DETROIT -- The Chrysler group will blow its horn more often on the subject of fuel economy, says CEO Tom LaSorda.
"I don't think we've done a good enough job" telling customers about the fuel economy of Chrysler group vehicles, LaSorda said in a recent interview. "If you take a look at it, we've got some products that are leaders in the segment."
Like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, Chrysler is scrambling to adjust to changing preferences. As rising gasoline prices push consumers to consider smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles, Chrysler has a truck-heavy product mix and marketing emphasizing powerful V-8 engines.
LaSorda points to the Chrysler 300, rated at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway with its base 2.7-liter V-6 engine.
"When you look at some of the 300 models with the 2.7 engine, you get 28 mpg," LaSorda said. "People need to know that."
Chrysler has touted its larger Hemi V-8s, which get lower mileage. The biggest 300 engine is the 6.1-liter V-8, rated at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, according to government figures.
Mark Treiber, owner of Rallye Chrysler-Jeep in Monroe, N.Y., says Chrysler had done a "terrible job" advertising fuel economy until June, when the message started appearing in ads.
Fuel economy brochures that Chrysler made available for dealers to give customers outline the gas mileage of its models, Treiber said. "You'd be surprised when you put them (the models) on paper. They stack up very, very well."
Chrysler is emphasizing new technologies that improve fuel economy. Those include the continuously variable transmission, available on the Dodge Caliber small car; and cylinder deactivation, which Chrysler refers to as multidisplacement, available on all versions of Chrysler's 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi engines.
The system reduces fuel consumption by shutting off four cylinders when the engine is running at cruising speeds, allowing the car to run on four cylinders.
"We've continued to tell the story on our multidisplacement engine," said Cole Quinnell, manager of engineering communications for Chrysler. "It gives customers 20 percent better fuel economy."
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