By on May 7, 2016

2015 Chrysler 300S

Is Chrysler’s LX platform doomed to meet the same fate as the beloved Panther?

Replacing the aging Chrysler 300’s rear-wheel-drive architecture with that of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is one idea festering in the mind of Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, judging by recent comments published by Automotive News.

Marchionne was speaking at FCA’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant, where Pacifica production recently replaced that of the retired Town & Country. He was asked about the excess capacity that could occur once Dodge Caravan production ceases next year, and what vehicle might fill it.

The FCA boss was non-committal, saying it was “premature to make other allocations” to the Windsor plant. The excess space could be taken up by Pacifica production if demand is high, he said, but noted that there was a mystery model they could bring — under the right conditions.

“Let’s fill that up, and then we’ll look at this,” said Marchionne. “There is a product that is available that we can make here. We’ll have to wait for the allocation of capital to be in the right cycle for us to get it.”

In talking about the Pacifica, Marchionne mentioned that the model’s platform could be flexible enough to use for a next-generation Chrysler 300.

Say what?

The Brampton, Ontario-built Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger/Challenger ride atop the venerable LX platform from the old DaimlerChrysler days. The Pacifica’s Fiat-sourced platform is front-wheel drive, with provisions for all-wheel drive.

Last year, FCA pushed a redesign of its full-size sedans off into the future, focusing instead on shuffling Jeep and Ram production to maximize output of its hottest selling brands. Small car production holds no interest for Marchionne — while in Windsor, he reaffirmed his commitment to outsource production of the slow-selling Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart to another automaker.

With Jeep and Ram production finally figured out, and small cars on their way out, that narrows down the selection of what vehicle class could come to Windsor. Marchionne wants the Pacifica to compete with crossovers, so it’s unlikely that a Chrysler-badged utility model would ever join it at the plant.

That leaves the 300, which has seen its sales drop for the past four years — a trend seen across the once-popular full-size sedan field.

Will FCA kill the 300’s rear-drive architecture? If it does, where does that leave Brampton Assembly?

Marchionne played coy with the possibility of a front-drive full-sizer.

“It’s capable,” he said of the Pacifica’s platform, “but that’s not a commitment.”

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131 Comments on “Is Sergio Cooking Up a Chrysler 300 Built on the Pacifica Platform?...”


  • avatar

    Mark My words…

    Altering the LX/LY patform is the stupidest thing you can do.
    It would be as disastrous as the abandoning of the Panther Platforms.

    The LX/LY platform’s AWD/ RWD in the 300 and most importantly Charger/ Challenger (top sellers) are SOLID, PREDICTABLE and STABLE. They’ve been modified and upgraded by modders in numerous ways, but they are RELIABLE, and DEPENDABLE.

    The only issues with the 300/Charger/Challenger is the windshield has been racked so steeply that the headroom in the 1st generation cars has been lost.

    The backseat also needs to offer more legroom.

    The smartest thing to do would be to benchmark the new Hyundai Genesis for front/rear legroom – or possibly the new XTS/Impala.

    Thing is, you’re already doing great offering untouchable engine power to people who don’t care about gas prices. You need to DOUBLE DOWN on Hellcat availability by offering the 300 with a HELLCAT and by bringing supercharger production to poor American areas – which will simultaneously create more jobs (HERE), lower prices on these vehicles, give the RAM trucks MOAR power and bringing about Global Warming – which will reduce the need for winter tires.

    RWD and AWD availability have made you your money and this platform made Chrysler a brand that I went from “NEVER WANTING TO BUY” to “buying more than 5 of them and waiting for the Hellcat 300”.

    Don’t let your Italian, small car, NONSENSE cloud your judgement. THIS IS MURICA.

    If you screw these cars up, I’m taking my money back to Mercedes Benz.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      Great plan only it sounds like fewer and fewer people are buying them each year. Unless there’s a miraculous way to start off ring Hellcats for $30k I don’t see that changing.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        He’s right though. Everything which has been successful *and* profitable have been the Daimler era products. You can buy large wrong wheel drive from the other two domestics and thus far every Fiat platform has been largely unsuccessful. You can’t ride LX tooling forever but you also can’t simply do what everyone else is doing. How’s that 200 working out Sergio?

        • 0 avatar
          bobman

          “Fiat platform has been largely unsuccessful.”

          That’s not true as you know.

          To give Daimler any credit for Chrysler’s current success is just as much a fallacy as your first statement. The Fiat and Chrysler partnership is generally considered a success.

          There will always be mistakes, such as, the Dart and the 200, but nipping it in the bud as Sergio has decided to do is a smart move. Repurposing resources to match demand will ensure FCA will get the most out of the current capacity.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I have demonstrated it over and over again, the Fiat models largely do not sell well in USDM the only ones which have done moderately well thus far have been Cherokee and Renegade to an extent, and this may just be lemming syndrome. In fact the Patriot/Compass easily outsold Renegade in USDM 2015 and may do so in 2016 while on a global basis Renegade did better in 2015. This suggests buyers in USDM, FCA’s primary market, have not taken as well to the model as traditional Fiat buyers have overseas. We must also remember, this is an example of a somewhat successful Fiat derived FCA model. Dart, 200, Fiat 500, 500X, and 500L have all been relative duds.

            2015 Patriot global: 143,003 US: 118,464
            2015 Compass global: 108,626 US: 66,698
            2015 Renegade global: 158,351 US: 60,946

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Compass
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Patriot
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Renegade_(BU)

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            Success? By whom? Peter DeLorenzo is telling it like it is. All success at chrysler was in the works well before fca got their mitts on Chrysler cash…the old 200 and old avenger were more profitable than the new dart and new 200 when you count total profits from each line.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Sales success.

        • 0 avatar
          Michael500

          Right, great job on that FWD 200. I purchased a new 300 in 2009, and then again one in 2014. Simple decision for me if it goes FWD: bye, bye.

