Category Archives: Chrysler

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited (718)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited Convertible. The Photo shows the optional Hard Top convertible version. But the normal top is a soft or cloth top. Remember the Edsel and the Ford hard top convertibles back in the late 1950s? Well if you do, not only are you likely over 50 but you’ll notice from this adaptation of the hard top convertible that technology has done wonderful things for those great ideas of the past. They were simply too ahead of their time back then because the materials were not available to make those early retractable hard tops work well or reliably. This Sebring has come a long way since I tested the 2003 model year convertible. This 2008 model is really very nice and you absolutely have an excellent hard top or convertible option. Soft tops are not necessary these days and other than the nostalgia of a “rag top” idea, they don’t add much to the convertible experience. But they do cut the cost, in this case by $1,100.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 77%. Engine – USA, Transmission – USA.

Assembly – Sterling Heights, MI, USA

Class:  – Subcompact Cars

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

Observation:

It occurres to me that lots of you who have shared your thoughts about the high price of gas were right on. You said there was too much speculation going on. You said we weren’t drilling enough at home. You pointed out that we have conservatively 200 years of oil in this country alone.

Then, Newt Gingrich former Speaker of the House came out and actually said it on national TV and you can see it on YouTube. Take a look at the video here:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOpcPfAarjY

Handling & Performance:

Plenty of power from the 235 hp V6 and responsive and comfortable to drive. It has good fuel economy in class.

Styling:

Very nice design changes over the years with a more substantial look and feel. The small rear seat is unavoidable for a 2-door. They have designed a good amount of trunk space when the top is up, but of course limited when it is down.

Fit and Finish:

Very good

Cost:

Competitive in class in spite of the fact it is a convertible as well. The hard top feature adds about $1,100.

Conveniences and comfort:

Usual standard equipment is fair but the cost goes up fast with options.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re in the market for a sporty convertible and don’t need a big back seat this is very nice. If adults will accompany you to the beach it won’t be a comfortable alternative.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Sebring $20-33,000, Chevrolet Monte Carlo $20-28,000, Toyota Prius $22-24,000, Toyota Solara $20-31,000, Kia Optima $17-21,000, VW Passat $24-38,000, VW Eos $29-38,000;

2009 models: Toyota Camry $19-29,000, Mitsubishi Galant $21-27,000, Hyundai Sonata $18-26,000, Chevrolet Malibu $21-26,000, Saturn Aura $21-26,000, Pontiac G6 $20-31,000, Ford Fusion $19-25,000, Mercury Milan $20-26,000, Mercury Sable $24-31,000, Mazda 6 $19-28,000, Honda Accord $21-31,000, Nissan Altima $20-29,000, Nissan Altima Hybrid $26,650.

Good News:

Decent fuel economy in class, fun to drive and powerful.

Bad News:

A little pricey for a subcompact along with others closest in class.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 235 hp V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with autostick, front and side curtain airbags, LATCH (child) system, 4-wheel power disc brakes, security alarm, sentry key theft deterrent system, power windows & locks, one touch top down, keyless entry, cruise control, power rack & pinion steering, air conditioning, power 6-way front seats, temp and compass, stereo with 6-disc CD/MP3 player, SIRIUS satellite with 1 year included, tire pressure monitoring, tortoise shell style steering wheel with audio controls, tilt and telescopic column, fog lights, power heated mirrors, power Soft top convertible.

Options:

Hard convertible top – $1,995, multimedia, GPS Nav, UConnect hands free – $900, Electronic Stability control and traction control – $425, Luxury group including heated seats, 18” chrome aluminum wheels – $1,095, Electronic convenience group incl. Auto air, auto headlights, touch screen display multimedia, hard disc drive, remote start, heated and cooled cup holders -$895.

Gas Stats:

$3.71/ Gal avg. September 7, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $32,055 – With options $38,320.

2008 Chrysler 300C SRT (717)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Chrysler 300C SRT 4-door sedan with unique styling that sets you apart from the crowd. The low profile “chopped top” look and wide stance and bold sturdy appearing design has endeared this car to every adventurous souls everywhere.

From the launch to now I have always appreciated the fine points of products from Chrysler that are subtle and classy, like the analog clock, and beautiful gauges set in a great dash board. Seats are overstuffed and comfy. It’s just a great looking car.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 74%. Engine – Mexico, Transmission – Germany.

Assembly – Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Class:  – Large Cars

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

Observation:

I will miss the kids being out of school. Summer is a driver’s paradise with the significant decrease in traffic. Back to traveling off rush hour for me. Altering your hours is about the only way to retain your sanity – if that is possible for you. I find that if you don’t ask you don’t get.

Perhaps the greatest sadness in driving today is “road rage”. It’s a term we all understand the meaning of but don’t really understand why. Why have we become such an uncouth, impolite and impatient society? I suspect the “little old lady from Pasadena” would flip off a fellow traveler when they cut her off or simply pulling in front of her simply because she leaves a safe distance between her and the car in front.

