Once a mainstay on American highways, Chrysler is now driving toward an uncertain future. Its partnership with Daimler-Benz has been replaced by one with Fiat, and while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has kept its head above water (thanks to America’s obsession with pickup trucks and the unyielding power of Jeep brand loyalty), the rest of the business raises more than a few questions. What is Fiat’s true future in the U.S. market? Will Alfa Romeo and its Giulia succeed today after a reputation for unreliability sunk them in 1995? And with only a midsize sedan with a questionable future, a full-size stalwart in a shrinking segment, and the 2017 Pacifica in a crossover-crazy era, can Chrysler stay afloat?
The midsize family sedan, once a ubiquitous sight on American highways and in suburban garages, is being replaced by the car-based crossover.
Today’s CUVs offer the same interior seating capacity as sedans, but offer additional cargo space that’s also more accessible. Plus, CUV drivers sit higher and have a better view of surrounding traffic, while available all-wheel drive can handle almost all road conditions.
Have we reached the point where CUVs have replaced sedans?
Of course not. Those are core models for the brands and it would be complete insanity to cancel them without an improved replacement ready to go.
Chrysler, now FCA, spent years fine-tuning its core sedans. The Chrysler 200 began life as the Sebring and has since become a respectable entry in the compact sedan market. The Dodge Dart resurrected a cherished name from the past and is the FIAT-based sedan that Americans hoped would arrive when the Italians bought out Chrysler.
The cars aren’t record-setting sales superstars, but they do fill an important hole in the company’s lineup. Not having an entry in the compact sedan segment is akin to suicide in the mainstream auto industry.
Yet FCA is doing the unthinkable: Canceling the 200 and the Dart, without any concrete plans to replace them.
Why is this happening?
As soon as a brand new car leaves the dealer’s lot, the depreciation phenomenon commences. There are plenty of reasons to spring for a new car with an empty odometer, of course. They come with great warranties, include the latest technologies, offer the buyer peace of mind with regard to the vehicle’s history, and, naturally, they come with that wonderful new car smell. However, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and your new car depreciating as soon as the rubber rolls of the lot.” We took a look at the data and found that although some cars quickly lose value for good reason (looking at you, Mitsubishi Galant), there are others that actually become pretty great deals. If the smell of organic materials off-gassing is of paramount importance, feel free to pay the premium for your brand new car. If you don’t mind waiting a few years, however, we’ve picked 10 vehicles that offer incredible value on the used market.
It’s the classic all-you-can-eat dilemma. You’ve put down your 12 dollars, and now it’s time to see just how much food you can get for your money. This is the epitome of a lose-lose situation: The restaurant surely lost money (thanks to your gluttony), and you feel terrible after having eaten 13 mediocre fried chicken legs. Luckily, in the auto world, seeing just how much power you can get for your dollar is a much less sickening proposition. Using real data, we’ve put together a list of the 12 best values on the horsepower market.
Some automakers have found success after years of development and can compete with the big boys. The Hyundai Sonata comes to mind, which comes in with a slightly lower price and longer warranty. The cars at the bottom of the list typically include the likes of the Chrysler 200.
Chrysler brand head Al Gardner wants that to change, and thinks the 200 can win the whole segment.
We root for the underdog.
We want the Cinderella team at the NCAA tournament to advance to the Elite Eight. We want to see the #15 seed defeat the #2 seed, and we get excited when a 35-point football underdog pulls out an overtime victory.
In the automotive world, there is no greater underdog than the Chrysler 200. It has to overcome the stigma of being based on the Sebring, the constant deriding by reviewers across the land and the low-quality association of being a rental-car stalwart.
With the 2015 model, Chrysler and new owner FIAT know things have to change. In order to be a viable and profitable company, Chrysler simply must field a competitor to the top-selling cars in its class: the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and even the Nissan Altima.
This is an underdog story like no other.
I’ve been a card-carrying member of the diesel fan club for many years. The benefits of longevity and fuel economy speak for themselves, but the advancement of gasoline engines has significantly narrowed the gap in recent years.
The average cost of diesel fuel remains well above that of regular unleaded, and diesel cars typically cost much more than the same model powered by a gasoline engine. So have oil burners lost their edge? Chrysler doesn’t think so, as its turbodiesel V6 could start showing up in more models.
In the past, Chrysler designers could draw up a vehicle of questionable design, get it signed off by management, see it hit the production lines and then watch it languish on dealer lots.
The fact that the cars sold only to retirees and rental companies was a job for the marketing department, not the designers.
Thankfully for everyone, those days are ending, thanks to a harsh CEO who expects nothing less than greatness and won’t accept another sub-par design.