By on October 5, 2007

472-testdrive.jpgIf a jobbing journo discovers a glaring deficiency on a pre-production test car, they usually ask the automaker if they're gonna sort this shit out (I'm paraphrasing), mention the PR person's solemn oath and move on. If the car's been on the showroom floor for, oh, eight months, like, say, the Dodge Avenger, it's time for the excuses to stop– unless you're James Healey of USA Today. In that case, you let Chrysler answer each and every complaint. Healey: "Suspension: Lots of clunk-thunk and rumble delivered directly from the road outside to your ears inside as well as rippling through your hands on the steering wheel." Chrysler" "Shock absorber bushings were changed beginning with Sept. 27 production. Shock and strut tuning is to be changed beginning with Oct. 15 production. Dealers will perform the upgrades free for any customer whose vehicle has the suspension issues." Healey: "The four-speed automatic… shuddered, shook and stuttered trying to change gears, up or down, under light and moderate throttle." Chrysler: "The problem was fixed beginning with July production…. Dealers should update vehicles free for customers who complain." I'm not sure who should be more embarrassed by this "He said, they promised" exchange. And is that the sound of ripping paper I hear from disgruntled customers heading for their local dealer with clip in hand?

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30 Comments on “USA Today Pans Avenger – Allows Chrysler to Explain...”

  • avatar

    And for the poor schmuck who bought this car and suffers from the clearly outlined malady? Good f–king luck getting your dealer to perform the service.

    1st visit – No problem found, unable to reproduce anomaly.
    2nd visit – Tech reproduces noise, but it’s found to be within normal operating parameters. Offers to show customer other cars on lot that perform the same way.
    3rd visit – Identify problem, no bulletin found pertaining to issue.
    4th visit – Identify problem, perform correction as mandated by TSB that customer had to find on Internet. Tech also breaks something else while performing repair.

    Customer then takes car to independent shops, paying someone competent to perform what should be warranty work or repairs CAUSED by warranty work.

    Ahhh, the acrid smell of domestic dealer service waiting areas…I know them well.

  • avatar

    So basically, what Chrysler is saying is: “if you bought our crappy Avenger, we’ll get you a new one for free, because, frankly, changing the suspension and the transmission is worth more than the whole car”.
    Not to mention it’s ugly.
    How could execs let this and its even uglier brother the Sebring hit the showrooms? Especially with the new Accord, malibu, the current fusion and Camry all waiting right there and being competitive, competent offerings.

  • avatar

    Well…Someoone has to produce rental drones.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    This embarrasses me. I don’t work for Chrysler, or any auto manufacturer. Just as an American.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Good luck getting the dealer to make the repairs under warranty. Besides, who needs the aggravation when far better alternatives abound?

    Healey’s recommendation buyers delete the Avenger from consideration for a year suitably punishes Chrysler for foisting a not ready for prime time car on the public.

  • avatar

    blautens, you are right on the money.

    Our Jeep GC lurches sometimes when coming to a stop; it’s done it since day one, and it’s been to the dealer 3 times.

    I’ve yet to find a TSB on the internet for it, but I’m hopeful.

    Contrast this to my mom’s Toyota Avalon – the passenger seat rattled at highway speeds occasionally. The dealer could never replicate the rattle, but they replaced her seat with a new one anyway.

    Yes, Toyota has problems, but Toyota is starting to “get it” when it comes to the dealer experience. The domestics – well – not so much.


  • avatar

    Curious-has Chrysler heard of the prototype testing concept? Before retail I mean.

    Ralph SS-exactly
    Recently JDP started doing Motorcycle reliabilty studies. Guess what over-priced domestic was at the bottom? I felt so mad, I don’t want their style of bike, but I felt like “doesn’t anyone in this country care about excellence any more”.

    I would PREFER to by American, but not at the expense of putting my family in substandard vehicles.


  • avatar

    Are you referring to Harley Davidson? I assume you have never heard the “Magnetic trailer” joke? ..Or noticed that they are still peddling 25 year old designs?

    Harley..bah. Give me a..any Japanese bike any day of the week.

  • avatar

    Harleys get you into THE CLUB, man! No “Jap” bike can do that.

  • avatar

    If you want a great read, read the comments posted by readers with the USA Today article. I’ve been trying to steer the comments towards a constructive dialogue about sweating the details and how Chrysler hasn’t done that and instead a flame war developed.
    Thank you RF and TTAC for keeping us all sane with our car discussions!

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    More props for Blautens…

    I can’t believe the number of times I heard that when my Dad’s 300C went to the dealer. No surprise he sold it after 9 months.

    But at least the 300 has its RWD mojo working…zero tolerance for that mess with an Avenger!

  • avatar

    It doesn’t sound like the replacements for the old Dodge Stratus and Plymouth Breeze are ready to go head to head with the 2007 Toyota Camry.

    I can only imagine what the quality gap between this year’s Camry and Avenger or Sebring will be once 50,000 miles roll by.

    Perception gap, anyone?

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t be the least bit concerned about what issues this “car” will have developed by the 30k mile mark. It seems to be overflowing with quality right off the production line. Should we revisit these in 3 years to see where they stand?

  • avatar

    I just have to say.. I saw pictures of the avenger (and sebring) and thought they looked okay, but I finally saw (or at least noticed) an avenger right next to me yesterday and it was awful. I know you’re all way ahead of me, but taking some styling cues from the charger (which I like) and sticking them on what is obviously a low-rent joke just did not work out.

