Strategic Vision has announced the winners of its 2013 Total Quality Index (TQI), with American automakers reinstating their position in some very competitive segments.
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20. BMW 7-Series
In the market and shopping for a used car? Consumer Reports has released a list of 20 used vehicles to stay away from as they have a reputation for causing trouble. Listed is a top 20 list of used cars from 2003 to 2012 model year to avoid in alphabetical order. These vehicles had multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability, according to Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey.
The BMW 7-Series may be the German automaker’s luxury flagship, but used models aren’t without their issues. From 2001-2008, the 7-Series featured the good ‘ol “Bangle Butt” and sported some highly controversial styling. Early production of that generation was overwhelmed with issues even causing BMW to purchase back some of the vehicles back in 2002-2003. BMW of North America even extended its warranty on all 2002-2003 model year 7-Series vehicles to six years/100,000 miles from the original four years/50,000 miles.
According to Consumer Reports, the BMW 7-Series ranked “worse” in the categories of Engine Major, Engine Minor, Transmission Major, Transmission Minor, Body Hardware, and Audio System.
A concept minivan, little information was available on it at the show. All we could get from Chrysler was that the 700C is “a styling exercise, designed to gauge public reaction.”
When Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne toured the Windsor assembly plant which builds the current Dodge Grand Caravan and Town & Country models, he talked about “big plans for the future,” though declined to reveal much more.
With minivan sales still a staple part of the Chrysler’s business in North America, yet the segment for the most part suffering from a lack of new investment, perhaps the time has come to reinvent the concept of what a minivan should be.
And if the Chrysler 700C concept is any indication, that might just result in the most exciting people mover seen in more than a quarter of a century.
GALLERY: Chrysler 700C
The Toyota Sienna and the Dodge Grand Caravan are neck-in-neck to become the top selling minivan of 2011. What it will come down to will most likely be determined by parts availability and end-of-year consumer deals… and perhaps a fleet transaction could pull one automaker ahead of the rest?
Here’s what it looks like so far. As of the end of October, the Dodge Grand Caravan was in first place with 92,930 sales, followed closely by the Toyota Sienna with 91,955 sales. In third is the Honda Odyssey with 86,436 sales and in fourth is the Chrysler Town & Country with 78,255 sales.
There are a few factors that could make or break this race for the top spot. The first is parts availability, and with the earthquake and tsunami drastically affecting production, Japanese minivan sales could suffer. Another is end of year deals, and to really make a push for the close of 2011, both Toyota and Dodge could pull out some pretty sweet sale prices to give the automakers’ respective vehicles an edge in the competition. Finally, fleet sales could turn out to be the secret weapon that drives one competitor out above the rest. Dodge, Chrysler and Toyota sell minivans to fleets, but Honda doesn’t, so a final fleet push could be just what cinches the race.
What minivan do you think will win the race? And is Chrysler crazy for having announced it will discontinue the Grand Caravan?
[Source: Automotive News]
With a new look, a new engine, a much improved interior and better ride quality you’d think the folks at Chrysler would be pleased with their new Dodge Grand Caravan? After all, it has even been met with much-improved comments from the automotive media.
It may have started the entire minivan segment, but Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently cares little for history, deciding instead to axe the family hauler from the Chrysler brand lineup some time in 2013. According to a report by Automotive News the van will be replaced (along with the Dodge Avenger) by a single Fiat-based crossover model in 2014.
The Chrysler Town & Country (generally the volume seller and the more expensive model) will continue on as the brand’s only minivan. Of note, however, the Grand Caravan has actually outsold the Chrysler model by roughly 14,000 units so far in 2011. The decision is also a bold move outside U.S. borders where the Dodge Grand Caravan is the top selling minivan in Canada.
GALLERY: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan
Chrysler is issuing a recall for a small number of vehicles equipped with the new 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6. According to the automaker a total of 657 vehicles may be affected and could exhibit a loss of power as a result of manufacturing debris left in the engine.
