FCA Isn't Willing to Let Go of Its Rear-drive Cars Just Yet: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sure loves its aging rear-wheel-drive LX platform, so much so that it might just keep it around for an extra two years.

According to Automotive News, sources claim the Dodge Charger, Challenger and Chrysler 300 will forgo their planned platform swap in 2018 and soldier on until at least 2020. If true — and FCA’s lack of allegiance to long-term product plans lends it credence — that means no major redesign for the models until 2021.

It’s good news for lovers of the current generation models, but it’s yet another sign that the Chrysler 300 may be doomed.

FCA’s constantly evolving product pipeline calls for the Challenger and Charger to adopt the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s Giorgio platform for the 2019 model year. The swap would likely see the models drop significant weight. Still, this isn’t the first rumor about a potential life extension for the LX-platform trio, and it’s backed up by hazy details contained in FCA Canada’s new labor contract.

The automaker has a habit of keeping old, profitable models around beyond their lifespan. Exhibit A? The Dodge Grand Caravan, which should have bowed out shortly after the appearance of the Chrysler Pacifica. Give ’em a cheaper option that we can also throw to fleets, figured FCA — a strategy the automaker has in store for the current-generation Ram 1500.

If what the sources claim is true, expect an LX-platform vehicle styling refresh in 2018.

Officially, FCA boss Sergio Marchionne has praised the Giorgio platform up and down. In a conference call last month, Marchionne said, “I think it’s proved out to be all and more than we expected, and I think its utilization across a wide range of applications within the group is probably the most beneficial thing we’ve done from a technical development here in a long time.”

The platform, stretched and likely widened before arrival, could underpin a rumored Dodge Barracuda convertible.

Lost in all this is the fate of the sole Chrysler passenger car in FCA’s stable (the 200 doesn’t count — it’s dead come December). The only mention of the 300 in product timelines concerns a possible redesign around 2020. Two sources — one inside FCA and another at a supplier — told Automotive News that one of FCA’s large cars likely won’t survive the platform swap.

All signs point to the 300. Earlier this year, Marchionne mulled publicly that a future 300 could borrow the front-wheel-drive Pacifica platform.

Then, in last month’s conference call, the CEO dropped another hint.

Speaking of the Giorgio platform, Marchionne claimed the platform would “preserve the uniqueness of the rear-wheel-drive offering that we have across fundamentally four brands which are Alfa, Maserati, Dodge and potentially Jeep.”

His failure to mention Chrysler was glaring. Maybe there’s still a future for the 300 in Chrysler’s lineup — continuing the storied brand without a passenger car seems unthinkable — but it’s sure looking like rear-wheel drive is out of the question.

[Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Nov 08, 2016

    I like the 300C concept from years ago. If they styled the sides like the concept with the current Pacifica grill design I think it would freshen it up nicely.

  • Tomsriv Tomsriv on Dec 08, 2016

    They should have made a 300 wagon as a Magnum replacement. The Magnum was ahead of its time by about 8 years. Now wagons are popular on smaller cars, but the Magnum is a huge seller on the used car market. The 300 styling would work better with the current body style. It would look like one solid block of metal rolling down the road.

  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.
  • Kat Laneaux I get the point that Musk is making. I wouldn't want everyone to know my secrets. If they did, they could or would shout it out to the world. But then, if Musk certified certain folks and had them sign Confidentiality agreements, which would allow them to work on cars that Musk had made, that could allow others to work on his cars and not confine vehicle owners to be charged an arm and a leg for the service. It's a catch 22. People are greedy little buggers. If they can find a way to make money, they will even if it wrong. People...sad.
  • 285exp I have been assured that EVs don’t require maintenance, so this seems pointless.