The Truth About Cars » Chrysler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 26 May 2015 20:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Chrysler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/chrysler/ FCA Takes Former Australia Exec. to Court for Misappropriation of $30M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-takes-former-australia-exec-to-court-for-misappropriation-of-30m/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-takes-former-australia-exec-to-court-for-misappropriation-of-30m/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 14:15:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075882 The Chrysler 300, thought by many to be a modern day “gangster” car, has tons of power. But, as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and for former FCA Australia CEO Clyde Campbell, it still may not be enough to escape accusations of misappropriation of funds. Tomorrow, FCA will take Campbell to federal court in Australia claiming he […]

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Chrysler 300 (Aus)

The Chrysler 300, thought by many to be a modern day “gangster” car, has tons of power. But, as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and for former FCA Australia CEO Clyde Campbell, it still may not be enough to escape accusations of misappropriation of funds.

Tomorrow, FCA will take Campbell to federal court in Australia claiming he funneled money to other companies owned by himself, his wife, co-workers, and his successor – Victoria Johns.

FCA has accused Campbell of misappropriating and misusing more than $30 million “in company money to fund an extravagant lifestyle for his family and business associates,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The claim also states Campbell provided free vehicles to celebrities Shane Wayne and Elizabeth Hurley in the UK, a region in which FCA Australia does not have business.

Campbell is said to have used corporate funds to purchase a $400,000 yacht, a plane, trips, and private club memberships through a convoluted process involving multiple companies.

The accused, prior to working for FCA, was employed by Motortrak. After Campbell moved to his position at FCA, Motortrak was contracted to provide web services to dealers at inflated prices, costing FCA $9.16 million per year between December 2010 and May 2015.

Campbell is also said to have funneled money to a company called My Alfa Romeo that was contracted to provide a “mobile floating billboard” at the cost of $500,000. Simone, Clyde’s wife, was a director and shareholder of My Alfa Romeo. The billboard was never delivered or provided.

Another company, Vukosav Photography, was paid $191,192 for services never contracted. Company owner Andrew Vukosav is said to be a friend of Campbell. The two allegedly went on a three-day golf trip together in New Zealand. Neither FCA or Maxus, FCA Australia’s marketing agency, contracted photography services from Vukosav Photography.

A conflict of interest is also mentioned in a $6.6 million contract with a company called Digital Dialogue. Sam Tabart, then FCA’s marketing director, is said to have a stake in parent company Digital Dialogue Media Holdings.

Finally, it is alleged Campbell’s successor, Victoria Johns, used company funds to pay for renovations at her private home. Johns was the first female CEO in the automotive industry in Australia and left FCA without warning in October 2014 for “personal reasons.” There have been no claims made against Johns.

FCA is looking to reclaim funds misspent under Campbell’s tenure as managing director from 2010 to 2013 and to freeze the assets of Campbell and his wife Simone, including their family home, “bank accounts, shareholdings and other properties and assets in Europe and New Zealand.”

“During a routine audit, we discovered what at best appears to be incomplete documentation pertaining to certain transactions and vendor relationships initiated or approved by Mr Campbell during his tenure as CEO of FCA Australia,” explained a representative for FCA in a statement.

The case begins in federal court tomorrow.

[Sources: mUmBRELLA, Sydney Morning Herald 1, 2, GoAuto]

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NYT: GM’s Barra Declined Meeting with FCA’s Marchionne to Discuss Possible Merger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 18:21:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075162 Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra […]

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Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra would hear of Marchionne’s merger desires.

That’s the story being told by the New York Times today, detailing the lengths to which Marchionne is going to trigger consolidation within the automotive industry.

During a routine analyst conference call on April 29, Marchionne brought his plea to other executives through the media with a 25-page PowerPoint presentation.

“I think it is absolutely clear that the amount of capital waste that’s going on in this industry is something that certainly requires remedy. A remedy in our view is through consolidation,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne’s overture of a merger with GM includes no less than 14 brands between North America and Europe, not including the many other brands each company markets in China and other emerging regions. But, to date, the overture has been played to an audience wearing earplugs.

Even with the vast number of brands, that isn’t what bothers Marchionne. Instead, it’s the amount of money poured into redundant R&D work that could be shared by multiple automakers.

“It’s fundamentally immoral to allow for that waste to continue unchecked,” he said.

[Source: New York Times]

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Marchionne: AWD Minivan Will Lose Stow ‘N Go or Gain Electric Motor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-awd-minivan-will-lose-stow-n-go-or-gain-electric-motor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-awd-minivan-will-lose-stow-n-go-or-gain-electric-motor/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 17:45:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072338 Move over, Toyota. You won’t be the only automaker hocking an all-wheel drive minivan when the new Town & Country arrives next year. According to Sergio Marchionne, the next minivan will get all-wheel drive, but something’s gotta give. Packaging constraints as they are, and the Town & Country’s features as they are, the next generation […]

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2015 Chrysler Town & Country

Move over, Toyota. You won’t be the only automaker hocking an all-wheel drive minivan when the new Town & Country arrives next year.

According to Sergio Marchionne, the next minivan will get all-wheel drive, but something’s gotta give.

Packaging constraints as they are, and the Town & Country’s features as they are, the next generation minivan can only bring all-wheel drive to fruition in one of two ways: ditch Stow ‘N Go to free up space under the passenger floor or implement a hybrid system with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. “It’s not that complicated. We’re exploring both,” said Marchionne, Automotive News reports.

Considering the popularity of Stow ‘N Go for Chrysler’s minivan twins, the latter option seems most likely, and it isn’t without precedent.

Starting with the second-generation Cube in Japan, Nissan offered a system called “e4WD” that sent power to the electrically-driven rear wheels when the front wheels slipped. It also eliminated the need for a center coupling and reduced parasitic loss typically associated with mechanical all-wheel drive systems.

The new Chrysler minivan will debut at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in January before heading off to dealers later the same year as a 2017 model.

[h/t AutoGuide]

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BREAKING: Worker Crushed To Death At Grand Cherokee, Durango Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/breaking-worker-crushed-death-grand-cherokee-durango-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/breaking-worker-crushed-death-grand-cherokee-durango-plant/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 13:23:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062082 UPDATE: Previous incident at Jefferson North included at bottom. UPDATE 2: Added name of worker and clarified details. A worker was crushed and ultimately succumbed to his injuries this morning at Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango plant. At around 6:30 a.m., 53-year-old Donald Megge, of Sterling Heights, was crushed in a press and declared dead […]

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Jefferson North Assembly Plant

UPDATE: Previous incident at Jefferson North included at bottom.

UPDATE 2: Added name of worker and clarified details.

A worker was crushed and ultimately succumbed to his injuries this morning at Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango plant.

At around 6:30 a.m., 53-year-old Donald Megge, of Sterling Heights, was crushed in a press and declared dead at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit. The accident happened during the day’s first shift, confirmed a FCA spokesperson speaking with CBS affiliate WWJ in Detroit. He was performing preventative maintenance duties at part of the first shift of the day starting at 5:30 a.m.

