History

History of Chrysler: Walter P. to Stellantis and everything in-between

Walter P. Chrysler stands next to his1924 Chrysler Six, the first car bearing the Chrysler name.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's been nearly 100 years since Walter P. Chrysler formed the Chrysler Corporation. In that time, the company has been merged, spilt, sold, and reborn in a variety of forms, but its roots still remain in Michigan where it is known as one of the Big Three automakers alongside General Motors and Ford.

Let's take a look back at the history of the company from its highest highs to its lowest lows, and everything in between.

The beginning

1925 Chrysler B70

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Walter Chrysler formed his namesake automotive company in 1925, when his employer, Maxwell Motor Company, was reorganized. A little over a year earlier, Chrysler's first production car, the Chrysler 70 (above), was released and featured several forward-looking innovations. The car came with a high-compression engine that had full-pressure lubrication, an oil filter, and a carburetor air filter.

An early pioneer

Early on, Chrysler pioneered several other automotive features that would eventually take over the entire industry. Four-wheel hydraulic brakes, rubber engine mounts, and more were all Chrysler's inventions. The company also developed a ridged rim for its car's wheels, which was designed to prevent a deflated tire from flying off the rim at speed. It was eventually picked up by the entire global automotive industry.

Introducing ... Plymouth

Plymouth Hotel Algonquin 1935 taxi cab

Photo by Martin Forstenzer/Getty Images

In 1928, Chrysler Corporation introduced the Plymouth brand, which was intended to be a lower-priced alternative. Early Plymouth models were rebadged Chrysler cars with small four-cylinder engines. In the photo above, a Plymouth taxicab is parked in front of the Hotel Algonquin in New York City in 1935.

DeSoto was also unveiled at this time as a mid-range model line for the group. Not long after, Chrysler snapped up the Dodge Brothers auto and truck company.

Hello, Mopar

In a stroke of genius that remains a large part of the automotive world today, Chrysler coined the MoPar brand in the 1930s. As a combination of the words "motor parts," the name is still used to describe vehicles and parts in the Chrysler-Dodge world today.

Imperial, Valiant, DeSoto

By the mid-1950s, Chrysler had spun up more nameplates to join its empire. In 1955, Imperial became a brand of its own after a run as the range-topping Chrysler model, and in 1960 the Valiant brand name came to be. In 1961, Chrysler discontinued the DeSoto line.

Chrysler in space

Saturn 1B Kennedy apollo picture

Photo by MPI/Getty Images

The automaker had a hand in the space program, too. In the late 1950s, NASA contracted Chrysler to build the first booster stage of the Saturn I and Saturn IB vehicles. The Saturn 1B is pictured above on January 22, 1968 launching Apollo 5 from Cape Kennedy, Florida, to complete the first flight test of an unmanned lunar module.

The company built the pieces for the Apollo Program at the Michoud Assembly Facility in East New Orleans, which was one of the largest manufacturing facilities on Earth at the time.

The future is now

1963 Plymouth Valiant

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Chrysler's forward thinking operations continued into the 1960s, when the automaker became the only of Detroit's Big Three to use a unibody design in its vehicles. Today, most passenger vehicles are unibody designs, but it was a novel idea at the time. Around the same time, the Valiant brand was moved back as a subsidiary of the Plymouth brand (a 1963 Plymouth Valiant is shown above), and became the first production car with an alternator.

Ooh, Barracuda

1965 Plymouth Barracuda

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1964, the Plymouth Barracuda was introduced (shown above as a 1965 model), almost two weeks before the unveiling of the Ford Mustang. Despite being first, the 'Cuda was outsold by the Mustang ten-to-one in its first year on the market. Chrysler had also set its sights on Europe by this time, and took a majority stake in the British Rootes Group in 1964. The venture was short-lived, however, as financial difficulties in the British company forced Chrysler to sell to PSA Peugeot Citroen in 1978.

Stiff competition, disastrous results

The 1970s proved to be a difficult time for Chrysler, as it was for all American car companies. Cheaper, smaller Japanese and European cars flooded the markets, as the oil crisis drove prices through the roof and made large, heavy cars almost immediately obsolete. Later in the decade, a rush to push new models to market led to massive warranty and repair costs for Chrysler, as its Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare were hurried to market with poor construction and an even worse design.

