By on June 20, 2008

633325462873135493.jpgMuch digital ink has been spilled over Chrysler's "refuel America" promotion. The deal locks fuel prices at $2.99 per gallon for the first 12k miles for each of three years (subject to acres of fine print). Consumer Reports took a closer look. Over the first three years of ownership, the cheap gas gives Chrysler a competitive cost of ownership. After five years, your Chrysler will have cost you between $1k and $8k more than its competitors.  That's driving 12k miles annually, based on CR's "real world" mileage ratings and total ownership cost analysis. It gets worse. The cost of owning a gas-carded Chrysler is higher than buying the same vehicle with the optional zero percent interest rate. The Hemi-equipped gas hogs, for example, cost over $6k more with the gas card during five years of ownership. Little wonder then, that under ten percent of Chrysler buyers are choosing the gas card. The upshot? CR suggests that if you must buy from the Pentastar, take the low interest rate. "However," they say, "we would recommend you consider all vehicles in the segments, as there simply are better choices available based on our testing and analysis." Ya think?

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30 Comments on “Consumer Reports Pwns Chrysler Gas Promotion...”


  • avatar
    ryanelliot

    Ah, the childish management at CerBUST has been exposed once again. Yes gas prices are way high, but nobody wants Chrysler/Dodge. If you are truly in the Market for a Jeep gas prices are most likely not your biggest concern. Do not be blinded by brand loyalty, they are junk too! It is a shame so many middle class workers are going to lose their jobs when this debacle of Car Company collapses. They are truly the only part of the equation I feel for. My advice leave now, your job security is null and void.

  • avatar
    50merc

    So it seems the gas card’s target market is the group that’s way over to the left on the bell curve.

  • avatar

    What the folks who are taking this deal don’t stop to think is that in three years, they’ll be left with (at least) three more years of payments on a vehicle they can no longer afford to put fuel in, but that nobody else wants.

  • avatar
    jaje

    The gas card has not been helping much at all. It’s not bringing in new customers [suckers] from other brands only those destined to have to buy a Chrysler from it’s other various promos.

    Hey how does one code in the strikethrough? (I want to do that for suckers)

  • avatar
    threeer

    That’s part of the fine print that many may miss. You can get the $2.99 fuel option, or the low interest, or the cash back…but not together. So sure, you’ll maybe save a few hundred in gas year over year, but if you take the “Fleece America” option (assuming one even walks onto a Chrylser dealership lot), you walk away from several thousand in discounts. Kind of like the Hyundai stealership here that is advertising up to $10,000 for your trade…any trade. When you call to discuss the particulars, you are only offered up to $10k if you buy the most expensive vehicle in their lineup. Why do dealers and car companies feel compelled to be so deceiving? Just tell me upfront what you’re asking price is and I’ll determine if I want to pay or not…sounds almost TOO simple.

  • avatar

    ryanelliot, many Chryslers fall under the category of POS, but do us all a favor: Don’t call Jeeps junk. Have you ever looked at used cars on Craigslist? The number of 200,000-mile-plus Jeeps for sale is high. That inline six 4.0 is tough, tough, tough.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    Makes me wonder. At what price of gas does the 2.99 gas card become worth it? $7/gallon? $10/gallon? there must be a break-even point.. right?

  • avatar
    KixStart

    jaje, The way I do it is to highlight the text and hit the Italicize button. That wraps the text with html with keyword em in its on and off flavors. Change the two isntances of em to strike and you’re there.

    There might be an easier way but I don’t know what it is. And my way’s easy enough that I’m not motivated to hunt for a better method.

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    Re threeer :

    Car companies as well as their dealers are pragmatic – they do these ‘semi-deceptive’ offers because 1)they work, and 2)collectively, we like it that way.

    It’s a business model that depends on a uninformed customer – which is getting tougher and tougher each year, however, as long as there are customers (like my mother) they will pander to lowest common denominator.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    “Little wonder then, that under ten percent of Chrysler buyers are choosing the gas card.”

    Actually, it’s a big wonder that some percentage still DO choose the gas car.

    I’d like to meet those people. I have things I want to sell which I believe they can be conned into persuaded to buy.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    The 4.0L I6 is a proven relible power train.

    I know two friends who have TJ Wranglers who are at ~100k and ~140k without issue.