Chrysler saw the problem was caught early on, but not until those 657 models had been shipped out. Models affected include the Chrysler 200, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Journey, Durango, Grand Caravan and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Chrysler says it will be sending out letters to retail and fleet customers in October, but that the majority of the vehicles have yet to be sold.
Fans of Italian cars should prepare to dry heave, as Lancia has just released an image of their new Flavia Cabrio, looking like a poorly rebadged Chrysler 200.
The only engine available is a 175-horsepower 2.4-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic. Thrilling. Lancia will also get a re-badged Chrysler Town & Country, known as the Voyager as part of their rejuvenated, Chrysler-infused lineup. You can check back for AutoGuide’s for live Frankfurt coverage starting on September 13th.
Hit the jump to see the press release below
Hard-hitting Consumer Reports, recently tested a plethora of updated Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, revealing that while Detroit’s number three automaker has made significant gains in terms of vehicle improvement, levels of quality between vehicles remain varied and there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Speaking at CR’s Auto Test Center, located in East Haddam, Connecticut, David Champion, senior director at the center, said, “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.”
The models rated as the most significantly improved, were the re-designed seven-passenger Dodge Durango SUV and the 2011 Charger full-size sedan, both of which received ‘very good’ ratings during CR road tests.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan also received a ‘Very Good’ rating, however other vehicles tested at the same time, including the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, as well as Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, while still improved over their predecessors, were still rated as ‘mediocre’ by the publication.
Consumer Reports also said that in terms of overall reliability, based on its Annual Auto Survey, Chrysler vehicles still rank below average, in fact scoring the lowest overall road test scores for any major automaker. In the last three years, CR has only only given a single Chrysler vehicle a ‘recommended’ rating, the Ram 1500 half-ton pickup.
The results from the eight 2011 Chrysler models tested will appear in the August issue of Consumer Reports, the publication had planned to also include the Fiat 500, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger, but those vehicles weren’t available for testing at the time.
It’ll be interesting to see what the magazine makes of those when it gets around to evaluating them.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Chrysler has said that it is recalling some 11,351 vehicles from the 2011 model year, including Chrysler 200s and Town & Country minivans, Dodge Avengers, Calibers, Journeys, Nitros and Grand Caravans, as well as Jeep Compass, Patriot and Wrangler models.
The problem? An incorrectly installed steering column rivet that could potentially cause the steering system to fail, resulting in loss of vehicle control and even an accident.
The automaker said the cause of the problem was “improper identification of rejected components by new employees during the second shift.” Out of some 14,000 steering columns Chrysler inspected, it found that seven of them boasted missing or incorrect rivets.
So far the Auburn Hills, Michigan automaker has said there have been no consumer complaints nor records of accidents or injuries resulting from the issue. Nevertheless, owners of the affected vehicles will be notified starting next month and urged to contact their nearest Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealer to have the problem fixed free of charge.
[Source: The Detroit News]
The only automaker that currently offers an AWD minivan is Toyota, but that is about to change says Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne. In a recent product briefing Marchionne indicated that the next-generation Chrysler minivan (the Town & Country) will gain all-wheel drive.
Nearly a decade ago Chrysler did offer an AWD version, but it was axed due to low take rate and because it took up space that Chrysler then used for its Stow ‘n Go seats.
Previous reports have indicated Chrysler’s intention to deliver a small pickup truck based off the minivan platform. This news indicates that the truck could also get the same AWD system.
In addition, Marchionne referred to the new vehicle as a “classic minivan”, indicating a decision on an earlier proposal to drop a minivan model from either the Dodge or Chrysler brands. With Chrysle’rs van now moving ahead, it is expected that the Dodge Grand Caravan will be axed, and instead replaced with a smaller MPV style vehicle along the lines of the Mazda5.
The new Chrysler Town & Country is expected in 2014, roughly the same time an agreement with Volkswagen to extend the Routan could be extended.
GALLERY: 2011 Chrysler Town & Country
[Source: The Detroit News]
Chrysler announced a recall of 248,000 Dodge Journey, Grand Caravan, and Chrysler Town & Country models for a chance that the key could slip out while driving, shutting down the engine without warning.
At least two rear-end collisions have occurred from this fault, says Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From driver contact or bumpy road conditions, the key could get knocked into the accessory position, which would shut down the engine as a result. Chrysler received 32 complaints and 465 warranty claims from customers, and launched an investigation last September to respond to these. The key’s supplier is Continental AG.
The models affected are all 2010 vehicles, built between August 3, 2009, and June 17, 2010. About 3 percent of the 248,000 vehicles recalled may have this problem.
When Volkswagen announced a few years ago, that they would give Chrysler the contract to build a minivan based on the Town and Country,it took auto fans by surprise. Afterall, in Europe, VW has its own minivan, a vehicle that was previously sold here in one form or another as the Eurovan.
The Routan was not much different from the Town and Country, even sharing the same mechanicals. It was also more expensive and lacked the ‘Stow and Go’ seating that made the Chrysler vans such a hit.
Last year, VW sold just 15,961 Routan’s and it seems its days are now numbered. Jonathan Browning, the CEO of Volkswagen Group of America has recently said “Volkswagen has not decided on whether to offer a minivan after its contract with the Chrysler Group expires in about two years.”
Browning has also thwarted the idea of entering the U.S.-made 2012 Passat in NASCAR, saying “it’s not something we are looking at.” They do however plan on building 150,000 Passat sedans per year out of the Chattanooga, TN. plant. These American-made Passats will be on sale in Canada, Mexico, Korea and possibly even the Middle East once production starts in August.
Chrysler Corporation will look to introduce a new compact van for either Dodge or Chrysler, with the new model replacing that brand’s current minivan offering. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, made the comments to reporters gathered at the North American International Auto Show.
The move will take place by 2013 says Marchionne, with the small MPV set to rival the Mazda5 and newly-released Ford C-Max. If Chrysler gets the small van, then the Town & Country will be cut, while the Grand Caravan will face a similar fate if Dodge gets the new model.
With the Town & Country the stronger seller in the U.S. and the fact that it commands higher prices, the Grand Caravan’s fate would appear numbered.
Like how the C-Max rides on the Focus platform and the Mazda5 on the Mazda3 architecture, the new Chrysler Group model will be based off of an upcoming compact car platform, that will not only be used for the Caliber replacement, but it also expected to be used to build Jeep crossovers, like the next-generation Compass and Patriot.
Few people pay attention to minivans, but an interesting sales war is heating up, with what could be Chrysler’s first major sales victory in their post-bailout era.
Chrysler‘s Town & Country minivan, which just underwent a pretty substantial refresh, is the leading minivan according to sales data, moving 102,495 units through November. The perennial leader, the Honda Odyssey, trailed by about 4500 units, amid a surging minivan market. Toyota’s Sienna is over 10,000 units behind the Chrysler.
It seems unlikely that the Odyssey will prevail, and 2011 is sure to be an interesting year if the upward sales of minivans continues, especially with a predicted rise in gas prices.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Kia‘s Sedona minivan, an often ignored but solid bargain in the minivan segment, gets a new grille for 2011, along with an upgraded powertrain.
The Sedona’s new V6 puts out 271 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque with power being put down through a 6 speed manual transmission. This gives the Sedona a 27 horsepower gain over the old motor, but a 5 lb-ft loss…not that it matters.
With all new versions of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country and Nissan Quest about the flood the market, the Sedona has a tough fight ahead. But with a low MSRP, it’s destined to achieve at least some success.
Chrysler has announced pricing details for their upcoming 200 mid-size car and their Town & Country minivan. Both cars are notable for their upgraded interiors and 3.6L Pentastar V6s, which should make them infinitely more palatable than the vehicles they replace.
