By on November 7, 2016

2016 Chrysler 300C Rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

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]

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43 Comments on “FCA Isn’t Willing to Let Go of Its Rear-drive Cars Just Yet: Report...”

  • avatar

    FWD 300? The mind boggles. The one thing that has drawn me to even consider buying the 300 is the RWD.

    • 0 avatar

      It would just be another 300M, but I imagine with a transverse engine, instead of a longitudinal one like in the LH cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I know it has its fans, but I never took the FWD 300M seriously. I like the current gen 300 and could see myself owning one as a daily driver if I wasn’t so attached to pickup trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      FWD 300? More likely AWD 300.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, because everybody wants a fatter 200/Concorde successor.

      Making the 300 FWD would do it no favors in the market, such as it is. The real appeal it has now over the Impala and Taurus is that it is RWD and offers a V-8. Take away those attributes, make it another undistinguished car in a dying market segment, it will end up like the Dart and 200 in no time.

  • avatar

    The 300 may be doomed but the platform will live on until at least 2025ish as fleet unless FCA is sold or is in bankruptcy. You heard it here first (for the past several months).

  • avatar

    Jezus Marchionne, why don’t you just build a Cadillac DTS and call it a day. :-/

    • 0 avatar

      I think the current 300 is of higher quality than the DTS was. It just has such an image issue, and looks old.

      • 0 avatar

        “It just has such an image issue”

        Whenever I see a 300 the image that plays behind my eyes is Bruno teabagging Eminem at the MTV awards.

      • 0 avatar

        What I’m saying is a “minivan platform” based 300 would be the equivalent of a Cadillac DTS.

        I’d rather see the 300 move to the Giulia platform and become CTS sized but cushy and blingy in the grand American tradition.

      • 0 avatar

        As an owner of both an 2009 DTS and a 2015 300 AWD is feel privileged. I loved them both, they are both great highway cruisers, but the DTS is better in that regard on interstates. The 300 is superior on curvy mountain 2-laners. I really don’t feel they are comparable cars in many respects.

        The 300 drives like a much smaller car than the DTS, handling, steering, braking is better. It is much better than DTS around town. I don’t know how you quantify “higher quality”……but the DTS has a far more luxurious feel to me.

        I was originally going to sell the DTS when I got the 300 but the resale is so lousy that I refuse to give it away for a silly low price with only 47,000 miles…….so I decided to keep it.

        Edit – Corey, I actually agree that the DTS has an image problem and styling wise it looks old……but that doesn’t bother me, could care less. The 300 definitely has a more modern look.

  • avatar

    If Ford could make the Crown Victoria for so long, I guess FCA can make this one forever, too. I’m guessing it’ll be decontented just like the Crown Vic/Town Car was towards the end as well.

  • avatar

    Part of me says to keep making them as long as people are buying them.

    But the reality is that at some point keeping fossil cars alive does more damage to your brand than you can make up for in sales.

    Lincoln is still recovering from their image as a maker of livery vehicles that years of Town Car sales left them with.

    • 0 avatar

      At the time of Mercury’s passing, I thought Ford should have kept it as a fleet/cop car/livery car/rental car brand in order to segregate those markets from Lincoln and Ford. It would have been easy to pull off since any car would have been a re-badge anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      “years of Town Car sales”

      I’d say the black town car was an image of a big grand city, someone going somewhere important in a “get out of my way” car. Current Lincolns (short of the Navigator) lack that IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      Lincoln still competes in that market, even naming the livery-focused MKT the “Town Car”.

      I’m not sure they can “recover” if they still want to compete in that segment. I don’t see it as anything to recover from. There is a demand for large luxurious reliable cars, and if we were in Germany, they would be an S-Class or in Japan, a Toyota Crown or Century. Lots of automakers build cars with this market mind.

      I don’t see how being driven home in a nice comfortable large Lincoln would stop one from considering an MKC for the misses or a 3.0 T/T MKZ for himself.

    • 0 avatar

      Lincoln’s other products were the problem, not cooties from the Town Car.

  • avatar

    “The automaker has a habit of keeping old, profitable models around beyond their lifespan.”

    GM & Ford were also pretty good at keeping old models (platforms) around, too. Cases in point: W-platform, of which I am the owner of one, and the panther.

  • avatar

    The fullsize market has consolidated/died enough so that just having something out there will give them a pretty big piece of the pie. Fullsize RWD sedans will always be around, but are moving to a more niche role.

  • avatar

    A Charger on a serious diet sounds kind of awesome, actually…

    If they could package it more efficiently and shorten the body a bit… maybe get it around 190-195″ long…. I would seriously consider it. Pentastar, RWD, U-Connect, usable back seat and trunk for like $30K…. sounds compelling.

    Question is whether or not this investment in a declining niche is worth it. FCA uses a different number system than we do though so they can make it work.

  • avatar

    Delaying redesigns again? Does FCA just have cash flow problems or something?

    They have been incredibly slow at redesigning their fleet.

  • avatar

    “Give ’em a cheaper option that we can also throw to fleets, figured FCA”.

    That’s a terrible thing to call Canadians…

    • 0 avatar

      Hey at least our neighbors up north have a leader the country seems to like, we have to vote someone in tomorrow.

      Give ’em a cheaper option that we can also throw to fleets, figured FCA”.

      That’s a terrible thing to call Canadians…

  • avatar

    There are a LOT of worse cars you could rent than a recent Grand Caravan.. They all have plenty of power, decent handling, acceptable mileage, etc.. They may not be the pinnacle of minivan, but they’re pretty good – ESPECIALLY for the price..

    • 0 avatar

      This I agree with. Some years ago I took my family to California on a trip. We flew in to LA, and Alamo had a deal where you could rent a minivan for the price of a compact or something like that. So I decided to spoil my family. My family of 3 doesn’t NEED a minivan and I wouldn’t even think of buying one. But for a rental for a week? I thought it would be nice.

      I wound up with a loaded Town and Country complete with rear seat TV. My daughter was spoiled that week. If it comes up again, I would do it again in a heart beat.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I thought the Chrysler 300 would replace the incredibly long lived Lincoln Town Car as the preferred vehicle for airport limo services. Instead I’m seeing the Lincoln MKS and various SUVs being taken into service.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I see plenty of Chrysler 300’s in the NYC area as livery’s, usually in black. The rear seat is just as roomy as as MKS or the old Panther standard wheelbase Town Car.

  • avatar

    Investing money into the 300 is kind of a losing game. Sales have been flat for the last couple of years at around 50,000 and are unlikely to rebound, since the market for large sedans is dying. Why invest hundreds of millions on a redesign (either to the Alfa platform or the Pacifica platform) when you’ll never, ever make that money back?

    The best investment is to keep the current LX platform- already long since paid for- and continue to incrementally evolve it. The Charger SRT and Hellcat are good brand extensions, but they could do more. They could build something like the Imperial concept from a few years back: a big, imposing, ingot of Americana that only comes with the Hemi and sells for a 50% markup. Or, go the other direction and make a real entry level model to replace the 200: 4-cyl. engine, cloth interior, priced comfortably below $30,000. All the while, spruce up the bones of the platform by adding a little lightness here, a little cushier seat options there. It works for Porsche, after all.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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