The Best and Worst of the Decade, 2000-2009
Thank you for participating in the Allpar Best and Worst of the Decade Survey. We had 497 responses, after duplicates were eliminated. Thanks to TurboAWD for compiling the numerous nominations into the five lists on the ballot.
The best of Chrysler
The top pick was hardly surprising: fans love the Dodge Challenger, with a whopping 44% of votes coming in for the LX-bodied, retro-styled, surprisingly faithful rendition of the ill-fated E-body. The new Dodge Challenger looks remarkably similar to the beloved original, until posed side-by-side, making it obvious that the two cars have very different dimensions and proportions. Those who use 1970 E-body sales instead of current auction prices could be shocked by the love, though! A smooth ride, good cornering, and powerful acceleration with the Hemi — or just very well-balanced performance with the V6 — help to seal the deal.
The #2 choice was a little surprising; 31% of the respondents chose the Chrysler 300/300C, making it a clear consensus pick. As Sergio Marchionne said, despite falling sales, it's still a good car. The similar Dodge Charger only garnered 14% of the vote, preventing an LX 1-2-3 victory.
Third place went (if you don't add the minivan generations together) to the 2009 Dodge Ram. We thought it would score higher; it's a big leap forward and is still clearly ahead of its competitors. We were also surprised that the Ram Heavy Duty and Chassis Cabs barely showed up.
Fourth place goes to the minivans. If you add up the minivan scores — 14.4% for the 2001-2007, and 5.5% for the 2008-2009 models — you get 19.9% of the vote (the 2000s bring it up to 22.9%). That's not surprising, since the Chrysler minivans have long been a major strength, and in Canada they still hold, collectively, a 70% market share, while in the US they've slipped to a "mere" 40% during the year of Chrysler's bankruptcy. (You may wonder why 22.9% is behind the 2009 Ram's 20%. The answer is, if we'd added all the Rams together, as we did the minivans, they'd have come between the vans and 300C.)
Fifth place went to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, with 16% of the vote. We were surprised by how much love for the PT has dropped off, though the cheapening 2006 “refresh” seems to mark the point between “car people love and aspire to, and buy with lots of options” and “we only seem to sell base models.” If we'd done this in 2006, the PT would probably have come in at first or second place.
From there, we had the aforementioned Charger at 14%, the Viper at 13.6%, and the Wrangler at 9%. The next two entries were surprising — the Magnum at 9%, and the Chrysler 300M at 8%. The 300M was particularly slow to leave the showrooms, with its high price; I recall many people waiting to get an off-lease or used 300M, and it could be that those who get it, still get it.
Anchoring the bottom of the list with 2% or less of the vote were the 2004-2008 Durango and Aspen, the Jeep Patriot (we really thought it would do better), the Avenger sedan, and the Ram Vans, taking the bottom of the list with a mere four votes. Ram Vans have their loyalists, but they might not be Allpar fans; just four people chose them.
It occured to us after reading these comments that we could have gotten much different results if we had restricted voting to those who commented... since they seemed to have thought about their choices fairly well.
The worst Chrysler of the decade
Will anyone be surprised that the Jeep Compass took first place, with 22% of the vote? The Compass is not a bad car overall, people tell us, but it sure isn't a Jeep. Had it been badged as a Dodge, it probably would not have been as disliked.
Taking second place (18.5%) was the Compass' compatriot, the Dodge Caliber, which had the misfortune of being first out the gate. Early models were a major step back from the outgoing Neon in most ways, but Chrysler quickly went to work on addressing key issues of tuning and noise. Still, not until the Fiat deal did the Caliber really get the attention it needed; we still haven't seen the 2010 versions.
The Chrysler Sebring sedan was truly sad, initially garnering tepid praise; then Jeremy Clarkson declared it the worst car ever made, ever (actually he said this about the convertible), which seems like more bluster than usual even for him. Suddenly all the critics were tripping over themselves to condemn the Sebring, most of them never having been inside one. It garnered 16% of the vote.
