Crucial cars for Chrysler

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

Family car
2007 Chrysler Sebring
Family car
Mid-sized family cars represent a tough, but vital, segment of the American market. The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the two most popular cars in America, have long held sway here. But the Ford Fusion has shown that American companies can be successful in this segment.

The Fusion isn't particularly fancy. There are no gimmicks. It's just a handsome, well-engineered, reliable product that offers buyers a viable option to the Japanese standards.

This year, Chrysler came out with a redesigned Chrysler Sebring and the just-introduced Dodge Avenger. Critics are calling the Sebring OK, but not great. Consumer Reports named it one of the "Most Disappointing" new cars. At any rate, the Sebring doesn't look like the home run shot that was needed here.

Where Ford offers an advanced six-speed transmission, Chrysler still gives you a four-speed. Where the Fusion's handling and steering are just slightly softened from the razor-sharp Mazda6, the Sebring drives more like an old-school family car.

In other words, aside from an optional heated-and-cooled cupholder, the Sebring merely keeps pace, offering little that's really new or better.

The convertible version of the Sebring, due out soon, is entering a tougher convertible market than the one its predecessor once dominated handily. For example, General Motors now has the Pontiac G6 convertible and Volkswagen has the EOS, both relatively inexpensive hard-top convertibles.

The Sebring does offer buyers a choice of tops - cloth or metal - but this is going to be a tough fight.




Family car


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Sporty coupe
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