The 200 will start at $19,995 for the base LX model, with the Touring model going for $21,995 and $24,995 for the Limited. A 200S trim level will appear sometime after launch, with no pricing information released.
The Town & Country, on sale for over two decades, is being offered as a more upscale alternative to the Dodge Caravan, and starts at a lofty $30,995, with the mid-level Touring L starting at $33,995 and the top level Limited topping out at $39,495. Prices for both cars include destination charges.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Chrysler recorded it’s third straight profitable quarter, raking in $239 million in Q3, as the company rode a wave of optimism regarding increased sales and a new product lineup.
Chrysler is due to launch roughly 16 new products by 2012. “We are not only living up to our commitments, but we are exceeding our 2010 financial objectives,” Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. “Our 2010 accomplishments are just the beginning of building Chrysler into a vibrant and competitive automaker.”
Sales in the United States rose 20 percent this quarter, amid strong demand for the Chrysler Town & Country minivan and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
[Source: Automotive News]
Chrysler not only invented the concept of the garageable van with it’s original 1984 T-wagons – the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager - but it also invented the concept of the Premium soccer mom special with the Town & Country. Now 21 years after the T&C’s introduction it’s packed with an incredible array of standard features and for 2011 it gets even more. With safety being all the rage these days key elements on the new Town & Country include a Safety Tec umbrella, which brings together more than 40 separate standard features, including Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection.
Alongside safety; other improvements include a dual DVD system that can play two different media at the same time; Sirius Backseat TV and FLO TV (the latter which provides 20 channels of live programming); plus voice command functions for such things as iPod/MP3 players, radio control, phone communication and navigation.
Besides safety and gadgets, Chrysler has also made improvements to the interior – a new dash and instrument cluster; better quality upholstery for the seats; more ergonomically sound steering wheel with integrated vehicle functions and a revised HVAC system.
Under the hood the 2011 T&C also gets a version of Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6, rated at 283 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. Combined with a six-speed automatic transmission EPA fuel economy estimates are 17 miles per gallon in town and 25 highway. Those fuel economy numbers are the same as last year, but the power output has jumped considerably. The 2011 T&C will be built exclusively at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant, with the first examples set to arrive in dealerships, sometime in the final quarter of this year.
GALLERY: 2011 Chrysler Town & Country
Last week Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne set out a long-winded plan for the future of the American automaker and how its future will be closely tied to its new Italian parent company. There was a lot to digest at the seven hour press conference and so we thought a model by model breakdown would be helpful and would shed some light on what appears to be the general plan to eliminate old Chrysler products and replace them with new Chrysler Group-branded Fiat models. So let’s start with Dodge…
From the smallest to the largest vehicles, Dodge will see the introduction of a subcompact car in 2013 based on the Alfa Romeo MiTo. Currently Dodge does not offer a sub-compact with its smallest offering being the compact Caliber, which receives a mild update this year but will be eliminated in 2012 and then replaced the same year by a Fiat Group-based vehicle. Presumably it will be another Alfa Romeo platform, however, the car will be built in the U.S.
Moving to the mid-size segment, the Avenger will also be updated for 2010 and then replaced by a Fiat Group platform in 2013.
The future for the Journey, Grand Caravan and Charger is more positive, with the Journey and Grand Caravan getting updates for 2010 with a new Grand Caravan due in 2014. The Charger will be all-new for 2011 with a new interior and exterior, after originally launching in 2006. A new rear suspension will also be part of the package. As for its Challenger sibling, it will be updated for the 2012 model year.
Two vehicles that will be eliminated are the Nitro and Viper, with the Nitro slated to be scraped in 2011 (with a possible successor), while the Viper will cease production mid next year with a potential sports car replacing it in 2012.
One new model will be added to the Dodge lineup; a seven-seater crossover based on the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee (pictured above).
