Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chrysler marked down by Consumer Reports

By Joseph Szczesny
  The Chrysler Group is taking another beating at the hands of Consumer Reports.
 The magazine's testing indicated Chrysler's cars are getting better, but "their level of improvement varies considerably," according to a news release issued this week.
 "The Dodge Durango and Charger, which received significant redesigns, have improved the most. Both the V6 and V8 tested versions of the Durango SUV received “Very Good” road test scores which now makes them comparable with the redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer. However, they score well below rivals like the Toyota Highlander and the Chevrolet Traverse. The Charger Rallye also received a “Very Good” road test score and now ranks close to the Ford Taurus and Buick LaCrosse," the magazine sid.
The freshened Town & Country, a virtual twin of the Dodge Grand Caravan, earned a “Very Good.” Its road test score is also considerably improved.
“It’s clear that Chrysler is on the right path, but they still have a long way to go,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. “We see major improvements for models that have had a significant redesign. When Chrysler invests the time and money in a true redesign, the result has been a much more competitive model,” Champion said. However, the magazine test driver were unimpressed by the 200, Avenger, Compass, Journey, and Patriot. "Despite some improvements, they’re still mediocre vehicles overall, scoring at or near the bottom of their respective categories," Champion said.
Most of Chrysler’s models have suffered from below-average reliability, according to Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Surveys and the company has consistently logged the lowest average road-test score in CR’s yearly automaker report cards. Over the past three years, CR has Recommended only one Chrysler-built model, the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.
All of the tested vehicles were updated by Chrysler for 2011.  The Charger and Durango were redesigned and the 200, Avenger, Journey, and Town & Country were extensively updated. The Patriot and Compass received some minor updates. Consumer Reports will also be testing the updated Chrysler 300C, Dodge Challenger, and the new Fiat 500. Those vehicles weren’t available in time for testing for this issue.
The full report on Chrysler models is available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org on June 21st. Updated daily, it’s the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. The report also appears in the August issue of the magazine, on newsstands July 5th.
  Overall, the magazine said it wasn't recommending any of the tested models. "The Durango, Charger, and Town & Country are too new for Consumer Reports to have adequate reliability data to Recommend. The 200, Avenger, Compass, Journey, and Patriot to rate as Recommended.  Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.


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