Chrysler Sebring:

2008 Dodge Avenger SXT: MyGig in Action

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One feature we were looking forward to experiencing on our own home turf is the Chrysler Group’s voice- or touch-screen-operated MyGig infotainment system. MyGig uses a 20GB hard-drive to manage music, navigation (including real-time traffic capability), space for storing photos, and operating UConnect and Sirius satellite radio. Chrysler Group offers MyGig with the latest Dodge Avenger and Nitro, Chrysler Sebring sedan and convertible, the upcoming minivans, and Jeep Wrangler and new Liberty. Though we first covered MyGig after seeing it in the Chrysler Sebring, we recently spent a few days with a MyGig-equipped 2008 Dodge Avenger SXT.

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2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee: New York Auto Show

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New Look, More Features, and New Engine Improve Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee, introduced in its current form for the 2005 model year, gets a new look and updated features for 2008. The new face was formally introduced at the New York Auto Show and goes on sale in fall 2007. Here are the basics.

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If you didn’t like the Grand Cherokee’s look before this change, you aren’t likely to notice or care much about the new nose. If you did like the Grand Cherokee already, you may appreciate the subtly revised look. If you’re looking for some new family-friendly features, you’re likely to appreciate the new SIRIUS Backseat TV and MyGig options. Choosing to do little more on the outside than tweak an already good-looking SUV, Jeep focused on adding features and upgrading the 4.7L V8. While these changes aren’t likely to light a big fire under the Grand Cherokee’s sales line, they can make the vehicle more satisfying for those choosing the new features.


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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Return of the Avenger

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Revived Avenger Takes Charger Cues in Sheetmetal and Hobbies: Avenger Race Car Part of 2007 NASCAR Car of Tomorrow Program
At the 2006 Paris auto show, Dodge showed off an Avenger Concept. At the time, we offered up our first impressions of the new sedan (click here for our story). A mere four months later, Dodge revealed the production version at the 2007 North American International Auto Show. Avenger is important to the Dodge franchise and promises to be a far better competitor than the defunct Stratus was in its end days, but VehicleVoice readers will not be surprised that the Avenger name replaces Stratus, or that the production car is much like the concept, minus the concept’s SRT-like bodywork.

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Dodge also reinforced their commitment to motorsports with a Car of Tomorrow Avenger NASCAR also on stage. NASCAR driver Kurt Bush helped Dodge introduce the updated Viper, but Juan Pablo Montoya was on hand to help introduce the racing Avenger.
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Dodge needs Avenger to play an important role in its car lineup, replacing the Stratus, which dropped after the 2006 model year. Despite initial comments about some confusion in its styling details, the Avenger is more successful at incorporating the Dodge family elements than the Sebring is for Chrysler, but that would not have been difficult. The two share nearly the same overall dimensions, but Avenger’s Charger-inspired shoulders give the rear a more finished look than the truncated Sebring’s short deck allows. Avenger’s competition will include the Ford Fusion, Saturn Aura, and Chevrolet’s all-new 2008 Malibu (also revealed this January in Detroit), as well as the older Mazda6 and the even less expensive Kia Optima. The mid-size sedan segment has historically been highly competitive, and the 2007/2008 model years are no easier. The Detroit reveal gives us the chance to bring you more details on the production car and its available equipment, but in February we’ll have our first driving impressions.
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Stuck to the Dealer's Floor – Inventory Numbers Tell the Story

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Which cars and trucks are planted to the dealer’s floor? In other words, which vehicles take the longest to sell? Who cars? Why does it matter, anyway?
Well, while it may not seem that important to you, it’s critically important to the industry s a whole… from the manufacturese, component suppliers, dealers and quite a few financial institutions. First, if you know the time it takes to sell a vehicle, you know how much it is dragging on the dealer’s floorplanning costs. Floorplanning is the term for the amount it costs the dealer to finance the a vehicle in inventory waiting to be sold. If a vehicle has been hanging around for weeks, he’ll be more likely to deal aggressively to get rid of it. Also, vehicles that have high days supply may be less popular. From that perspective, they may be the ones you want to stay away from.


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Chrysler Sebring: Is it Poised to Inspire?

