New products seem to be a scarce commodity at Chrysler, but a recent raft of reports emanating from Auburn Hills and, perhaps more importantly Turin, Italy, shows that storm clouds are gathering near The Pentastar's new product desert.
Chrysler brass recently gave members of the Economic Club of Chicago luncheon a sneak peak at the new Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, along with information about the arrival of the Fiat 500 by the end of 2010. Now the Detroit Free Press reports that Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is talking major refresh for the Dodge Avenger and the Chrysler Sebring by the end of the year. And that's not all.
The Freep quotes Chrysler's multi-tasking CEO as saying that the Avenger/Sebring architecture has been torn apart and "You'll see a completely different animal. We're having a discussion about what name this animal should have. The jury is still out." The report goes on to say that it will be the Sebring that receives the name change, which makes sense considering the fact that Avenger sales have held up considerably (and relatively) better than the Sebring since both vehicles launched. Chrysler claims that the goal is to make changes where midsize customers will notice.
Stephanie Brinley at AutoPacific Group in Troy reportedly told the Free Press that Chrysler is somewhat limited in what it can accomplish with a refresh, but changes to ride and handling could be significant – and there's plenty of room for improvement. Another positive change could come under the hood of both vehicles, as Chrysler is working with Fiat on new engine technology, including the Italian automaker's Multiair tech, which may or may not find its way into the downtrodden sedans.
We have no idea if changing the name of the Sebring will wash away all the pain inflicted by a truly bad sedan, but we're thinking that at this point no changes could hurt more than the status quo. We're hoping the refresh is thorough enough to get us interested in The Pentastar's midsize offerings, but we're going to have to take a Missouri-style "show me" stance before believing it.