Editor's note: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong model year for the 2013 Dodge Dart.
DETROIT -- In late 2009, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and his team laid out an audacious five-year plan to rebuild Chrysler Group.
The verdict is in: It worked.
Today, as company executives prepare to unveil on May 6 a new five-year plan that comes near the fifth anniversary of the automaker's bankruptcy, Chrysler is profitable. Its products and marketing are vastly better. Its dealers are making more money than they have in decades. Sales continue to grow. Neither the U.S. government nor the UAW holds an ownership stake.
There have been stumbles and setbacks, to be sure -- the Fiat brand relaunch and the half-baked Dodge Dart spring to mind. But Chrysler deserves a strong B+ for its performance during the last five years.
Chrysler expended a herculean effort to improve the products it inherited from Cerberus Capital Management and Daimler AG.
The best work was done where it was needed most: vehicle interiors.
Beginning with the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler's designers excised the lineup's hard plastic and rat-gray interiors one by one. They placed pleasing, soft plastics almost everywhere a consumer would touch.
They added handy storage spaces, such as under the passenger seat in the Dart, 2014 Jeep Cherokee and 2015 Chrysler 200. They installed a well regarded 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect infotainment system in most of the lineup.