Chrysler pondering whether Sebring/Avenger replacements should go rear-wheel drive?

Chrysler 200C concept car - click above for high-res image gallery

Setting the Challenger and 300 aside, what Chrysler needs now most of all is a C/D segment car that moves more metal than the pitiful performance of its current offerings. According to Automotive News, Chrysler shifted just 133,626 of its Sebring and Dodge Avenger platform-mates, a number that pales in comparison to class leaders like the Toyota Camry (436,617) and Honda Accord (372,789). The constant clamor to put the 200C concept into production in some form has got Chrysler looking for ways to make that car a reality, but finding a platform that will play on Main Street is a thorny little chestnut.

Replacing the universally jeered Sebring and Dodge Avenger (and their Mitsubishi platform) by going rear-wheel drive is a possibility. The 200C show car sat on a shortened version of the LX platform, in theory inviting both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations. Fiat's D-Evo platform, debuting with the replacement for Alfa Romeo's 159, is another possibility, but there are concerns it may not be flexible enough to grow to the size the 200C needs. Fiat's bid for General Motors' Opel unit brought with it speculation that the 200C could snag the Epsilon platform, but that's since fallen off the radar.

While a rear-drive Chrysler midsizer sporting the sharp exterior and interior design of the 200C and priced like a Fusion would be something distinctive, the sales case for such a departure from the class-norm of FWD remains yet to be convincingly argued. Tuned properly, such a vehicle could give much higher-zoot iron a run for its money, and performance enthusiasts likely would embrace such a model; though they may not actually buy one. Chrysler needs to close sales, not set internet chatrooms abuzz, so regardless of how it comes to market, the 200C must be more fully realized than the current Chrysler midsizers.

[Source: Automotive News (subs req)]

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