In speaking with Sgt. Robinson at the CHP there are things you can do if someone is being a jerk. You can dial 911 or 800 tell chp. That goes to Sacramento but they will immediately transfer your call to the area Communication Center you are in. You’d give your location / city and dispatch will determine if there is a CHP officer in the area.

They catch people all the time this way so be informed because the more people know this is available, the more others will think twice before breaking the law. An armed society is a polite society, whether with guns or knowledge.

Handling & Performance:

Fuel economy is lacking a bit, but this HEMI powered sedan will effortlessly walk away from all traffic when you need the power to do that.

Styling:

Unique and classy.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Competitive in class.

Conveniences and comfort:

One of my favorite features on any car, which I enjoyed on this 300C, is the smart cruise control that monitors the distance to the car in front of you with a distance finder. It allows for 3 settings for several car lengths to only a few. The comfort is pretty amazing with this feature because it goes a long way at taking the stress out of driving. I get so accustomed to using this feature that when I step into the next test vehicle I really miss that safe guard from running into the car in front of me. No one is perfect and accidents happen in the blink of an eye when some distraction causes you to take your eyes off the road. If the car in front brakes unexpectedly or while you are distracted the car will apply the brakes as hard as necessary to prevent a collision. Now that’s peace of mind and you’ll notice it in minutes of using the feature.

It can however make you a little lazy and dependent on the device. But used properly it is really cool.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler 300 $25-42,000, Lincoln Town Car $45-51,000, Infiniti M $44-53,000, Lexus GS $45-53,000, Nissan Maxima $29-31,000, Acura TL $34-38,000, Toyota Avalon $27-35,000, Dodge Charger $23-37,000, Ford Crown Victoria $25-28,000,

Good News:

Unique styling, powerful and a comfortable ride.

Bad News:

Fuel economy less than most competition noted here by a mile or two. (ok, so not too bad for a 5.7 liter HEMI).

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter HEMI multi displacement engine, 5-speed auto trans, 4-wheel ABS power assist disc brakes, electronic stability program, remote start system, 4-wheel independent suspension, traction control, power adjustable pedals with memory, rain sensitive wipers, dual zone climate control, SIRIUS satellite radio with 1 year service incl., 276 watt amplifier, power windows, power tilt / telescope steering column, speed sensitive power locks, sentry key engine immobilizer theft deterrent, cruise control, security alarm, keyless entry, audio with CD / MP3 players, illuminated entry, mirrors and cup holders, power heated front seats, 18” chrome wheels.

Options:

Preferred package $2,905 including leather appointments, graphite pattern accents, additional airbags, performance steering and suspension and exhaust, perforated suede seats, performance 20” tires / wheels, body color handles and mirrors.

Protection Group II is $1,275 including park sensor, air filtration, hands free communication, hi intensity headlights and auto dim mirrors. Navigation & sound group II for $1,475 includes entertainment / Nav / GPS system, SIRIUS traffic (1 year), upgrade of speakers and 388 watt amplifier. Power sunroof for $950 and rear seat video entertainment / back seat TV $1,460.

Gas Stats:

$3.79/ Gal avg. August 31, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

15 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $35,395 – With options $44,135.

2009 Chrysler Aspen Limited HEV 4X4 SUV (674)

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.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 64%; Engine- Mexico; Transmission – U.S.A.

Assembly – Newark, Delaware, U.S.A.

Class:  – SUV

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

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.

2008 Chrysler Town & Country 2 WD (672)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country 2 WD and although outwardly you won’t see much difference in design it is the optional configurations that will strike you as it did me. Innovation which has been the rule rather than the exception from Chrysler products is a real plus. It is perhaps the best company over the past couple of decades to think (and I hate the term) outside the box.

The Mini Van generally delivers the best in family transportation, in my opinion, and although they project the image of a vehicle for “Soccer Moms” they are just the best family vehicle on the market.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 73%.

Assembly – Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Class:  – Special Purpose

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

Observation:

Well, we all know where the CHP is when we make a mistake but what I want to know is where they are when dangerous debris is on our highways. Seems to me that is much more important – how about you?

Handling & Performance:

Typical mini van with double sliding side doors and a rear liftgate. It is a low profile vehicle that handles much better than those vans of a generation ago, and the engines and transmissions are much more sophisticated.

Styling:

Clean and sleek with all the bells and whistles to carry a good size family with options that make this a great vacation / holiday travel companion. The DVD player options – two of them – with headsets – provide the ultimate in tools to occupy several people. The optional swivel chairs and table between 2nd and 3rd row seating gives unparalleled versatility in making travel convenient and comfortable. The entertainment system is fantastic for those long trips.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Not to bad for all the capability in this class van around $30,000.

