Category Archives: Chrysler

2011 Chrysler 300 Limited RWD (887)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Chrysler 300 Limited Rear Wheel Drive,made in the USA … and Canada. This is a Large Car and in today’s world large has not been our favorite PC word. President Obama says we should drive ‘green’ fuel efficient small cars and pump up your tires to get even more miles per gallon. Well if he understood economics and had to tighten his belt as we the common folk do, he’d know that the ‘free market’ does a better job than ‘dictating’ how we should live. People’s wallets when empty have more to do with what we buy and what we can afford in most cases.

Opinion:

Oil and natural gas are in some minds non-replenishing commodities while others argue they ARE constantly replenishing natural resources. Grandma says, “Doesn’t matter”. I agree with granny because I believe in the great innovative mind of my fellow man. History has shown us that we are a creative people and if we can put a man on the moon inside of a ten year window we can surely invent a new energy source for travel in 50 years. And if our experts are correct or even close, we have 200 years of oil right here in America.

Some have said that Moses turned left into the promised land of Israel when he should have turned right into the oil rich nations. But as it turns out Israel is sitting on perhaps the largest natural gas reserves in the world. Father knows best and God know better.

So I agree we should drill here at home and let the creative juices flow with a challenge to American industry to come up with alternative sources of energy to fuel our transportation. And while we’re at it we should put the current administration and all of congress starting with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on the moon and elect some of the good folks to volunteer their time to serve in congress. Maybe some common sense will help right the ship we call America – the light on the hill where the rest of the world seeks to live. Grandpa and grandma thought this was the place to live and I’m glad they did.

Handling & Performance:

Large cars are great on the road but around town they are less friendly. So where do you spend most of your time and who you must carry will determine what is the best performer for your family.

Styling:

Chrysler has been one of the most daring and creative design car companies on the planet. You gotta love their guts.

Fit and Finish:

Very good workmanship and for the money –  it is excellent.

Cost:

A lot of car for the money.

Conveniences and comfort:

Spacious and comfortable which makes it a great road car. Those long trips get even longer when your butt gets sore and your back tenses up. So this is a great choice for lots of reasons.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is a very large class to choose from. Write down which are most interesting in your price range and then test drive until you can’t take it any longer. But you are likely to never reach that level of pain as you will find your dream car well before that. Price alone would limit my search greatly and then brand may carve out several others. BMW and Mercedes and other luxury badges are terribly expensive to maintain on top of a high purchase price. Some of my favorites include this Chrysler, Cadillac CTS, Dodge Charger, Hyundai Genesis, Nissan Maxima and VW Passat using the price and test driving guideline.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler 300 $31,000, Acura RL $47,000, Acura TL $36,000, Audi A6 $42,000, BMW 5 Series $45,000, BMW M5 $86,000, Buick LaCrosse $30,000, Buick Lucerne $30,000, Cadillac CTS $36,000, Cadillac DTS $47,000, Cadillac STS $47,000, Chevrolet Impala $24,000, Dodge Charger $25,000, Ford Taurus $26,000, Hyundai Azera $26,000, Hyundai Genesis $34,000, Infiniti M $48,000, Lexus GS $46,000, Lincoln MKS $42,000, Lincoln MKZ $35,000, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid $36,000, Lincoln Town Car $47,000, Mercedes Benz E-Class $49,000, Nissan Maxima $32,000, Saab 9-5 $39,000, Toyota Avalon $33,000, Volkswagen Passat $28,000, Volvo S60 $31,000, Volvo S80 $37,000.

Good News:

Priced right, good road large car, nice styling, Daimler / Mercedes-Benz influence in design and decent fuel economy.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction and stability controls, brake and hill start assist, front & rear air bags, side curtain and driver knee air bags, tire pressure monitor, keyless entry & remote start, cruise control, leather, 8-way power & heated front seats, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, tilt and telescopic steering column, power windows.

Gas Stats:

$3.69/ Gal avg. November 8, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $31,170.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible (876)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible. I don’t know about the Limited thing, because it seems complete to me and more than adequate for what it is. I’m sure it isn’t all things to all people, but it is what it is and an especially impressive true hard-top and convertible all at the same time. It is a Transformer and morphs before your very eyes and is a marvel of technology, says engineer Merkel. Yes, you can say that about other manufacturers retractable hard tops but they do it more expensively. Consider this list: Mercedes-Benz SL Class at over $100,000; Lexus SC 430 about $70,000; Cadillac XLR over $90,000; Mercedes Benz SLK Class at about $50,000; Lexus IS 250C at about $40,000; Infiniti G37 around $45,000; BMW 3-Series from $45,000; Mazda MX-5, VW Eos and Volvo C70 have HT Convertibles at or near the pricing of the Chrysler 200.

On top of that the value of features is quite good, like Smart Cruise control, Blind spot sensor system and Hill start assist. These are favorites of mine so I give the 200 high marks for being as smart as me. All kidding aside, when you go from car to car each week as I do and now numbering 877 you learn to appreciate cars that are smartly and wonderfully made.

General Info: 

Parts:  US/Canadian – 81% including the Engine & Transmission. It is assembled in Sterling Heights, Michigan, USA. Class is Compact. Cars from Chrysler include:  200, 300, Sebring & Town & Country.

Opinion: 

Long ago and seemingly in another life, I was driving in my 1988 Olds hard top convertible down the freeway to the North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, and not paying a lot of attention to speed when a CHP black and white pulled along side.  I looked over and he motioned with his hand up and down to tell me to slow down. A glance at my speedometer and a simple nod of my head acknowledging my agreement with his assessment, and of course I slowed down as he pulled away.

I recall that scene on occasion when I find I’m going a little too fast. Sadly those days are gone along with a simpler life and arguably better people. Those were days when you rarely locked the doors on your house or car for that matter. Truly they were kinder and gentler days. The slogan on police cruisers “to protect and serve” is just that, a slogan. They didn’t need no stinking slogan back then, because we all knew who they were, and if they called you on something they were usually right. That doesn’t apply in Today’s world. I saluted that officer 53 years ago as I do these days. Unfortunately today’s police are more tax collector than servant. Why, because an out of control government is hungry for the dough to support their ‘Culture of Corruption’. Of course in the military it was a full hand salute to show respect, where today it is a few fingers shy of real respect. Oh if we could only return to those days. . . dream on, Joe, dream on.