Mr. Iacocca

1984 Plymouth Voyager

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1978, Lee Iacocca joined Chrysler as CEO after having been fired from Ford. Because of its missteps with the Aspen and Volare models, Chrysler was hemorrhaging cash at the time. Iacocca started retooling the automaker from scratch, which included many layoffs, the sale of European assets to Peugeot, and the creation of the project that would ultimately lead to the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager (1984 model shown above). The project was driven by former Ford executives after Henry Ford II denied its forward progress under his watch.

Iacocca realized that the company would not be able to survive without a significant influx of cash to turn its fortunes around. In September 1979, he asked Congress for a $1.5 billion loan, which led to the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979. The military later purchased thousands of Dodge trucks from the company, which helped it recover and avoid bankruptcy.

The K-Car and the minivan

1982 Chrysler LeBaron

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1981, Chrysler released the first K-Car platform model - another rejected Ford project. The platform would go on to form the basis of several models throughout the decade (1982 Chrysler LeBaron shown above). In 1983, the first minivan was introduced, the success of which helped Chrysler repay the federal government the same year.

American Motors Corporation

The late 1980s were a consequential time for Chrysler. In 1987, the automaker was the subject of an investigation over its practice of disconnecting odometers during test drives before being shipped to dealers. The company settled out of court, but suffered a massive public relation hit. The same year, Iacocca led the acquisition of American Motors Corporation (AMC), which brought Jeep into the Chrysler fold for the first time. The Eagle brand was also created at this time.

Chrysler and Fiat Part I

In 1988, Chrysler and Fiat reached an agreement for the American automaker to be the exclusive distributed or Alfa Romeo in the United States, which lasted until Alfas were phased out in 1995. The early 1990s also saw Chrysler making a return to the streets of Europe, first with select Jeep models and then others.

DaimlerChrysler Motors Company

In 1998, Chrysler formed a 50-50 partnership with Daimler-Benz, and the automaker was renamed DaimlerChrysler Motors Company. Though it was supposed to be an even merger, Daimler-Benz was in the driver's seat. Plymouth was phased out in 2001, and the remaining auto brands went on to share platforms and technologies in vehicles that are still seen today. The marriage came to an end in 2007, when DaimlerChrysler AG sold the majority of its stake in Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management. That sale led to a shuffle in management and a new logo.

Economic downturn

A Jeep sits in front of the empty showroom at Premier Chrysler June 8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The dealership is 1 of the 789 Chrysler dealerships nationwide that are scheduled to close tomorrow. Today the Supreme Court delayed Chrysler\ufffds sale of most of its assets to a group led by Italy\ufffds Fiat. (

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The financial crisis of 2008 cut deep into Chrysler's operations and stability. Late in that year, the company announced a 25 percent reduction in its salaried and contract workforce. Sales fell drastically for all automakers at that time, but Chrysler was particularly vulnerable after having been passed around through mergers and acquisitions over the years. In December 2008, President George W. Bush announced a rescue loan for the auto industry, which included Chrysler.

As part of a reorganization, Chrysler LLC and Fiat announced plans to form a global alliance. The agreement gave Fiat a large stake in Chrysler and led to several months of restructuring. By mid-2009, Fiat had taken a majority stake in Chrysler, and by 2014, the company we all know today had taken shape. In December of that year, Chrysler Group LLC's name was officially changed to FCA US LLC, or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Stellantis

New Stellantis company logo revealed ahead of Groupe PSA-Fiat Chrysler merger

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The next chapter of Chrysler is already written. The company will become part of Stellantis, a megacorporation that brings together the holdings of FCA with those of PSA Groupe. The deal closes in January 2021.

Trending News

 
 

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is show in the Overland trim level.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been redesigned but we'll only see a three-row version for the 2021 model year. If you want the two-row, you'll have to wait another year. In the new Grand Cherokee L, a freshly refined interior and exterior is joined with off-road prowess and next-generation technology to make the Grand Cherokee worthy of a cross-shop.

