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Chrysler 300 soars in magazine’s sedan test

Published: August 23, 2012 | 5:19 am
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The Chrysler 300 topped offerings by General Motors and Ford in Consumer Reports’ latest test of full-size sedans.

The sedan scored an 83 on a scale of 100, behind only Hyundai’s Genesis at 92, the magazine and product-testing group said Wednesday in a statement. The cars were tested for their handling, efficiency, comfort and ease of use.

The 300 was one of the new or refreshed models that CEO Sergio Marchionne introduced after Chrysler emerged from a U.S.-backed bankruptcy under Fiat’s control in 2009.

The 300 follows improved results in Consumer Reports’ testing for Chrysler models including the 200 sedan and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.

“The 2011 redesign of the 300 put Chrysler’s flagship back on the map in the large-sedan category,” said David Champion, senior director of the Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center. The magazine issued its statement before Nissan said Champion will be its executive adviser of competitive assessment and quality.

This year’s findings were the first to include testing of the 300 with a six-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, which improved the model’s showing in fuel-economy tests, the magazine said. The 300 achieved 22 m.p.g., according to the statement.

At the researcher’s track, “the 300 was steady and secure, posting a modest speed through CR’s avoidance maneuver with no surprises,” according to the e-mail.

Not ‘recommended’
U.S. sales of the 300 more than doubled to 44,200 this year through July as the company added 1.2 percentage points of market share. While falling short of analysts’ estimates last month, Chrysler has reported year-on-year gains for 28 consecutive months.

The 300 didn’t receive the publication’s “Recommended” status because Consumer Reports doesn’t have enough survey data related to consumer reliability, according to the statement.

Carmakers seek favorable evaluations from the magazine as its reviews are considered the most objective because of policies of accepting no advertising and buying every vehicle it tests.

Among other new models in the segment featured in Consumer Reports’ October issue, Hyundai’s Azera recorded a score of 81, followed by 78 for GM’s Buick LaCrosse and 64 for Ford’s Taurus.

The Azera, which started selling early this year, has improved handling while still trailing competitors because of its “stiff, unrefined ride,” Consumer Reports said.

GM’s Buick LaCrosse with eAssist scored lower than rivals because of “a narrow cockpit, a busy dashboard, obscured sight lines and trunk storage that’s compromised” by its hybrid battery system, according to the statement. The drivetrain helped the LaCrosse achieve 26 m.p.g. in Consumer Reports’ testing, the best in the large-sedan category.

Ford’s Taurus is “quiet and rides smoothly,” according to the statement. The sedan lost points for its “cramped” interior with limited visibility and because of the “cumbersome” MyFord Touch control system, Consumer Reports said.

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