Handling & Performance:

Smooth, really smooth. I guess all the weight from the retractable hard top mechanism adds to the solid feel and stance. A powerful V6 gives it all the power you’ll likely need, it handles well and is simply an enjoyable ride.

Styling:

Picture worth 1,000 words to show nice clean lines that makes it easy on the eyes. Inside you’re drawn to white piping accenting black leather seats that is a ‘touch of class’. Good job and kudos to the designers.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good. Like so many these days plastic detracts a bit, but in class it is typical and not a real negative. Could be better, but no complaint.

Cost:

All things considered I’m happy with the price to value of this car. Without the retractable hard top the price is very much the same as other competition in class listed here, who don’t even offer a convertible that I could find.

Conveniences and comfort:

A good mix of features for the price noted that includes navigation and a Boston sound system. I particularly appreciate the newest of features today, and that I find most useful, like Smart Cruise control and Blind Spot sensing system.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler 200 Convertible $35,000, Buick Regal $29,000, Chevrolet Malibu $27,000, Dodge Avenger $25,000, Ford Fusion $25,000, Honda Accord $32,000, Hyundai Sonata $26,000, Kia Optima $26,000, Mazda 6 $29,000, Mercury Milan $25,000, Mitsubishi Galant $24,000, Nissan Altima $25,000, Sabaru Legacy $26,000, Suzuki Kizashi $25,000,Toyota Camry $26,000, Volkswagen Jetta $23,000.

Good News:

Nice ride, super retractable hard top, good quality features, easy on the eyes styling and good fuel economy.

Bad News:

Some rough plastic components.

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter 283 horsepower V6, 6-speed auto trans., front and side airbags, LATCH child safety system, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, tire pressure monitor, elect. Stability control, traction control, sentry theft deterrent system, keyless entry, security alarm, smart cruise control, power windows & locks, Bluetooth streaming audio, power one touch retractable hard top, remote start, climate control, leather power seats with 6-way driver & front passenger heated seats, media center with CD/DVD/HDD, 6.5” touch screen display, 30 GB hard drive with 6,700 song capacity, SIRIUS Satellite radio, leather wrapped steering wheel with mounted audio controls, remote USB port, tilt / Telescopic column, halogen auto headlights, fog lights and 18” polished aluminum wheels.

Gas Stats:

$3.73/ Gal avg. July 17, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

19 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $35,355.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Chrysler 300C HEMI RWD (827)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Chrysler 300 C SRT8. This is the first HEMI RWD (for rear wheel drive). I guess I’m old fashioned but I feel a lot more in control with a rear wheel drive vehicle. I suspect that is why they made them that way and it stuck for so long. I think you just get a better sense of how your car will react in under and over steer situations. And I suspect those of you who favor front wheel drive will disagree. Old ideas that work are hard to shake. But then the only car I did a ‘not on purpose’ 360 spin out was in turn 3 at Willow Springs Raceway in an AWD (all wheel drive) Porsche. Guess it doesn’t matter how many drive wheels you have if you make an error in judgment.

I’m pleased to see this car is made in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. What a good idea, eh?

By the way I want to extend thanks (and wish lots of good luck) to Chrysler Group LLC because I want them to succeed. What would we do without such gutsy designs as has come out of every Chrysler owner group of this historic company. I wouldn’t want to see any of the Big (remaining) three American car makers fail. It’s bad enough having to watch brands like Oldsmobile (founded by and named after Ransom Olds in 1897), and Pontiac (originally made by Oakland Motor Company in 1907) disappear. If they were living wild beasts they would be on the endangered species list.

Well we had fair warning that certain car brands were endangered – and to the thoughtful and reasoning business person we knew the real reason resulted from Poor Management and irresponsible spending compounded by greedy unions in this industry. Surely both are responsible and should be tossed out.

Opinion:

As to the above comment about irresponsible spending – you wouldn’t have thought that all poor managers needed to do was go to their rich Uncle for a loan they may never pay back. I’ll bet your rich uncle would have a predictable answer if you asked him for a loan you couldn’t promise to ever pay it back. I think it fair to say uncle would know if you were so stupid and out of control he would only be putting off the inevitable and he would only be throwing good money after bad. The idiom is to waste additional money after wasting money once.

On the other hand, if your rich uncle was risking someone else’s money he might say ‘Give the frogs a loan’. Was the bail out a waste. Your call!

Handling & Performance:

Powerful HEMI V8, fair fuel economy for this size car and a noticeably comfortable on the highway. Its low center of gravity gives it good mountain handling but it isn’t its strong suit.

Styling:

It is an interesting combination look of a ‘low rider’ and elegant luxury car thrown together. Features like the analog clock give it that touch of class. It has a definite wide stance and confident presence. Nice job.

Fit and Finish:
Very good. This isn’t my mothers Chrysler. They’ve come a long way mom!

Cost:

Arguably this is out of class with some really pricey vehicles. Yes, the recognized competition is fairly wide in coverage, so it is fair to question that a $90,000 Mercedes should be compared with a Chrysler 300C. Well, consider that much of the technology that went into this 300C came from the relationship with Daimler-Benz.

Cost

therefore is pretty attractive for a quality engineered car coupled with an impressive array of standard features.

Conveniences and comfort:

The 300 C is up there with the big boys. Really great stuff for the money. Impressive.

Consumer Recommendation:

I could live without the options except for the Adaptive Cruise Control. Great safety feature so if your wife insists on putting eye liner while driving she’ll be safer as the ‘smart’ device will likely prevent her from having a collision.