    • 0 avatar
      donatolla

      Says 0.1% of the car buying public.

      It’s about sales, not enthusiasts.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        Its not about sales its about profits. The LXs have no more engineering cost to recover and can make money at low sales. What is needed in strategic improvements that bring people back without breaking the bank. It can be done but does FCA have the talent to manage and improve product lines or can they only reconfigure Fiat products for the NA market and then cut and run rather than figure out whats wrong and correct it.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          The lx cars would probably turn a healthy profit with 5 grand knocked off msrp. If I were in charge at FCA, that is what I would do. Sell them positioned against midsizers.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I think the LX platform is good enough for the segment. Replacing it because of its age isn’t a valid reason to replace it, carry that platform out for about 30 years updating it every 4-5.

            And I agree chase the midsize market with fullsize cars that have midsize prices, I have no idea if it would be a success or keep sales static but it would be an interesting deal to watch.

          • 0 avatar
            Hydromatic

            This might work with the “pile ’em high and sell
            ’em cheap” crowd who buy their cars by the pound with a dollop of “buy American” pretense, but it won’t fool your CamCord shoppers.

            I get the feeling that the TTAC commentariat just want to buy HELLCAT 300s from the used car section for 50-60% off original MSRP 3 or 4 years from now.

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            Hydromatic, the charger and 300 are genuinely good cars that deserve a look against Camry and Accord. I suspect that the reason they are not cross shopped has more to do with general ignorance of how good the Charger and especially the 300 is, and costs. The Charger/300, trim for trim, outclass the Camry and Accord in nearly every way, and I’m talking about the v6 models. They lose in sales because they cost a lot more.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “They lose in sales because they cost a lot more.”

            If that’s true than it has to be a labor-expense issue because everybody in the US uses the same suppliers that were bolstered by the bailouts of GM and Chrysler.

            But you have to compare apples to apples, like Accord and Camry being midsizers, while the 300-class is considered a large sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        bobman

        @28
        Your numbers are not complete. Sergio’s management of Jeep has resulted in sales never before imagined for the brand. The goal set by him to hit 2M units by 2018 is seen as do-able. What did Daimler do to expand Jeep? They used the China plant to advance their own vehicles. The same is true for all parts of FCA, whether it NA, SA, Europe or Asia and also applies to all brands, Jeep, RAM, Chrysler Dodge and the Fiat brands.

        FCA is one company. Chrysler ceased to exist in 2009. That may not be what some would like to read but, it’s the truth.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      “Mark My words… Altering the LX/LY patform is the stupidest thing you can do. It would be as disastrous as the abandoning of the Panther Platforms.”

      Disastrous for whom? Ford, and Danger Girl, seem to be surviving the Panther’s departure just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      I came into this thread expecting to second what BTSR said and yes, I agree.

      I always thought the Giulia’s platform was going to underpin the next Chrysler LX cars. But the 300 and Charger have to be RWD. If not, then it loses any advantage against the Taurus and Impala/LaCrosse which have stronger brands behind them, the Epsilon cars do entry-level luxury better than FCA ever could, and the Taurus is a proven car in police usage.

      The problem for FCA is the Chrysler brands are so down-in-the-dumps perception wise that they need to do something different instead of competing head-on. Whether it’s hatchbacks and wagons instead of sedans or being the last bastion of affordable RWD sedans, Sergio needs to stick to what works. DeLorenzo is right in that his insufferable arrogance is ruining things at FCA. Lest we forget that the main reason that DaimlerChrysler failed is that Juergen E. Schrempp was going to force you to buy what he wanted you to buy at each price point and you’d like it.

      • 0 avatar

        “The problem for FCA is the Chrysler brands are so down-in-the-dumps perception wise that they need to do something different instead of competing head-on. ”

        If FCA had to recede into making just Jeeps, RAM, Chargers, Challengers, 300, and a handful of products including minivans…

        And they used tried and proven platforms and technology…

        …and simply improved INTERIOR QUALITY and reliability…

        PROFIT

        PROFIT GALORE.

        IGNORE what the professional reviewers are saying because they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. They’re just interested in talking points so that they can make a little bit of money .

        They consider the gas mileage on these cars to be poor but what they don’t seem to get is the fact that people who are buying these cars don’t give a damn about gas mileage and they want POWER.

        I could give a damn how much my HELLCAT weighs or how well it handles around somebody’s silly track on some NURBURGRINGWHATEVER NONSENSE BULKSHIRT.

        Design these cars PROPERLY – BASED ON WHAT THE BUYERS SAY- and other people will come once they get tired of those RIDICULOUS import econoboxes.

        Nothing but SHEEP waiting to become DINNER.

  • avatar
    bobman

    He’s got a lot of good options regarding platforms and facilities. I’m sure the folks at Unifor are watching closely. No need for Sergio to show his cards right now.

    He also seemed very confident in saying that the three shifts at the Windsor plant would be sustained. There’s plenty of time to consider the 300 successor.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    Leave a market where there is no domestic competition to enter market where both domestic rivals have offerings? With FCA spotty reliability reputation they need to compete where others are not. If they want to compete in markets where others have viable products they improve reliability and wait the long years for the public to recognize the products are reliable.

    Sergio does not have the inclination or capital available to do either as his handling of the 200 and Dart has shown.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Chrylser should never abandon the lx platform or the platform that the jgc and durango are built to…Just drop the price of the 300 and Chargers to compete with the equivalent midsizers. A marketing slogan like “a full size rwd with 300 hp and 8 gears for the price of a fwd midsizer” will move metal.

    Yes. Dart and 200 would drop to compete with compacts.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Sold a lot of Chryslers in the late 50s and 60s with that marketing slant. A Chrysler for the price of the low priced three, under $3000 Newport, etc.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The idea on this I’ve heard is that the next 300 would become a large FWD car on the minivan platform while the future Charger/Challenger would stay RWD but go to the vaporware Alfa platform, getting smaller and sportier in the process.