“A plant employee was killed at the waste water treatment plant. The company is currently working with local officials to investigate the incident. All of the FCA family extends its deepest sympathies to the employee’s family during this difficult time.”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

This isn’t the first time a death has befallen Jefferson North in recent years. As Automotive News reports, a worker was stabbed by another worker at the plant in 2012 during a dispute over a woman. The attacker later took his own life off-site.

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European Long-Term Review: Chrysler LHS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/european-long-term-review-chrysler-lhs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/european-long-term-review-chrysler-lhs/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041313 Replacing a Lincoln Town Car with Chrysler LHS may be a strange decision, and it’s definitely an interesting experience. But it’s also very educating one, for the differences between the two tell surprisingly much about the way people think about cars, the way people buy cars and the way cars are designed. I’ve always loved […]

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Replacing a Lincoln Town Car with Chrysler LHS may be a strange decision, and it’s definitely an interesting experience. But it’s also very educating one, for the differences between the two tell surprisingly much about the way people think about cars, the way people buy cars and the way cars are designed.

I’ve always loved a true American fullsize sedan – a body-on-frame, RWD behemoth with a large V8 in front, bench seat in the middle and a trunk large enough for several bodies in the back. And the ’98 Lincoln Town Car I have driven daily for more than a year fits that bill perfectly. But it was borrowed and to buy it (and fix remaining issues) was not really within my financial means. So it had to go, and I had to find a replacement. And I found a car that’s like Town Car’s lost sibling in many ways, and its polar opposite in many others. The 1994 Chrysler LHS.

The 1990s Chryslers do not get much love among American car enthusiasts in Czech Republic. Not only they lack a pair of cylinders and they are driven by the wrong wheels, but, what’s probably the worst, they are quite common. They may not admit it, but for most US car owners in Europe, the rarity is large part of the magic. And because Chryslers were officialy imported in 1990s and 00s, they’re usually not held to such esteem as the “true American” cars – e.g. those that had to be brough here by “gray importers”.

But if you want a cheap luxobarge, this makes big Chryslers pretty interesting. Not being as cool as other American cars means they’re cheap. While a ’98 Town Car would cost around $5k here, which is significantly more than a 7-Series (E38) BMW or first generation Audi A8, the LHS can be had for under $2,000. In my case, with broken timing gear but otherwise fine, it cost 11,000 CZK. That’s $433 at today’s exchange rate. That’s Škoda Felicia money. And a Felicia isn’t much better than Yugo. Included in the price was a parts car with working a drivetrain. So, after another few hundered bucks for timing gear repair (about $150 for parts + shipping, roughly twice that for work, as the tensioner was broken out from the block), I have a nice and fully driveable fullsize sedan.

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It still has a few flaws – mostly the front suspension needs attention – but it’s got a pretty decent interior, the Infinity sound system works just fine, the body and paint is not perfect, but nice enough, the transmission shifts, the engine purrs, the power stuff works. A nice start to finding out what’s the story with those big Chryslers. I’ve always avoided them for reasons mentioned above, but that was a few years ago, when they did cost money. So, how does one compare to a Town Car? And will it keep up, or it will it commit a mechanical suicide?

When it was launched, the LH platform was the Chrysler’s return to the world of true fullsize cars and presented a thoroughly modern approach to the same brief that gave birth to B-bodies and Panthers a long time ago. And, viewed by cold, rational eyes, it was far superior to both. The reasons why Panther outlived the LH by many years, and why LH was replaced by much more Panther-like LX are are a fascinating look into the automotive market.

If you compare a ’98 Town Car with a ’94 LHS, the first thing you’ll notice is how similar the two cars are. I would even venture to say that the Town Car’s design was largely inspired by the older LHS – especially the rear part. And even the size, interior space and driving characteristics are quite similar, though nowhere near identical. Which leads us to the second thing you’ll notice.

That the LHS feels much more modern. Yes, you read that right. I switched from a ’98 car (which was the first year of the new model) to a ’94 car (which was also the first year), and it felt like I went half a decade newer. In some ways, it’s no surprise – after all, the Panther platform was introduced in late 70s, while the LH made its debut in 1993. But that explains the fundamental differences in packaging and handling, not things like interior fit, finish and technologies. The LHS feels almost European, in a good way. Truth to be said, I don’t feel much difference when I transfer from the Chrysler to a friend’s ’04 Mercedes CLK 270 CDI, which I’m testing this week.

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While the Town Car must have looked and felt like a cost-cutted re-hash of an old platform (which it actually was), the LHS must have felt like a spaceship when it appeared in dealer lots in late 1993. The instrument cluster wasn’t as cutting-edge as in Lexus LS400 a few years earlier, but it was still wonderfully illuminated and supremely legible. The excellent Infinity stereo had in-dash CD player. There was a nifty “message center” in the centre of the dashboard – a pitch black panel in the middle of the dash where the idiot lights show up.

The main difference, though, is the space. When designing the new LH platform, Chrysler engineers took a rational approach and decided that there’s no need to make room for a V8 when a V6 can power the car quick enough (the LHS with its 3.5 V6 feels a bit quicker than Lincoln with 4.6 V8), and that there’s no point in making it RWD. Rear wheel drive costs money, it costs space and it adds weight. It improves balance and driving feel, but people who buy large American sedans mostly couldn’t care less about such things.

As a result of this cold, rational thinking, they did the most modern and most practical one could think of at the time. They moved the longitudinally mounted V6 far to the front – it is in front of the front axle – and used the resulting space to make most of the wheelbase. It paid off. Even though it almost a foot shorter, the LHS provides more interior space than the Town Car, as well as larger (or at least more usefully shaped) trunk.

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The costs? First, the looks. Although LHS must have looked striking when it was launched, and it still feels much more modern than your typical 20 year old car, it lacked the imposing presence of Panthers and B-bodies. Its short, low-slung hood makes it look a bit tail heavy, and a bit like a car from the not-so-welcome future, where cars are on their way to become transportation pods.

Then, the driving. On paper, it’s a perfectly fine automobile. It’s reasonably quick in a straight line and it can at least keep up with its fullsize RWD brethren in corners as well. So far so good. But the engine hanging over the front axle has immense effect on how the car feels. With most cars, the understeer/oversteer is something you read about in reviews, but most drivers never really understand what that means. In LHS? Oh yeah, the car can teach understeer on university! You don’t need to be driving quick at all to feel that the thing Just. Doesn’t. Want. To. Turn.

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Probably the worst, though, is the way the car behaves when you accelerate hard from a standstill while cornering. While a rear drive sedan just slightly squats and moves forward stately, unless you’re acting as a lead-footed maniac, the front drive car starts scraping for traction and screeching its tires. And even if traction control sets in, there’s still no grace in that.