I’d use my cell phone Nav application or buy a much less expensive and more flexible portable Nav like Tom Tom or Garmin. And I’m not interested in a sun roof.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler 300 $27-45,000, Acura RL $47-54,000, Acura TL $35-43,000, Audi A6 $45-59,000, BMW 5 Series $46-61,000, BMW M5 $85,700, Buick Lucerne $29-43,000, Cadillac DTS $46-59,000, Dodge Charger $24-38,000, Ford Taurus $25-38,000, Hyundai Azera $25-30,000, Hyundai Genesis $33-40,000, Infiniti M $46-60,000, Kia Amanti $26,045, Lexus GS $46-54,000, Lincoln MKS $41-48,000, Lincoln Towncar $46-52,000, Mercedes Benz E Class $49-88,000, Nissan Maxima $31-33,000, Pontiac G8 $8-38,000, Toyota Avalon $32-35,000, Volkswagen Passat $28,000, Volvo S60 $33-36,000, Volvo S80 $39-51,000.

Good News:
Unique styling, great heritage and engineering, quality at much less money, powerful HEMI for powerful and finally it is a comfortable ride.

Bad News:

None worth mentioning.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter 360 hp HEMI V8, 5-speed automatic transmission, front and side curtain airbags front and rear, 4-wheel ABS brake system with brake assist, electronic stability program, 4-wheel independent suspension, all speed traction control, power adjustable pedals with memory, remote start system and keyless entry and keyless go (key fob just needs to be on your person), cruise control, speed sensitive power locks, rain sensitive windshield wipers, air filtering system, rear park assist sensing, dual zone climate control, 6- Boston acoustics speaker 276 watt digital audio with CD/DVD, HDD and Sirius satellite with 1 year service, leather trimmed bucket seats, power windows, power tilt / telescope steering column with memory, steering wheel audio controls, tortoise shell interior accents, illuminated vanity mirrors and cup holders, power heated front seats, rear reading lights, 18” chrome aluminum wheels and fog lights.
Optional Equipment:
Luxury Group II – upgraded368 watt audio system, California Walnut interior accents, exterior mirrors with turn signal and courtesy lights, heated 2nd row seats, power fold away mirrors, wood / leather wrapped steering wheel ($2190); power sunroof ($950); Adaptive cruise control ($595); Media center with GPS Navigation etc., ($900)

Gas Stats:

$3.03/ Gal avg. July 31, 2010
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

16 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $38,010 and $42,910 including options.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser Classic (826)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser Classic SUV. Classic it is. This Retro (modeled on something from the past) is as popular as it was when it was introduced a decade ago. The rumor is that Chrysler may be discontinuing this car from their lineup. That would be a shame in my opinion but they have the numbers and perhaps the market is already saturated.

My dear friend Kathy has had one for the past five years and still loves her PT Cruiser. She says she hasn’t had one problem with it. She lives on the coast in Oregon and visits her kids a couple of times a year in Southern California where she drives straight through in comfort.

I like the retro styling and have recommended it to my step daughter who has a newborn. It is a perfect car for her and she agrees. It is priced well at about $18,000 and that gets her a brand new trouble free car with lots of room for all the stuff kids of any age require. Ok, I take that back… today kids old enough to play computer games can travel very light and they have everything they need as long as they bring along a charger for a 12V outlet.

Opinion:

Speaking out counts because it works. I and others have, over the past year, been admonishing the CHP (California Highway Patrol) for stepping up traffic citations with, in my humble opinion, the singular intent of increasing revenues. It was obvious from observation of many who make the same complaint. On occasion I’d receive cell phone calls from friends who wanted to warn me to be careful if I were traveling in certain stretches of highway because the police were out in force. I reciprocated as well and suspect other did the same. Why, because $300 fines are not uncommon.

The CHP and Government generally was showing how insensitive and out of touch they are with the pain people are feeling in this deep recession.

Well, today it came to me that I’ve been noticing an absence of CHP stops and I can only draw the conclusion that they have backed off. Do you think they got the word? Do you think they have had heart transplants? Or simply told to cool it for a while until folks forget the anger they feel. We all know such fines are nothing more than hidden taxation on the American driver.

To add insult to injury the CHP who produces nothing are punishing those who actually contribute to the GNP. Other than a ticket, when’s the last time you were helped by a cop? Protect and serve? To quote Bill O’reilley – Pinheads. You make the call.

Your opinion on this matter? Share it and email me at joe@atthewheel.com.

One last observation is that government workers are paid far more than those in the private sector Big Time – which is said to be 50-80% more. I have personally talked with a retired police officer neighbor or mine who says the city pays him about $97,000 a year to stay home after 30 years on the job. That represents 90% of his exit pay rate. Wow. If that doesn’t just chap your hide I’d be very surprised – unless you are a government worker or retiree.

Handling & Performance:

The PT Cruiser is quite comfortable and a delight to drive. It has a solid feel, but it will feel a bit under powered to many.

Styling:

Back to the Future. It reminds me of friends who took a car manufactured 80 years ago and replaced most hidden components like engine, transmission and suspension. That to me is this PT Cruiser.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

A real value at about $18,000.

Conveniences and comfort:

Outstanding features list for the money. My step daughter observed the rear cargo area and thought the multi position shelf panel in the rear would be great as a changing table for the baby. Funny I didn’t give that a thought as a use.

Consumer Recommendation:

PT Cruiser and 11 of its best friends listed here are all pretty nice. But in the field the PT Cruiser and the HHR are a unique look back at American automobile history. I guess I have always liked Retro cars because of the whole Rod thing and a certain reverence for the cars my dad drove. You can own a piece of Americana in the car you drive. Be sure to look at the PT Cruiser up close and personal – I think you will like it too.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler PT Cruiser $18-19,000, Chevrolet HHR $19-26,000, Dodge Caliber $17-20,000, Ford Transit Connect $21-23,000, Honda Fit $15-19,000, Jeep Compass $15-25,000, Jeep Patriot $15-25,000, Kia Soul $13-17,000, Mazda 5 $19-23,000, Nissan cube $14-20,000, Scion xB $16-19,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000.

Good News:

A unique piece of history, affordably priced and a fun to drive variation on the SUV theme.

