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Consumer Reports test drives updated Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles with mixed results

Consumer Reports News: June 21, 2011 06:08 AM

Consumer Reports’ tests of eight Chrysler vehicles (see the full magazine report) revealed the automakers’ cars are getting better, but their level of improvement varies considerably.

The Dodge Durango and Charger, which received significant redesigns, have improved the most. Both the V6 and V8 tested versions of the Durango SUV received “Very Good” road test scores, which now makes them comparable with the redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer. However, they score well below rivals like the Toyota Highlander and the Chevrolet Traverse. The Charger Rallye also received a “Very Good” road test score and now ranks close to the Ford Taurus and Buick LaCrosse.

The freshened Town & Country, a virtual twin of the Dodge Grand Caravan, earned a “Very Good.” Its road test score is also considerably improved.

“It’s clear that Chrysler is on the right path, but they still have a long way to go,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. “We see major improvements for models that have had a significant redesign. When Chrysler invests the time and money in a true redesign, the result has been a much more competitive model.”

Consumer Reports’ testers were unimpressed by the 200, Avenger, Compass, Journey, and Patriot. Despite some improvements, they’re still mediocre vehicles overall, scoring at or near the bottom of their respective categories.

Most of Chrysler’s models have suffered from below-average reliability, according to Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Surveys and the company has consistently logged the lowest average road-test score in CR’s yearly automaker report cards. Over the past three years, CR has Recommended only one Chrysler-built model, the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.

All of the tested vehicles were updated by Chrysler for 2011. The Charger and Durango were redesigned and the 200, Avenger, Journey, and Town & Country were extensively updated. The Patriot and Compass received some minor updates. Consumer Reports will also be testing the updated Chrysler 300C, Dodge Challenger, and the new Fiat 500. Those vehicles weren’t available in time for testing for the August 2011 issue.

Read the full magazine report on Chrysler models, available to online subscribers.The road tests and associated data will be added to the model pages later in the month.

Consumer Reports

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