Chrysler reinvention showing promise as Denver Auto Show opens

Chrysler executives invited members of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press association (RMAP) to a luncheon at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Denver yesterday where the 2011 Town and Country, 200 Convertible, 200 and 300 models were on display. They were understandably proud of what Chrysler hath wrought.
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“All four of these vehicles have been redone for 2011,” said brand manager Andy Lawson, “and each has a high level of content, quality and sophistication. Not only have we re-engineered and restyled these vehicles but we’ve added a premium level of content at a non-premium price.”

This was a large part of their presentation and the numbers tend to add up. Across the board, these four vehicles have added features and capabilities for a price equal to or in some cases less than last years model.

“What Chrysler Brand will be, and what will make it unique, is that it will give people beautiful shapes, which would otherwise be out of reach. It will always deliver a bit more than the customer expects,” said Olivier Francois, Chrysler Brand president & CEO in a corporate press release. “At every turn, Chrysler Brand and its vehicles will deliver what people deserve, not just what they expect. It will take appointments – design, technology, and engines, to name a few – that were born for a few and deliver them to the masses.”

After a somewhat closer look at the four vehicles, we were all beginning to buy into the hyperbole – but reserve final judgment until we have a chance to drive the vehicles in question.

The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible is quite impressive up close – light years beyond our impressions of the brand’s earlier Sebring convertible. Starting at $30,995 it was the most reasonably priced convertible sedan we found at the Denver Auto Show.

Wider tires and a wider track reportedly make it feel much more connected to the road.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine delivers 283 horses, but still gets up to 29-mpg on the freeway. It is also available in a 4-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Tail and headlights feature LED eyebrows with bifunctional halogen lamps up front. The rear deck of the convertible is a nicely designed feature.

Inside you’ll find wider seats and a plethora of materials soft to the touch.

The Chrysler 300 is still looking good after its makeover focused on enhancing the car’s comfort level, quietness, economy and performance.

Every negative space in the vehicle has been filled with foam or sound baffling. The undercarriage is coated with a special substance to keep road noise out of the cabin. Even the wheel wells are coated with “fuzzy stuff” that helps to quiet the interior.

“This model has 13 claims of Best In Class,” said Chrysler engineer Daniel Kirk. “A new touch screen controls every driver function in the car, but we left a few knobs for those who like them.” He also said a lot of customer input was taken into consideration – over 4,100 functional objectives were targeted in this vehicle. The 300 has available a heated wooden steering wheel, for example. (Check out the video below for more)

Chrysler invented the Minivan in 1983 and last year the 2010 Chrysler Town and Country was the bestseller in the genre.

It may well repeat that performance this year with a few new additions like a blind spot indicator, a major safety feature for a minivan.

Chrysler states its credo as, “Being attainable to all, rather than merely a select few.” It is an admirable ambition.

Time has come today for the Chrysler Brand. Get down to the Denver Auto Show or your local dealers and see for yourself.


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