Bad News:

It can be a little under powered and that will annoy some who want more.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 150 horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, front and side airbags, LATCH rear child anchor system, with rear door child protection locks, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction control, cruise control, security alarm, keyless entry, sentry key theft deterrent system, tire pressure monitor, computer info center, illuminated entry, front stabilizer bar, rear window defroster and washer wiper, air conditioning, tilt steering column, power windows, 65/35 rear fold & tumble removable seat, SIRIUS Satellite radio with 1-year service, CD / Radio with 4-speakers, leather wrapped steering wheel, analog clock, sliding sun visors with lighted mirrors, 12V rear power outlet, multi position shelf panel in the cargo area, 16” aluminum wheels, daytime running lights, fog lights, deep tint sunscreen glass and power mirrors.

Optional Equipment:

Hearted seats, power moon roof, special paint, front passenger fold flat seat, stain resistant fabric cloth low back bucket seats and engine block heater –

Gas Stats:

$2.95/ Gal avg. August 25, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

19 City and 24 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $18,275 and $19,700 including options.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Chrysler Sebring Limited (825)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2010 Chrysler Sebring Limited Sedan that has grown up and matured nicely. It never ceases to amaze me how great Henry Ford was for the world. Sure someone else would have invented the production line eventually but the fact is it was him. That allowed everyone to be able to afford to own a car – and that car was, of course, the Model A that was first sold in 1928.

The bad news is, however, that we can’t really improve on that inventive way of making things enough to overcome the unrealistic labor costs here in the US. Thus we must ship production processes over to China, South America, Korea and soon to India.

Opinion:

We can thank the Unions for having to send all our jobs to other countries. American auto workers have shot themselves in the foot and crippled their entire industry. Forest Gump would say, “Stupid is Stupid does”, but Greed has more to do with it and workers bought into the “Heavy Handed” tactics of Union bosses. Workers were emboldened by the power of Unions and therefore allowed themselves to be complicit in crooked and greedy demands of the very companies that gave them the jobs. The Unions single handedly destroyed every industry they attacked.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither”. So the moral of the story is that the ‘chickens have come home to roost’ now because of the strong arm practices of Unions. Reminder – Unions have outlived their usefulness and are now more the problem than the solution. There is no question they did some good to wake up management to the grievances of employees but once they got a foothold in the business culture they became destructive. Collective bargaining simply became ‘Extortion’ and the results are so clear today.

Handling & Performance:

The Sebring has truly grown up in size and performance. After a week behind the wheel I found it hard to remember that the price was only $22,000. I was immersed in the comfort and handling that rival much more expensive cars.

Styling:

Nice! That was my son’s comment as he observed what I was driving this week. That’s because the look is easy to like instantly. The lines are clean and uncomplicated.

Fit and Finish:
Very good.

Cost:

Ok, let’s get real. If you look back to 1928 the Ford Model A 4-door sedan was priced at $570. In today’s dollars that would be like $142,000. Most can still afford to own a new car in this Sebring class price range but lets face it, not many can justify buying a Ferrari or Lamborghini or a Porsche or any other high end luxury car. $25,000 is looking pretty good to me for a car of this quality.

Conveniences and comfort:

Take a look at the list of standard equipment. It is good but I would make a few changes. I’d add Stability and Traction controls for $425. I’d buy a portable NAV system for about $300. My options = under $800. Options listed = about $7,000. I like mine better.

Consumer Recommendation:

The 18 competitors here are really an impressive lineup of very nice cars. In this price range you can buy two for what you’d pay for that over priced badge like Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes. One for you and one for your wife and before you know it the kids will will be asking for the keys. I remember buying a Ford Fiesta and when Jenny turned 16 the keys were given to her for being a good student. It was 8 years old but a really nice first car.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Sebring $20-33,000, Buick LaCrosse $26-33,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22-27,000, Dodge Avenger $20-22,000, Ford Fusion $17-29,000, Ford Fusion Hybrid $28,100, Honda Accord $21-31,000, Hyundai Sonata $19-25,000, Kia Optima $18-23,000, Mazda 6 $19-29,000, Mercury Milan $22-28,000, Mitsubishi Galant $22-24,000, Nissan Altima $20-30,000, Pontiac G6 $19-32,000, Saturn Aura $23-27,000, Subaru Legacy $20-31,000, Suzuki Kizashi $19-27,000, Toyota Camry $20-29,000, and Volkswagen Jetta $18-25,000.

Good News:

Well priced basic features configuration, nice styling and solid design.

Bad News:

I didn’t notice any problems.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 235 hp V6 engine, 6-speed auto trans., front side and rear airbags, LATCH child system with child safety locks, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, power windows and locks, keyless entry with theft deterrent system, cruise control, tire pressure monitor, air conditioning, front passenger fold flat seat, heated front seats, 8-way power driver seat, rear 60/40 folding seat, media center 6-CD/DVD, MP3 6 speaker radio with SIRIUS satelliteservice, tilt and telescopic steering column, steering wheel audio mounted controls.

Options:

Preferred package – climate control, fog lights, remote start, security alarm, compass and temp, trip computer – $1,010; Nav and sound group – 6.5” touch screen, Traffic Service, upgrade radio, GPS Nav, Uconnect phone with voice command – $1,695; Electronic Stability and traction control – $425; 18” Aluminum wheels, AutoStick trans upgrade, High output engine – $2,050; Power sunroof – $775; Chrome clad wheels – $700.

Gas Stats:

$3.03/ Gal avg. August 15, 2010
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

16 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,115 and $29,010 including options.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Chrysler 300C HEMI RWD (823)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Chrysler 300 C HEMI RWD (for rear wheel drive). I guess I’m old fashioned but I feel a lot more in control with a rear wheel drive vehicle. I suspect that is why they made them that way and it stuck for so long. I think you just get a better sense of how your car will react in under and over steer situations. And I suspect those of you who favor front wheel drive will disagree. Old ideas that work are hard to shake. But then the only car I did a ‘not on purpose’ 360 spin out was in turn 3 at Willow Springs Raceway in an AWD (all wheel drive) Porsche. Guess it doesn’t matter how many drive wheels you have if you make an error in judgment.

I’m pleased to see this car is made in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. What a good idea, eh?

