Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Consumer Reports' Tests Show Dodge Durango & Charger Improve Most

Over the past three years, Consumer Reports has recommended only one Chrysler-built model, the DodgeRam 1500 pickup but that is changing since all the model redesigns and new launches over the past two years. Consumer Reports found that Chrysler’s vehicles are getting better, but their level of improvement varies considerably. They tested eight Chrysler models for their current issue: Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, and Dodge Charger sedans; the Chrysler Town & Country minivan; and Dodge Durango, Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot SUVs.

The Durango (pictured above) and Charger, which received significant redesigns, have improved the most. Consumer Reports tested two all-wheel-drive versions of the large Durango, one with a V6 and the other with a V8. Their overall test scores—65 and 66, respectively—are dramatically better than the class-low 45 of the previous Durango V8. Their scores are comparable with that of the redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer (65), although they are well below rivals like the Toyota Highlander and Chevrolet Traverse.

The V6-powered Charger Rallye (pictured above) tested improved to 71, compared with the previous Charger V6’s dismal 58. It now scores close to the Ford Taurus and Buick LaCrosse. The freshened Town & Country, which is a virtual twin of the Dodge Grand Caravan, is also considerably improved, although its 17-mpg overall fuel economy remains the lowest of all minivans we’ve recently tested. Although they performed well enough, none of those three are recommended because they are too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability information.

They were not impressed with the 200, Avenger, Compass, Journey, or Patriot. Despite some improvements, they’re still mediocre overall, scoring at or near the bottom of their respective categories and too low to be recommended.

Good news on improvement for a company that was in bankruptcy two years ago.