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On Chrysler’s web site, they describe the new Sebring as “poised to inspire.” VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staff were among the groups of journalists that the Chrysler Group invited to Palm Springs, California, to experience first-hand the all-new Sebring, as well as the Aspen, to find out for ourselves.

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The drive route took us from Palm Springs, where we were staying at the Parker Palm Springs and sightings of supermodel Tyra Banks were rumored, to Borrego Springs, California, where we lunched at La Casa de Zorro Resort before dashing back. The roughly 160-mile round trip provided the opportunity to drive Sebring on twisty roads, flat straight state highways, Interstates, and through various elevation changes. The Sebring was a comfortable companion throughout the drive, whether driver or passenger.


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MyGIG: Chrysler Puts a Hard Drive in the 2007 Sebring

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Chrysler launches an all-new Sebring this fall and among the new options is a hard-drive navigation system. Other all-new cars with similar systems this fall include Mitsubishi Outlander (see image) and Lexus LS460/460L. Using a hard-drive navigation system, versus DVD or the old CD systems, gets faster navigation recalculation and better graphics and interfaces. But these systems bring an even more fun feature: The ability to store and play audio files from the hard drive. It’s like having a permanent iPod in your car; being a relative newcomer to the iPod world, I’m still enamored of almost all things iPod. All three vehicles arrive in dealers in October and November 2006. MyGIG gets a late introduction, but Chrysler expects availability by the end of 2006.
On behalf of VehicleVoice and AutoPacific, I was among the journalists and analysts with the opportunity to participate in a backgrounder and first-drive opportunity for Sebring (more later this month on the driving impressions). MyGIG first goes in Sebring, followed by Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Nitro. Availability will spread to other Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models as they are updated and this is the future of Chrysler’s navigation/audio systems.

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The beauty of MyGIG is its integration of features offered independently on other models. MyGIG integrates Sirius radio, UConnect Bluetooth capability, the navigation system, the 20GB hard drive, a USB 2.0 port, and an auxiliary jack for MP3 players. Operation is by voice controls or touch screen. It offers real-time traffic information and can re-route a destination based on that information, depending on preferences set by the driver. Chrysler is not first on the scene with these features, but MyGIG integration takes a significant step forward in performance and affordability. It also pulls Chrysler out of the also-rans into the lead in this department, as their prior GPS navigation was weak at best.
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Chrysler Introduces Sebring at Home

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At DaimlerChrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds, Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Tom LaSorda introduced the new-generation 2007 Sebring. The Sebring will be in dealers by November 2006, and VehicleVoice and AutoPacific were on hand for the unveiling.

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Chrysler has promised the new Sebring is “creating inspiration in the common car,” is “as good as or better than the best mid-size sedans in the world,” and that brings “unexpected levels of style, craftsmanship, technology, and affordable performance.” Sebring offers some features new to mid-size sedans, but for the most part, it leans toward the “as good as” side of the equation rather than on the “better than” side. Safety is advanced from the current Sebring, but only to the point they match the top players. In terms of performance, the base four-cylinder should be a strong contender and Sebring offers an atypical six-speed automatic for the top V6, but at 235HP the top V6 puts Chrysler only mid-pack in the brochure horsepower wars.
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The Sebring package is well researched and well plotted. Based on our initial review in the metal, it is in the subjective area of overall styling and in the look and feel of some interior materials where we think Sebring may have landed just off the mark.
Value Proposition
Final pricing comes later, but LaSorda promised MSRPs lower than Toyota Camry or Honda Accord models closest in content to new Sebring models. Where the 2006 Sebring sedan has a short $20,730-$23,160 price ladder, a taller ladder is expected for 2007. The 2007 Camry and the 2006 Accord start a bit below $20,000 and go as high as about $29,000 (aside from hybrids). Chrysler has said the 2.7L V6 models will be priced closer to competition’s four-cylinder-equipped offerings. Chrysler will position this new, longer ladder so that the both top and bottom ends stay below the key competition. The Sebring may see a drop in MSRP from 2006 to 2007, which may bring the MSRP closer to transaction price.
The Chrysler Group has been successful in finding a sweet spot for pricing their new entries of late; Sebring will be just as aggressively priced and well contented.


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