By the way I want to extend thanks (and wish lots of good luck) to Chrysler Group LLC because I want them to succeed. What would we do without such gutsy designs as has come out of every Chrysler owner group of this historic company. I wouldn’t want to see any of the Big (remaining) three American car makers fail. It’s bad enough having to watch brands like Oldsmobile (founded by and named after Ransom Olds in 1897), and Pontiac (originally made by Oakland Motor Company in 1907) disappear. If they were living wild beasts they would be on the endangered species list.

Well we had fair warning that certain car brands were endangered – and to the thoughtful and reasoning business person we knew the real reason resulted from Poor Management and irresponsible spending compounded by greedy unions in this industry. Surely both are responsible and should be tossed out.

Opinion:

As to the above comment about irresponsible spending – you wouldn’t have thought that all poor managers needed to do was go to their rich Uncle for a loan they may never pay back. I’ll bet your rich uncle would have a predictable answer if you asked him for a loan you couldn’t promise to ever pay it back. I think it fair to say uncle would know if you were so stupid and out of control he would only be putting off the inevitable and he would only be throwing good money after bad. The idiom is to waste additional money after wasting money once.

On the other hand, if your rich uncle was risking someone else’s money he might say ‘Give the frogs a loan’. Was the bail out a waste. Your call!

Handling & Performance:

Powerful HEMI V8, fair fuel economy for this size car and a noticeably comfortable on the highway. Its low center of gravity gives it good mountain handling but it isn’t its strong suit.

Styling:

It is an interesting combination look of a ‘low rider’ and elegant luxury car thrown together. Features like the analog clock give it that touch of class. It has a definite wide stance and confident presence. Nice job.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. This isn’t my mothers Chrysler. They’ve come a long way mom!

Cost:

Arguably this is out of class with some really pricey vehicles. Yes, the recognized competition is fairly wide in coverage, so it is fair to question that a $90,000 Mercedes should be compared with a Chrysler 300C. Well, consider that much of the technology that went into this 300C came from the relationship with Daimler-Benz.

Cost therefore is pretty attractive for a quality engineered car coupled with an impressive array of standard features.

Conveniences and comfort:

The 300 C is up there with the big boys. Really great stuff for the money. Impressive.

Consumer Recommendation:

I could live without the options except for the Adaptive Cruise Control. Great safety feature so if your wife insists on putting eye liner while driving she’ll be safer as the ‘smart’ device will likely prevent her from having a collision.

I’d use my cell phone Nav application or buy a much less expensive and more flexible portable Nav like Tom Tom or Garmin. And I’m not interested in a sun roof.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler 300 $27-45,000, Acura RL $47-54,000, Acura TL $35-43,000, Audi A6 $45-59,000, BMW 5 Series $46-61,000, BMW M5 $85,700, Buick Lucerne $29-43,000, Cadillac DTS $46-59,000, Dodge Charger $24-38,000, Ford Taurus $25-38,000, Hyundai Azera $25-30,000, Hyundai Genesis $33-40,000, Infiniti M $46-60,000, Kia Amanti $26,045, Lexus GS $46-54,000, Lincoln MKS $41-48,000, Lincoln Towncar $46-52,000, Mercedes Benz E Class $49-88,000, Nissan Maxima $31-33,000, Pontiac G8 $8-38,000, Toyota Avalon $32-35,000, Volkswagen Passat $28,000, Volvo S60 $33-36,000, Volvo S80 $39-51,000.

Good News:

Unique styling, great heritage and engineering, quality at much less money, powerful HEMI for powerful and finally it is a comfortable ride.

Bad News:

None worth mentioning.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter 360 hp HEMI V8, 5-speed automatic transmission, front and side curtain airbags front and rear, 4-wheel ABS brake system with brake assist, electronic stability program, 4-wheel independent suspension, all speed traction control, power adjustable pedals with memory, remote start system and keyless entry and keyless go (key fob just needs to be on your person), cruise control, speed sensitive power locks, rain sensitive windshield wipers, air filtering system, rear park assist sensing, dual zone climate control, 6- Boston acoustics speaker 276 watt digital audio with CD/DVD, HDD and Sirius satellite with 1 year service, leather trimmed bucket seats, power windows, power tilt / telescope steering column with memory, steering wheel audio controls, tortoise shell interior accents, illuminated vanity mirrors and cup holders, power heated front seats, rear reading lights, 18” chrome aluminum wheels and fog lights.
Optional Equipment:
Luxury Group II – upgraded368 watt audio system, California Walnut interior accents, exterior mirrors with turn signal and courtesy lights, heated 2nd row seats, power fold away mirrors, wood / leather wrapped steering wheel ($2190); power sunroof ($950); Adaptive cruise control ($595); Media center with GPS Navigation etc., ($900)

Gas Stats:

$3.03/ Gal avg. July 31, 2010
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

16 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $38,010 and $42,910 including options.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2009 Chrysler Town & Country Touring (779)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2009 Chrysler Town & Country Touring at about $30 K and is in the middle of the LX at about $26 K and the Limited at about $37 K

Well, ordinarily I would “See the USA in my Chevrolet”, but that is just a slogan of the past and this week found this Town & Country would take a couple of friends and me from Acton, CA to do our duty to God and country. Yep, we marched on Washington after we parked this delightful companion Town & Country.

Ok, in spite of the great transportation, we did more walking than I like but we all know that’s how vacations can go. We saw many of the sights in and around DC. We stayed in Virginia and drove to wonderful must see historic sights like the Luray Caverns with breathtaking Stalactites (grow down) and Stalagmites (build from the bottom up), Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson), Mount Vernon (home of George Washington), Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Veterans Memorials for Vietnam and Korea; We visited museums and of course the Capitol. We had called our representative in Washington DC – a guy you may know – Buck McKeon, and he was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy day to see us. His office is at the Rayburn Building, across from the Capitol, and he gave us a copy of the Constitution and passes to get into the House of Representatives Gallery to watch our US Congress in action. I concluded “It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it” – don’t you agree?

Ultimately I hope many of you will take up the challenge and run for office like Buck did over 16 years ago. Thanks to him for his efforts shoveling “Sand” against the tide and thanks to the 1.7 million people in DC with us to protest the direction this country has been going for the past 50 years. That direction would be downhill. God help us. If you were there, email me.

