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Dodge Challenger, GM's Traverse Help "Thaw" Cold Auto Market

Wednesday, 6 Feb 2008 | 9:36 AM ET
AP

There's a snow storm bearing down on us here in Chicago, and with the auto market almost as cold and uninviting as the weather, the Chicago Auto Show is trying to shake the winter blahs.

The unveiling of the new Dodge Challenger should help. It's pure muscle: 425 hp and 420 lb/foot torque will make the Challenger fun to drive.

And Chrysler is being smart by limiting the number of Challengers it will build to 6,400. This is what Chrysler needs to do more of. Roll out limited production halo cars like this (price: $37,900) while the company re-tools its pipeline.

In few years Chrysler will feel the pressure to have a big mass market hit. But for now, the Challenger should work.

Chevy's new Traverse is another intriguing model we unveiled on "Squawk Box." It's a crossover with styling cues from the new Malibu. GM needs to exploit the public's appetite for smaller, more car like utility. At an estimated price of $30,000-34,000, the Traverse should do well when it rolls out next fall.

If Traverse is half as successful as the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, Chevy will be ecstatic.

There's little to cheer about in the auto biz right now, but for at least one morning, the Challenger and Traverse provide a brief respite.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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