    The other thought is to keep the car’s current large size and have them share the future Grand Cherokee/Wagoneer platform somehow.

    Or, they could just roll with the LX platform for 5 more years with a few updates and see what happens.

    Really, I don’t think any of those three scenarios have success written all over them.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      smaller and sportier

      You mean like an ATS?

      Worst idea I have ever heard, no one has ever bought a 300 wanted small with rockhard shocks.

      Why did Sergio even bring this up? Why not make a midsizer on the Pacifica platform instead?

  • avatar

    As long as he can divert resources to ensure Alfa/Maserati has twelve dedicated platforms for a 7400 delivered units this sounds viable!

  • avatar
    dwford

    I still don’t understand why there wouldn’t be a second generation of Dart and 200 off the existing chassis’s. They are both really close to right, something even a mid cycle refresh could fix. Too bad he burned that bridge. I assume when the replacements come they will get new names

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Rooflines are very expensive to fix, from what I understand. It requires hard point change and hence a new platform.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        I don’t think the roofline is really this issue. That’s just an excuse. They copied the roofline from the Hyundai Sonata, which has been very successful.

        Aside from the brand name, I think it is partly the styling. Most of the cars these day have sharper lines, but the 200 and the Dart have kind of a bar of soap softness to the lines, kind of remind me of the 1996 Taurus. Buyers didn’t like that one either.

        • 0 avatar
          derekson

          Besides the brand name, both cars are way too heavy for their class which hurts performance, handling, and fuel economy. Cutting out significant weight would require a ton of reengineering beyond a typical refresh.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” Cutting out significant weight”

            But it could be done. The Japanese and South Koreans have done it successfully on their cars offered in North America.

            Most of those engineers got their education at American Universities.

            With improved computing power and vast improvement in CAD/CAM/CAE software since the days of the Sun Sparc or HP9000, they could engineer out excess weight.

            Hell, an engineer could easily shave weight by using Gorilla Glass instead of Laminated. Not to mention the new Lear injected carbon-fiber seats.

            How about the new light-weight 12v LI batteries now being tested?

            A savings of just a couple of hundred pounds already goes a long way. And engineers could save a lot more than just a couple of hundred pounds by looking at new tech already on line now, much of it cheaper than the old tech.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            “Cutting out significant weight would require a ton of reengineeing”

            How about just refreshing the Hemi so its an aluminum block and direct injection friendly. The refresh would be used in all those trucks and SUVs so the unit cost would be reasonable. That should be good for 75 to 100 lbs off the nose. Also while the cars are heavy they are not out of line for their market. Show me a RWD sedan in that size class that’s significantly lighter.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            HDC,

            how much more are you willing to pay for a car or truck using those techniques?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            JimZ, it’s all relative. Some people say I paid too much for my 2016 Tundra. Others say I got a hell of deal on the exact truck of my dreams.

            Some time ago in 2015, I commented in a thread on ttac that I didn’t care about how much my new 2016 truck would cost me as long as it had exactly what I wanted, the 5.7L V8, 4-door Crew Max, and 4×4.

            I aimed for a Limited trim but I got an SR5-plus TRD instead, skid plates and 18″ wheels with Michelins.

            Maybe not as fancy on the inside as the Limited, but it has all the elements that mattered to me.

            Sometimes the buyer doesn’t have a choice in the matter — our 2012 Grand Cherokee had a vented-AGM battery under the passenger seat. That added ~$450 to the bottom line.

            Hopefully such engineering tweaks are improvements.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It will be expensive to keep them above the CAFE curve going towards the 2025 standards, and margins are already small on smaller cars. When dealers can just as easily put customers into small crossovers, why spend the dough?

  • avatar
    derekson

    I hope this is true just so I can see BTSR’s head explode.

    It’d be pretty funny if Sergio forced them to use the minivan platform instead of the new RWD platform because he wouldn’t dare let a US brand sully the platform made for Alfa Romeo & Maserati.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      First that has to be a Alfa or Maserati platform worth anything.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      The ghibli is a gussied up chrysler 300. The resemblance is hilarious once you compare hardpoints and interior placements.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Using a Mercedes derived platform and a Ferrari/Maserati engine, Maserati suspension, and an Italian interior. Then again, some people think Wal-Mart shoes are “just as good”.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        I thought you were being facetious. But comparing the rear glass, interior vent placement, infotainment system, it is. Even the analog clock is in the same place. Guess I’ll be getting Genesis when it’s time to retire the 300C.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, that’s why when I checked out Maserati at auto show I had a feeling that something is not right – interior felt dated, unrefined and cheep even with all materials they threw into it. I other words I felt that car does not worth money they are asking for it – I could buy really nice car for the money, even be it Cadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        and003

        Are you sure you’re not referring to the Lancia Thema? The Ghibli is based on the 6th-Generation Maserati Quattroporte, and looks nothing like the Chrysler 300.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          I am 100% sure the Ghibli was derived from the LX, even the TT v6 was pentastar derived. Yes, it has been somewhat upgraded, but the origins are the humble Chrysler 300 LX platform.

          The Ghibli was ruthlessly mocked when it came out for being an expensive 300…

          http://oppositelock.kinja.com/maserati-ghibli-chrysler-300-1519473595

          • 0 avatar
            bobman

            @nickoo
            Did you bother too read the article you provided the link for as proof that the Ghibli is based on the 300?

            I don’t think you did since most of the comments in that article question the validity of the claim and provide several other links that say the Ghibli was derived from the Quattroporte.

            In fact, just google “Maserati Ghibli” and actually *read* the articles. You’ll soon discover that it’s not true.