That was all great but the unsung hero was this wonderful van that took us everywhere in comfort and style and not one complaint, unlike my other companions.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 71%, Engine & Trans made in US

Assembly – Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Class:  – Special Purpose Minivan

Cars: – Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Dakota, Durango, Durango Hybrid, Grand Caravan, Journey, Magnum, Nitro, Ram 15-25-3500, Sprinter, Sprinter Wagon & Viper.

Opinion:

Fuel cost: Well when we got off the plane from LAX to Wash/Dulles in DC we didn’t check out the prices of gas until we got close to needing it. When we filled up in Virginia the price of gas in LA was $3 Bucks a gallon and now we were paying $2.36.

Can someone tell me why? Last time I checked the refineries are right down the way in LA.

Handling & Performance:

A great ride is what you get from this Chrysler product. I was amazed how much power they get out of 197 horsepower without a turbocharger. I also like the handling of these vans because the lower center of gravity gives a more confident feel on the road at freeway speeds.

Styling:

You can’t help but appreciate a Mini-Van when you’re traveling. . . Flashback – Kids, soccer, football, baseball, the beach, skiing in between hot buttered rums around the fire in Mammoth and Park City Utah, etc., etc., etc.

And you can’t help but appreciate all the neat nooks, crannies, power outlets, entertainment systems and so much more that is available to make this mini van basic or a small scale motor home. And you gotta love what they’ve done with this van over the years in beauty and functionality. Great job Chrysler. And finally thanks to Lee Iacocca for saving this Icon of the American Auto industry. Why doesn’t a current day lion like Lee come forward to save GM?

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Competition is all good but Kia is the toughest because it is still the new kid on the block in pricing and can’t be ignored.

Conveniences and comfort:

Town & Country never fails to pamper you with options like an entertainment system to keep passengers from being bored. The power side doors and the rear hatch is activated from the key fob as well and if you’ve never driven vehicles with these conveniences you must consider these options if it’s in the budget. The only thing I would add is a cooler console for those long hot summers and the Stow ‘n Go seating is really a neat option.

All the ups and extras are nice but the basic configuration has to be considered because it can save $9,000. However if you are a family on the go at that children part of your life the Swivel ‘n Go seating is great for $495. For safety I was impressed with the “Blind Spot” detection system worth the cost of about a grand which includes parking sensors and power mirrors. If you need all the electronics like the entertainment system etc., it can push the cost up by about $5,000. There is a lot to choose from.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Town & Country $26-37,000, Hyundai Entourage n/a, Toyota Sienna $25-38,000, Dodge Grand Caravan $24-29,000, Volkswagen Routan $25-39,000, Nissan Quest $26-36,000, Kia Sedona $21-28,000, (2010) Honda Odyssey $27-41,000.

Good News:

Highly versatile vehicle, great for families, super useful options – I wish they had vans like this when my kids were small because the next best thing was called a “Station Wagon”, acceptable fuel economy for this class vehicle.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy, all are a little pricey.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter 197 hp V6 engine (the limited version has a 4.0 liter 251 hp V6), 6-speed automatic transmission, front air bags and side curtain all rows, latch child seat anchor system, electronic stability program, power adjustable pedals, auto headlights, dual side sliding power doors, tire pressure monitor system, power liftgate, remote keyless entry and engine immobilizer, cruise control, rear intermittent wiper washer and anti lock brakes.

Gas Stats:

2.36/ Gal avg. September 15, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,395.

2009 Chrysler Aspen Limited HEV 4X4 SUV. (758)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2009 Chrysler Aspen Limited HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) 4X4 SUV. And an interesting one it is. It is about time we’ve begun to move more to hybrid for the SUVs we love so much. Of course it helps to justify ownership of this platform since the need still exists for large cargo and 6-7 passenger capability. The luxury is also nice, but necessity drives us more in satisfying the need to transport soccer or little league kids and all the equipment. The class also is great for the summer outings to the beach or winter outings to the slopes as well as those longer family vacations. If the need were only once a year a rental RV would do just fine, but our life styles are all year long.

The family is still alive and well and sometimes “want” isn’t all that drives us to have a large car. What’s really cool with this Hybrid is you CAN have both size and reasonable fuel economy. I’ve observed that families on a tight budget and large families generally buy smaller fuel efficient second cars.

Opinion:

Well, our government, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to give $ Billions to the Italian auto maker Fiat to help Chrysler out of the pits. Lee Iacocca pulled them out last time with similar financial loans and those were repaid plus interest. Hopefully present loans will also be paid back too. The odds are lousy on that bet.

Friend and colleague Merkel is ecstatic at the possibilities of finally having an American car maker selling small European style cars. He is even toying with the idea of going back to design engineering for his old employer. Go for it Merkel – they need all the help they can get. Meanwhile I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best – as I prepare for the worst.

Handling & Performance:

Merkel says of the Aspen, “this is a real car” and I must admit I agree with him on this one.

In fact this is a HEMI powered 5.7 liter V8 that is assisted by an electric motor to give it the better fuel performance. The first thing I sensed when I turned the ignition was the “Silence”. Ahhh this is a good thing I thought. As I pressed on the accelerator pedal – it was still quiet even when I needed more power and wa-la that big V8 kicked in and off we went with gusto.

Styling:

Typical great looking products coming from Chrysler in the past few decades and it is well appointed as well as being easy on the eyes. It is elegant and very comfortable. Nice job.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. No complaints here.

Cost:

When all was said and done the total price of this test vehicle is $45,270.

Conveniences and comfort:

There is something about real wood steering wheels that simply feels rich and special. The first SUV I tested that had such elegant appointments was the Cadillac Escalade.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you have a need for a large SUV this is a very good option that is seriously competitive at compelling pricing.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Aspen Hybrid $35-37,000, Cadillac Escalade Hybrid $73-87,000, GMC Yukon Hybrid $51-54,000, Nissan Armada $37-48,000, Infiniti QX56 $55-58,000, Toyota Highlander Hybrid $35-41,000, Mazda Tribute Hybrid $29-33,000, Dodge Durango Hybrid $45,040, Ford Expedition $35-51,000, Jeep Commander $29-46,000, Mercedes-Benz GL – Class $58-81,000, Lincoln Navigator $53-59,000, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid $50-53,000, Toyota Land Cruiser $64,755.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, spacious, priced well.

