• Oct 16th 2006 at 4:25PM
  • 23
Thinking that top executives had perhaps gotten out of touch with what the real world buyer of their cars is experiencing, Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda is sending 250 top executives out to test drive some used cars. He has them driving three-year-old DaimlerChrysler products because he wants them to learn about reliability issues and the experience consumers face a few years down the road of ownership.

Executives will turn in their own vehicles for two 10-day periods. In exchange, they will be given something from a fleet of used Jeep Grand Cherokees, Chrysler Town & Country minivans, Dodge Caravans, Chrysler Pacificas and Dodge Ram pickups. Apparently LaSorda practices what he preaches. He has been seen driving an old Grand Cherokee lately.

"Our CEO, Tom LaSorda, has always been pushing us to become more customer focused: to eat, sleep, walk and talk like an average customer," said Steve Walukas, vice president of corporate quality. "In our positions we're pretty fortunate that we typically get to drive new cars. I know in my own situation, my friends, neighbors and relatives say, 'You wouldn't know what it's like to drive a car with a lot of miles on it.' This is a true way to understand."

The executives will be asked to evaluate each vehicle regarding first impressions and then follow up with impressions at the end of each 10-day trial. The program, which began in August, will run for another two months.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      I hope the transmission in Mr. LaSorda's three year old Grand Cherokee dies in the middle of the interstate like the one attached to my (former) Grand Cherokee did. That was just the start of the problems. I felt dirty when I traded that car in. I'm now a Honda driver for life, no matter what stupid marketing tricks like this Detroit pulls. Too little too late. If they're serious about this, they should buy a fleet of three year old Acuras and let the executives compare and contrast with the craptastic Chrysler rolling scrap metal.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Does Tom LaSorda ever drive? He can clearly see the crappy Neon that we all see everyday. Or the sheet metal on a dodge product is about as thin as paper so within a few years it gets that wavy "kia sephia" look.

      Basically, go outside and you will easily be able to see that Dodge cars turn to crap, BUT all cars end up turning to crap (most anyways) it's just that Dodge cars are horrible.

      You do damn full of shit it's not even funny. After owning a few Dodge Products, along with others, your claim is totally false and shows your childish mentality. I'd put up my old 93 Intrepid to a 93 Honda anyday and see which one is rusting out first. Yea it would be the Honda. If you think it's so paper thin, then go measure it against other products and post some facts? Whats the tolerances on those pannels?
      • 8 Years Ago
      They won't learn CRAP from three-yr-old vehicles. Who CAN'T make a car that will hold up for three lousy years??? All they really have to do is look at their products' resale values - or lack thereof. My 2000 Durango was a great vehicle up until about four years of age and 80k miles (well, OK... there were a couple of problems). After that point though, it's been all downhill - fast. They are more than welcome to come drive it for free - as long as I can ride along and tell them about all about the MANY problems I've had with it. The latest problem is a leaky heater core. That doesn't sound so bad until you realize that in order to replace this $35 part, you have to spend somewhere in the neighborhod of $800 in labor to rip out the entire dash and steering column just to get TO it! What G.D. Einstein engineered that??? Argggh... I feel my blood pressure going up just thinking about it.

      Oh... as a point of reference, during the exact same time we've owned the Durango, we've also owned (and put the same amount of miles on) a '99 Nissan Altima. I've not spent ONE DIME on that car for repairs of any kind during its SEVEN years and 120k miles. Nothing. Nada. No recalls either... not ONE. All I've done is put gas in it, change the oil, buy a couple sets of tires, one battery, one air filter and maybe a couple sets of wiper blades.

      The Durango cost TWICE as much as the Altima orignally - and now they have almost identical trade-in values. Hmmm...

      Those execs can do whatever they want... I've bought my first - and LAST - Daimler-Chrysler product.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think that the Chrysler goup executives would be better served focusing on creating the next generation of sure-fire hits instead of rolling around in used vehicles.

      They are once again stuck with a glut of vehicles even their dealers don't want to order.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What i think Tom needs to go is to drive up to a random Dodge dealer inside a Stratus ... and try to get a Grand Cherkoee without getting the run around and absolutely hosed at one point of the transaction. (Of course, he'll probably have to take off his suit and maybe ruffle up his hair).