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            bobman, it is true, I can link many other articles, but what’s the point?…FYI, spoiler alert. The quattro was also derived from the LX platform. You can read pages upon pages about it on allpar from FCA insiders.

            https://www.allpar.com/cars/adopted/maserati/index.html

          • 0 avatar
            bobman

            @nickoo
            Ah yes Allpar, the authoritative source.

            This is what you’re referring to…

            “Insiders have told Allpar that the
            Maserati Quattroporte was very
            loosely based on the Chrysler
            300C, due to a deal reached with
            DaimlerChrysler; ironically, Fiat
            would end up owning Chrysler by
            the time the car came out.”

            Well that seals it then….

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “Is Chrysler’s LX platform doomed to meet the same fate as the beloved Panther?”

    Beloved panther platform??? Says who? I’m not a panther fan and never was. I hated those cars with a passion. Perhaps it’s because of RWD, but I don’t care what wheels drive the car.

    Those cars and their GM cousins were awful for many reasons. The extreme front and rear overhangs and when the wheelbases were shortened, all the inches were taken out of the back seat area, making leg room less than ideal for such a huge bomb. I guess it would be all right if one laid across the seat.

    All in all, a very inefficient package.

    Count me out of the so-called “panther love” club. Good riddance!

    I don’t think doing away with the LX platform will have any effect on people to buy Chrysler’s junk.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Exactly the same feeling here. I just dont get the Panther Love. I realize they are durable, but they handle like a cargo ship. Im a Ford guy, and I tried to fall in love with a 96 Crown Vic LX, but it didnt happen.

      The only Panther Id consider would be the 95-7 Town Car. My parents 08 Grand Marquis was awful. The ride was so lazy and uncontrolled, it would cause me to unconsiously tense up and it would make my back hurt horribly.

    • 0 avatar

      I never got ‘Panther Love’ either. Perhaps the worst ride quality of the Big Three and the poorest in terms of fit and finish. My ’76 LeSabre has a better, more composed ride than late-model Pathers I’ve driven – and its a rust bucket.

      Sorry. Not Sorry.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        Due for replacement in 1985, Panthers sucked and became horribly dated by 1994 standards.
        Compare an ’01 Nissan Maxima to an ’01 Crownvic and it feels like decades apart. These are very used vehicles now. Ford Panther platform did not miraculously improve because of the internet.
        I feel the only possible explanation for all the “Panther Love” is that their owners have currently just discovered the internet and want to talk about their sweet ride

        • 0 avatar
          iantg

          I understand the panther love. I haven’t owned one, but I’ve driven and worked on enough of them to understand it. It’s a throwback to the old days. The people who really love the panthers don’t care about things like refinement or handling. They love the simplicity, the size, and how they can easily customize the car to their needs. The panther cars weren’t the best, but from 1998 to 2011 – they were the only way you were going to get that kind of “traditional” car. My grandfather owned a couple of Panthers and loved all of them. My favorite of the bunch was the silver on blue leather 1995 Town Car Signature series that he had. It was a great interstate cruiser. That said, a lot has changed since the Panthers came out… the seats in my wife’s mini and my 1 series were designed with the thought that “actual humans will sit here” instead of “let’s throw more padding in here and hope that works”

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Actually, if you look at a pre-downsize B-body compared to a post-, most of the space taken out was between the front fender and the door. Then Ford did the same in ’79, but took out another two inches in the rear.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They were good utilitarian cars and were durable. Good cars if you didn’t want to spend a lot of money but had people and things to move.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I see this way;
    1. It appears that the US/Canukistanian market are boding well for FCA. It seems most only discuss these markets as if they are the ONLY markets for FCA. These two markets are NOT what is wrong with FCA.

    2. FCA needs to bring on vehicles that are desirable to global markets, this will ensure FCA’s survival. FCA does have a relatively poor brand name in the global world, except maybe Brazil, Turkey and Italy. The market where FCA’s name is “good’ish” are unreliable to allow for consistent production numbers.

    The current crop of vehicles on offer in the global market from Jeep are sort of performing, but not at the same levels as competitors. There seems to be this view that Jeeps are this iconic Godsend that will save FCA ….. only in America. Jeeps are reknown for their inconsistent performing and poor after service here in Australia. FCA will not make it big here using their current model.

    Jeep is not as iconic as some would like to think. Jeep alone will not save FCA from creditors, neither will Ram or for that matter a large RWD family car or the US market.

    The world is moving to smaller vehicles, even most CUVs are build on small to medium platforms.

    Rather than worry about a large family car FCA should concentrate on building a global midsize pickup, decent and reliable off road vehicles (Jeep) that suit what the world wants, not just the US.

    FCA have priced themselves as the “cheap and cheerful” option when you can’t afford the “real thing”. This is quite a poor position to start from when you want to build a business.

    FCA need to move upmarket and stop selling budget busting vehicles and move on with more desirable products. I’m not just talking dropping a huge engine in a vehicle and hoping for the best.

    A large RWD car shouldn’t be on FCA’s to do list yet as it has larger issues to resolve first.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Agree Big Al. If FCA wants to run the 300, Charger, and Challenger platforms for another 5 years ok, but don’t waste any more funds on building a replacement for them. Funds would be better spent on Jeep and Ram and developing decent compact and midsize pickups for both. I don’t think a rebadged Fiat truck will get FCA where they need to be unless the truck is a Mitsubishi or Mazda which they could outsource to either manufacturer. Alfa Romeo was a waste of resources but since FCA has already spent the funds use those platforms on crossovers and compact to midsize cars that could be made by Fiat or outsourced. A new rear wheel drive platform will not generate the profit that FCA needs only the praise of auto enthusiasts. FCA needs a product that will keep the lights on and make a profit.

  • avatar
    zipster

    Truck;

    Since your are renowned to be a generous, expansive guy, perhaps you will take in a few Bangladeshis who are forced to move by rising seas. There limited educations will not prevent them from being impressed by your “Hellcat.”

