When I began traveling the country to work for the 24 Hours of Lemons, back in 2008, I began experiencing the joys of renting the very cheapest cars (that could haul four adults and all their stuff) available at airports in places like Charlotte and Philadelphia. That’s when I discovered the Dodge Avenger and its Journey platform-mate. These fleet-spec Avengers were not good cars, to put it mildly, but we’d speculate— jokingly— on how amazing the factory-hot-rod R/T version must be as we sliced our fingers on door-handle casting flash and listened to the wind shrieking through the sub-par door seals. Here’s one of those mythical Avenger R/Ts, found in a Denver self-service yard.
Chrysler has certainly changed since emerging from the ashes of the Maxwell Motor Company in 1925, spending the better part of the 20th century purveying all manner of car to the American public. The current century has seen the company merge with Daimler, followed by Fiat. Now it’s cozying up to PSA Group, leaving many to wonder what purpose Chrysler serves beyond being the corporate namesake.
Officially, the merger isn’t supposed to impact any FCA or PSA brands. But the Chrysler brand isn’t exactly a model of industrial health. Its current lineup consists of four vehicles, one of which (Voyager) is just the lower-trim version of the non-hybrid Pacifica. The minivan sales are enviable, comprising over half of all vehicles sold within the segment for the United States last year — if you incorporate the Dodge Caravan — but Chrysler’s overall trajectory leaves much to be desired.