If people bought cars purely by logic and not based on feel and characeter, the LH-platform could be deemed superior to its Mercedes-derived successor, the LX. But LX, with its elegant proportions and rear wheel drive, much better fits the buyer’s idea of how a luxury sedan should look and feel. People are not rational – and their car buying habits aren’t rational, either.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a ratty Chrysler LHS. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photo: David Marek

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Windsor Assembly Plant Readying For Extensive Renovation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/windsor-assembly-plant-readying-extensive-renovation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/windsor-assembly-plant-readying-extensive-renovation/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996594 FCA US’ Windsor Assembly Plant is about to undergo the most extensive renovation since the 1980s, all to ready the plant for the automaker’s new minivan. Detroit Free Press reports the plant will be shutdown for 14 weeks between mid-February through late May so that 1,500 employees and 50 contractors remake 80 percent of the […]

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30th_Anniversary_Minivan_Windsor_Assembly_Plant

FCA US’ Windsor Assembly Plant is about to undergo the most extensive renovation since the 1980s, all to ready the plant for the automaker’s new minivan.

Detroit Free Press reports the plant will be shutdown for 14 weeks between mid-February through late May so that 1,500 employees and 50 contractors remake 80 percent of the 4.4-million-square-foot facility prior to the June 2015 pilot production of a next-gen Chrysler minivan that will carry on the minivan legacy once the Dodge Grand Caravan is discontinued.

Supply of current-gen minivans are expected to last until production resumes later this spring, the result of a six-day-a-week run during the second half of 2014 per plant manager Michael Brieda. As of December, FCA US has a 78-day inventory of the Chrysler Town & Country and a 67-day inventory of the aforementioned Grand Caravan.

Renovations include 822 new robots and a “skillet” line that allows floor workers to bring a body shell down or up to their height. The overhaul is part of a $2 billion investment meant to bolster the fortunes of both the automaker and the city of Windsor, Ontario, where the iconic vehicle has been assembled since 1983.

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Four Former Chrysler Dealerships Could Reopen Following US Appeals Court Ruling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/four-former-chrysler-dealerships-reopen-following-us-appeals-court-ruling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/four-former-chrysler-dealerships-reopen-following-us-appeals-court-ruling/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 15:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=986738 After five years of fighting and a U.S. appeals court ruling, four former Chrysler dealerships could have a shot at opening their doors once more. Automotive News reports three Detroit area dealerships — Livonia Chrysler Jeep Inc., Fox Hills Chrysler Jeep and Village Chrysler Jeep — and one based in Las Vegas — Jim Marsh […]

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2015 Chrysler 200 S AWD front angle

After five years of fighting and a U.S. appeals court ruling, four former Chrysler dealerships could have a shot at opening their doors once more.

Automotive News reports three Detroit area dealerships — Livonia Chrysler Jeep Inc., Fox Hills Chrysler Jeep and Village Chrysler Jeep — and one based in Las Vegas — Jim Marsh Chrysler Jeep — could reopen after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a federal arbitration law allowing 789 dealers to fight against closure by Chrysler overruled state laws allowing local dealers to legally fight against nearby competitors from opening doors.

The court added the victory wasn’t an unconditional reinstatement, yet “should meaningfully facilitate incorporation of prevailing dealerships back into the network.” FCA US issued a statement praising the district court for its decision, and is reviewing legal options to take regarding the four dealerships.

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New Apps, Infotainment Systems Turn Up At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973610 Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide. BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls […]

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FCA Uconnect Access Services

Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide.

BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls for its Control Display touchscreen infotainment system, allowing drivers to input a given address with directed gestures made between the instrument panel and gear shift, among other tasks. Another system, Touch Command, will use a standard Samsung tablet to handle all infotainment and comfort functions, and provides wireless access to all onboard electronics for all passengers.

Over at FCA, the automaker debuted new additions to its Uconnect Access suite of apps: Vehicle Finder, Send Destination to Vehicle, Monthly Vehicle Report and Vehicle Health Alert. All four allow owners to keep tabs on their vehicle’s systems, easily navigate to a given destination, and know where their vehicle is at all times. The new suite will debut in H1 2015 on select FCA products equipped with either 8.4A or 8.4AN Uconnect systems.

Audi showed off the new interior of the next-gen Q7 — set to bow in Detroit next week as a 2016 model — to the media in attendance at the 2015 CES. The dashboard arrangement is derived from the TT, featuring a 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit display with 3D maps and other important information. An additional pop-up central display uses a rotary knob and touch-sensitive pad to operate, while two large, removable, Wi-Fi-enabled tablets mounted in the back of the front headrests provide navigation info and entertainment for those seated in back.

Finally, Ford has added on AccuWeather and Life360 to the AppLink suite of apps on-board the new, QNX-based Sync 3 system. The Life360 Sync 3 app has a special Drive Mode feature that sends text messages to a driver’s friends and family so that they know not to contact the user while driving, with a follow-up text sent upon arrival at the user’s destination. AccuWeather, meanwhile, will use GPS to give minute-by-minute weather forecasts to help drivers better deal with and plan around inclement weather.

BMW CES 2015 01 BMW CES 2015 02 BMW CES 2015 03 BMW CES 2015 04 Uconnect_Access_Smartphone_App_ Vehicle_Finder Send_Destination_to_Vehicle_FCA Monthly_Vehicle_Health_Report Audi Q7 CES 2015 01 Audi Q7 CES 2015 02 Audi Q7 CES 2015 03 Audi Q7 CES 2015 04 Ford CES 2015 01 Ford CES 2015 02 Ford CES 2015 03 Ford CES 2015 04

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Capsule Review: 2015 Chrysler 300 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-chrysler-300/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-chrysler-300/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 13:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=969481 25 years ago, every American automaker offered at least one vehicle that fit what Kim Clark and Takahiro Fujimoto called “the American Plan”: body-on-frame construction, rear-wheel-drive, V8 power, and a roughly 120-inch wheelbase. This was in stark contrast to the increasingly popular offerings from offshore, which were the antithesis of the American Plan. Today, no […]

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25 years ago, every American automaker offered at least one vehicle that fit what Kim Clark and Takahiro Fujimoto called “the American Plan”: body-on-frame construction, rear-wheel-drive, V8 power, and a roughly 120-inch wheelbase. This was in stark contrast to the increasingly popular offerings from offshore, which were the antithesis of the American Plan. Today, no American automaker offers such a product.

The modern family car has abandoned the American plan in favor of the transverse, front-drive layout that was once the exclusive province of compact and subcompact cars. Chrysler’s dependence on the K platform meant that they were committed to such a change early in the game. They were also arguably the first of the Big Three to abandon the American Plan when their M-Body cars died in 1989. Today, however, they are the only ones that offer anything close to it.

