With 316 members voting, the Allpar end-of-2012 poll shows a remarkable amount of agreement on many issues.
A big debate, probably both inside and outside of Chrysler, has been which minivan should be retained — since Sergio has made it clear, for quite some time, that he intended one minivan to stay, and one to be converted into a crossover. Our voters came in on the side of keeping both minivans, Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan, and adding a crossover, — though having two minivans in the company makes it harder to get the #1 sales position for either brand, it also makes it easier to make one clearly upscale and one clearly value-oriented, and avoids the problem of returning buyers finding their favorite nameplate gone and wandering off to the Toyota dealer instead of grabbing the similar, differently named replacement. Those who chose to keep one minivan tended to pick the Dodge, though in actual retail sales, Chrysler has been selling more than Dodge — in the US. In Canada, Dodge has the lead.
Chrysler’s best vehicle in 2012 was... not surprisingly, given the past votes... the big cars, Challenger, Charger, 300, and Thema, with a full third of the viewers agreeing. The next best was the Ram series at 19%, and then Grand Cherokee at 17%. There was no love for Ram chassis cabs and little for Jeep Compass/Patriot, given all the other choices. The most off-road capable Jeep, Wrangler, which has been selling like hotcakes, garnered just 6% of the vote.
Most people believed Chrysler’s biggest seller for 2013 will be the Ram (54%), which would be consistent with every other year in recent history. The other contenders were the minivans, Chrysler 200, and Grand Cherokee, at 6%-8% each — and “N/A or Other” at 8%.
The most important launch or unveiling of the year was, according to 64% of respondents, the Dodge Dart — though Ram 1500 (15%) is a far bigger seller, and SRT Viper (11%) is the splashy image car everyone knows, readers felt that the Dart was key. That might be because Dodge is re-entering a segment which Chrysler used to dominate with the original (Valiant and) Dart — the mainstream compact sedan.
Despite the huge amount of press around them, none of the Fiats got more than 2% of the vote, and 500e got none.
Based just on looks, the best Mopar of 2012 was the SRT Viper, according to readers — and I must say, I expected Challenger to take the lead (it came in second place). I forgot to include Caravan in the list but don’t think that made much of a difference (see chart).
As for the favorite concept, the vote was much more spread out, but the Jeep J12 pickup took of early and took the lead, with 22%. It was followed by Ram Li'l Red Express Truck (19%), and then, some distance behind, Chrysler 300 Luxury (12%) and Charger Juiced. Jeep Traildozer and Half & Half brought up the rear with one vote apiece (other concepts drew 3% - 7%).
Two leaders dominated the "favorite exec for 2012" spot: Ralph Gilles pulled away from Sergio Marchionne early on and took the top spot with 43% of votes followed by Sergio at 27%. Doug Betts took third with 3%. Engineering VP Bob Lee’s five votes are unique in that all of them seem to be from people who know him personally (not necessarily current employees).
In 2008, we'd asked how people felt about the DaimlerChrysler “merger,” and the Cerberus deal. We used the same wording for the Fiat deal. and got much more positive results.
When we asked for people's favorite Chrysler, and again there was no contest: Dodge Challenger, with 30% of the votes. We suspect if the Challenger was available with that eight-speed automatics, sales would be a lot higher. Second place went to Charger (16%), which does have that automatic with the V6. Chrysler 300 came close behind — add them up and the big rear-wheel-drive cars got 60% of the vote. Laggards, with 2% each, were Chrysler 200, Jeep Patriot and Compass (combined), and Fiat 500.
As for the favorite vintage Mopar, when restricted only to top-rated choices from the 2008 survey, a Plymouth came in tops at 27% — the Plymouth Barracuda. It was followed by the Dodge Charger at 21%, and then the Plymouth Road Runner at 14%. In the 2008 survey, Challenger came in first, followed by Charger and Road Runner.
Allpar readers had a variety of favorite brands, though Dodge was the clear winner, with 42% of the vote. Fiat attracted nary a reader. In 2008, Plymouth did much better, with 26% of the vote — Dodge also did better, with 50%. The major gainer was Jeep, which went from 5% to 19%. Whether that’s a matter of product change or readership change, we don’t know.
Finally, we asked about readers’ favorite series. While every series got some love, the tops were Inside Chrysler, the insanely long-running Curtis Redgap series (with 57% of the vote), followed by the car reviews (with 44%).
That’s it for 2012 — we hope you have a good 2013.
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