  • avatar

    How can a car give you the worst of both worlds: Bad handling and bad ride quality? How? Well, we’ll let Chrysler Corp of America show you how.

  • avatar

    I guess there’s a risk from buying version 1.0 of anything, but it sounds like Avenger owners are being used as “beta testers”, and making monthly payments for the privilege. Oh wait, that probably applies to most every Chrysler product.

  • avatar

    I’m sure Harley’s get you into the Club, but 90% of the Club cseems to consist of fat guys, old guys, old fat guys, old fat guys with pony tails, and aging yuppies. The bikes themselves come in a wide range of different models at high prices, which look like basically the same bike with different farkles and do-dads.

    It’s nice that H-D has a real revival story to tell, albeit with backing of US trade policy placing heavy duties on import cycles.

    It seems that a lot of Harley’s recent success arisen from nostalgia and a hearkening to a different era. Along those lines, I would love to see a return of the Buick Roadmaster and an open highway.

  • avatar

    IMHO, a little of the road rippling up through the steering wheel can be a good thing. Done right, it’s called “road feel.” Sure, refined it isn’t. But too many cars these days are so refined they’re absolutely boring to drive.

    That said, I don’t remember much feel from the Avenger’s steering, though the wheel had a pleasant heft to it.

    Sounds like Healey drove one of the lesser trims. The Avenger R/T is a relatively crude device, and isn’t outstanding in any way, but it’s not a boring drive.

  • avatar

    It actually seems like USA Today liked the car.
    The “issues” they mentioned don’t really seem like problems to me. I’d probably not even bother to have them fixed.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Who the Hell wants to be in the “My bike won’t run so we just sit and look at the POS on a trailer and talk about its heritage” club? That’s the ONLY heritage Harley has. Japan has been making BETTER motorcycles for avout 40 years now.

  • avatar

    I read the original USA Today article before looking at TTAC (hey, I’m traveling and they shove a copy of USA Today under the door at the hotel every AM). Having participated in the discussion of Phil’s why you should buy American editorial here it was almost funny reading about the version 0.5 Avenger release.

    All things considered, USA Today did a good job of outing Chrysler for it’s abysmal attention to detail while at the same time “telling both sides of the story”. I don’t think any reader came away from the article with the idea that they should give the Avenger strong consideration.

    The bottom line is that as a group the US based automakers still don’t practice attention to detail anything like Honda or Toyota do.

  • avatar

    I used to want a Harley until I worked in a Harley shop…spend enough time with them and you’ll begin to understand “yesterday’s technology at tomorrow’s prices.”

    IIRC BMW had an ad for their 1200C that said “For those interesting in riding a motorcycle, not a bandwagon.” true, true.

  • avatar

    Chrysler is a certified mess! Is it possible to be so clueless as to consumers current design tastes? Is it so difficult to release a car to the masses that has passed a battery of quality control measures? At least Ford had sense enough to delay the launch of the Edge in order to sort out some glitches. Unfortunately for Chrysler, basically everything they’ve released recently(other than the 300/Charger/Magnum) has provoked collective head scraching.

    Trust me, Chrysler dealers are not the only ones to pull the “Sorry sir, we cannot duplicate the condition”. Such was the case with my 06 Honda CR-V, as it’s not been flawless, having had some mechanical/fit and finish “issues”.


  • avatar

    I have NO clue why ANYONE would buy a current Chrysler product other than possibly a the 300/Charger…if it’s fugly it better be reliable…we tolerate “drama of ownership” from beautiful vehicles because when they ARE working as intended you feel like the king of the road. Why ANYONE would allow themselves to be henpecked by a Sebring or Avenger is beyond me…my best guess is that it’s a reflection of a lifestyle that involves activities that require safe words and gags.

  • avatar

    shaker :
    October 5th, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Harleys get you into THE CLUB, man! No “Jap” bike can do that.


    It’s curious that on the other thread, the mention of words like “ni….” or “we…..” elicits such strong responses among the TTAC community, but “Jap” is used without any thought at all.

  • avatar

    “but “Jap” is used without any thought at all.”

    Perhaps it is because most of us expect Harley partisans to be ill-mannered folks who are in any case in the process of dying off …. and don’t typically show much response to sensitivity training or correction of any kind.

  • avatar

    Sorry, thought the sarcasm would be more evident in my post…
    I ride a Kawasaki Z750S; a fine running, fine handling MC; but looked upon with disdain by Harley riders. The “kinder” term these days is “rice-burner”.
    Think of the 300/Charger and their “little brothers”; their styling thumbs their noses at the styling of imports, and are on technolgically inferior running gear — what audience do you think they’re going for?

  • avatar

    I’m surprised the general population wastes money on these cars. Cry-sler should become a rental car company, like checker was to cabs, and then everyone gets to turn their cars in at the end of the week.

    We can put up with anything if it’s only for a few days.

  • avatar

    shaker: I noticed the tongue in cheek.
    My uncle just did a bunch of research before he bought a new Suzuki M109R Limited Edition. It will out-everything a Harley (unless skull-clattering noise is a desirable trait), cost $10K (US) less and still gets looked down on by H-D riders. I understand that cruisers are not meant to be fast, but H-D can’t even compete. Their only competitive bike of late was the Vrod, and they sourced those motors from Porsche.

  • avatar

    And the V-Rod is looked down on by “traditionalist” Harley riders – because it’s quiet, sophisticated powerplant is much too “Japanese”.
    I was contemplating renting a V-Rod once; the girl at the rental counter said “We don’t get much call for them, ’cause they sound like the “Jetson’s Car”.

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