Allow me to pre-empt cries of “BIAS!” from fans of the bowtie brand. The Chevrolet SS, as enticing as it is, is an ultra-low-volume specialty car meant to compete with high-zoot versions of the Dodge Charger. In another life, GM may have introduced a Zeta-based Impala. But that dream died along with Lehman Brothers. The LX cars, meanwhile, have soldiered on, getting progressively better with age. Not long ago,Jack had good things to say about a rental 2014 model with the V6/8-speed combo. As of about now, that version is obsolete.

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New for 2015 is a larger grille with a prominent Chrysler badge. It recalls the “Bentley grille” aftermarket add-ons that were popular during the 300’s introduction in 2005. There are also slight changes to the lighting and wheel and tire packages and an updated gauge cluster (no ATS-style 80’s dials here). A rotary gear knob also replaces the awkward short-throw shifter that Jack’s 300 employed.

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The biggest news for 2015 might be the demise of the SRT versions of the 300 – at least in our market. Certain overseas markets will get a new 300 SRT, since they don’t get the Charger. North American customers who want a hi-po 300 will have to make do with the 300S V8, which features bespoke styling treatments like side skirts and a rear wing, as well as slightly stiffer suspension settings.

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But in keeping with TTAC tradition, we made a bee-line for the “base” car, the 300 Limited. Base is a bit of a misnomer, since this version has just about everything one could possibly want in a large sedan. The standard spec sheet reads like a checklist of everything we like about Chrysler products: the 3.6L Pentastar V6, made to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the UConnect 8.4″ touchscreen and the Alpine stereo (which Jack nominated as one of the best in the business), an all-new electric power steering system borrowed from other rear-drive Chrysler products that surpasses the old hydraulic unit.

Opting for the Limited means you can’t get the 363 horsepower Hemi V8 or the 300-horsepower variant of the 3.6L Pentastar V6 – instead, you must settle for a mere 292 horsepower. But the Limited does offer a choice of either rear or all-wheel drive, and a driving experience free of extraneous technology like Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control (which, it must be said, works quite well).

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What you do get is a sedan based on a 21st century version of the American Plan. The 120-inch wheelbase makes this an ideal interstate cruiser, though the Charger has a bigger trunk. The Pentastar V6 makes far more power than the V8s of a quarter century ago and the 8-speed transmission (double the number of ratios found in that same era) makes the most of all 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Over mixed driving on the freeways and back roads of Austin, Texas, we saw about 24 mpg, while highway mileage is claimed by FCA to sit at 31 mpg.

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For not much more than thirty grand (or less, when you factor in the inevitable cash on the hood, or buying a year-old ex-rental) you can have a proper American sedan that will leave you satisfy in every single way, assuming you never try the V8 version. Chrysler was keen to tout the V8 powered 300S, but I’ll take the regular 300C (the black car in our photos), without any of the sporting pretensions or superfluous body modifications. Where the V6 starts to run out of breath above 80 mph, the 5.7L Hemi keeps on pulling well into the triple digits. The 8-speed is a welcome replacement for the durable but antiquated 5-speed Benz unit.
The new EPAS system will be familiar to anyone who has driven a new Jeep Grand Cherokee – the steering is weighted nicely, but doesn’t provide the most lucid feedback, Body motions are well controlled, and the 300 is about as responsive and nimble as you’d expect a two-tonne full-size sedan to be. The lone disappointment are the brakes. The pedal felt soft and lazy, forcing me to press the toe of my Ariat Ropers towards the carpet far quicker than I’d have liked when coming to a halt from high speeds. One could live without most of the performance gear from the SRT versions on a daily basis. The big binders from the 6.4L Charger wouldn’t hurt on the 300.
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While the changes to the 300 itself are incremental, what really matters is that Chrysler has finally managed to separate the 300 and Charger into two distinct product lines. The 2015 300 Limited is only $2,000 more than a comparable equipped $29,995 Charger SXT, but the difference in interior quality is significant enough that only the most die-hard skinflint, Dodge brand fanatic or rental car company would consider the Charger as a serious alternative. Of course, there is a base model Charger SE at  $27,995, as well as the big block 6.4L and 6.2L SRT Chargers, but that’s the point; Dodge now has Charger options to bookend the 300, whereas before, it was a mish-mash of John Varvatos Luxury Editions and Scat Packs and Super Bees at intersecting price points.
The rationalization of the two product lines doesn’t solve the essential question of who the 300 is for. It’s not as sporting as a Cadillac CTS, but sharper than a V6 Hyundai Genesis. It’s bigger, roomier and pricier than a V6 Camcord, but an Impala or an Avalon is probably better for hauling rear seat passengers.
But that’s ok. The weird niche that the 300 (and Charger) occupy is what allow it to exist. It has the market sewn up for itself, and nobody has the stones to challenge Chrysler. It’s a formula employed by everything from the Mercedes E-Class Wagon to the Toyota Tacoma to the Mazda MX-5 – niche products that serve a particular customer, and serve it well.
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The Most De-Pressing Reviews Ever http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/de-pressing-reviews-ever/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/de-pressing-reviews-ever/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 16:23:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964570 Two Chryslers, both alike in dignity (In fair Miami, where we lay our scene) It was the perfect storm. Derek was in Miami for a vacation; I had to go to Florida for a funeral. Derek had a well-equipped Chrysler 200 Pentastar, courtesy of our friends at FCA; I rented a bare-bones MultiAir-powered Chrysler 200 […]

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Two Chryslers, both alike in dignity
(In fair Miami, where we lay our scene)

It was the perfect storm. Derek was in Miami for a vacation; I had to go to Florida for a funeral. Derek had a well-equipped Chrysler 200 Pentastar, courtesy of our friends at FCA; I rented a bare-bones MultiAir-powered Chrysler 200 at the airport. At a harbor steakhouse, as the Ketel One poured in the shadow of Mark Cuban’s 288-foot Feadship and a bored 21-year-old Cuban student in a skin-tight black dress drummed her fingers on the table and yawned in protest, we planned a pair of reviews.

First, Derek’s going to acquaint you with his opinion of the bases-loaded 200S, with its leather interior and Alpine system. Then I’m going to tell you about an 800-mile weekend spent trying not to run out of fuel in the “Alligator Alley”. One of these cars suits the 200’s basic virtues more than the other, but which? And would anyone in their right mind select this sleek mongrel over the Honda Accord? Stay tuned.

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NHTSA Ready To Force Nationwide Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962073 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags. The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in […]

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags.

The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in addition to those already recalled.

The first act in bringing the named parties to trial will be a formal demand letter issued to all concerned. Upon refusal, the NHTSA will file a suit against each party in U.S. District Court, a process that could last for months, if not years.

The die was cast when Takata rebuffed the agency’s request earlier this month to expand its recall efforts beyond high-humidity locations in warm climates around the United States, including Florida and Hawaii.

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Chrysler Group Now FCA US LLC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chrysler-group-now-fca-us-llc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chrysler-group-now-fca-us-llc/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962041 Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Chrysler Group is dead; long live FCA US LLC. The subsidiary made the name change official today, following the naming convention established by its parent company. Fiat, too, has cast its old corporate identity to the wind of change, now going by the name FCA Italy SpA. Other entities under the FCA […]

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FCA US LLC HQ WTFBBQ

Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Chrysler Group is dead; long live FCA US LLC.

