• Jan 10, 2009
Chrysler has been eerily silent about what, if anything, is in the works to replace the Avenger/Sebring twins, other than giving the replacement plan a cryptic "Project D" moniker. The pair are still relative newcomers to the scene, but the competition has delivered Chrysler's midsizers a sound drubbing both in the press and on the sales charts. The problem is that development costs money, something that's currently hard to come by. Thinking strategically, the unloved and outgunned Chryslers might seek solace by relocating to the Nissan Altima's platform. The Altima is one of the best - and best-selling - vehicles on the market. Put plainly, we would dive on an Altima's keys to avoid driving these Chryslers.

A relationship between Chrysler and Nissan already exists, with plans for Chrysler to port the Ram over for Nissan to rebadge as the next Titan, and a version of the Versa wearing Pentastar badging for the South American market is in the mix, so it's not like the two companies are strangers to each other. If Chrysler decides that it still wants its own platform, a partnership with another company to do the building might still be in the cards. Project D is about finding the most economic way to bring a competitive midsize sedan to market, including shrewd lash-ups.

According to Kicking Tires, Chrysler hopes to have a partner chosen by the end of the first half of 2009, with Nissan already being acknowledged as one of the possibilities.

[Source: Kicking Tires]


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  • 29 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Partnering with another company on the next-gen D-segment cars is probably a good idea, and Nissan is a great choice.

      However, for such an important segment, I would rather see Chrysler co-develop their next D-segment platform with Nissan and each build their own cars, rather than having Chrysler sell a rebadged car assembled in Nissan plants.

      However, the codevelopment of a new platform with take a few years, especially since the Nissan mid-sizers are relatively new, and the problems with the Sebring and Avenger need to be addressed NOW. The Phoenix V6s will start production toward the end of this year, if everything goes as scheduled. I'm hoping for a major refresh of the Avenger and Sebring for 2010 with better exteriors, all-new interiors, Phoenix engines, and retuned GEMA 4s.
      • 6 Years Ago
      might as well be titled "could pigs fly?"

      Project D's only reason to exist is to design and produce a domestic replacement for the troubled Sebring/Avenger to build alongside the Journey. Contracting with Nissan to manufacture the ds because of some idiotic belief in the inherent inferiority of domestic brands is just the knee jerk reaction I'd expect from internet ceo wannabes.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't know how the Avenger is mechanically, but aesthetically this car blows. If the mechanicals are worth anything, why not just re-skin the car. The irony of this car and it's sister ship the Sebring is, Chrysler spent no time on the design of this car, and spent too much time on the Sebring.

      Avenger underdressed.
      Sebring Overdressed.

      Both wrong.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Rest assured, it blows dynamically as well. The Avenger has just about the lamest combination of ride jitters, handling mediocrity, and booming road noise in the class. And even people who don't notice that will notice the butt-pincher seats (and I weigh 160) and crap visibility.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Seems like a worthy trade, since both get the platform of the other's excellent selling product.

      The problem would be differentiating them. The Chrysler tends more towards luxury while the Dodge tends more towards sport (all in theory), but so does the Altima.

      Chrysler may have to try and balance that out by going to one sedan. And what about the Phoenix V-6s?
      • 6 Years Ago

      During the 90's Chrysler had some nice cars like LHS,Concorde etc. If only they could have developed them further instead of developing the new SebringAvenger.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The LHS, Concorde, and Intrepid were all on the full sized LX platform. They were replaced by the LX platform, the 300, Charger, and Challenger.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If all three of Chrysler LLC's brands are to be sold under a one dealership configuration in the future, then I say make the Chrysler brand the mainstream brand for Chrysler LLC and build all of the brand's future products on Renault-Nissan FWD platforms. This would free Dodge up to pursue RWD sports cars and trucks while Jeep could return to offering traditional SUVs. Chrysler hasn't been a true premium brand in quite some time and trying to return the brand to that segment will probably prove to be a dismal failure. Chrysler LLC might be able to orchestrate a successful turnaround if it can effectively use Nissan platforms (with Chrysler's own distinct exterior/interior designs and platform tuning) to create solid mainstream vehicles for the Chrysler brand.