Bad News:

Hybrid and company uncertainties.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter HEMI V8 engine with electric motor hybrid power, auto trans with AWD transfer case, electronic stability program, regenerative 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, front and side curtain airbags, theft deterrent system, power steering, 27 gallon fuel tank, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power adjustable pedals, rear back up camera, power lift gate, air conditioning with rear air, power heated front seats, rear 20/40/20 split reclining seating, 3 rd row 60/40 split seating for 3, Sirius satellite radio with traffic feature (one year included), power windows and locks, steering wheel audio mounted controls, halogen lights and fog lights.

Gas Stats:

$2.34/ Gal avg. May 10, ‘09
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

20 City and 22 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $45,270.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair

Chrysler and FIAT Open Up Shop Together (755)

Overview:
Regular readers of this column will recognize our guest writer Merkel Weiss and may recall he is an automotive engineer who has worked for Chrysler in his younger years and a professor of automotive design at the prestigious Pasadena based Art Center College of Design right above the Rose Bowl. Herewith is Merkel’s informative view at historic car makers Chrysler and Fiat.

Opinion:

FIAT is an acronym for Fabbricca Italiana Automoboli Torino, and for some who have had some older experiences with the marque here in the USA, Fix It Again Tony. While it is impossible to go back and review all of the horror and success stories which have only improved with the telling, it can be said that Chrysler and FIAT have had many business dealings together and for the most part they have been lucrative ones for both parties. The current linkup promises to be just such an opportunity.

Several years ago when fuel was hovering near $4 per gallon, it was both General Motors and Ford who entered into a contractual agreements with FIAT. GM wanted access to small platforms which were versatile from a manufacturing standpoint, while Ford was looking for a chassis in order to put the new generation Ford Ka into production in Europe. Today, the new Ka has been shown and has met with wide acclaim, while GM quietly paid FIAT the sum of $2B to get out from under the contract. Ford has always made a good variety of small, fuel efficient cars in Europe but has not exported them to the US. GM has a genuine need for small car expertise and ironically paid FIAT the amount required to design and develop the small FIAT Cinquecento (pronounced Chink-way-chen-tow or 500) platform, the car that brought FIAT back to profitability. That money would have equally been useful to GM to do the new Volt platform engineering, I suspect.

When Mercedes Benz acquired Chrysler in the “merger of equals”, the German owners managed to infuse Chrysler with a healthy dose of good-old front-engine, rear-drive platforms, mostly borrowed from older E-Class tooling, modified to work with American hardware. This has done well to bolster the upper end of the Chrysler lineup. The existing product portfolio of highly successful fuel efficient and spacious front-engine, front wheel drive cars from Neon to Intrepid was pretty much ignored, however. While the upper end products were developed, the midrange products atrophied and some, like the Neon, were dropped from the lineup. This is particularly sad now when it is clear that an American car as large and space efficient as a Dodge Intrepid that achieves 30+ miles per gallon on the highway would be an excellent product during times of elevated fuel prices.

I think that everyone will agree that there is simply no question that the price of fuel will rise to and beyond the $4 level once again, the only question is when and who will be prepared with the appropriate lineup of vehicles. Chrysler has shown that they have the expertise to be that company, only lacking as all the Big 3 in the kind of ultra-high fuel economy, price-point vehicles that FIAT can supply.

FIAT has a long history of building automobile factories in remote locations. They pioneered robotic assembly line plants in the 1970s and have successfully built them all over the world, in many cases establishing a viable presence for the operators. So in this sense, it would seem to be, on the surface at any rate, no great difficulty for FIAT to construct a factory in Mexico to produce the Cinquecento by 2011 as planned. The car has been a smash hit in Europe, both for its good looks and its frugal operation.

The FIAT Cinquecento is an extremely sexy compact FWD hatchback coupe. In my opinion, it is exactly the kind of product that is needed and sooner rather than later. It is the kind of product that, like the 300 in its day, creates lust in the buyer. It is exactly the kind of product that the auto industry thrives on but has lacked to a large extent lately, with the possible exception of the ill-timed return of the muscle car era. The lust in buyers has been missing for the most part because the emotion has left product design. It seems like all of these once-great companies have either forgotten or ignored the emotional latch to the buyer that has catapulted them to greatness in the first place. One quick look at the Cinquecento will remind you that it’s not too late to put some of that emotion back into the sheet metal. Further, it will remind you that at least one firm has not forgotten who they are and how they got there.

I have driven the car and I can say without reservation that it is a serious hoot to drive. Yes it is very small, but it does not feel very small – in fact it feels quite spacious inside. Yes it agile, but not at the expense of feeling skittish. Yes it handles quite well with surprisingly little body roll, but it also rides very well, in fact much better that one would expect from looking at its external dimensions. For Chrysler, this car would be the lineup equivalent of the old, but well respected Dodge Colt, supplied by Mitsubishi.

According to the terms of the agreement between Chrysler and FIAT, there will be at least four other cars available in the US as well, derivatives of the Grande Punto and Panda platforms. The Alfa Romeo Mito is another one of the products that is being considered to be imported by Chrysler. The Mito (Me-tow), named for the towns where Alfa and FIAT are headquartered (Milano and Torino), is the same kind of lust-after product that you would expect from the Italian firm owned by FIAT.

There are many hurdles to jump in order to get where Chrysler and FIAT need to go. The first is relatively straightforward. Chrysler needs to stay in business long enough to get the product lineup out to the market, perhaps another two years. This is no small thing. The market is truly grim these days and the product that they have to sell right now is equally so. The ageing 300 series, the 4-door Charger and the Challenger are all very cool, but not the right products for the current market. Their Jeeps, pickup trucks and minivans, ditto. They are desperate for a new era of products that build on their current lineup, but move toward the future needs of Americans.