The subsidiary made the name change official today, following the naming convention established by its parent company. Fiat, too, has cast its old corporate identity to the wind of change, now going by the name FCA Italy SpA. Other entities under the FCA Group umbrella will follow in due time.

The changes won’t filter down into individual brands or marketing, so the B&B will still be able to buy a Fiat 500 or Chrysler Town & Country without seeing an FCA badge.

The move marks the first time in the U.S. subsidiary’s history without the Chrysler name, first given by its founder, Walter P. Chrysler, in 1925.

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Review: 2014 Chrysler 300 V6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2014-chrysler-300-v6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2014-chrysler-300-v6/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957793 Hey! You! Over there in the corner! I see you looking at that leather-interior Accord or Camry or Altima or Fusion or whatever. How’d you like to buy a lot more car for just a little more money? The four-cylinder Honda Accord EX-L is $28,420. It’s a hell of a car and it has a […]

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Hey! You! Over there in the corner! I see you looking at that leather-interior Accord or Camry or Altima or Fusion or whatever. How’d you like to buy a lot more car for just a little more money?

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The four-cylinder Honda Accord EX-L is $28,420. It’s a hell of a car and it has a remarkably complete set of virtues. A Camry XLE with a moonrood is $30,060. That, too, is a solid automobile. I could go on, but you see the point, right? A four-cylinder family car with most of the options will run you between twenty-eight and thirty-two grand, depending on what badge you want on the nose and what you need in the way of particular equipment. You can also plump for a six-cylinder or turbocharged four-cylinder engine in nearly all the segment contenders, but most people don’t bother to do so. The modern big-stroke four-bangers (hee hee) offer enough power for daily use and they make up a majority of purchases that is both considerable and continuing to grow.

For $33,645, you can have the Chrysler 300 pictured above, complete with panoramic two-row sunroof. That’s before the deals and the discounting and the rebates for this and that. We all know that you’ll get a better price at a Chrysler dealer than you will at a Honda shop, although the days when our very own Steve Lynch reigned sort-of-supreme over Honda dealer allocation and ADP stickers were SuperGlued to the window of every Accord hatchback are long gone. I paid under invoice for my Accord V6 and I think you probably should as well. But Honda will never do the kind of rebates and incentives that are just part of business as usual under the Pentastar.

I had the good fortune to rent this nearly-new, extremely low-mileage 300 for a recent trip to Oklahoma. Back and forth I went from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, driving a mix of 75mph toll roads and unimproved dirt tracks. I’m very well acqainted with the five-speed old-school Pentastar Charger, but this was my first chance to sample the eight-speed automatic and the V6 together, not to mention the wide range of interior and exterior upgrades that differentiate the Charger and 300 in this soon-to-be-replaced generation. (Derek’s driving the new one even as we speak.)

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As much as I loved the Pentastar Charger, I have to admit that I have always found the tiny uConnect screen and the acres of vaguely/variously dark plastic to be a real letdown. For that reason alone, I’d take a 300 with my own money over the Dodge. Every surface you see and touch is improved, from the decent leather in the seats to the cheerful luminescent gauges. While the shifter takes some getting used to — am I in Park? If so, why? How do I get out? Why can’t I get back in? — it’s a much more upscale-feeling affair than the old five-speed gate, which felt and looked like something that didn’t quite make the cut for the pre-facelift Avenger.

There’s also a real improvement in acceleration and responsiveness with the extra three cogs between engine and rear wheels. This now feels like a quick car and I have no doubt that it will dust all the four-cylinder family sedans out there. How it would fare against a Camry V6 is a different matter; this is, after all, a larger and heavier automobile than any of the FWD competition. Still, it’s no trouble to run up to eighty or so out of a toll booth in a hurry, something you’ll do fairly often in the Southwest.

Once at speed, two things about the 300 immediately stand out vis-a-vis both the Charger and the competition:

* The lack of road noise, which is wonderful.
* The stereo system, which is very good for the class.

There’s a “Beats” audio upgrade available for this car but surely only the most boom-bastic of pimp-juices will require it. Really, this has to be the best standard-equipment offering in the class. For all the hype about the ELS system in the Acura TLX, most of that hype being well-deserved, this is just as good, and it has the advantage of operating in a quiet, more soothing automobile. The rest of the uConnect system is just as good as it’s always been, by the way.

Dynamically, the 300 is absolutely perfect for American freeways. Although it’s probably the spiritual successor of the M-body Gran Fury and Diplomat, it rolls down the road with a stateliness more reminiscent of the last truly full-sized New Yorkers. Yet there’s still a suggestion of the Daimler contributions beneath; when I had to dodge a blown retread on fairly short notice, the change of direction was prompt and easily handled without flashing the ESC or plowing the nose. Control efforts are light, reassuring, and well-matched.

While this 300 continues to share many components with the egg-crate-grille 2005 model, there’s simply nothing to indicate that to the driver except the annoyingly small windows. It’s faster, quieter, better-behaved, more comfortable, better-built, and far better in all the little details. Now, as then, it continues to have no direct competition. Everybody else is offering a front-wheel-drive platform or a much smaller footprint for the same money. In fact, they usually offer both. Probably the competitor offering the nearest match in terms of general virtues is Lexus with the ES350, but I find that the Camry/Avalon origins of that vehicle are too indifferently disguised in the current model.

In a perfect world, everybody who was going to buy a cheap Bimmer or Audi would try this Chrysler out. They’d see that it offers the same rock-solid feel, comparable interior materials, and acceptable performance, all in a platform that more closely resembles the next size up of the sausage by dint of being a distant cousin to an old E-Class. No, the 300 isn’t perfect. It has cliff-face interior panels and about as much window area as a 688-class submarine. It weighs more than it should and offers less rear-seat room than you expect. The “five-meter car” justification for having the short trunk on the Chrysler compared to the Dodge should have been jettisoned when the 300’s pretensions to Euro-market relevance hit the recycle bin seven years ago. Surely the next platform for this car will offer the same quiet ride and bump resistance through the miracle of a modern unibody, not a Lena Dunham level of interior panel padding.

When all is said and done, however, the 300’s biggest enemy is the HEMI-engined 300. The omnipresence in the media of that automobile, particularly in dearly-departed SRT-8 form, made the Pentastar look like a weak sister or a bargain-basement choice instead of the perfectly decent automobile it truly is. Yeah, the V-8 is well worth the additional money, but that doesn’t mean that the six is a bad deal. If you’re planning on buying a $45,000 mid-luxury car, there are more modern, more dynamically capable, and more feature-laden choices available than the loaded 300C. At thirty-three grand, however, wouldn’t you really rather have a… Chrysler?

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Chrysler Group Introduces PUG Plan For Pentastar V6 Family http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chrysler-group-introduces-pug-plan-pentastar-v6-family/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chrysler-group-introduces-pug-plan-pentastar-v6-family/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957330 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler Group has big plans for its venerable Pentastar engine family, all in the name of improved fuel efficiency and power. Automotive News reports the Pentastar Upgrade — or PUG — will include turbocharging of current naturally aspirated mills, direct injection and other technologies, with the first updated 3.6-liter V6 to turn […]

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler Group has big plans for its venerable Pentastar engine family, all in the name of improved fuel efficiency and power.

Automotive News reports the Pentastar Upgrade — or PUG — will include turbocharging of current naturally aspirated mills, direct injection and other technologies, with the first updated 3.6-liter V6 to turn up in 2015 under the bonnet of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The next engine under PUG will be a 3.2-liter V6, which will replace the current 3.6-liter unit powering the Chrysler Town & Country when the next-gen model enters showrooms in 2016. The new engine will be paired with the nine-speed automatic found in some trims of the Jeep Cherokee, and is expected to deliver a 25 percent improvement to fuel economy over the current arrangement’s 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway EPA rating.

Should all go as planned, the aforementioned 3.6-liter could also help the Ram 1500 take the gasoline-efficiency crown back from the Ford F-150 EcoBoost, which it lost to said truck in November.

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TTAC Readers Call it: Town & Country Troubles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ttac-readers-call-town-country-troubles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ttac-readers-call-town-country-troubles/#comments Sat, 06 Dec 2014 20:28:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955890 Way back on August 13, 2013, just two comments into the discussion in which I trumpeted to the world the selection of the Chrysler Town and Country S as the chariot of choice for the mid-size Kreutzer family, user “Infinitime” wrote: The only hesitation I have about buying a Caravan when the time comes, is […]

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Way back on August 13, 2013, just two comments into the discussion in which I trumpeted to the world the selection of the Chrysler Town and Country S as the chariot of choice for the mid-size Kreutzer family, user “Infinitime” wrote: The only hesitation I have about buying a Caravan when the time comes, is their propensity to use the most fragile components for the automatic transmission. Hopefully, the design of the new six-speed has finally addressed this concern. Well, here we are just a year and three months later and I am forced to acknowledge the wisdom of the best and the brightest and ponder, once again, why it is that transmissions always seem to grenade on rainy, crappy days.

Over the past few months I have been off pursuing a master’s degree and have been unable to contribute to our favorite website. Recent events, however, have demanded that I break my self-imposed hiatus to bring you news that, as several astute readers predicted, the transmission in my Town & Country did, in fact, give up the ghost with less than 12K easy miles on the clock. While checking on the repairs a couple of days later, I was shown the transmission oil pan and snapped a photo of what appears to be a dead sea-urchin. How that creature found its way into my transmission is a mystery at this point, but the effects of its arrival were catastrophic.

Transmission urchin

It started a few weeks ago. I noticed that the van hesitated when I was backing up a small slope. It went, but it acted almost like I had forgotten to release the emergency brake. After that we went on our merry way without any difficulties. Then, a day or two before the transmission decided to leave us stranded, I backed out of the garage, made a full stop, and shifted into drive. The transmission gave a mighty metallic thump and went into gear. I probably should have had it looked at then, but since there seemed to be no follow-on effects, we continued to drive the vehicle for another week.

The day the transmission died involved a trip to our local mall. We left home and made the 30 minute drive without trouble, but after a brief stop at Target we were greeted by a high pitched whine, similar to what your power steering pump might do when the fluid gets low, when I restarted the engine. We ran a couple of blocks up the street to have lunch and when we came back out the whine began again as we made our way out to the street. As we turned onto the main road the van struggled forward and then all momentum dropped off while the RPMs went up. After a couple of minutes of fiddling with the gear selector and revving the engine, I was able to get enough momentum to get us off the street and into a parking spot from which I called Chrysler roadside assistance.

If there is a good side to this story, it’s that Chrysler roadside assistance got us a tow truck in short order. Because there are five of us, including three in booster seats, we weren’t able to get a large taxi right away but, after making a few calls, I was able to summon a friend who could come and take the family home while I waited for the tow truck. After dropping me at home the driver, who told me he makes a lot of money hauling around late model Dodge and Chrysler minivans, took it to the dealer and left it on their lot.

T&C Back

Ten days later, after a full transmission rebuild, the van came home. Since its return, we’ve used it for errands around town and taken a couple of trips out onto faster roads in the country just to make sure things are normal. To my local Chrysler shop’s credit, the van seems like it runs better than ever and shifts so smoothly you can’t even feel the gear changes. Chrysler, of course, picked up the entire bill under their 5 year/100,000 mile warranty program but I am hoping that this is the last of it.

It’s no secret to regular readers that I am a Mopar guy. Over the past 25 years I have owned several used Dodge and Chrysler products and this van is the second Chrysler product I have purchased new. I can tell you from personal experience that the quality of Chrysler products has definitely climbed over the past two decades but this latest experience, especially when I consider the fact that TTAC’s readers expressed this exact concern at the time of my purchase, takes away some of my warm and fuzzies. I wrote when I purchased it that I intend to have this vehicle a long, long time and that it will likely follow me around the world and home again. Reliability is important to me and despite the fact that Chrysler’s quality is improving, it seems to me that they still have some work to do.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Leavenworth, Kansas with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Shimizu: Takata Hasn’t Found The Cause Of Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955722 Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls. Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That […]

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Shimizu, Takata's Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, testifies before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington

Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls.

Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That said, Shimizu said his company was of “the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.” He also claimed the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags was safe and stable, though he admitted replacements weren’t coming fast enough.

Meanwhile, competitor Autoliv announced it would supply replacements to Honda for vehicles in the United States. The automaker had mentioned before Congress it was in talks with the supplier and another, Daicel, regarding expanded production to replace modules in a nationwide recall. Autoliv will add capacity in its existing plants, with deliveries to come after six months.

Among the other affected automakers, Chrysler, Toyota and Mazda have stepped up their individual recall efforts. AutoGuide says the subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has called back 149,150 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models from the 2003 model year, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated the move wasn’t enough, and is looking at what action to take next.

Over in Japan, Bloomberg reports Toyota is recalling 190,000 affected vehicles in its local market and in China. The recall comes on the news of a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard of a Takata airbag inside a 2003 WiLL Cypha; the detonation was part of the procedures outlined by Japan’s Automobile Recycling Law, which also requires dismantlers to report any problem to the automaker to determine if a recall is necessary.

Finally, The Detroit News says Mazda is recalling 40,000 more vehicles — including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV and 2004 B-Series — in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Alabama. The automaker previously recalled 44,000 units in the U.S. and 2,600 in Puerto Rico.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Chrysler 200S AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2015-chrysler-200s-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2015-chrysler-200s-awd/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 12:14:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936994 I just spent a week with the all-new, all-wheel-drive 2015 Chrysler 200 S. It was one of Chrysler Canada’s press cars, priced at $38,815. Equipped as it was with big wheels and a dual pane sunroof and blind spot monitoring and navigation, it would have been priced at $35,560 in the United States. Yes, $35,560. […]

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2015 Chrysler 200 S AWD rear angleI just spent a week with the all-new, all-wheel-drive 2015 Chrysler 200 S. It was one of Chrysler Canada’s press cars, priced at $38,815. Equipped as it was with big wheels and a dual pane sunroof and blind spot monitoring and navigation, it would have been priced at $35,560 in the United States.

Yes, $35,560. And that’s not the top of the range. I know this because there are three conspicuous, dare I say ostentatious, blanked-out switches placed on the steering wheel, an owner’s most frequent touch point.

The steering wheel is what you grasp for the duration of your 35-minute commute each morning after you’re done grasping a toothbrush, a spouse, a child, a bagel, and a set of keys. It’s an intimate connection, even private.

You don’t allow anybody else to hold your toothbrush, your bagel, your spouse, or your child first thing in the morning. Similarly, you don’t hand your keys off to a random acquaintance and say, “Yeah, take’er out for a rip.”

You know the stitching of the heated steering wheel’s leather. You know how to find the big cruise control buttons without looking. You and the steering wheel share secrets, like the location of volume controls on the back of the middle spoke. The Bluetooth hang-up button, well, it doth fall readily to thy hand.

Yet all the while, the steering wheel in this rather costly Chrysler 200 tells you, nay, it screams at you: “I could have been better! You could have made me better! Am I not worth it? Did you need to order an unfulfilled version of myself?” And all the while, you’re left to stare at three pieces of glaring evidence every single day. After dropping $35,560 on a Chrysler 200, you’re still $3000 shy of possessing a fully equipped Chrysler 200.

2015 Chrysler 200 S steering wheel buttonsOh, who are we kidding? You didn’t spend $35,560 on a new Chrysler 200. 2015 models have only recently arrived at dealers, yet my local Chrysler store has 200s prominently parked out front with “Save $4000” stickers plastered across the doors and updated stickers on the windshield declaring $5295 discounts. Even with an eye-catching design and a vastly improved interior, a new midsize car trades on the reputation of its predecessor, which in this case was too strongly connected to a product line Chrysler would probably prefer to forget. Thus, Chrysler dealers already know consumers aren’t going to pay top dollar for this car, even if it is now a worthy contender.

Pricing aside, the blanked-out switches can only be an affront because of their high-profile positioning. Many more costly cars feature such buttons, as well, only with less distinguished placement. The only other reason the would-be adaptive cruise control blanked-out switches merit a mention is because of the way they symbolize the 200’s indecisive interior.

At $35,560, the 200 S better be slick inside, and for the most part it is. But the cupholder slider which covers a massive bin between the front seats jiggles about in its tracks. The blue “wood” applique strewn across the dashboard is ghastly. The upgraded Alpine audio system can’t cope with moderate increases in volume and caused many an interior part to quiver long before maximum output was called upon. It is not at all about that bass.

In a mostly hushed cabin, the amount of wind noise when the panoramic roof’s sunshade is open is shocking. The passenger’s seat is not powered. Shift paddles which grow out of volume and tune buttons on the back of the steering wheel are a bit dorky.  Rear seat space is not midsize-like, and the bench would still be deemed uncomfortable even if there was real Camryesque capacity. Visibility for the driver is severely impinged upon by a thick, steeply raked A-pillar and the coupe-like roofline all around. Likewise, the trunk’s 16 cubic feet of capacity is crowded by long goosenecks.

2015 Chrysler 200 S AWD front angleErgonomically, however, the quad-knob layout liberally spread out beside the driver for volume, scrolling, climate, and gear selection is ideal. UConnect is brilliantly straightforward, faster than most equivalent systems, and its touch screen never felt too far away. As much as I want to remain true to convention and call for a traditional gear lever, this third meeting with a rotary dial shifter made for three occasions in which it felt perfectly natural.

There are niggling little nitpicky issues inside the Chrysler 200, but poor visibility and a somewhat tight rear seat are the only characteristics capable of overriding the elegant simplicity encountered by the driver via the oft-used infotainment unit.

In this S-is-for-Sport variant of the new 200, ride quality remains comfortable despite low-profile 19-inch rubber. The 200 S is firm on 235/40R19s, but it’s not busy or crashy. The composed ride doesn’t really pay dividends in terms of outright handling ability, as the all-wheel-drive 200 is simply too heavy for athletics. Chrysler’s all-wheel-drive system has a the ability to disconnect the rear axle, but because it can’t discard and recoup the rear axle on a whim, it adds 322 pounds to a V6-engined 200 S.

2015 Chrysler 200 rotary dial shifterAt 3795 pounds before options – and before adding you, you bagel-eating glutton, you – the 200 S AWD weighs about 100 pounds more than the last all-wheel-drive midsize sedan I drove, Subaru’s Legacy 3.6R. (The weight gap between the 200 S AWD and Ford’s lighter Fusion Titanium AWD is greater.)

As a result of all that girth, 295 horsepower doesn’t feel quite like 295 horsepower. The 200 is undoubtedly a quick car, but it takes some prodding. Toss the 200 into a corner with its weighty but slow steering and it remains nicely level, but it’s not terribly willing to quickly change direction again. Powering out of the corner with haste will require a firm press of the throttle, though, and you might see a kickdown of two or three gears when a single kickdown would have been effective. (At least the intense growl of the engine is musical.)

Indeed, the nine-speed automatic operates much more like it ought to when you demand quicker progress from the car. Meandering about, this 200 was of a mind to shift economically but couldn’t make those shifts happen with alacrity, hanging on to revs before finally falling into second, then third, then fourth. There’s some hunting around in the higher register, though you’ll rarely, if ever, see ninth. But that hunting is more evident in the digital read-out than in sound or sensation. The nine-speed is certainly not what I’d call a good transmission, but those less sensitive to the differences between a great modern eight-speed like ZF’s (or the Ram pickup’s) and this nine-speed likely won’t be bothered.

2015 Chrysler 200 S interiorIn our house, the nine-speed’s suboptimal shift quality couldn’t make up for the 3.6L’s appeal. The poor visibility detracts from what could be an otherwise pleasant interior. At 21 miles per gallon in our mix of city and highway driving, the 200 wasn’t exactly thrifty, either.

Still, going back a number of months, few cars in the affordable realm have appealed to my neighbours and friends as much as this 200. They were enticed by an attractive car which, with a boatload of features and space superior to that of their current compact, can be had at an alluring price they saw on the back of the newspaper they were perusing while waiting to get their flu shot.

With a front-wheel-drive V6 S adding just $1950 to the price of a four-cylinder S, it’s easy to see why they could be seduced.

All-wheel-drive, on the other hand, is only available with the V6 and adds $2250 to the cost of a 200 S V6 or 200 C V6. The subsequent weight increase isn’t worth it when good winter tires will accomplish more.

