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Crucial cars for Chrysler

To turn around its falling sales numbers, these are the cars and trucks DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group must get right.

Jeep Patriot
Car-based crossover SUVs are another automotive innovation pioneered by Chrysler. Unfortunately, when the Chrysler Pacifica came out in 2003, it was so novel - and yet so similar to existing products - that car shoppers didn't know what to make of it.

Was it an SUV? (It looked like one from the front.) Was it a minivan? (It looked like one from the back.)

Car shoppers finally caught on and the Pacifica found its market. But then came the competition. While some of Chrysler's competitors are gorging at the crossover bar - Ford just uveiled a fourth, not including Mercury and Lincoln variants - Chrysler is just starting to fill its plate.

Besides the big Pacifica, Chrysler's Jeep division has the small Compass. The Jeep Patriot, a taller version of the Compass with more of an off-road bent, is just hitting the market now.

Chrysler's Dodge division still has no crossovers. (The Compass's close cousin, the Dodge Caliber, is marketed as a small car.)

Chrysler does have more crossover SUV products in the planning stages, but the company isn't ready to discuss them in detail.

Meanwhile, Chrysler Group has found some surprising success with smaller truck-based vehicles. The Dodge Nitro, derived from the 2008 Jeep Liberty, is selling relatively well, according to Tom Libby, an analyst with Power Information Network, and the four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has been a runaway hit.




Family car


Big truck

Sporty coupe
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