Conveniences and comfort:

Chrysler came to play and is a serious contender for the best of the best. They are perhaps the most innovative of car companies. My test vehicle was the Stow and Go version but I reviewed the Swivel and Go version and it is truly impressive. Really cool with captains chairs in the second row that swivel around to the rear so the 2nd and 3rd rows can interact with a table between them. The kids (or adults) can enjoy a home like environment for games or conversation over tea and crumpets.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re in the market for a family vehicle, you won’t beat this one. SUV’s have been more popular but times, they are a changing. I don’t believe these will go the way of the Station Wagon of the mid 20th century. The Mini Van has evolved to meet the SUV but with the added convenience of sliding doors and low thresholds that are friendly to kids and older folks.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Town & Country $22-36,000, Buick Terraza $27-31,000, Dodge Grand Caravan $22-27,000, Hyundai Entourage $24-30,000, Mazda 5 $18-22,000, Saturn Relay $22-28,000, Kia Sedona $21-26,000, Mercury Monterey $28,595, Ford Freestar $20-30,000, Nissan Quest $21-34,000, Chevrolet Uplander $21-29,000, Honda Odyssey $26-39,000, Toyota Sienna $24-38,000.

Good News:

There is a great selection of competition to choose from which makes bargaining easier, great optional configurations, comfy and convenient for old and young alike with wonderful interior lighting.

Bad News:

I didn’t see much worth mentioning but I wish they’d do better with fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter V6 engine, 6 speed automatic transmission, front and side airbags, ESP electronic stability program, anti lock brakes, power pedals, auto headlights, tire pressure monitor system, dual power sliding doors, power liftgate, child seat anchor system, rear window defroster, rear intermittent wiper washer, stow’n go 2nd row bucket seats, 3rd row 60/40 bench seat, 2nd row power windows, 3rd row power vented windows, removable floor console, dual glove boxes, overhead storage and surround lighting, removable rechargeable flash light, 8-way power driver seat, 12 v and 115 v outlets, analog clock, am/fm with CD / MP3 radio with steering wheel audio controls and 6-speakers, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer power locks, quad halogen headlights, fog lights, sunscreen glass, power heated fold away mirrors and roof rack.

Optional equipment:

dual DVD entertainment system, hard disc drive, single disc DVD player, 2nd and 3rd 8-inch monitors w/DVD player, wireless headphones, video remote control, Sirius satellite digital radio, 1 year service included and rearview backup camera ($2,395).

Gas Stats:

$3.06/ Gal avg. October 17, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $27,700 / $30,825 with options.

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible (658)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. This sport subcompact is a fun car but not a good match for a family needing a four or five seat sedan. Sebring adds a redesigned convertible joining the sedan that was all-new for 2007. For the first time, the Sebring Convertible offers three different top options: a black vinyl top is standard on base and touring, a cloth-top is available on Touring and standard on Limited, and a steel body-color retractable hardtop is available for either Touring or Limited.

The convertible Limited is powered by a 235-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Touring is powered by a 189-horsepower 2.7-liter V6. This test model is a base version with a 173-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder.

General Info:

Parts – U.S/ Canadian 75%.

Assembly – Sterling Hts, MI, USA

Class:  – Subcompact Cars

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

Observation:

I have noticed talk around that our government hasn’t done enough to demand more fuel economic vehicles from car makers. But there is a steady albeit slow improvement. Yes we all care but sometimes the consumer only hears what they want us to hear.

I recently had a discussion on this topic with two automotive engineers and it was an interesting revelation to hear that the toxic effects of lead in our gas (used to increase octane) was less ominous than the MTBE additive that replaced it. I suspect if we followed the money we’d learn why it has been used since the early 1990s.

About 109 million Americans live in counties where MTBE is used. Related health complaints were first reported in Fairbanks, Alaska in November 1992 when about 200 residents reported headaches, dizziness, irritated eyes, burning of the nose and throat, coughing, disorientation, and nausea after MTBE had been added to gasoline. Health complaints also have been registered in Anchorage, Alaska; Missoula, Montana; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and New Jersey. Studies done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fairbanks, Alaska; Albany, New York; and Stamford, Connecticut have shown that the concentration of MTBE in the blood is related to the concentration of MTBE in the air where commuters had measurable concentrations of MTBE in their blood. The Fairbanks study showed detectable concentrations of MTBE were found in the blood of all those tested 2 months after the use of MTBE was suspended in Alaska.

“It is insidious bad stuff” said the engineers I spoke with, “and far worse than the lead additive of the past”. Some other states are outlawing MTBE especially since Ethanol (a biofuel) is being used for additive purposes and hopefully will replace MTBE. More on Ethanol at www.eere.energy.gov.

I think I’m feeling dizzy, my throat is burning and I’ve been disoriented lately. Do you think it’s the MTBE?

If you care to read more about this go to: http://sd.water.usgs.gov/nawqa/pubs/factsheet/fs114.95/fact.html#HDR0

Handling & Performance:

Very nice in the corners through the mountains but a little sluggish and stingy on the power. But the fuel economy makes that acceptable.

Styling:

Because of the automatic convertible top mechanics the trunk is laboriously heavy. But it is solid, I’ll give ‘em that. But guys you could have used a counter balance and made it easier.