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Perfect time for a second big Chrysler….

    Call it “New Yorker”.

    I really liked the looks of the LH cars. If the LX cars make them money, make them forever. If you want a different kind of Chrysler heritage throwback – the utes of America who grew up with Cab Forward are about ready for their Boomer nostalgia moment.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    They should go full Olds and continue selling the current RWD 300 as 300c, add a new Pacifica-based 300 Town and Country CUV, as well as a FWD/AWD/Electric full-size 300 New Yorker sedan.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    here we go, the K-car mentality all over again.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Get yer pitchforks ready gentlemen, because I’m gonna tell it like it is.

    Here it comes.

    The problem with the LX is that it’s RWD.

    What the “skidpad is Gawd!” crowd doesn’t realize is that if your auto company is marketing itself strictly to enthusiasts, it’s a recipe for financial disaster. The typical car buyer can’t tell a control arm from a spark plug.

    What an enthusiast thinks of a V8 Dodge Charger –
    Track day bro! Four doors! Hemi! Speed!

    When Average People (you know, real world car buyers) see an LX, they wonder why it’s so loud and the backseat is so cramped. V8? So much for gas mileage.
    Premium gas too ? Great, if the Ayatollah gets a headache we’ll need to sell the house to pay for gas.
    Oh and for winter use of this four door family car we either have to drop $1500+ on a set of snow tires -or “pay extra” for the AWD model?

    I’ll give you two guesses what Average People say to that idea.

    Say what one will about GM shoving V8s and V6s into their FWD large cars, but at least non enthusiast folks living in states with little plow service and regular 7″ snowfalls didn’t need to worry about changing cars/tires every year.

    Yeah yeah, RWD and snow tires are all you need, etc.
    Have you guys actually *seen* ordinary people drive in snow? You know, the folks who put SUVs in the ditch ?

    Sergio is on the money here. Besides us radical automotive clerics, no one cares about RWD. I’d wager real money if BMW magically swapped the drivetrain of every car they sold in the last year to FWD , maybe 20% of customers would care.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Hear, hear!

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Bravo.

      TTAC should offer a poll about FWD/RWD because just when you think this site is a hopeless enclave of “radical automotive clerics”, guys like LS1Fan and Zackman stand up and deliver heresy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      LS1Fan – well said. The huddled masses are where profits are to be made unless you are Ferrari and starting prices are 250k.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      When FCA competes head-on against any other car company, they always lose. RWD is the only reason anyone would consider the LX cars against the other two.

      • 0 avatar
        LS1Fan

        RWD is not an advantage for a modern mass market sedan. I’d bet most owners of LX cars can’t accurately ID which drive wheels they have anyways.

        FCAs problem isn’t some shortage of performance cars. Their problem is a shortage of functionally performing cars period.

        They need to get back to basics.If I ran FCA, I’d Toyota-Ize the firm ASAP. Anything remotely enthusiast targeted without a Jeep badge on it would be deep sixed(sorry Mopar track bros) , and you’d see a panel of boring and reliable appliances emerge instead.

        Once Chrysler and Dodge stand for something other then “OMG lemon ” in the consumer mind, then start making toys like the Hellcat. From where I’m sitting the RWD performance offerings of FCA may as well be American Land Rovers. Cool on paper, but buy em used from Carmax w/warranty.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Fca will never have the chops to out toyota, well, toyota. Best thing they can do is offer unique fun products. The majority of lx buyers know they are getting rwd and specifically seek the cars out for that. They should compete in price and warantee like kia and hyuandai of a few years ago…make chrysler the value brand and keep it more mainstream prices and uplevel trims while dodge is the more stylish and fun brand. I would get a chrysler 100 out asap, aling witb ditching the 9 speed and a new turbo 4.

      • 0 avatar
        Hydromatic

        To be perfectly honest, I’ve never heard anyone say they picked a 300 or Charger because it was RWD.

        The most common reasons? The looks. The Charger and 300 both have distinctive looks that distinguish them from other cars on the road, let alone those in their class. And the vast majority of those 300s and Chargers are bought with V6s and, in the 300’s case, AWD.

        Putting the Charger/300 on a FWD-dominant platform might make the enthusiasts cry, but ordinary car-shoppers will only ask the following questions:

        1) Does it come with AWD?
        2) Does it look distinctive (in a good way)?
        3) Is it affordable?

        If Sergio puts the Charger/300 on a FWD platform, he’ll only need to make sure it comes with optional AWD (or hell, just make AWD standard across the board), an optional V8 and great, distinctly American styling. Oh, and sane pricing. Can’t forget about that.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Several points:

          FCA doesn’t have a transverse v8 available, they should not waste money they don’t have developing one.

          FCA’s AWD transverse platforms are massively compromised (Small compact US wide with 9 speed in cherokee/200) compared to their RWD biased AWD platforms, LX and JCG/Durango.

          If, as you claim, drive wheeels don’t matter (which I heavily dispute) then why waste time and money re-engineering the cars to be FWD? It will only alienate people who seek out RWD and will not matter to the public. Just keep improving the LX platform as they have been doing, advertise that AWD is an option, and drop the prices to get people in show rooms, it’s been around for 10 years, surely they can turn a profit if they drop prices?

          The LX cars are awesome as-is, they offer a 300 hp v6 and 8 speed auto and still get good gas milage, and the 300 is on par with a Cadillac in luxury for much less coin, but the killer is the Dodge and Chrysler badge. Which are tarnished, people need to rediscover how good these cars are, and a good way to do that is to position them against the better selling midsizers such as the accord or fusion, which they outclass in many ways. That is why I think they should consider dropping the price.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      I have seen plenty of FWD vehicles around here (WI) that are absolute crap in the snow. So much so that they need winter tires.

      People put their SUV in the ditch because they think AWD is a miracle cure for the laws of physics.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The ONLY thing that prevents me from buying a Chrysler 300 is its “much worse than average” reliability record. If Chrysler directed a fraction of the cost of replacing it to improving its quality I’m confident sales would improve.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      There’s the rub – reliability. Although I don’t quite understand the specific issues besides tranny programming, I don’t hear of anything compared the the Ultra-drive & 2.7L fiascoes of many years ago. I haven’t owned a Chrysler product since 2002, or since 2007 when our 1992 LeBaron convertible’s 2.4L gave up the ghost at 148K. Shoulda fixed it, but it already had by that time eaten a rather large hole in my wallet during the 8+1/2 years we owned it.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        There really aren’t any issues with them. I’ve had 2 of the latest generation can neither had a fault, nor have I seen any trends otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      I’d buy a 1 year old 300 with 11k miles for around 22k. I think chrysler has a great product on their hands, but it’s just a bit overpriced, even with rebates.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      The 300 Platform is over 10 years old, the Pentastar engine is 5 years old, and the ZF 8 speed is 3 years old. Now is the Time to buy a 300/charger/challenger. They’ve had time to work the bugs out of everything at this point. I do recall there being an issue with the alternators, but that was a few years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Gardiner Westbound

        According to Consumer Reports the Chrysler 300 engine and transmission are reasonably sound. The reliability issues are with the HVAC, power equipment and in-car electronic systems, probably the result of squeezing component suppliers too hard.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      I rented a Cherokee and loved it even though it was only a 2.4. What prevented me from seriously trading in my beloved Focus for one was the fact that even demo vehicles from online publications had awful problems with the engine and transmission and Cherokee forums are split as to whether they’d buy one ever again.

      I also got hired as a fleet manager last week and the most problematic vehicle we rent from Enterprise out of our van fleet has been the Promaster. We own Transits which aren’t perfect but still much, much better. With 500Ls losing literally half their value as soon as you take them out of the lots and owners of the Cherokee (a lovable, well-designed SUV) split as to whether they’d buy one again, I share the doubts about FCA reliability and value.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I’ve had similar promaster issues as well. I’m hardly a fleet buyer, I rent for home projects and occasionally for work, but the promaster had yet to show up without issues. My last one had 7 thousand miles, it was throwing a (wrong) brake fluid level warning, the ebrake cable was poorly adjusted, and there were non wheel balance related driveline vibrations. Seven thousand miles.

        My next purchase might well end up being a used van (the new ones simply crush pickups for utility) but I already know I’m not shopping any fca vehicles in this space.

      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        Speaking of fleets, what’s the fleet/retail take on the LX triplets?

  • avatar
    maestromario

    NOOOOOO!!
    That’s a recipe to make the 300 as appealing as the 200…

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Unfortunately the only way forward in the long term for large car segment for FCA is to use the new Pacifica platform and assembly line. Yes the LX should soldier on for a few more years and probably even sell it, at least for a while, alongside the new car.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    If FCA makes the LX cars FWD, I’m gone. I will buy another Challenger soon, and if there is a RWD replacement that still looks good when that one is done, I will at least consider it. I DO care what wheels drive the car, I DO care that it doesn’t look like a squished egg, and I do want at least 300 HP. The only thing that keeps me from even considering a Mustang is the lack of needed trunk space. I don’t care about the back seats at all, they could make them optional, but the lack of trunk space kills the deal for me. Besides, I don’t like the front and rear styling of the Mustang much at all. The Camaro has an even more useless trunk, and it’s ugly as hell besides. I’m not claustrophobic, but the Camaro’s lack of headroom almost gets me there. I can’t even believe how much I hate the 2010 on Camaro. As a 3 time F-Body owner, it saddens me to think what GM has done to mess it up.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Chrysler and Trump target the same demographic and had better act now while supplies last.

      Trump gets that.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Well, that isn’t a very nice thing to say.

        On many levels…

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Sometimes the harsh reality of the truth is nasty indeed.

          I’m NO Trump fan, and my experience with our 2012 Grand Cherokee had been a good one, but who knew that Trump got this far on his own, before hiring professional campaign managers and advisors?

          Trump basically wiped out 16 other politically astute and seasoned candidates by playing to that disadvantaged demographic.

          Speaks well of Mr Trump, an accomplished businessman and novice political candidate.

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            >
            Trump basically wiped out 16 other politically astute and seasoned candidates by playing to that disadvantaged demographic.

            Exactly! He made them look like downright fools, and for sure ruined political careers! Hillary Clinton has no chance against him, we might as well start calling him Teflon Don.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            nickoo, I honestly believe that Hillary will be the next POTUS because every woman in America, including my own, will want to see that first woman president this next go’round.

            I would have voted for Hillary in 2008, but I won’t vote for her this time because she has waaaaaay too much baggage now. IMO, her time was 2008.

            The ladies in my life want me to vote for Hillary, but I am morally and intellectually opposed to voting for her, regardless of the dire consequences this will bring to my life.

            I can always lie and tell them I did vote for Hillary. But the schit’s gonna hit the fan for me if Hillary loses in November.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Highdesertcat

            The schit hits the fan in my life too if hillary doesn’t win. I’m not opposed to her baggage as much as I enjoy tweaking my immediate others with comments like you just made about trump’s impressive performance so far. There’s no denying it, the guy owns that mic.

            I want to get a “hen-pecked for Hillary” bumper sticker made, but I also don’t want an amateur vasectomy so that’s probably not happening.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            tedward, barring some bizarre divine intervention like the FBI inserting itself in this election, I fully expect Hillary to win by a landslide, both the popular vote and the electoral vote. But I won’t be voting for her.

            I have enormous respect for Mr. Trump and his accomplishments but I can’t see voting for anyone that does not have governing experience.

      • 0 avatar

        “Chrysler and Trump target the same demographic”.

