Patriot Freedom Edition is also available in red, white and blue. All have a military-inspired star on the hood, rear fender and seats, as well as Mineral Gray wheels and unique badging.
Chrysler's partnership with rugged clothing manufacturer Carharrt spawned the Chrysler 200 S Special Edition. The collaboration would make a splash at the Specialty Equipment Market Association exhibition as a one-off showcar with overalls as upholstery, thick work-boot soles as accelerator and brake pedals and rubberized rain wear instead of carpet. Alas, the actual car wears none of those. The Carhartt bits in the 200 S Special Edition include water-resistant black fabric seats and Carhartt's signature triple stitching on the steering wheel, armrests and center console. Snooze.
The Chrysler 300S Glacier is an all-wheel-drive 300 with a unique "Falls" pattern cloth insert on its leather seats. That's about it. The package also includes specific wheels, various piano-black trim pieces and Glacier badging. A cold-air intake and freer-flowing exhaust bump horsepower to 300, from 292 hp, but it's hardly noticeable behind the wheel.
This package adds little more than a gloss-black painted grille, headlights and wheels — a motivated owner could spend a few hours on a lazy weekend doing the same thing with a can of spray paint or removable spray-on Plasti Dip rubberized coating. The blackened appearance works on the Dodge Charger and Challenger (where it was initially offered), but we're not sure a minivan can get away with this look.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe