By on January 16, 2008

jeep_compassinterior.jpgThe normally docile automotive press has panned every new Chrysler's interior over the past two or three years, slating the cabins for [the same] ugly interiors fashioned from cheap materials. As the Brits would say, Jim'll fix it. BusinessWeek reports the Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press has announced that his employer is lowering prices and improving content on 12 Chrysler vehicles. It's all part of some kind of "master plan" that the automaker's unveiling to their stores at next month at the National Auto Dealers Association(NADA) convention. The only details Press would provide: the Compass, Patriot and Caliber get the makeover. Meanwhile, Press reminded jobbing journos that Chrysler's already made 260– count 'em 260– upgrades to Chrysler vehicles' materials and appearance. Yes, well, as the old expression goes: first impressions last. Will the interior upgrades be too little too late? Watch this space. 

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31 Comments on “Chrysler to Upgrade Interiors on 12 Models...”


  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Classic Detroit, release a shoddy, substandard product and then make attempts to fix it half way though. It’s not going to work. The critics have already slammed the cars, and they are not going to go to the effort of a “follow up test” just because the plastics are now a little bit less shiny and a little closer together. As with everything else in life, you don’t get a second first impression.

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    Wouldn’t some kudos be in order here? Chrysler is attempting to fix their biggest problem now, and not waiting until the next product cycle. I think this deserves better than “customers who care about such things have already gone elsewhere and they’ll have an uphill battle?”

    To me, that statement basically says you think Chrysler should just give up and shut the doors.

    I guess they can do that and satisfy a lot of the internet chatter, or they can suck it up and fix what is wrong with their product, regardless of how “uphill” the battle is.

    This investment plus the interiors in the new 09 Ram and Journey makes it appear that Chrysler has gotten the message about interior quality, and is serious about fixing it. I expect the same from the Challenger debut next month – a great look and feel to the interior.

  • avatar
    inept123

    Amen, Alex.

    And let’s face it, Cerebus inherited a mess and they seem willing, albeit perhaps not able, to try to fix what’s wrong. With an attitude like that, maybe all is not yet lost.

  • avatar
    timoted

    You gotta give credit, where credit is due. Chrysler is listening to feedback and reacting. If they make it better, it’s good for them and the consumer. What’s not to like about this?

  • avatar
    Orian

    It’s great they are making improvements on current models, but the first impression has already been made. Most people won’t look again until a significant model refresh now which is the point I believe is trying to be made.

    Hopefully the Challenger’s interior will be decent. It was developed during the same time frame that the current el-cheapo interiors were, but it still hasn’t rolled off the lines so there is hope.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Both sides are right here. Yes, upgrading the interiors is the right thing to do. Yes, they’ve already made a bad impression, gotten bad reviews, and turned off many people. They still have to upgrade interiors now though, because the alternative is worse.

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    Many of us have moved on long ago. Our trust has been spent, and our sympathy has run dry. There is no compelling reason to own a Chrysler vehicle anymore.

  • avatar

    The 300 has the interior quality of 1986 Camaro. Sorry but I don’t understand how that car succeeded with such a nut-punch for an interior.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Classic Detroit, release a shoddy, substandard product and then make attempts to fix it half way though. It’s not going to work. The critics have already slammed the cars, and they are not going to go to the effort of a “follow up test” just because the plastics are now a little bit less shiny and a little closer together. As with everything else in life, you don’t get a second first impression.

    No, classic Detroit would be to release a shoddy product and wonder why nobody’s buying it. I think Chrysler deserves a bit more than a snicker for recognizing one of their biggest problems and doing something about it, which is what other Detroit automakers have failed to do in the past.

  • avatar
    Qwerty

    This time around are they going to be smart enough not to use white for the center of seats in a vehicle that is supposed to be used off road?

  • avatar
    Zarba

    BlueBrat:
    Unfortunately, that crap interior is why sales have dropped off so much. When introduced, it sold primarily because of the HEMI.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Qwerty – I’m with ya there. My wife’s 2004 Jeep GC Laredo has a “nice enough” interior – the plastics are good enough, it has black cloth seats that the baby can spill stuff on, it has black carpet, so I can get in with dirty boots and not care too much, and I don’t feel bad when I take the thing off road, or go to Home Depot.

    I don’t mind a spartan interior on a Jeep vehicle – but a crap interior in their other vehicles is inexcusable.

    -ted

  • avatar
    lth

    We should be happy Chrysler is at least trying to do something. I’m not going to hold my breath over any of it.. but a continuous improvement of their models would be a welcome change to just letting cars die. Who knows – they might actually improve the cars to the point people really want to buy them after the initial rush.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Man that was funny and inciteful.

    What is not realized is for 30 years this has been going on and for 30 years the entrenched Big 2.8 have clamored that their quality is on par or this new vehicle is truly competitive. Then they fail to keep that promise time and time again.

    Sorry but my last two GM’s had a lot of quality problems even though when I bought them the sales guy claimed it’s as good or better than all the competition. What was really my motivation was I got a good cheap deal rather than their quality – and like it’s other domestic brethren – 90% of their customers are there to buy a deal and not the vehicle itself. Big 2.8 are the Walmart of cars today – hardly anyone goes there for top quality – just the best deals. You can’t change anyone’s mindset quickly especially if you never deliver.

  • avatar

    Alex Rodriguez :
    This investment plus the interiors in the new 09 Ram and Journey makes it appear that Chrysler has gotten the message about interior quality, and is serious about fixing it. I expect the same from the Challenger debut next month – a great look and feel to the interior.

    I had high hopes for the Journey when I saw the press photos – at least over the Avenger and Sebring. However, the interior is very disappointing in person. The 2009 Ram’s interior isn’t as nice as the 2009 F-150’s, but it’s the best I’ve seen from Chrysler in a while.

    I actually don’t think the 300C has that bad of an interior. The materials seem to be half decent. My gripe on that and in the vans, etc. is that the design is so lacking. How many different ways can they design a rectangular center stack??

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    Then you have this report from LeftLane, that the Sebring and Avenger will have their updates ready by next month. Also prior to contrary reports, this will not affect the Viper program. More evidence of Chrysler moving very quickly to rectify shortcomings with their interiors….

    http://www.leftlanenews.com/chrysler-to-revamp-sebring-avenger-early-viper-facing-the-axe.html

  • avatar
    Orian

    They need more than interior updates to save the Sebring/Avenger IMHO.

  • avatar
    sillyp

    A buddy with a second little one on the way just bought an 08 Chrysler T&C minivan. After giving it the once over, opening and closing doors, playing with storage bins, I’ve got to say, holy crap, Chrysler is in trouble. No flair, cheap materials, flimsy feeling (and looking) center stack, and questionable ergonomics. It didn’t even have power closing doors and lift gate or windows on the sliders.

    By contrast, my sister has a 2005 Toyota Sienna. Sure it’s the loaded model, but even at 3 years old the thing looks LIGHT YEARS ahead of the Chrysler. It has a beautiful tan interior, it feels bright and open, the dash and center stack have great curves and thoughtfully placed components. The materials are soft with varying textures and tight seams.

    My question: isn’t Chrysler supposed to be a premium brand? Shouldn’t every Town and Country come standard with auto doors and lift gate, power everything, and the nicest materials? It felt worse than a Kia. Sad.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Alex Rodriguez :
    January 16th, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Wouldn’t some kudos be in order here? Chrysler is attempting to fix their biggest problem now, and not waiting until the next product cycle.

    ————-

    No. No kudos. The company is doomed. No matter what they do, it’s too late.

    Now this is the conventional wisdom of the majority of the news media, blogs, and pundits, which may, or may not, turn out to be true. Who really knows? We’ll find out eventually. As for me, I say good job, and – it’s about time!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Only 12 models get upgrades? What about the rest or the craptastic products they make?

  • avatar
    timoted

    If were going to hang out Chrysler to dry with their “Crappy” interiors has anyone driven a new Mazda 3 or 6? There’s nothing there to write home about. Mazda could stand a interior decorator’s touch.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    BlueBrat: “Sorry but I don’t understand how that car succeeded with such a nut-punch for an interior.

    …because for a large group of people the exterior of the 300 and Hemi is what sold it.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Timoted,

    We currently drive an ’06 Mazda3 5-door. The interior design is brilliant, the interior materials, however, could be less hard and shiny, but that’s a very minor complaint considering how happy we are with our purchase. We paid for a sharp-looking car that handles well, that can carry a good amount of stuff, that can carry 5 people in a pinch and is good on gas. Unless you’re constantly rubbing your hands on your dashboard or rapping your knuckles on it, the materials “quality” is not that bad. The interior design more than makes up for hard plastics in this case. Chrysler’s problem is that their interior design is just as blah as the materials.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    The interiors are a start, but what are they going to do about the exteriors? Most of Chrysler’s lineup looks like it has been hit with an ugly stick.

  • avatar
    red dawg

    This is a good example of why i gave up on the domestic 2.8 17 yrs. ago. Cheap materials and terible build quality. And it looks like the 2.8 haven’t improved much either, especially Chrysler. It seems that for every advance made by the domestic 2.8 in quality, reliability and safety, the Japanese make the same advances. But then again, the domestics started out stuck behind the 8 ball and they are still there.

    As my mom used to say you only get one try to make a good first impression and the domestic 2.8 sure haven’t made any good impressions on me in the last 17 yrs. That’s why i buy Honda.

    The domestics are getting their corporate butts kicked all day every day by the Japanese and to a lessor degree the Europeans and Koreans. Wonder why Toyota is gaining so much market share??? Answer: look at the crap coming from the domestic 2.8 for your answer.

    I’m sure all 3 domestics (the 2.8)will be more than happy and will do all they can to make sure the Japanese reach their sales targets.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    At least they may be able to get the parts from suppliers to do the upgrades.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    The emergency interior fix worked wonders on Gen 1.5 of the Infiniti G35. I drove one of the first off of the line and at a dealer and while I loved the engine/transmission combo, it seemed that every surface I touched was going to fall apart after 10,000 miles. Later I drove an Altima that had 6 miles on it and a cupholder rattle. I drove a 2005 G35 – after the interior fix – and I was glad that most of the surfaces that are touched on a daily basis were improved and now the brand new one got it right from the start.
    I’m willing to give Chrysler a pass for one year and let the better materials arrive and installed on the new models. I’m just glad that for the first time in ages that mid-cycle refreshes are finally happening. Now if they continue to axe the deadwood from their lineup, they might have a chance to survive a couple of years.
    I always wondered how the 300C Hemi got off to such a strong start in sales saying that after the initial rush of fun wears off, the owner is still stuck with a dirt poor interior with no visibility outward.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    Isn`t it easier to down-grade society with empty -v, than upgrade real interiors. You might get blisters, and eventually die from….post-labour-overfatigue syndrome. so much for pathos.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Wouldn’t some kudos be in order here?

    No. If this article and suddenly brilliant idea from Chrysler was from 5 years ago, then maybe kudos would be in order. This is not news to anyone except obviously the Chrysler people.

    They’re screwed. I see Jeep being picked over, but truly, is there one single Chrysler model that isn’t outplayed by another manufacturer with a better product?

  • avatar
    frenetic

    The problem with all American car companies is that they have collectively screwed themselves the last 40 years with shoddy build quality and attention to detail.

    Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. My first car was a 1985 Toyota Corolla LE. When I sold it, it had 298k miles on it. The new owner got a car with the original clutch, never had a single mechanical problem, started on the first crank even in dead of winter, never burned oil, and got 40MPG. The thing was a tank…you couldn’t kill it. And believe me, I tried to near the end because the resale value was only like $400. I once actually drained the oil and drove around for 2000miles and it never even overheated. I finally gave up and put oil back in. The car won. My 95&1/2 Honda CRX Si was the same story; two best cars I’ve ever owned.

    In contrast, years later I decided to give American a try and bought a second hand 98 Ford Taurus with 60k miles on it. The car was owned by a reputable person and had clean maint records and was in great shape. By the time it reached 96k miles, the car was dead. Transmission was shot, head gaskets blew, brakes lines ruptured, radiator leaked, it leaked oil (which dripped onto the headers), burned oil and sometimes wouldn’t start…all at the same time. The repairs would have cost more than twice what the car was worth so I ended up just giving it away to charity. Worst car I’ve ever owned and the Taurus was supposed to be one of the best quality American cars; doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. And to top it off…I’ve heard similar horror stories from hundreds of friends, family and acquaintances.

    The moral of the story…quality build matters first and foremost. Ergonomics and appearance are gravy. I care more about the peace of mind knowing that your car will get you where you want to go with the least amount of headaches…period. Until American car companies prove they can build an exceptional car that proves its value by amazing its owner, I will never buy another American car EVER. It saddens me to say that but I just don’t trust American cars and have no reason to. You can’t polish a turd. So all this talk about better interior materials is a moot point anyway. Who cares if the interior is nice if the car can’t make it to 100k miles without requiring half the original purchase price in repairs?

  • avatar
    GS650G

    This from a company famous for crappy interiors for 40 years. maybe the three headed dog should just sell the company and get this over with.

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