By on November 4, 2009

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This is the interior of the Dodge Caliber that’s currently on sale in the US market. Not particularly attractive, is it?

Dodge’s plan is to introduce a number of interior trim levels to widen the appeal of its products to a number of “lifestyle segments.” Or, to water down whatever brand attributes Dodge actually has left.

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The “thrill seeker” trim level (above) will exemplify the brash, sporty element of the Dodge brand. It is seen as an entry-level for customers who aspire to an SRT vehicle.

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The “uptown luxury” trim level (above) is apparently intended as a way to cannibalize Chrysler.

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38 Comments on “Dodge Marketing Explained. Sort Of....”

  • avatar

    All presentations are here, don’t remember if got the link from you or Allpar

  • avatar

    -Why is the Ram head still on the steering wheel?

    -People do not buy SRT vehicles for the awesome interior (although the seats in them are very nice).

    -My favorite thing about the Caliber was the two-tier glovebox, and it looks like that is going to be eliminated in the redesign. Where will I put all my lifestyle materials!?

  • avatar

    ajla: great question… I’ll ask.

  • avatar

    The Pentastar was so much classier than the Ram head! /ibjoking

  • avatar

    Oooohhh…multicolored crap.


  • avatar

    So Dodge currently represents “rugged wisdom”, but will soon purvey a sense of “refined youth”.

    Got it.

    I’m so glad I’m an engineer by trade and not a marketing shill. I don’t think I could live with mnyself spewing such BS.

  • avatar

    So you will now be able to choose colored dash inserts to match your predefined Dodge lifestyle.. SWEET!!! NOT….

  • avatar

    ajla, if I had to guess, it’s because if you redesign the steering wheel you have to re-certify the car for crash-testing.

    When they re-did the Patriot/Compass interior, that’s why they left the old steering wheel in, even though it didn’t exactly jive with the new design.

    Contrarian, as a business man by trade, I must say that yeah, marketing does sound like a lot of BS. You have to think of it in a hypothetical sense, like it’s something to work for. It sounds stupid, but if they didn’t have a vision, they wouldn’t have the slightest clue where to go.

  • avatar

    And there you have it, Chrysler is saved.

  • avatar

    Chrysler Chapter 7 Watch #1 in 3, 2, 1…

  • avatar


    Even if they don’t want to redesign the wheel for that reason, they have to at least replace the Ram’s head center logo with “DODGE”.

    Otherwise, it would be like the Cruze’s wheel wearing a GMC logo.

    They’ve also got to lose the crosshair grills.

    Plus, I’ve read that the next Charger had some design cues from the Ram 1500, so I’m not sure what is going to happen with all that.

  • avatar

    ajla, I wholeheartedly agree. I’m not supporting their (possible) reason, I’m just giving it.

  • avatar

    A quick show of hands. Who here thinks DODGE will exist in 2 years? Anyone?

  • avatar

    Man, I am actually longing for the days of the K-car again. You may not have agreed with it, but Lee Iacocca at least had a clue of the direction he wanted Chrysler to go.

  • avatar

    My Dodge Lifestyle is to never own one. What color is that?

  • avatar

    They must have hired Mark LeNeve; marketing strategy?….

  • avatar
    Madeleines Petite French Cakes

    I don’t get what’s going on with this presentation.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Please tell me this is not some sort of very, very late April Fool’s joke.

  • avatar

    The issue with the Caliber’s dash wasn’t entirely how boring it looked (have you looked at some Toyota dashes recently?). More importantly, in person they looked and felt as if they would rattle apart sitting in the showroom. I don’t think simply rounding a few edges and using colored paint is going to fix that.

    Ooooh, a round air vent on the passenger’s side that doesn’t match the rest of the vents… that must be young, hip, and assymetrical like a Nissan Cube. That will make young people buy an overweight “compact” car with a crappy powertrain that gets the fuel economy of a full-sized grandpa-mobile… it’s all about red paint on the center console and new air vents.