      Another possible positive scenario of this partnership would be that Dodge could use Nissan's RWD FM platform to create a small 2+2 turbocharged 4 cylinder sports coupe (Daytona) to slot below the Challenger in Dodge's lineup.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If it is just a rebadge that Nissan builds for them then forget it. If it is actually restyled and reskinned that could be cool. Nissan makes pretty good cars but they tend to be ugly IMHO so it wouldn't be that difficult for even Cerbyler to pull off a better looking Dodge version. The biggest problem would be the hit their margins would take if they had to give Nissan a cut for every one they sell. Cerbyler is already bleeding cash with every vehicle they sell. Adding another cost to the mix would only make that worse.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Jim is right, Dakota, I'm sorry but I disagree with you. The original JA was a great platform and fully competitive with the Honda Accord when it came out in 1995. It was Motor Trends Car of the Year for '95. I had a '97 Stratus ES with the Mitsu 2.5 V6. Very nice car for what it was, mid size good value transportation with a sporty flair. Exactly what Toyondssan was offering at the time. My wifes grandmother was a devoted Accord owner. She bought a new one every five years. She drove my car and told me my Stratus drove as good as her '94/95 Accord (and she never abused her cars, so wear and tear was not a factor).

        After Dumbler took over in 1998 they killed Chrysler's development process that turned out cars like the Stratus, Intrepid, Neon, and 300M and the result is what you have today. A car that is based off a Mitsubishi platform, with a base 4 pot co-developed with Hyundai and Mitsubishi, a transmission from Nissan, and cost cutting by the German Overlords. In other words this car is not any more a real Chrysler product than the Routan is a VW.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've tested all three and would ANY DAY get an Altima over a Sebring/Avenger.
      I'm just wondering how willing Nissan is to lend a competitor a hand...
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Avenger has been reviewed as being solid and a decent handler (firmer suspension tuning than the floaty Sebring). It just needs better powertrains, noise isolation and interior. I would think that would cost less. Still, the Altima would be a great new starting point, and it has better proportions.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's gotta only be a matter of time before Nissan buys Chrysler. At this rate their cars/trucks will all be badge engineered versions of eachother.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I sure see a lot of Sebrings on the road for them to be as crappy as everyone says they are.

      Nissan's interiors are NO better than Chrysler's- they both suck donkey balls. My boss' wife has an Altima, and one of the other managers has a Murano- I've ridden in both- nothing but cheap, nasty hard plastics in either one. Why does nobody ever criticize Nissan's interiors? Just as bad...

      Oh wait, Nissan's a Japanese brand, and therefore infallible in the eyes of most of the motoring press, these days.

      @@
      • 6 Years Ago
      Could someone tell me what is wrong with the current JS platform?
      As far as I can tell the main complaints seem to be:
      the interior sucks
      the V6 is old and weak for its class
      the 4 cylinder is mated to the 4 speed auto
      the handling is so-so
      the styling is polarizing (the grooves on the hood of the Sebring seem to send people into a frothing rage)

      Those all seem like fixable problems to me.
      Chrysler is working on up-graded interiors (we've seen from the new Ram 1500 that they can do well when left to there own devices).
      They have to milk the old 3.5 for a year or two more until the new V6's come on line.
      They need to stop mating their reasonably new 4 cylinder to a transmission that is older than their current V6.
      Fixing the handling seems to be a mater of tuning vs fundamental architecture changes (the Journey is related to the JS platform and its handling is on par).
      The styling is the last thing to worry about, they might not be drop dead sexy but their not the current Focus either (but I would drop the hood groves just to get people to STFU).

      Am I totally off base here?



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