The top also uses a vinyl soft top on this base model but my complaint is it looks old from some angles even when new. I was at the Mall and when I approached the spot where I remember parking I began to turn away when I saw the old top. However they do have a fabric top as well as a hard top convertible.

Overall I like the styling which was reinforced when a woman got my attention at a stop signal and as I roll the passenger window down she is telling me how much she likes my car.  Rats, I thought she was looking at me!

One fellow said he didn’t like the ribbing on the hood but I rather like it – sorry Glenn.

Fit and Finish:

Good. But I must tell you the plastic enclosure and retainer in the trunk to provide an area for stowing the top when down, fell apart in my hand when I attempted to fold it. Not impressive.

Cost:

Fair.

Conveniences and comfort:

The convertible top looks great up and wonderful down with a perfect fitting hard tonneau cover. And utility makes it even more of a convenience with the one touch button to put it up and down.

What’s more, there is a decent amount of room in the trunk that will take a set of clubs and a couple of over night bags, but if you have more people leaving the top up allows for three more sets of clubs and 2 more over night bags.

Consumer Recommendation:

Write your congressman and ask about MTBE and why we’re not doing something about that.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Element $19-23,000, Ford Escape $19-25,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $25-27,000, Chevrolet Equinox $22-29,000, Pontiac Torrent $22-24,000, Hyundai Tucson $17-24,000, Jeep Liberty $22-27,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000, Kia Sportage $16-23,000,  Subaru Forester $21-27,000, Jeep Patriot $14-21,000, Pontiac Vibe $16,760, Toyota RAV4 $21-27,000, 2008 Scion xB $15,650.

Good News:

Good leg room in rear seat, decent fuel economy for a sport compact, attractive styling.

Bad News:

Convertible top fabric looks old, trunk lid is hard to open as it is heavy and it is difficult to close for that reason plus there is no hand hold to pull it shut, difficult entry and exit from rear seat and poorly made convertible top housing enclosure in the trunk.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 173 hp 4 cylinder engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, front and side airbags, child seat anchor system, front power disc and rear drum anti lock brakes, rear window defroster, power windows and locks, theft deterrent system, keyless entry, cruise control, power steering, front and rear stabilizer bars, power trunk lid, intermittent wipers, air conditioning, stereo with in dash 6-disc DVD/MP3 player with 4 speakers, vinyl convertible top, analog clock, tire pressure monitor with warning signal, outside temp display, console with sliding armrest, power outlets, tilt / telescope steering column and power mirrors.

Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. July 10 ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

20 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $25,470.

2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT Convertible (652)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT (Turbo) Convertible. Cute, eh?

And you know what really surprised me is that a friends young teen daughter chose the PT Cruiser as her dream car at the LA auto show when it was first introduced. Well the folks were thrilled with her dream in part because it was affordable and she needed a car to see her through college. So they bought her one and it realized her dream. Cool folks don’t you think?

Overall this has got to be a 9. It would have been a ten if it were better on the fuel. Perhaps they should introduce a ‘green’ model hybrid.

Handling & Performance:

All things considered the fuel economy is only fair but only suffers ONE mile per gallon with the turbo so I recommend the turbo since it is sorely needed. It provides the extra horsepower to make this 4 cylinder hummmmmm.

It is a cruiser that corners nicely and is quite capable as well as cute. I drove a pastel yellow model with a black convertible top and didn’t notice any creeks and groans in the turns. It is simply a classy head turner that is flat fun to drive.

Styling:

The PT Cruiser continues to be one of the most popular of the Chrysler line. And I’m sure its popularity has a lot to do with Chrysler making bold design steps in other cars in their lineup, like the 300, Charger and hopefully soon to arrive Challenger that brings the 1970s back to the future.

The convertible is well done and road noise is much less than I expected. And for a convertible the rear window visibility is very good, while at the same time has a few blind spots that are bothersome. Nice top with a boot for clean styling and when you put it down, wa la – no visibility problems.

The trunk is small and because of the convertible top requirements the opening is also small and an awkward opening. My golf clubs just barely fit and you won’t want to be taking a foursome with 4 sets of clubs because that would be an impossibility. Two would work since you could put the second set of clubs in the rear seat… which by the way is roomy and comfy – even if hard to get in and out of.

Fit and Finish:

Wonderful attention to detail inside and out. The interior reminds me of the VW Beetle with color coordinated painted dash panels etc which brings it all beautifully together. The feel is solid and capable. You gotta love this car.

Cost:

Although the entry level cost is still quite good, when you ratchet up and move to the GT  the price escalates quickly. This turbo convertible will set you back just under $30,000. For the unique design you’d expect to pay a bit more but at the end of the day “the price is right” Bob Barker.

Conveniences and comfort:

The car is comfortable but as a 2-door convertible you lose the ease of entry and exit to and from the rear seat. The seat action is easy but a step over sill requires agile younger people. The older passengers will struggle to wiggle their way into the rear seat. Getting out is even worse of course.

You can get a little extra cargo area with the folding rear seats but the pass through is nearly useless.