        Thank you for letting us know. Then it is a good news for Republicans – LX cars are very popular among black voters and even Hispanics.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The Charger/Challenger and 300 are taking different directions. Sergio has made that clear.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        How can we trust anything Sergio says? The plan seems to change every 5 minutes with that guy.

        He needs to learn to keep his cards closer to his chest, the internal chaos at FCA shouldn’t be on display for the world to see.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          As a fan of rwd cars I feel no need to be alarmed by this news. The Pacifica platform needs chassis mates, this isn’t an optional thing. There will be cuv’s, so why not an impala/es fighter while they’re at it? The 300 was exactly that in it’s earlier 300m guise, so view it as a return to form if you must have a historical precedent for every model.

          The charger is dependent upon its drivetrain layout for the fleet sales it contends for. The challenger for its historical justification. There are several halo variants of each that also hang in the wings, totally dependent on longitudinal rwd. But, more importantly, they represent a foot in the door for mainstream shared chassis volume with a hopefully resurgent alfa romeo. That is the goldmine, that is the future of the lx.

  • avatar

    I remember the Intrepid rather fondly, in both generations. Getting back to that, only with engine across, should be fine for the target markets. Absent some glaring showstopers like headroom below 39″, I’d buy one easily if I were looking for it.

    Just one problem is that without the amortization across Chrysler 300 FCA loses any semblance of performance platform, which up to now more or less competed with Mustang. Well, I suppose they may cook up something like a humongous Lancer Evolution, by using AWD.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    FCA needs to focus their resources on improving quality and customer service. FCA is not going to improve their bottom line until they change their reputation for poor products. There are not enough buyers interested in rear wheel drive cars to keep the lights on at FCA. Chrysler should not use the Pacifica platform on any other vehicle for a few years till all the bugs have been worked out. As stated in one comment most people don’t know or care what type of drive is in their vehicle and if you live in the North rear wheel drive is not the preferred drive unless you add 4 wheel or all wheel drive which are offered in body on frame pickups and suvs. Cars are not selling in the numbers to justify expending funds to develop a new platform for rear wheel drive unless a platform can be shared with other existing products. Pickups are different in that they sell in such large volume and high profit margins that development and tooling costs can be recovered much quicker. FCA should just do what Ford did with the Panther platform and just run the 300, Charger, and Challenger platform for a few more years until the sales no longer justify their existence.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    If they make FWD LX cars, my first instinct is to walk away from them, but the problem is there is really no where else to go, and I don’t have Mercedes Benz money. Then I think about it some more, I realize almost none of the driving I do is affected by my Challenger being rear wheel drive, not even winter driving, I had almost no problem with my traction in MA, and being FWD could only improve it. Hell with it, bring on the K car New Yorker or Mitsubishi Challenger.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Although I am not a candidate for sedans or small cars, IMO the Pentastar 3.6L V6 is the best engine the Chrysler sub-division of Fiatsler has.

      I would encourage them to make Pentastar-powered AWD cars, SUVs/CUVs and trucks. That was Subaru’s ticket to success and could serve equally well for Fiatsler.

      IMO, the Pentastar 3.6L V6 is just as good as the V6 staple and mainstay engines from Honda and Toyota, and provides the optimum power-to-weight ratio.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        They already do. The LX cars can be had with AWD, and then there is the Durango and the JGC.

        I think that Chrysler/Dodge needs to build the LX platform in perpetuity and just keep improving it like they have been doing, perhaps the next two great innovations will be getting a new turbo 4 gas mileage special added to the line-up (or even a hybrid using pacifica components) and lowering the weight of the LX vehicles through use of high strength steels and thinner parts, while at the same time drop prices to have the LX compete with midsizers and up the warantees to get people in show-rooms. Make additional money on the back-end through financing. It’s minimal cost investments and safe paths to more sales and profits that will keep Chrysler afloat.

        It’s also marketing, if the LX platform incorporates more high strength steel and lightening techniques, they can market it as a newly designed LX II or something along those lines for the motortrend rags to have something to discuss. Afterall, for chrysler, a “platform” is nothing more than a set of dimensions and hardpoints, it’s not so much the actual metal.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I would like to see them drop the 2wd versions in favor of AWD, except for maybe the absolute lowest trim-level and loss-leader line, to compete with the <$20K Altima and Camry.

          Jeep has the absolute best AWD system. It's called QuadraDriveI. There's a video someplace that I provided a link to some time ago, and it is nifty.

          Our 2012 JGC came with QuadraDriveII plus the trick auto-adjusting suspension, and that was overkill IMO.

          But my son's 2012 JGC SRT8 came with QuadraDriveI, and you could actually spin all four tires at the same time during hard acceleration on a less-than-grippy surface, like a dirt race track.

          Beats Subaru AWD all to hell.

        • 0 avatar
          DweezilSFV

          That’s all any “platform” is: a set of dimensions and hard points” whether it be Chrysler, GM, Ford or Toyota.

  • avatar
    Keith Tomas

    Chrysler has been passed along from owner to owner like an syphillis-ridden whore. Fiat is just another john.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Succinct, and to the point.

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      I thought it was Jeep who was the town bicycle.

      There’s also the “Jeep Curse,” where any company that owns Jeep for any significant period of time goes out of business. I thought Chrysler would had been the one to break that curse, but oh well…

    • 0 avatar

      Daimler was a healthy and respected company and the reason why they dumped Chrysler was outrageous demands from militant UAW. Dr.Z warned LaSorda that if they do not sort out their behavior Daimler will dump Chrysler. Compared to Dr.Z Sergio is a clown and his company is a sad collection of three dead brands and irrelevant core brand despised by everyone.

      • 0 avatar
        Eyeflyistheeye

        Dr. Z was a good CEO, but he still had to answer to Schrempp who raided Chrysler’s funds and intentionally cheapened the cars to kingdom come. Schrempp also almost destroyed Mercedes by churning out some of the worst vehicles the three-pointed star had ever seen.