    My step mom had a 86 XJ Limited and the power train never gave much trouble in its 150k life. Now the electrical system is another story.

    Its fuel efficency is more a function of the design paramaters of a Jeep or other capable off road vehicle: gearing, larger tires and the drag losses from a 4WD system

  • avatar
    jaje

    Jeep’s 4.0 I6 is a great engine – Legend for Jeeps. It is the whoring out of the brand that’s been the problem. Jeeps are made to be rough for off roading but the Grand Cherokee tried to become luxurious and failed miserably as the inside fell apart the moment you drove it home from the dealer – plus at 100k miles the entire driveline needed replacement. Then the liberty which looks like it’s a big vehicle until you sit inside it and try to get your size 13 feet into the wheel well – how huge of center tunnel does a v6 4wd need? Then the Commander, Patriot, Compass and now a 4 door Wrangler. Yes it sold well but it was not what a Wrangler was for…it’s not supposed to be practical.

    test (thanks KixStart)

  • avatar
    scrubnick

    The 4.0 I6 might have been a great engine, but aren’t they putting minivan V6’s in Jeeps now? There goes that idea…

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    This gas card is just another form of the old “you pay only interest on your home loan for the first 5 years” scheme. Then reality sinks in. I see a lot of repos in 3 years.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    I had a Cherokee with the 4.0l I6 and it was a great motor. It’s not used anymore though so the comment about current Jeep vehicles being junk may have merit.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    This is exactly why this gas card is a perfect marketing strategy for Chrysler. Most people are too short sighted or engage in wishful thinking (e.g. the gas prices will go down 3 years later, I will sell a car, I will be making more money to afford the expensive gas, etc).

  • avatar
    8rings

    Let’s not forget that Dodge’s target market are the same people that identify with a Nitro blowing up other cars, the caliber scaring the shit out of stuffed animals, the V8 Dakota making a more powerful V6 truck piss. And then of course the unemployed morons chasing around the “hemi”.
    If I thought all of that was funny I may choose the gas card.
    Gimmicky rebates and promotions such as the gas card are never a smart financial decision.
    Take a local Dodge dealer who was giving away a “late” model stratus if you paid full price on a Ram. Hmmmmm….I am not sure the POS Stratus is worth the 15k you are likely to get off of a Ram these days. Gets a lot of attention though.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Makes me wonder. At what price of gas does the 2.99 gas card become worth it? $7/gallon? $10/gallon? there must be a break-even point.. right?

    It’s probably a complicated calculation. If gasoline were $10/gallon, a low-end vehicle that guzzled gas would have very low resale value after 3 years. You might be hit with $14000 vehicle depreciation on a vehicle with only 36,000 miles. That’s 39 cents per mile right there.

    Worse would be if gasoline were $4 right now but increased by $1/gallon each year. Then you are only getting the $2.99 deal when gasoline is the least expensive. I think that the fine print also notes that you have to take 12000 miles worth of fuel each year; you can’t wait 2.9 years and then stand at the gas station pump selling your $2.99 gasoline at the very end (when gasoline might be considerably more costly than it is now).

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Or if gas returns to 2.29 a gallon in the next year or two then what good is a 2.99 gas card anyway? Don’t laugh, some are predicting oil will bubble out in the next year or so.

  • avatar
    ryanelliot

    Brent,

    I should have been more specific. My words were aimed at the current product line. I will not take back my original intention. Jeeps current line is a failing, miserable, excuse for what JEEP once stood for. Can you tell me which current model Jeep has the inline six 4.0 liter you speak so highly of? One time Jeep fan, now no way.

    Ryan

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    KixStart I am pretty sure someone in my office recently got suckered into the gas deal. I didn’t talk to him directly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my tongue but I heard him talking at the other end of the office about how it was so great and he would save money when gas went up to 5 or 6 dollars. He bought a new Jeep Patriot after his Volvo aparently threw a rod, I tried to tell him Volvo doesn’t have pushrod engines but no one listens to me. He had no idea if it was a connecting rod when I asked him questions about the diagnosis.