Consumer Recommendation:

It doesn’t fit all needs, as you can imagine, and its uses are limiting but it does what it is designed to do very well. It is a head turner because its retro look is ageless. It does the a great job of retaining that cool retro look that is made even better when they gave it a convertible top. I can see why it has appealed to so many. I loved it when it came out and I drove the very first one and said then this would be a very successful look from the past. It has not disappointed me.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler PT Cruiser $15-26,000, Chevrolet HHR $16-19,000, Chevrolet  $21-24,000, Nissan Versa $13-15,000, Volkswagen $15-17,000, Subaru Forester $21-28,000, Toyota Matrix $15-17,000, Honda Element $19-23,000, Mazda 5 $18-22,000, Mercury Mountaineer $27-34,000, Ford Explorer $25-35,000, Hummer H3 $29-38,000, Mazda Tribute $19-26,000.

Good News:

Cool head turner that handles well and lots of power with the turbo, great interior touches and fit and finish is wonderful in and out.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy, small trunk with difficult opening, not the easiest entry and exit rear seat.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 Liter 230 horsepower turbo inline 4 cylinder engine, 4-speed auto trans with autostick, sport leather bucket seats, front and side airbags, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, security alarm, theft deterrent system, cruise control, traction control, remote keyless entry, power rack and pinion steering, information center, sport suspension with front stabilizer bar, 12 volt power outlets, tilt steering column, air conditioning, stereo with CD player and 6 speakers, power windows, 6-way power drivers seat, speed sensitive door locks, leather wrapped steering wheel, 17” aluminum chrome clad wheels, fog lights, rear window defroster, power convertible top, halogen headlights, power mirrors, and sport roll bar.

Gas Stats:

$3.29/ Gal avg. May 31 ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

19 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $30,375

 

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2007 – An Automotive Love Affair

2007 Chrysler Pacifica Touring FWD (641)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2007 Chrysler Pacifica Touring FWD SUV. Brother John just drove down from Oregon for a family event in their Pacifica so I asked how they like it.

“It’s been a great car and we take it on most all family trips, unless we’re pulling a trailer then we use the Dodge Ram 3500 diesel”.  John and I owned an automotive repair shop in La Canada, CA for 12 years after 8 years of brake system manufacturing. I trusted John’s opinion when it came to the mechanical stuff  and I always bought the cars John endorsed and this is the best testimony I could ever give for readers to test drive this Chrysler.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 83%, Engine and Transmission – US.

Assembly – Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Class:  – Special Purpose

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

Observation:

… and speaking of privacy glass I can’t help but wonder what weirdo is housed in that blackened car I see on our highways. Are they ugly or simply very insecure, criminals and gang bangers. Surely if they were celebrities they would be in a limo. Oh well – I guess it doesn’t matter anyway since I never have time to people watch at 70 mph.

Handling & Performance:

Performance is brisk and responsive but I did notice subtle acceleration surges that annoyed me. And I was not impressed with the fact that the parking brake light stayed on (on one occasion) even though I had fully released the brake. The brakes are also a bit on the grabby side but with only 3,000 miles on the car both of these issues would go away with a few more break in miles.

Styling:

I think it is first class styling and is one of the most beautiful SUV’s on the market at “Any” price.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Of all in class this is one of the most affordable and delivers a lot of value for your purchasing dollar.

Conveniences and comfort:

No complaints at all.

Consumer Recommendation:

You may recall that one of my personal vehicles is a Dodge Ram 3500 with 265,000 miles. I tell it like it is and although I had some things to pick on them about, Chrysler sits in my driveway and OVERALL they are good products fairly priced.

And if I haven’t mentioned it, I have a new best friend. My diesel mechanic Darrin (first time I’ve used him thanks to my neighbor Buddy B.) but I was very pleased. I let him figure the problem out and my contacts at Chrysler did some research and came up with the same diagnosis that fixed the issue. If you want to know more about his repair shop in Burbank contact me and I’ll be happy to share his company and phone. The easiest way is to email me at joe@atthewheel.com.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Pacifica $24-36,000, Mazda CX-7 $24-28,000, Lexus RX 350 $37-39,000, Audi Q7 $40-60,000, Ford Freestyle $26-31,000, GMC Envoy $27-37,000, Buick Rendezvous $25-29,000, Cadillac SRX $37-43,000, Volvo XC-90 $36-49,000, Nissan Murano $28-32,000, Subaru B9 Tribeca $30-33,000, Acura MDX $40-48,000, BMW X5 $46-55,000, Saturn Outlook $27-32,000, Infiniti FX $38-50,000, Dodge Durango $26-36,000.

Good News:

Quick, great styling, well priced, roomy family SUV, decent fuel economy.

Bad News:

Jerky acceleration and grabby brakes.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter 253 horsepower V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front air bags and side curtain bags in all rows, driver side knee bolster air bag, Electronic Stability Program, 4-wheel ABS power assist disc brake system, auto stick trans, cruise control, information center, theft deterrent, load leveling, tire pressure monitor and warning signal, climate control with air filtration, power windows and locks, tilt steering wheel, wheel mounted audio controls, stereo with CD changer, 200 watt amplifier , 6-passenger seating, 10-way driver and 4-way passenger power seats, remote keyless entry with security alarm, sunscreen glass, power heated mirrors and rear window wiper washer. Options: Nav with back up camera $1995.00, Entertainment group 2 for 8” video rear, SIRIUS radio, wireless headphones and video remote controls $1185.00, Power liftgate $400 and Stereo upgrade for 6-disc in dash CD/DVD & MP3 $555.

Gas Stats:

$2.69/ Gal avg. Mar. 15, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 24 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $27,300.

2007 Chrysler Aspen (624)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the very new 2007 Chrysler Aspen SUV. I know, you ask how can they continue to produce gas hungry trucks and small busses like this Aspen? But then I say to you, “Oil / Gas Shortage”? What Oil Shortage? Is it all fabricated? That has to be everyone’s question. The price of gas at the pumps has now adjusted to the real world to a price reflected by the cost of oil worldwide. We consume so much that our price is less per barrel than Europe for example.

So why do we continue to build such big vehicles? Simple – the consumer demands them and is willing to pay the price at the gas pump.

Do we have a moral obligation to buy fuel efficient vehicles?  No because we have free will and we WILL buy these boat and trailer hauling, rough and tumble, out back 4-wheel, macho machines if we want to. It’s our money and damn it we’ll have what we want. Now, if the price of gas goes high enough you may see a change in attitude. Where is that, you say… well how about $8 per gallon that is similar to the price of gas in Europe?

Well these things don’t get much larger. In fact it occurred to me that now I think I know how Edith Ann must have felt like in that rocking chair. I’m average height and weight (ok if the truth be known my weight is more than average) but this still dwarfs the average guy or gal.

Public Service Observation:

If you “Aim” you car … you might just be a road “Redneck”. Jeff Foxworthy didn’t utter those words – they are mine.

Handling & Performance:

In the whole concept of high performance gas thirsty big trucks and SUV’s these things are more powerful and capable than ever in history. The products just get better and to those who think the old days were better they need a reality check. Nostalgia aside there is and never has been a better car than those being manufactured today. Braking, suspension, and high tech accident prevention devices are literally fantastic and functional. The drive train is simply the best ever as evidenced by routine warranties that are 100,000 miles – 5, 6 ,7 or even 10 years. They can do that because the systems are nearly bullet proof and trouble free.

Cruise control is one of my favorite features so I’m acutely aware of how well it works. Well it has an annoying fluctuation on a downhill slope. This is pretty rare and I’m also wondering if it were just a defective unit.

Styling:

Now, you have to ask yourself – nostalgia aside again – have cars ever been more great looking? This Aspen is among many in its field that are just drop dead beautiful.

Fit and Finish:

Superb ! The touches like the high intensity (daylight) lighting in several nooks and crannies give you the feeling you’re in a space ship. Ok, so I’ve never been in a space ship but its what I envision a space ship would look like inside.

Cost:

This is a different spin on how good a product we’re talking about, because there is no free lunch, and you’ll pay for the privelidge of owning today’s modern marvels. But relative to the competition Chrysler continues to be in there punching. The fight for your consuming dollar is brutal. Manufacturers romance the buyer with glitz and glamour and convince us we must have that car or truck to be a complete human being. It will impress your neighbors, friends and the opposite sex with clearly explained rewards.

Conveniences and comfort:

Wonderful stuff. Demand has pushed technology to the far out edge of the universe. I’m beginning to feel Navigation systems are no longer a luxury but rather a necessity. OnStar from GM is wonderful and I wouldn’t want to have a car without that capability. Unfortunately this Aspen doesn’t have it. But I have found it keeps me out of trouble on every road trip. It literally removes the stress and anxiety of running out of gas and needing to find a station of my choice and open or not. In a strange town I’m never worried because GPS and a friendly voice accessible at any time of the day or night will guide me instantly to a safe harbor.

Another more common feature is the tire monitor system and in fact it prevented a potential problem by turning on the warning icon when I began to lose pressure in one of the rear tires. I stopped at a gas station to learn I had picked up a nail in the tire. The attendant plugged it and in literally 5 minutes I was back on the road. I could have continued to drive and found myself struggling with changing the tire in a dangerous place in the middle of the night.

Consumer Recommendation:

The menu is packed with lots of choices. But if you ever thought you’d pop for a large SUV you need to act now while this introductory price is in effect. Trust me this is one of the best priced products of all the competition listed. When it earns acceptance the price will reflect that endorsement. This product is Mercedes Benz inspired from Daimler Chrysler.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Aspen $31-34,000, GMC Yukon $34-43,000, GMC Yukon Denali $47-50,000, Lexus LX 470 $67,000, Toyota Land Cruiser $56,000, Volvo XC90 $36-46,000, Jeep Commander $28-38,000, Land Rover LR3 $38-53,000, Lexus GX 470 $47,000, Dodge Durango $29-38,000, Nissan Armada $35-43,000, Cadillac Escalade $54-59,000, Chevrolet Suburban $36-48,000, Mercedes Benz GL-Class $55,000, Ford Expedition $29-43,000 and Lincoln Navigator $46-51,000.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler Aspen $31-34,000, GMC Yukon $34-43,000, GMC Yukon Denali $47-50,000, Lexus LX 470 $67,000, Toyota Land Cruiser $56,000, Volvo XC90 $36-46,000, Jeep Commander $28-38,000, Land Rover LR3 $38-53,000, Lexus GX 470 $47,000, Dodge Durango $29-38,000, Nissan Armada $35-43,000, Cadillac Escalade $54-59,000, Chevrolet Suburban $36-48,000, Mercedes Benz GL-Class $55,000, Ford Expedition $29-43,000 and Lincoln Navigator $46-51,000.

Good News:

New, well priced for introduction, super comfortable and helpful standard features.

Bad News:

Gas hog, soft suspension that makes it comfy also makes it rock and roll in the turns, so you won’t be road racing in this Aspen.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter Hemi V8 engine, 5-speed automatic trans, Electronic Stability program, dual front and side airbags (all rows), 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, tire pressure monitor and warning signal, information center, security alarm, theft deterrent system, remote keyless entry, woodgrain interior treatment, tilt steering, air conditioning with rear outlets, power windows and locks, power front seats, 18” Aluminum wheels, power heated fold away mirrors, rear intermittent wiper washer, full size spare tire. Options: Preferred pkg. Includes -leather front and second row seats, power / heated front seats, power adjustable pedals, auto dimming mirrors, power liftgate, stereo with 6-in-dash CD player with MP3, Sirius satellite digital radio (1 year included), running boards, 20” chrome clad aluminum wheels, locking lug nuts, trailer group with 7 and 4 pin wireing harness, heated second row seats, DVD GPS navigation system and hands free communication and remote starter. Options add $9,060.

Gas Stats:

$2.33/ Gal avg.

15 City and 20 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $30,745 standard equipped.

General Info:

Parts – Engine – Mexico, Trans – USA, U.S. Canadian

parts – 76%. Assembly – Newark, Delaware, USA

Class: – Special Purpose

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

2006 Chrysler 300 C Hemi (597)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2006 Chrysler 300 C Hemi and if you’ve ever wondered why these are so popular you need only test drive one to be impressed. Friend Mark and I exchanged cars for a short drive to the office – I took his Mercedes S500 and he drove the Chrysler 300. He was very surprised at how similar the two cars are – his and this 300 C. You’re going to love how you look in this car – I guarantee it.

Public Service:  Ok, get the melody fixed in your mind of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit song with lyrics that went, “Slow down, you move too fast, gotta make the morning last, just kicking down the cobblestones. Looking for fun and feeling groovy…”  Can you hear it?

The point? You won’t get there any faster by impersonating Mario Andretti and you’ll be a hazard to everyone on the highway including yourself if you think you’re on a race track. I don’t mind mentioning I’m not as concerned about you as I am about me and my kids. Secondly you will have more fun by getting into the groove. Oh, by the way, this doesn’t mean you should drive slower than the flow of traffic in your lane. I thank you, your mother will thank you and virtually every other driver on the road will thank you for being a better driver.

Handling & Performance:

Well a Hemi, what can I say… It is very powerful and that comes basically from the unique Hemispherical combustion chamber. If you want the complete story on the Hemi engine design there is a great article at http://auto.howstuffworks.com/hemi.htm

Styling:

It’s like Daimler / Chrysler know what they’re doing – don’t you think? This 300 is all alone in design and quite unmistakable on the road. I was speaking with auto engineer friend Merkel at Car Night about how different cars were during the 1950’s through the 1970’s. You could look at cars passing and quickly tell what make and model they were. Today too many cars are cookie cutter designs and for the most part really boring. But Chrysler breaks the mold in the area of design. Consider the unique styling of the PT Cruiser, Prowler, Viper, Charger and this 300. Kudos’ to Chrysler and partner Mercedes Benz.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Outstanding, because this is a large sedan with lots of room and so Mercedes-like it is a marvelous buy. Think of it this way – the great pricing will offset rising fuel prices for a couple of years. By then you can buy a bicycle so you can buy food instead of gas.

Conveniences:

I really like the “Rain Sensing” windshield wipers because you don’t have to keep fut-sing with the wiper control in a fickle rain.

Consumer Recommendation:

I agree with so many who think this is simply one of the coolest cars on the road today. Brisk sales speak volumes about how people feel about the car and the growing number on the road is a clear indication this will be a great success for Chrysler that has been on a roll for the past several years. Their unique products even attract a kind-of cult following.