The Chrysler Crossfire, which I thought would be the top scorer if the Sebring didn't get there first, got 15% of the vote. It wasn't a bad car, really (we actually liked the SRT6 version, and some German reviewers preferred it to the actual Mercedes), but the idea was terrible and the delivery (given that Chrysler wanted to use its cheaper, superior 3.5 liter V6) offensive.
The next up was the Dodge Nitro, with 12% of the vote; the bold exterior styling wasn't matched by the interior or performance.
Best Chrysler Concept that never made it to production, 2000-2009
As you can see in the table, the recent Chrysler 200C is the big winner, though the ME4-12 was leading by a small margin at first. The Dodge Copperhead came in third, which shows that Allpar folk have a longer memory than the last three years; the Copperhead should have made it into production, where it would easily have eclipsed the Solstice/Sky and Miata. But Daimler was in charge by then, which may also be why the Evoq was built but not the Firepower.
The electric cars garnered very little support; the surprise for me, though, was how far down the Tomahawk and Razor were on the list, despite tremendous interest from people outside of the Mopar faithful.
Here is how the vote went for the sample concept cars we posted — numerous others were built, but we didn't provide an exhaustive (and exhausting) list.
|Chrysler Concept Car||Votes||Chrysler Concept Car||Votes|
|Chrysler 200C||19.5%||Dodge Circuit EV||3.5%|
|Chrysler ME Four Twelve||17.5%||Chrysler EV Van||3.1%|
|Dodge Copperhead||10.7%||Dodge Tomahawk||2.9%|
|Dodge Demon||9.7%||Dodge Razor||2.9%|
|Jeep Gladiator||7.4%||Chrysler Nassau||2.7%|
|Chrysler Firepower||7.2%||Dodge Slingshot||1.0%|
|Jeep Scrambler||5.5%||Jeep EV||0.8%|
|Dodge Hornet||5.3%||Jeep Hurricane||0.8%|
|Dodge M80||4.3%||Chrysler Eco Voyager||0.2%|
|Dodge Rampage||3.9%||Chrysler Java||0.0%|
The best of the rest for 2000-2009
The clear winners for the “best of the rest” were American muscle cars, by a huge margin. The Ford Mustang, 2005-2009, took top honors with 28% of the vote. The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V took second with 18%, followed by the Chevrolet Corvette at 15% and the Camaro at 12%.
Foreign cars started coming in just after the Camaro, led by the Hyundai Genesis and Mini Cooper, both garnering 11.5% of the vote. The next best foreign car was the Volkswagen Golf TDI, with 10.5%.
The worst of the rest, 2000-2009
In the most widely held consensus of the survey, the Pontiac Aztek took the “worst of the rest” for 2000-2009 with 47% of the votes. The styling was generally considered ugly, and the ride was unfortunate.
Second place was taken, not surprisingly, by the smart fortwo, a tiny city car introduced by Mercedes — two attributes likely to infuriate our audience; it didn't help that, after Mercedes continuously bragged about the safety of its space-frame, it did rather poorly in real crash tests. But only 16% voted for the smart.
Coming in at #3 was the Nissan Cube, just one vote short of the Smart. It might be a good thing Dodge didn't get a version of this one, as Cerberus had apparently planned.
A close #4 was the Hummer H3. Impossibly underpowered with its standard engine, refrigerator-like in its styling, it just didn't seem to resonate with our audience. In case you were wondering, its older brother, the H2, scored at #6. If we put them together, they'd have easily come in at #2 with a combined 27%. As it is, they got 14.4% and 12.3% of the vote. The Hummers were separated by the boxy Honda Element; it seems our audience doesn't think much of box-cars.
The least disliked on the list, getting two or three votes each, were the Mazda6, Mazda B-series, Mitsubishi Lancer, Saturn Astra, and Toyota Sienna.
Thanks for your participation! We hope you enjoyed this survey. Join us next month for “the best and worst of Chrysler Corporation, 1924-1998.”