      I bet he will get the arrogant a-hole dealer treatment like most everyone else that may have an inclination of actually considering a Chrysler-Group vehicle... and then he'll realize why they keep losing market share and their sales are in the crapper.

      When Dodge decided to re-invent its car-brand portfolio with some spiffy large cars, they failed to realize that dealers like to be jerks when they have hot products. Now, their big Hemi-Powered LX cars are languishing and yet all the original interest is gone. I think I know more people who were turned off at a dealer trying to get a Charger than people who got a Charger. Then there's the horror stories of people who wanted a Dodge Caliber when it first came out. Either they were getting boned by the whole process after putting some deposit down for their car or they were getting boned by dealers who wanted MSRP or more.

      What probably sucks the most for those Execs in Detroit is how prevalant leases are in that area. I bet they all fail to realize to the more common practice in the USA where people buy cars and keep them longer than 3 years. Nobody buys cars in Detroit because almost everyone up there is related to the auto industry, and they'd much rather keep fliping a bargain-basement lease than bother trying to suffer through a car for more than 3 years. Ever get into a Pacifica lease for $99 a month with only $1,000 due at signing? Probably not, but it happens all the time in Detroit.
      • 8 Years Ago
      No, no, no. They NEED these guys to drive a clapped-out 1995-1999 Neon and then have the head gasket go when they really truly need to be somewhere important - like, take their own kids to a doctor appointment.

      Only THEN might the "lights come on upstairs in Auburn Hills"
      • 8 Years Ago
      Car magazine writers could take a lesson from this as well.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I had a MINI Crapper for about 13 months, and if someone at BMW/MINI had tried driving that piece of junk after three years (or, heck, 3 months) they would have learned a lot about supplier quality standards, rattles, substandard steel strength, rattles, junky steering columns, doors that don't shut correctly even after being re-set multiple times, squeeky seats, windows that smear from greasy innards with every lift... etc.

      There's no doubt that if they're looking, Chrysler product will exhibit similar quality issues as the MINI did in such a brief time. If they find some stuff like that and they have the attitude that 'every problem is an opportunity', they'll learn much.
      • 8 Years Ago
      OK. facts:
      My inlaws had TWO 99 Jeep Grand Cherokees (one , and a Laredo).
      The first had recalls for ABS could not work, due to slaty roads, rust, etc...in Midwest, etc.. areas where salt is used on the roads, and other recalls. It laste dabout 173,000, then he traded it in for a Laredo version, a 99, with 50,000 on it.
      Her owned it alittle over 2 years, before a "roll over"(he hit the side of the road, and went into a ditch, side first last month. Totalled it)...
      Anyhow, at 107,000, New Tranny(last March, 05, after 15 months of ownership).
      Over 3 K, at a local mechanics, not Chrysler dealership.
      What does he have today, he just purchased Saturday> A new Suzuki SX4!
      Nearly 10 MPG better than the Jeep, 7/100 warranty,
      More fun(and built better!). They had a tracker(also a Suzuki product, for GM.... until 2004?....built in Canada, at the joint venture GM/Suzuki plant, all parts, i belive were Suzuki, of Japan). They had a 90, got it in 95, and traded it in in 2001 for the Jeep(first one), with 213,000 miles on it. Only needed a new muffler! It was rough.,loud, and nto a nice vehcile, but it was dependable as anything out there.
      The sx4 is a modern(better all around) version, for 14,999!
      Only 1,500 more than he paid fo a USED Jeep(a larger vehicle, of course, but worse MPG, and not as well built).

      I have read, the PT Cruiser is Better Than Avg, th epast 3 yers, except automatic MPG is 26 hwy, and the "cheap seats"(cloth) aren't very comfortable after a 30 minute drive!
      Maybe they'll fix this( they should drive a cloth seated, base model, PT Cruiser, then figure out how ot better the upcoming, Newer model in 09).
      • 8 Years Ago
      They should drive 6 year old cars, not 3 year old cars.

      Most of their models don't get all-new revisions every 4 years anyway, so it shouldn't make a difference for them to drive a 6 year old version vs. a 3 year old version.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Its better than nothing, and GM and Ford would benefit from the exercise, too.
      • 8 Years Ago
      let them have a taste of their own medicine!
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