Last week's backhanded-compliment award went to Consumer Reports, for its review of Chrysler's revamped lineup. In a nutshell: Your cars are a lot better than they used to be ... but we really wouldn't want to buy them.
Consumer Reports said tests of eight 2011 models found significant advances in performance, fit and finish and handling. But it said the level of refinement still lags behind rivals. The publication still only recommends one Chrysler model: the Ram truck.
The redesigned Dodge Durango SUV and Charger sedan improved the most, the magazine said. The Durango got scores comparable to the 2011 Ford Explorer but below the Toyota Highlander and Chevrolet Traverse. The Charger Rallye also received a "very good" road test score and ranked close to the Ford Taurus and Buick LaCrosse.
Testers were not impressed by the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger and Journey or Jeep Compass and Patriot. "They're still mediocre vehicles overall, scoring at or near the bottom of their respective categories," the magazine said.
Chrysler chose to see the glass as more than half full. Citing its vigorous redesign program, Doug Betts, senior vice president of quality, said: "Consumer Reports, and many other auto reviewers, are noting the difference."
Said David Champion, Consumer Reports' top tester: "It's clear that Chrysler is on the right path, but they still have a long way to go."