The new Ram brand still won’t have a lot going on, although Fiat is looking to expand its offerings. The Dakota is scheduled to cease production late in 2011 with a possible unibody pickup to replace it. As for the Ram 1500, it will get a mid-cycle refresh in 2012, as will the heavy duty Ram trucks. A chassis cab version of the Ram will also arrive in 2010.
Two additions to the lineup include a front-drive small work van and full-sized van in 2012. The small van will be similar in purpose to Ford’s Transit Connect and will be based on the next-generation Fiat Doblo. It will be imported from either Turkey or Brasil. As for Ram’s new full-sized van offering, it will be one of two vehicles: either the body-on frame Iveco Daily or the unibody Fiat Ducato. Unlike the small van, this full-sized unit will be assembled in the U.S.
Starting in the small scale, the Chrysler Brand will also get a subcompact, although (surprisingly) it will not be based on the same Alfa Romeo vehicle as the Dodge sub-compact. Instead, it will be underpinned by the next-generation Lancia Ypsilon five-door hatch and will go on sale in 2013.
A new compact sedan (based on a Fiat Group platform) will be launched in 2012. It is not clear if the Fiat Group platform is the same one that will underpin the Dodge compact sedan. The same can be said for the Sebring, which, like its current Dodge counterpart (the Avenger) will get styling updates next year and be replaced by a Fiat Group platform in 2013.
As for the PT Cruiser, it will be eliminated late next year – although we’ve heard that one before.
The Chrysler 300, like the Dodge Charger, will be all-new for 2011 with the new model arriving some time next year. Styling is expected to be evolutionary, so don’t expect much change – which is probably a good thing.
And as for Chrysler’s final product, the Town & Country minivan, it will get updates next year with a new model in 2014. Fiat hopes to differentiate the Chrysler minivan from its Dodge counterpart by taking it more up-market. (Have we learned nothing from the R-Class?)
Finally, there’s the Jeep brand, where we’ve already learned the Patriot, Compass and Commander will be eliminated over the next few years. The first to meet the scrap heap is the Commander, with production ending late next year, while the Patriot and Compass will be get mild updates for 2010 before being retired in 2012. Interestingly, Fiat may build and sell the Commander overseas after 2010.
At the low end of the spectrum, a new subcompact SUV will arrive in 2013 based on the next generation Fiat Panda Cross, while a new compact crossover will arrive the same year based on an unnamed Fiat Group platform. A new Liberty will also arrive that year, again based on a Fiat.
As for Jeep’s core vehicles, the Wrangler will get a new interior next year, with a new engine offered in 2011. The Grand Cherokee will continue on as planned with the new model debuting next year as a 2011 model.
[Source: Automotive News]
Behind the Volkswagen badge on the front of the Routan minivan, everything else is pretty much standard Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country equipment. So why buy the VW?
The German automaker hopes the option of wireless internet will be enough to win over a few buyers, and they’re probably right. Thanks to Autonet Mobile, Routan passengers will be able to log on and check their Facebook, post Twitter updates or just waste away the hours on those long road trips by watching YouTube videos.
“Volkswagen is committed to delivering vehicles that epitomize and enhance our digital customers’ lifestyle, and the Routan is a modern family vehicle,” said Mark Barnes, Chief Operating Officer at Volkswagen of America. “Internet access is a clear benefit to our customers. We’re excited to work with Autonet Mobile to bring uconnect web to our Routan customers.”
“The Routan customer is looking for entertainment options beyond the traditional DVD player,” said Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile. “Consumers want to extend their living room lifestyle to the vehicle and want the ability to use internet-driven applications – gaming, email, IM, internet radio, and other entertainment and information services – while on the road. We’re thrilled to be a part of the revolution that is making the minivan the cool vehicle to own.”
The Routan with Wi-Fi is now available at Volkswagen’s 800 U.S. dealerships. Wi-Fi subscriptions start at $29 per month on top of an installation fee.
Official release after the jump: