Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker majority owned by Fiat SpA (F), boosted its rating in Consumer Reports’ testing of large sedans as its 300 topped offerings by General Motors Co. and Ford (F) Motor Co.
The Chrysler 300 scored an 83, behind only Hyundai Motor Co. (005380)’s Genesis at 92, the Yonkers, New York-based magazine and product-testing group said today in an e-mailed 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 Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne introduced after Auburn Hills, Michigan-based 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 sport-utility vehicles.
“The 2011 redesign of the 300 put Chrysler’s flagship back on the map in the large-sedan category,” David Champion, senior director of the Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center, said in the statement. The magazine issued its statement before Nissan Motor Co. (7201) said today it hired Champion as 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 miles (35 kilometers) per gallon, 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.
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 Group 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 (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 mpg 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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