    Marketing can be effective if used correctly. The problem with the way Ron Zarella implemented it at GM and apparently with Chrysler now is that they were trying to apply marketing ideas and targeting demographics AFTER the products had been built and designed. “Here, Mr. Brand Manager, here’s the new Pontiac SUX6000 to sell, find us a market for it.”

    When the Caliber came out the assumtion was that yound people aspired to SUVs rather than economical cars… after all, that’s what everyone seemed to be buying 5 years ago. So, they came out with a square-edged, tall, “tough” looking design. Well, now they have a poorly executed product trying to target a market that has moved on to something else. Short of a complete redesign that isn’t in the cards in the near future, they have to pull this crap with powerpoint presentations since that’s all they can afford.

  • avatar

    Re: the negative comments…

    Please explain to me why improving the interior of this car is a bad thing.

    Please explain to me why targeting a range of buyers – i.e., sport-oriented to luxury-oriented – with the same car based on different trim treatments is a bad idea when two of the best-selling cars in the country (the Corolla and Camry) do just that.

    C’mon, guys, they’re addressing one of the key faults of this car. Cut them some slack.

  • avatar
    Frank IBC

    Please explain why bailing out a tsunami with a child’s beach bucket is a bad thing.

  • avatar

    #1 Freedmike, I have to agree. The greatest, most consistent gripe [among many] about Chrysler products has been their cheap,hard plastic interiors.

    Some color instead of sewer water grey or cadaver tan? Those bums !

    I don’t see how offering a nicer “upscale” interior in a Caliber is a cannibalization of Chrysler,which offers nothing in that same segment.

  • avatar

    FreedMike: Have you ever seen someone who did something really dumb, but was actually proud of what they were doing, and then YOU felt the emberassment you thought they should be feeling.

    Dodge just took what’s regarded as the worst interior in the industry, made one of the vents round, left the logo from another brand, saved a few bucks on the second glovebox latch, painted it red, and said that this design, in an underpowered econobox, appeals to “thrill seekers”.

    Change the red for light gray, and make the dash two-tone and suddenly you have “uptown luxury”, whatever that means. I didn’t realize a different color was a luxury feature, let alone an UPtown luxury feature! Whooooo-we!

    Do you know what I mean yet?

    Targeting those markets is fine, but doing it that way, and the emberassing names they apply to those markets, is just too much to NOT make fun of. It’s a poorly applied band-aid, applied far too late. It’s rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • avatar

    Will it make the other car being jump started fly into the air like the Nitro does? Thats what I want to know. That would make a cool commercial. Not.

  • avatar

    “Lipstick on a Pig”…

    I mean seriously, what is “lifestyle” or “luxury” about this interior? Nothing. I cannot comment on the build of this “new” interior, but the old one was so brittle and so cheaply made it made a Saturn Ion’s interior look luxurious. I cannot imagine that they really added any padding, or improved the build. The two photos still show about a thousand parts on the dash, all of which will rattle…

  • avatar

    OMG! Is this what Chrysler has come to? I haven’t actually been inside a Chrysler vehicle in years, and now when I see what Chryslers look like inside I’ll never complain about the stark grey plasticky interior of the wife’s new Camry again. That Dodge Caliber has a hodge-podge of mismatched shapes, colors, & lines. The center stack of the luxury trim model looks like something that belongs in a Lada.

  • avatar

    don’t actually spend any real money on chassis or engine development…

    better to nickel and dime it with made in china plastic cabin appliques…

  • avatar
    John Horner

    We should have seen the Fiat thing coming two years ago. That current Dodge interior looks like it came off the same drawing boards as did the 1980s Fiat X1/9s.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Stupid tags, I’m trying to insert the screen grab of Slim Pickens on the Bomb. It’s the only relavant comment I’ve got.

  • avatar

    Ram’s head…Pentastar…screw all that and bring back the Fratzog!

  • avatar
    Corky Boyd


    That interior looks like it was designed in Washington by a New Yorker who doesn’t drive and doesn’t have a drivers license.

    Come to think of it, the center cluster looks a lot like a NYC taxicab meter.

