The launch of the Chrysler 300 was heard in the market as a raucous roar.
The arrival of the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee - another important vehicle for the Chrysler group - is being greeted in tones more acceptable to a librarian.
Unlike the attention-grabbing 300, the 2005 Grand Cherokee is faulted for its derivative look. Customers aren't aware that Jeep's mainstay SUV has been redesigned, dealers say.
In the first two months of 2005, the Grand Cherokee's sales declined 11 percent to 28,286, from 31,794 in 2004. But its sales declined less than sales in its market segment. Lower mid-range SUVs were off 14.6 percent.
Through February, the Grand Cherokee represented 8.5 percent of the Chrysler group's light-vehicle sales. The Grand Cherokee was last redesigned for the 1999 model year.
Jeep, its dealers and some analysts argue that the Grand Cherokee is gaining a stronger foothold. The 2004-model inventory was wiped out by year end, clearing the way for a focus on the new Grand Cherokee, they say.
Dealerships were fully stocked with 2005 Grand Cherokees in December, says Kevin McCormick, Chrysler group spokesman.