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Chrysler Searches for Inner Beauty


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Searching for Inner Beauty
Chrysler aims to improve interior quality
By RICK KRANZ AND BRADFORD WERNLE
Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek | Published 03/12/07, 7:47 am et



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2008 Chrysler Town & Country


With an eye on its competitors, the Chrysler group has created a separate studio to make its interiors more attractive. Previously, a single studio designed interiors and exteriors.

The move follows criticism by dealers and journalists that Chrysler's interiors need work. Mentioned in particular: the textures, tones and abundance of unattractive plastic trim.

The concern is that "you can get to a point where maybe your cars aren't really competitive anymore because the interior is not as good as a competitor's," said Andrew Dyson, senior manager of Chrysler's product design office. "That could be the customer's deciding factor.

"Our aim is to raise the bar in terms of fit and finish. We've had good themes in the past, and we want to go even further with our themes, use really good materials and really get to a higher level."

Dyson was interviewed at the Geneva motor show.

The interior studio was created in October. Tim Annes is the chief designer, overseeing a staff of about 25.

As Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles are redesigned or restyled, the interior will be upgraded. The first upgraded vehicles probably will be 2011 models, Dyson said.

Dyson said the automaker has been admiring the interiors of Audi, Volkswagen and a "newcomer." And "we are quite impressed with what General Motors is doing," he said.

He said the cost of interiors will rise, and that will mean cuts elsewhere in vehicle development.

Dealers reacted positively to the prospect of better interiors.

"As the industry reaches a greater level of parity, those amenities and creature comforts are going to be more important," said Chuck Fortinberry, owner of Clarkston Chrysler-Jeep in Clarkston, Mich.

"They'll help take us to the next level and differentiate us against the rest of the pack."

Said Thomas Vann, owner of Team Hillsdale Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Hillsdale, Mich.: "We've seen drastic improvement in the cleverness of the interiors and the fit and finish. This was a problem for years.

"Even in the '90s, when they got on the cutting edge, the fit and finish was horrific. Door panels would pop out and just creak and groan. There would be three of us driving in minivans trying to figure out where the noise was coming from."

Fortinberry agrees: "You go back to the old Chrysler interiors - holy cow, we had some ugly stuff. If you look at Jeep Grand Cherokee and some of these other vehicles now, they've got a lot cleaner, more European look."
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"you can get to a point where maybe your cars aren't really competitive anymore because the interior is not as good as a competitor's,"

Ding!

But why cut costs "elsewhere"? Why not just raise the price a little. Making quality products means putting effort into all areas.

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Ding!

But why cut costs "elsewhere"? Why not just raise the price a little. Making quality products means putting effort into all areas.

Because this is still Chrysler, nobody is going to pay a premium for a Chrysler that just matches a Honda or Toyota and a $2500 rebate looks a lot worse to people than a $500 rebate.
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Because this is still Chrysler, nobody is going to pay a premium for a Chrysler that just matches a Honda or Toyota and a $2500 rebate looks a lot worse to people than a $500 rebate.

Yeah I guess, but as we've said before. The only way to get respect and sales from Camry and Accord drivers is to give it your all and not cheap out...otherwise why bother? I guess if they can cut costs by sharing underbody parts more or something then that's ok. I dunno.

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Everyone's interiors sucked back then, and not just Chryslers...in fact it's only now that GM and Ford are making decent-to-nice interiors

completely disagree.... seeing as I owned some '85s. My 85 Toronado had a leather steering wheel with brushed stainless steel spokes. And *real* stainless trim throughout the car. Sure there was plood, but it was at least attractive looking plood. A sleek gloss black panel crossed the dash and lined up with the intrument pod. It was a bitch for fingerprints, but looked great when polished up. A stitched leather like material covered the dash and it was soft and padded. I had 8 way power adjustable seats. The leather of the seats was soft and supple. Ergonomics weren't great, but that didn't come about till the early 90s anyway.

My 85 Continental had some of the sportiest seats to ever grace a Lincoln. Real wood everywhere. Soft padded dash. Great trip computer and climate control. surprisingly good ergonomics. Clean, attractive design with a nice European flair.

As for some more recent examples. Aurora, Intrigue, Alero, GTO.

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There is no justifiable reason for why Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles cost as much as they do. They don't have the quality or materials put into them to justify their prices. And, if they aren't making much profit on what they sell, they better find ways to cut costs in areas because for what you get in these vehicles, you're paying too much.

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completely disagree.... seeing as I owned some '85s. My 85 Toronado had a leather steering wheel with brushed stainless steel spokes. And *real* stainless trim throughout the car. Sure there was plood, but it was at least attractive looking plood. A sleek gloss black panel crossed the dash and lined up with the intrument pod. It was a bitch for fingerprints, but looked great when polished up. A stitched leather like material covered the dash and it was soft and padded. I had 8 way power adjustable seats. The leather of the seats was soft and supple. Ergonomics weren't great, but that didn't come about till the early 90s anyway.