        While Sergio isn’t great, he’s still better than Schrempp.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I’m going to be the odd guy out here. I like the idea of putting a large car on Chrysler’s minivan platform.

    Here’s the things it has going for it:

    1) A minivan is a 3/4 ton truck, tuned for a smooth ride. Most of the 1500lb load is intended to be passengers, but mass is mass. This should work as well for a big car as it does for a family van.

    2) Plugin hybrid capability. The Pacifica will be shipping in a plugin hybrid trim soon, and a high-end full sized car should have this option too.

    3) Correct wheel drive. I’ve found FWD to be superior to RWD in rain/ice/snow. I *can* drive a RWD vehicle in those conditions, I just don’t appreciate the extra workload. RWD is lousy, FWD is great, AWD is best.

    Everyone in this discussion seems to be thinking of V8 and RWD being selling points of the Chrysler 300. They also point out that sales are falling. That may be because all of the people who aren’t wedded to that archaic combination are buying other cars. If I were looking for a big comfortable non-EV sedan, I’d probably favor the Toyota Avalon, because I like its looks and I like the perceived reliability. The drivetrain choices aren’t a big deal, just so long it performs nicely in a test drive and can handle ice and snow.

    Sharing the platform between the Pacifica and a full sized car seems like a fantastic idea to me. The size is right. The ride is right. The features are right. The only thing that needs to be changed is the profile of the car.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Maybe, as the brands differentiate further and Chrysler and Dodge become separate in their identities, there’s room for a FWD E-segment car for Chrysler and a RWD E-segment car (or cars) for Dodge and SRT. I see this as the perfect opportunity for FCA to broaden their customer base without relying so heavily on badge engineering. Chrysler continues to offer a bigger selection of mass-market cars and crossovers with entry-level luxury top trim levels, Dodge moves closer to being a true performance brand.

    And aside from that, you can rest assured that they are not going to abandon the big SRT cars to some dopey FWD platform. Those cars print money for us, no way we’re letting that revenue stream dry up. The LX platform is aging and needs a big tear-up or replacement to remain viable, but I highly doubt the plan involves a FWD platform.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Chrysler could develop a cab forward full size car similar to their LHs from the Pacifica. Those were fairly roomy and were decent cars. Put the Penstar V-6 in one and it would be a good family sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Never by Chrysler.

      Chrysler is now committed to manly men who would never accept anything without a sizeable anterior protrusion and people who value cab-forwarding would never consider a Chrysler product.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Just a thought. I think a cab forward with a Penstar V-6 would be a great car with lots of interior and trunk space. Those were good cars when they were equipped with the right motor and transmission–I still see some of them running despite the owners who neglect them.

    Chrysler will probably do what Ford did and let the old rear wheel drive platforms die out and have a mid size front wheel drive car as their flag ship sedan. Not as much demand for sedans as there use to be. FCA needs to expend more funds on Ram and Jeep to update their trucks and suvs. The profits are in trucks, suvs, and crossovers and at least the Pacifica is closer to a crossover. Very few law enforcement departments around where I live use Chargers, mostly Explorers. Many buyers have moved on from sedans to crossovers and suvs.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I’m all for cab-forwarding to come back. I admired the LHs, dust-buster vans and the original Previas and Espaces.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      I think Cab Forward was massively overhyped and like many old things, remembered more fondly than it actually was. If you look at the actual cab forward cars, the overhang over the front axle is incredibly massive…Not to mention the LH cars had longitudinal engines and hence had to be completely in front of the wheels…

      You could easily get the same interior space in the same length of car by building a RWD biased with AWD optional car on a stretched wheelbase with way less overhang. Less overhang with more mass between the wheels means potential for better ride and much better handling, as you eliminate a major source of understeer. In other words, stretch the next generation LX wheelbase by about 2-4 inches and you should be able to achieve the same interior space result with the previous described advantages.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Plus, cab-forward made for very tight front floorpans, with the wheelwells intruding into footroom, and making it impossible to offer a third pedal option. The idea behind using a longitudinal engine was to make an AWD option easier, plus, it was the way Renault did it (the LH followed the general architecture of the Renault 21/Dodge Monaco/Eagle Premier).

  • avatar
    maderadura

    Sergio is a brand killer.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Another nail in the coffin. Sergio will succeed in killing off Dodge and Chrysler, and when the whole Fiat house of cards collapses, someone will swoop in and collect Jeep and RAM, the only viable pieces left.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    If the RWD Charger goes, so does any chance of me buying something that isn’t a truck (unless GM or Ford get off their lazy asses and make an aggressively styled big RWD sedan).

    I’m willing to bet a decent percentage of Charger owners bought the car specifically for RWD. Those who bought it for styling also are buying it for RWD implicitly (can’t replicate the look on FWD). And any FWD replacement FCA produces will simply live in the Impala’s shadow. For an FWD sedan the Impala V6 is very hard to beat. Its fast, reliable, efficient, comfortable, quiet, rides well, handles well, looks great, and isn’t expensive. IMO its the best overall sedan on the market right now.

    Instead lighten LX, upgrade the HEMI with direct injection, tune for 87 octane, etc. Imaging a 420hp 5.7L HEMI Charger with 8sp for $32k MSRP that runs on cheapo 87.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    The 300/Charger is the best RWD car in its class that you can buy right now. There is no better riding RWD car at its price point.

    The Impala/LaCrosse/XTS is the best FWD car in its class that you can buy right now. There is no better riding FWD car at its price point.

    If the 300/Charger goes FWD, the GM cars will kill it off, quickly. I have a rental 300C and an XTS right now. Without question, the XTS is better in every way. I find it hard to believe that FCA could even build a car that would come close to unseating the Impala/LaCrosse/XTS right now.


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