Given that Mercedes still holds a 20% stake in Chrysler and FIAT would acquire another 35%, the remaining American share is left at 45%. FIAT has stated categorically that they have no interest in running Chrysler, but to be fair, Mercedes probably said that too. There is simply no doubt that Marchionne, turnaround wizard that he is, could easily do a more credible job of running the conglomerate company than Nardelli, whose experience in the auto industry is limited to his previous position as CEO of Home Depot. It should be obvious even to the casual observer that some better direction at the top would be very advantageous about now. Chrysler has a long history of managing failure rather brilliantly, if you recall the most recent prior occasion when Lee Iacocca spoke before Congress and the nation. The result was the Loan Guarantee Act of 1980 where the US countersigned a bank loan to keep Chrysler in business. Indeed it was the success of sales in the marketplace that Chrysler managed poorly. They managed to parlay some rather handsome designs and a cost structure advantage in the industry into the current narrow and dated product offering, which is not totally different from where they were in 1978-9 before the front wheel drive Omni/Horizon and K-Car products saved them. At this point we don’t even know if Congress will look favorably upon the 55% foreign-owned portion of Chrysler in terms of potential loan/bailout funding. We certainly hope they will because now, as in Iacocca’s time the job loss is still considerably more disadvantageous that the loan or bailout, as the case may be. Further, at this point it really doesn’t look like the alternative options for Chrysler are very good at all.

Gas Stats:

$2.17/ Gal avg. March 28, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

 43.5 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,000.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair

2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited (742)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2009 Chrysler Town & Country Limited with uconnect web (Autonet). Time and technology keep marching on and this Swivel and Go configuration with a table and chairs that swivel to face each other is a mini-motor home.

With the ever growing dependence we have on computers this is a VERY cool feature and continues to show why Chrysler has been a leader in not only the futuristic designs forward and back to the future, it continues to lead in useful features. This adaptation of Wi-Fi in the car adds yet another creature comfort for how we live our lives in today’s world.

As equipped it reminds me of great in-flight first class seating and entertainment and comfort with the added capability of wireless computer connectivity. I would have thought the airlines would have done this first. But they are sure to follow.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 71%. Engine & Transmission – US.

Assembly – Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Class:  – Special Purpose Mini Van

Cars: – 300, Aspen, Aspen Hybrid, Crossfire, Pacifica, PT Cruiser, Sebring and Town & Country.

Opinion:

For those who travel Cal State highway 14 to and from LA and the Antelope Valley you are aware of the rush hour travel patterns. Cal Trans has painted lines in compliance with the legislation surrounding Diamond Lanes. In our governments infinite wisdom the Diamond lane is effective between the hours of 5AM and 9AM and for the commute in the evening from 3PM to 7PM. Outside of those hours, and on the week end you may use the HOV lane any time.

I’ve been asked if you can cross the double lines for entry and exit when it is NOT considered a Diamond lane. It makes sense to me so I discussed it with the CHP and according to California VC 21655.8A we are cautioned against doing that. I’m waiting to discuss this issue further with my contact at Media Relations and will report on what I find. If you have some input on this issue e-mail your questions and comments to me.

In the meantime if you ignore big brother I’m sure you know the fines are stiff for violations of the present law. I think the law should be changed, what do you think?

Handling & Performance:

This front wheel drive mini van is agile and it did marvelous over the Crest mountain course and never struggled for power. I found ride and comfort is very good and although the fuel economy isn’t as good as we’d all like, this is a special purpose vehicle for the family and we overlook that in these cases.

Styling:

Unique and classy. I love all the features and the lighting inside is special. I must say I totally enjoyed this week’s ride. It looks great inside and out and is functional, especially for those who are on the go. It is perfect for changing lifestyles in that we will be staying close to home in this economy and it fits the out of doors application so well.

Fit and Finish:

Good. Some say the vehicle is disappointing when it comes to fit and finish and it could be better, but all things being equal it suits me just fine. Chrysler’s advanced convenience features are the highlight of this mini van in most opinions I’ve seen.

Cost:

Competitive in class and is at the top of the list for me being uniquely configured to be the best of the family vans listed.

Conveniences and comfort:

The table stows nicely under the floor and although it is tight quarters in that use, the swivel captain’s chairs add a capability found only in the Town and Country. Nice job Chrysler.

The Autonet is as simple as any other internet connection at a hotel, for example. Your computer will find the wireless connection called Autonet and you select that and log on. Pretty neat.

Consumer Recommendation:

I find this an outstanding mini van that is more versatile than the competition listed. It is a great family van that provides so much convenience and comfort as equipped. 2nd and 3rd rows have separate entertainment facilities for DVD and the computer Wi-Fi unique to the Town & Country is sure to be a hit. If your family is on the go a lot it gives much and it only takes a small amount in reduced fuel economy.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Town & Country $26-37,000, Kia Sedona $21-27,000, Hyundai Entourage $ n/a, Nissan Quest $26-36,000, Honda Odyssey $26-41,000, Toyota Sienna $25-38,000, Dodge Grand Caravan $24-28,000, Volkswagen Routan $25-38,000,

Good News:

Uniquely equipped for a special family van, advanced Wi-Fi & entertainment including TV.

Bad News:

Fuel economy could be better and quality is questioned by some.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter 251 hp V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front and side curtain airbags in all rows, LATCH child anchor system, rear parking sensor and rear view camera, electron stability program, tire pressure monitoring, high intensity automatic headlights, power lift gate, power sliding side doors, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer and remote start, power adjustable pedals with memory, rain sensing windshield wipers, cruise control, climate control with 3 zones, bucket seats and fold in the floor seats, 8-way power driver seat and 6-way passenger seat, heated 2nd row seats, 2nd & 3rd row window shades, 2nd row power windows.

Options:

Swivel ‘n Go seating group (removable 2nd row seats), 2nd & 3rd row removable stowable table, trailer tow wiring harness, load leveling & height control suspension, heavy duty engine cooling radiator and transmission, splash guards and running boards, dual screen DVD ent. System w/ SIRIUS back seat TV with 1 year service included, 2nd & 3rd row overhead 9” video screens, additional DVD player, wireless headphones, video remote control, power sunroof, power folding 3rd row seats, uconnect gps w/ iPod interface, phone, SIRIUS traffic w/ 1 year service included.

Gas Stats:

$1.99/ Gal avg. Jan 31, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $36,530 – With options $43,800.