    He might be in the market for a bridge if you have a good deal on one.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Redbarchetta – all piston engines have rods that connect the crankshaft to the pistons (whether ohv, ohc, or dohc), thus the Volvo did have connecting rods (just not pushrods). Only the Wankel rotary doesn’t have rods.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Jaje I know that, that is why I asked him if it was a connecting rod or if the repair guy was giving him a line, unfortunately he had no idea how the inner workings of an ICE worked. I did a little reasearch to find out the engine in the Volvo he had was pretty bullet proof, so unless he ran it without oil I find it hard to believe the connecting rod went.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    50merc: “So it seems the gas card’s target market is the group that’s way over to the left on the bell curve.”
    Probably the same market for whom the axiom “The lottery is a tax for people who are bad at math” was intended.

    It’s a real shame that this is the best that Cerberus can come up with to save the company. It’s extremely weak, to say the least. They’re going to find that American consumers aren’t half as dumb as they think they are and they’re going to be inundated with lots of unsold vehicles to the point where they’re going to have no choice but to have a real fire sale to get rid of any of them. Gimmicks like $2.99/gal gas isn’t going to cut it. Slashing 50% off of MSRP (for starters) might move some iron (even iron as craptacular as what Chrysler produces).

  • avatar
    50merc

    Right, rudiger, it is much like lottery marketing.

    Or we might say Chrysler is channeling Wimpy and saying “If you give me a hamburger today I will gladly pay you Tuesday.”

  • avatar
    kjc117

    From a marketing view the gas card is a success. It has created attention for Chrysler and their cars but CR is correct low APR and Rebates are better for most consumers.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    “However,” they say, “we would recommend you consider all vehicles in the segments, as there simply are better choices available based on our testing and analysis.” Ya think?…

    That is true for the entire line of bread and butter products (the forte of the peanut butter testers at CR), but how about the Jeep (Wranglers) and the Challenger? You know, the products bought by people who don’t treat car purchases like buying a Maytag? These two hit their target pretty accurately, even if they are hobbled a bit by the Playskool interior plastics and in the case of the Challenger, poor timing. And by the way, there is plenty of respect for the HEMI in the marketplace. Chrysler owes no one a scrap of apology for that one. Too bad it doesn’t have much in the way of vehicles to be installed in. But hey, the yards in the future will be full once again with great engines for project cars, at least for those with mechanical aptitude that can be translated into hardware, not just on paper.

    Depreciation, the killer of all things Chrysler, will not touch the Challenger, at least not in the long term. Any 2008 Challenger kept in good condition could find its way to Barrett-Jackson in thirty years and return many times its purchase price. And the highest prices will be paid for those cars with the HEMI, which of course would be all 2008’s.

    Just for fun I went to see how much a Challenger would set me back. Not interested in actual purchase (I don’t do automatics in my fun-only car purchases) but was curious what the scum of the earth dealer network would do. First I went on line to see if I could get a quote. 24 hours later and no response from the Chrysler sanctioned web site. So I tried again with my wife’s email address. Same dealer, only this time I indicated I wanted a Ram pickup. They responded to that one in 20 minutes. Next I went to the dealership and was told that test drives were not available without pre-approval from the sales manager. This included coughing up private info, no doubt to check on credit scores. Two cars were for sale, with a notice on the window indicating that an “ADM” was in effect. To find out how much, they require you to meet with the sales chap in a back room, you know the one they put you in to push rustproofing and all that crap. At that point I left knowing that in two years the dealership building will be for sale no matter how badly the early adopters will be hosed…

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Any 2008 Challenger kept in good condition could find its way to Barrett-Jackson in thirty years and return many times its purchase price.”

    I doubt it. The current high prices for 60s muscle cars reflects a lot of guys trying to buy their youth back at the auction. Unfortunately while cars can be restored to better-than-new condition, the human body is pretty much on a one way downhill road from age 18 onward. Very few of today’s teenagers are going to be longing for the good old days of a 2008 Challenger in the decades ahead. Today’s muscle car bidders will be, to put it nicely, mostly out of the market 20 years from now.

    Someday it will probably be highly modified Honda Civics and full-tilt Subaru WRXs which bring crazy high prices at the vintage car auctions. You have to have wanted one as a teenager in order to pay big bucks for it when you are in your 50s.

  • avatar
    davey49

    John Horner- yep, the EVO and STI are the Chevelle SS and Hemi Cuda of today.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The Wrangler isn’t included in the 2.99 gas program

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