My 85 Continental had some of the sportiest seats to ever grace a Lincoln. Real wood everywhere. Soft padded dash. Great trip computer and climate control. surprisingly good ergonomics. Clean, attractive design with a nice European flair.

As for some more recent examples. Aurora, Intrigue, Alero, GTO.

I dunno if "completely" is the right adjective. I see your points, but for every car with a good interior, there was 3 or so with lousy interiors. First gen Neon, 2nd gen Stratus, previous gen (and current gen) Malibu, Cavalier, WindStar, Venture, pre-06 Implala (and even the current one has hard, cheap plastic), Grand Am (horrible plastics and fisher-price quality controls), first gen Intrepid...the list goes on.

But yeah, there are cars that had pretty good interiors.

Prizm (rattle free, great dash design, quality dash materials and plastic panels, but held back but horribly cheap door handles and some other parts)

Shadow (decent design for it's day, simple, soft, padded materials on doors, all armrests, upper dash, well textured plastics, put together solidly though with misalignment)

2nd Gen Intrepid (great design, quality materials for the most part, decent build quality)

...uh...I can't think of a Chevy onlyu because I haven't rid in a 90's one I liked (that I remember).

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There is no justifiable reason for why Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles cost as much as they do. They don't have the quality or materials put into them to justify their prices. And, if they aren't making much profit on what they sell, they better find ways to cut costs in areas because for what you get in these vehicles, you're paying too much.

I dunno if you're "paying too much" Price out a top level Avenger with all the options and it comes in about 3 grand less than an optioned-out Camry.

$33,300 VS $36,829 MSRP

I did this on edmunds if you're wondering.

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Yeah I guess, but as we've said before. The only way to get respect and sales from Camry and Accord drivers is to give it your all and not cheap out...otherwise why bother? I guess if they can cut costs by sharing underbody parts more or something then that's ok. I dunno.

new camry's plastics are cheesy bad...but near as bad as the new chryslers.

a new studio does no good if the beancounters direct them to have plastic that is no better than a garbage can.

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So in 2010 Chrysler's interiors will be decent? Great.

In other words, Chrysler's 3-year recovery plan involves a bunch of new vehicles with subpar interiors:

Chrysler Group Recovery and Transformation Plan

Continue the product offensive through 2009, with more than 20 all-new vehicles and 13 refreshed vehicles

Chrysler recovery plan beats The Way Forward

It will introduce 20 all-new models and 13 refreshed models by 2009, while cutting nameplate redundancies, for less Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep overlap. Jeep Compass' future may be doomed.

So we're really looking at an uncompetitive line-up through 2014! GM isn't sitting still and the imports certainly aren't. Best of luck!

Chrysler: Buy us... but don't look inside.

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Wow, took them long enough to wake up.

As previously stated, the lead time for this new process implentation is nearly a full product cycle. And likely, interior quality will be raised in phases, similar to GM, and we might not see a competitive Chrysler interior until the middle of the next decade. Ouch!

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With Chrysler vehicles lately, it has almost been like they tried hard not to make them very nice so that Benzes would have a marked improvement in perceived quality. Lutz has said that putting more money in the interiors means lower incentives. It's so self-evident. The interiors of the newest compact and mid-size Chryslers and Dodges have been lacking a quality feel, and some are downright awful.

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:lol:

:lol:

They say they are going to fix the interiors.....and everybody still complains. Typical.

People are complaining because Chrysler just realized oh hey um our interiors, yeah they blow... meanwhile back at GM and Ford they've already kicked things into gear with trying to improve interiors and their products overall.

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It's about damn time Chrysler did something to upgrade their interiors, but if we're getting the same crap until 2010 it might not matter, because Chrysler may be dead by then.

Now, I hope that the materials are better, too. I just saw "design," nothing about "upgrading plastics" or "using materials 100x higher in quality." And yes, I'm serious about 100x better. When their interiors are as bad as the currently are, they have to be improved 100 fold to be where they need to be. In other words, if they only made them twice as good as they are, they'd still suck.

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What's sad is that the interiors in the mid-90s very actually rather good for their time.

I know certain people like to fondle themselves over the gauche 'tortoiseshell' steering wheel on the 300, but the overall layout and material quality is below today's average.

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Throw some more shine on the LHS at top and its more luxurious than the current 300. Just because the outside of the car is blocky doesn't mean the inside needs to be as well.

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What's sad is that the interiors in the mid-90s very actually rather good for their time.

I know certain people like to fondle themselves over the gauche 'tortoiseshell' steering wheel on the 300, but the overall layout and material quality is below today's average.

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Throw some more shine on the LHS at top and its more luxurious than the current 300. Just because the outside of the car is blocky doesn't mean the inside needs to be as well.

You can't equate roundness to quality.......well, maybe you can.....but I prefer the look of the blockier interior to match the blockier exterior. The 300 would look really stupid with a interior that looks like it's filled with bubbles (as most 90's interiors do), and an exterior that looks like a bank vault. All that round stuff makes me want to throw up! I'm glad the 90's vehicle look is mostly gone.

Just look at the sales of the 300 to see if the buying public likes the new interior.

Edited by BrewSwillis
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