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

consumer-reports-reliability-list-1

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Next-Gen Chrysler Town & Country PHEV Debuting A Year Early http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-chrysler-town-country-phev-debuting-year-early/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-chrysler-town-country-phev-debuting-year-early/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927345 Minivan shoppers will have a new option to consider in 2015, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed plans to introduce a PHEV variant of the Chrysler Town & Country late into the coming year. Automotive News reports the PHEV will be based on the next-generation Town & Country, originally scheduled for arrival in […]

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2014 Chrysler Town & Country

Minivan shoppers will have a new option to consider in 2015, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed plans to introduce a PHEV variant of the Chrysler Town & Country late into the coming year.

Automotive News reports the PHEV will be based on the next-generation Town & Country, originally scheduled for arrival in 2016 as stated by Marchionne during FCA’s investor day back in May. Other PHEVs are also in the works, including a full-size crossover for Chrysler. That said, Marchionne warns that electrification can’t fix everything:

I think you need to be very, very careful if you think that electrification, given its inherent limitations on range, especially in markets like the U.S., will effectively displace combustion. It will never provide the travel distance that you require, especially based on what we know today about the storage capabilities of batteries.

I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t. You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars.

The new PHEV, powered by a gasoline/battery pack combo, might outgun the Toyota Prius in the fuel economy game, according to Chrysler brand chief Al Gardner. The ur-hybrid in PHEV form for 2015 nets 95 mpg in electric-only mode, and 50 mpg combined in hybrid mode.

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Chrysler Recalls 349K MY 2008 Units Over Ignition Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920002 Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall. Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario […]

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2008 Chrysler 300 LX With A Hint Of Pimp

Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall.

Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario cuts power to the engine, steering and air bags.

The affected were assembled before May 12, 2008, and consist of the following:

  • Dodge: Charger, Magnum
  • Chrysler: 300
  • Jeep: Commander, Grand Cherokee

The recall covers 292,224 units in the United States, 18,976 in Canada, 4,947 in Mexico and 33,295 around the globe. Chrysler recommends removing everything from the ignition key, as well as confirming the switch is in the “ON” position after starting their vehicles, until affected owners are able to bring in their vehicle for free servicing.

A similar recall issued earlier this year affected 890,000 vehicles made between January 2007 and June 2010, where the switches also could slip from “ON” to “ACCESSORY.”

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

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Chrysler Group Asks For Hitch Production Boost Amid NHTSA Inquiry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870010 A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked what was taking so long for a supplier to make enough hitches to cover 2.5 million recalled vehicles, Chrysler Group ordered its supplier to boost production. Automotive News reports the inquiry, sent July 2, noted that it would take five years for Chrysler to repair […]

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2002-2004_Jeep_Liberty_Sport

A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked what was taking so long for a supplier to make enough hitches to cover 2.5 million recalled vehicles, Chrysler Group ordered its supplier to boost production.

Automotive News reports the inquiry, sent July 2, noted that it would take five years for Chrysler to repair all 2.5 million 1993 – 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 – 2007 Libertys with trailer hitches meant to minimize the potential for fuel tank ruptures and fires in low-speed rear-end accidents. In turn, Chrysler told supplier Northern Stamping Inc. to raise its daily production rate from 2,205 to 3,511 hitches.

The affected vehicles will be able to be equipped with the hitches beginning August 1, with the last ones to receive theirs by March of 2015.

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Fiat Sets Date Of Shareholder Meeting For August 1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fiat-sets-date-of-shareholder-meeting-for-august-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fiat-sets-date-of-shareholder-meeting-for-august-1/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858633 Own any shares in Fiat S.p.A.? The automaker just announced it will hold its next general assembly of all shareholders August 1, where the topic of discussion will be the approval of the merger of Fiat with Chrysler Group to become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. Reuters reports shareholders will also be asked to approve the […]

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A new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sign is pictured after being unveiled at Chrysler Group World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan

Own any shares in Fiat S.p.A.? The automaker just announced it will hold its next general assembly of all shareholders August 1, where the topic of discussion will be the approval of the merger of Fiat with Chrysler Group to become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Reuters reports shareholders will also be asked to approve the merger of Fiat with its wholly owned subsidiary Netherlands Fiat Investments N.V. prior to the FCA vote. The meeting would allow CEO Sergio Marchionne to list FCA on the New York Stock Exchange by October at the earliest.

Those who approve FCA’s existence will receive one FCA common share for every Fiat share they hold, while those against will have the right of withdrawal for the next 15 days, with the redemption price set to €7.727 ($10.51 USD) per Fiat share.

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Select 2015 Chrysler 200, Jeep Cherokee Models To Receive Stop-Start http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/select-2015-chrysler-200-jeep-cherokee-models-to-receive-stop-start/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/select-2015-chrysler-200-jeep-cherokee-models-to-receive-stop-start/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852065 A select group of 2015 Chrysler 200s and Jeep Cherokees will enter showrooms with stop-start technology on-board later this year. Automotive News reports Chrysler Group will install the tech in Cherokees equipped with its 3.2-liter V6 in Q3 2014, while 200s with the 2.4-liter I4 will receive it in Q4 2014. Cherokees with the 2.4 […]

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2015-chrysler-2001

A select group of 2015 Chrysler 200s and Jeep Cherokees will enter showrooms with stop-start technology on-board later this year.

Automotive News reports Chrysler Group will install the tech in Cherokees equipped with its 3.2-liter V6 in Q3 2014, while 200s with the 2.4-liter I4 will receive it in Q4 2014. Cherokees with the 2.4 and 200s with the 3.6 V6 will not have stop-start aboard.

With stop-start, the Cherokee will net 19 mpg in the city at its most fuel-efficient configuration. The 200 fares slightly better at 23 mpg for its most efficient model.

Both the sedan and crossover share the same platform and a number of components, including Chrysler’s new nine-speed automatic transmission.

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JD Power Initial Quality Study Shows GM, Hyundai, Porsche Leading The Pack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846905 J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles. Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. […]

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2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles.

Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Porsche were ranked best overall mass-market and premium brand, respectively, where the former reported 94 issues per 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days, 74/100 for the latter. Porsche also dominated the IQS, having the best score of all brands surveyed.

On the other end of the scale, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ranked poorly in the study, with Fiat holding dead last at 206 problems per 100 vehicles reported in the survey period. Jeep came second-to-last with 146/100, while Dodge was just below the industry average at 124/100. Only Ram and Chrysler fared the best, matching or just exceeding the average of 116/100.

Part of the results may be due to automakers pushing the envelope on technology and new features to make consumers’ lives easier. J.D. Power Vice President of Global Automotive David Sargent says “almost all automakers are struggling” to introduce these pieces “without introducing additional quality problems.” In turn, some consumers are noting the technologies involved are “hard to understand, difficult to use, or [do] not always work as designed.”

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