Dodge Boosting R/T Packages to Attract Performance Seekers

The decision to move SRT into its own brand presents an opportunity for Dodge to attract niche buyers with its R/T models.

Aaron Foley, Associate Editor

July 3, 2012

2 Min Read
Redblack interior trim sets rsquo12 Dodge Durango RT apart
Red/black interior trim sets ’12 Dodge Durango R/T apart.

CHELSEA, MI – Trim packages and their respective exterior badging have proved to be a marketing challenge for U.S. auto makers, but in recent years some have cultivated sub-brands to better appeal to small, but dedicated, fan bases.

For example, GMC’s Denali evolved from chrome accents and leather seats to first-name recognition among luxury SUV buyers, sometimes supplanting the name of the model that included the trim package. Chevrolet’s SS has been a popular marque for decades, and a stand-alone SS model will come in ’13.

Chrysler’s Dodge brand has been quickly repositioning its R/T trim packages so as not to be overshadowed by the SRT high-performance sub-brand that evolved into a full-fledged brand last year. The goal, executives say, is to target the adult who still has a bit of street-racing streak in him, or the young buyer who needs a bit more training before graduating to the ranks of SRT.

R/T (Road/Track) models first started appearing on Dodge muscle cars in the 1960s and became favorites among performance enthusiasts. The marque was misapplied to some vehicles over the years, but Dodge is banking on the brand’s legacy to retain loyalists and attract new buyers.

Visually, that means more aftermarket-style add-ons that come standard with R/T packaging, which is available on the full Dodge lineup.

Bigger wheels, blacked-out grilles, dark-leather accents and signature interiors — black with red stitching and the R/T logo stitched into seating — are integral to the R/T’s branding. But Dodge now knows it’s more than just aesthetics.

“We’re guilty of that,” Richard Cox, director-Dodge brand, tells WardsAuto at a media drive here. “Going back several years, performance-wise, an R/T just meant a V-8 engine.”

In coming months, Dodge will market the under-the-hood differences between R/T vehicles and other badging. The new Dodge Dart R/T’s 2.4 Multi-Air I4 powertrain, coming in 2013, pumps out 184 hp and 171 lb.-ft. (232 Nm) of torque. It will be priced at $22,495, about $7,000 more than a base-model ’13 Dart.

Cox boasts that the Dodge Challenger R/T, with 375 hp, is “the most affordable V-8 muscle car,” emphasizing the R/T’s pricing strategy. A Challenger R/T starts at $29,995, while the SRT model begins at $45,125.

“The R/T is for someone who appreciates the finer things,” he says. “They’ve got a family, but they don’t want to lose what sets them apart from others.”

The growl that comes from a Durango R/T, for instance, marks the difference between that trim and the more-polished Crew or Citadel editions. R/T models also have tighter suspensions than their more-conservative counterparts, but better fuel economy than the upmarket SRTs.

Dodge plans to modify its website to better spotlight its R/T versions and perhaps even craft a separate domain for R/T enthusiasts. However, don’t look for R/T to take on its own identity or a stand-alone R/T vehicle.

“We’re making sure (the vehicles) remain true to an R/T standard,” Cox says.

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About the Author(s)

Aaron Foley

Associate Editor, WardsAuto

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