When life gives you lemons, the expression goes, make lemonade. Well, the lemonade makers at Chrysler Group's Auburn Hills headquarters have been working overtime, literally, for the last year trying to spruce up Chrysler's under-performing line-up, fast.
Now the reviews are coming in. Most are impressed with how much Chrysler's designers and engineers have been able to do under the gun.
Case in point, the Chrysler Town & Country minivan and its close cousin, the Dodge Caravan.
Critics point to greatly improved interiors for the 2011 model year in both vans as well as improved suspension, steering, engines and transmissions.
"The Town & Country is almost entry-level luxury now," said Jonny Lieberman, senior editor at Motor Trend magazine.
The minvans should be helped by missteps by two of their major competitors, said Jake Fisher, an auto engineer with Consumer Reports magazine.
"The [Toyota] Sienna and the [Honda] Odyssey both got redesigned and they got worse," he said.
Where the Chrysler van still isn't as good as the competitors, said Erin Ryches of the automotive Web-site Edmunds.com, is its ride quality.
"It's a decent ride, but with more harshness than some of the newer vans," she said.