  • avatar

    carve :
    November 4th, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    FreedMike: Have you ever seen someone who did something really dumb, but was actually proud of what they were doing, and then YOU felt the emberassment you thought they should be feeling.

    OK, so Chrysler brought this car out with a lousy interior, and it cost them sales. How is redesigning it “really dumb”?

    Seems to me the really dumb move would be to NOT improve the interior.

    Is this going to make the Caliber an instant class leader? Of course not – the car sucks. But until they can bring out a replacement that doesn’t suck, doesn’t it make sense to do everything they can to sell the current model?

  • avatar

    @horner “as did the 1980s Fiat X1/9s.” Hey, my Mum had a green one of those!! It was a great car for a yummy mummy back in the 80’s!

    ….As soon as corporations realise that “the brand is dead” and get off this stupid carousel of ever increasing marketing BS the sooner they will garner respect for their companies and products. (P.S also try making an advert that you can see when played on fast-forward as everyone records the TV and fast-forwards through the Ad’s these days!!)

    Do they not realise that telling the consumer what to believe never really works? To make people respect your products, they have to perform in real life and be whispered about by real people, this takes time. Look at Skoda in the UK for example, they were ridiculed for years for being particularly crap, but by steadily producing cars that EXCEEDED expectations, the good rumours were finally started. “Hey, this is actually a good product” people started saying in the 90’s, now the skoda is even considered as the wise mans choice as it has reliable VW tech at budget price and a non-forced corporate image that is getting ever sportier ever more respect.

    Did they shout about who they wanted to buy their cars and what image they aspired to give the punter who drives their cars?? No. They shut up and just produced a real quality product that could not be ignored. (Although they are starting on the slippery slope to branding doom with the new YETI adverts….)

    Another example of spinning-down rather than hyping up working…. We used to own a camping ground in Brittany in France. It had all the legally required customer facilities to be a **** top level campsite but we chose to leave it as *** and advertised it as as such. Do you want to know how quick the word spread in the camping world about this fantastic *** camping site in Brittany !! We also got a peer reviewed German ADAC Gold star (one of only 2 in Brittany), for being such a damn fine *** site :)

    In marketing, I reckon you should only tell people things that can never ever be disputed. If someone even PERCEIVES what you are selling/telling is not 110% true they will simply not buy into it. (“You call THAT luxury?”)


    Not believing you means that you are in fact a LIAR, and who would deal with a liar ?

  • avatar

    Bring back the Neon…

  • avatar

    ^A few years ago I was at a classic Mopar car show (I have a few in the family). Well off on the side were about 20 souped up Neons. The crowds were all over at the classic cars and no one was at the Neons. It was just funny to see.

  • avatar

    Please explain to me why improving the interior of this car is a bad thing.

    It isn’t. But whether there are actually improvements, as opposed to just alterations that may not improve anything, remains to be seen.

    In any case, if I understand this correctly, there will be five interior choices. That strikes me as being about two or three too many. That decision would require more excess inventory to be produced — a dealer will need to have more cars in order to provide a full lineup of choices — and raise costs, without necessarily increasing sales.

    The concept of offering interiors based upon style, rather than price tiers, can make some sense here. The names might be silly, but the concept itself is fine. But as far as I can tell, it would be better to create two or three great interior choices, not this many, and those two or three would need to be genuinely better, not just different from what is offered today.

  • avatar

    “OK, so Chrysler brought this car out with a lousy interior, and it cost them sales. How is redesigning it “really dumb”?

    Seems to me the really dumb move would be to NOT improve the interior”

    Well, that’s just it: they didn’t actually improve anything, and now they’re saying LOOK AT US LOOK AT US SEE HOW MUCH GOODER IT IS! They needed a substantitive change. This isn’t it. It might be just SLIGHTLY better than nothing, but not by much, & it looks like a bunch of afterthought bandaids, so it may actually be equal or even worse to some eyes. Combined with the ridiculous names people won’t want to associate themselves with and they’ll be lucky to break even.

  • avatar

    How do any of these people have jobs? How???

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