Recognized Competition:

Chrysler 300 C $24-40,000, Infiniti M $41-50,000, Lexus GS $43-51,000, Dodge Charger $23-35,000, Cadillac CTS $29-51,000, Lincoln LS $39,285, Ford 500 $22-28,000, Mercury Montego $24-29,000, Toyota Avalon $27-34,000, Nissan Maxima $28-30,000, Acura TL $33-36,000.

Good News:

Priced very well, great design, powerful driving experience.

Bad News:

Poor side visibility and not the greatest fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter 340 horsepower hemi multi-displacement V8 engine, auto/stick shift 5-speed auto transmission, child upper tether anchors, front multistage airbags, ESP Electronic Stability Program, all speed traction control, anti-lock 4-wheel power assist disc brake system, power steering, 4 wheel independent suspension, front and rear solar glass, rear window defogger, rear door child protection locks, rain sensor windshield wipers, dual zone climate control, power tilt telescope steering column, outside temperature and compass, cell phone storage, power windows with one touch up and down features, control memory system, speed sensitive power door locks, theft deterrent system, cruise control, security alarm, radio and CD changer with steering wheel controls, remote keyless entry, power heated front seats, solar glass, fog lights, auto dimming rear view mirror, auto rear adjust power mirrors.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $33,525.

 

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2005 – An Automotive Love Affair

2005 Chrysler Town & Country Limited (568)

Overview:
This weeks test car is the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country Limited Minivan. Surely this tried and true mini van family vehicle has earned a place in the market. Practical buyers (women) will opt for this “real” Utility vehicle, while (I believe) Macho men buy the SUV myth it will help him win the war. What war you ask?  Funny, that’s the same question I ask all the time. Yes, I like driving SUV’s off road over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house. But that only works in storybooks. Few SUVs, if any, will ever get dirt under their nails.

So dads want the SUV and caring moms want Minivans like this Town and Country. It is, however, interesting to watch consumer demand cause the evolution of these two vehicles toward a “Crossover” combo of both SUV and Minivan. Carmakers are responding to Dads “want” and moms “need”.

Handling & Performance:

Quite good in the turns through the San Gabriel Mountains in what I call the “Crest Test”. The lower center of gravity helps it to handle better than the higher profile SUV.

Styling:

This is one class of car that is pretty homogeneous and you gotta believe this is the first attempt at cloning.

Fit and Finish:

Chrysler has come a long way baby and I’m happy to report this is a good representation of improvements made over the years to cars generally. But in a recent test of some new product, often flawed of course, some of the trim was so poorly designed and installed I expected it to fall off in my hand. That is not the case with the Town & Country.

Cost:

Here’s a very good reason why you’ll notice the high quality of presentation of this T&C. It is at the high end of the price tags of the competition.

Conveniences:

If it isn’t on this minivan they don’t make it… well almost. The gadgets are cool and most are very functional like the power sliding side doors.

Consumer Recommendation:

Do the family a favor and buy the Mini Van instead of the SUV unless you cave easily to peer pressure. I know, when the guys come over to watch the Super Bowl game you want to have a Macho Man’s SUV in the driveway. After all you may need to head outback to hunt a lion or tiger or bear… oh my! But if you listen to your wife you’ll buy the Mini Van and save on gas and the little people in your family will thank you for how easy it is to get in and out of. The rear seat video center will be the frosting on the cookies.

If you don’t have a family at home you may still remember how convenient the minivan was when you did tote the kids about. Today’s demographics tell us that older buyers are coming back to the minivan for the convenience they remember. Golf outings, picking up the grand children or getting your aging mom and dad to and fro will be convincing to older buyers.

The Competition:

Town & Country $21-36,000, Chevrolet Venture $28-37,000, Pontiac Montana $26-30,000, Kia Sedona $21-23,000, Mazda MPV $22-29,000.

Good News:

Comfortable, good handling, good fuel economy for a 7 seat vehicle, easy stow seats, power sliding doors that also work well manually and generally an overall positive influence and image from Daimler/ Mercedes Benz – good reason Chrysler is the only American manufacturer making money.

Bad News:

Clunky shifting (in the vehicle I tested, so see what you think when you test drive it).

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter V6 207 hp engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, dual front and side curtain air bags, tire pressure monitor and warning signal, rear back up sensors, power liftgate, power sliding side doors, 4-wheel anti lock disc brakes, latch ready child seat anchor system, traction control, 2nd row bucket seats with rear 60/40 rear split folding bench seat, rear air conditioning and heating, 3-zone climate control with air filtration system, power adjustable pedals with memory settings, heated front bucket seats, power front seats, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer, steering wheel mounted cruise control, tilt steering column, overhead console and storage bins, removable center front console, stereo with in-dash 6CD player with DVD feature, GPS Navigation, steering wheel mounted audio controls, memory system for radio, drivers seat and mirrors, vanity mirrors on sin visors, auto headlights, vehicle security system, sunscreen glass, folding heated power mirrors, fog lights and roof rack. If this isn’t enough there are some options the most useful of which is a rear seat Video system for the kids. Wow, that’s a mouthful!

Gas Stats:

18 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $35,530.

 

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2005 – An Automotive Love Affair