Which Grand Cherokee model is right for you? Scroll down to see the features and specs of each of the SUV's grades, including price. All prices exclude a $1,695 destination charge.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo

The base model Jeep Grand Cherokee L is no low-tech slouch. It comes standard with a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen and a 10.25-inch frameless digital instrument cluster. Below the infotainment screen is an 8.4-inch touch screen. The SUV's Uconnect 5 operating system offers customization, a one-touch Home Screen, five user profiles, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are 12 USB ports, split between Type A and Type C, covering all three rows of seating.

The Laredo trim level seats six or seven, depending on the buyer's choice of second row seats. The second-row seats feature standard tip and slide functionality.

Among the roster of standard safety equipment and security features are full-speed collision warning with active brake assist and pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear cross traffic detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, brake assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear park assist.

Keyless entry, automatic headlights, LED daytime tuning lights, and LED taillamps are standard.

The Laredo model is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that delivers 290 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

It rides on 18-inch aluminum wheels, and also has heated fold-way mirrors, roof rails, cloth seats with power-adjustable eight-way driver seat, automatic dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, and Bluetooth.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is listed at $36,995 for the rear-wheel drive model and $38,995 for the 4x4.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude

The Cherokee L Altitude builds on the Laredo grade adding gloss black appearance details, including 20-inch aluminum wheels, exterior accents and badging, roof rails, and a unique seven-slot grille.

Upgrading to the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude will cost $40,195 (4x4) or $42,195 (4x4).

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited

Like the Altitude, the Limited builds on the Laredo model of the Grand Cherokee L. The exterior of this model includes automatic high beam headlights, LED fog lamps, power gloss black side mirrors with heating element, blind spot monitoring, and additional turn signals.

Four-wheel drive models get a Selec-Trac traction management system with five available terrain modes (Auto, Sprot, Rock, Snow, Sand/Mud).

The interior of the model gets upgraded to standard Capri leather seats and comes with an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory, four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat with memory, and heated steering wheel. The second row seats are also heated. Active noise cancellation and single-color ambient lighting is standard.

Remote start, a universal garage door opener, and an adjustable height power liftgate are also standard.

Buyers can get the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited for $43,995 in the 2WD variant and $45,995 for the 4x4.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland: Seating & Cargo Areas

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland has a refined seating and cargo area.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Buyers of the Overland grade get a unique Overland appearance on their Grand Cherokee L. That includes 20-inch aluminum wheels, Black Noise pockets, chrome front tow hoods, a gloss black roof rack with stainless insert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, approach-lit door handles, trailer towing, rearview mirror puddle lighting, power-folding gloss black mirrors with a chrome insert that auto-tilt down when in reverse, auto-dimming glass not eh driver's side, courtesy lighting, a windshield wiper deicer, and keyless entry.

Buyers can opt for a Gloss Black roof to give their model a two-town paint scheme starting with this trim level.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland is the first trim level that offers buyers the opportunity to get the standard V6 engine or upgrade to a 357-horsepower V8 that delivers 390 pound-feet of torque. With the V8, the Grand Cherokee L Overland is capable of towing 7,200 pounds.

Overland 4x4 models get Jeep's torque-vectoring Quadra-Trac II system when equipped with available Off-Road Group and earn the Trail Rated badge. The equipment package also includes high-strength steel skid plates, electronic limited slip differential rear axle, 18-inch aluminum wheels, and all-season tires. A Select-Terrain system and Hill Descent Control are standard on Overland.

The model's interior features Nappa leather seats and door panels, ventilated front seats, a leather-stitched instrument panel, navigation, a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, dual-pane sunroof, and five-color ambient lighting. Front seat passengers get length-adjustable cushions while. power-folding third-row bench seat is also standard.

An electronic remote release in the rear cargo area is designed to quickly folding the second row flat. A hands-free liftgate is also standard.

Buyers will pay $52,995 for the 4x2 model with a V6 under the hood. A four-wheel drive Overland with the V6 costs $54,995. Upping to the V8, which is only available paired with a 4x4 brings the price up to $58,290.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit

This model is available with either the V6 or V8 powertrain. They deliver the same output in the Grand Cherokee L Summit as they do in the Overland.

The Grand Cherokee L Summit raises the bar further into luxury territory with premium appointments including Nappa leather leather seats with quilted seat bolsters and perforated seat inserts on all three rows. Absolute Oak wood, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Berber floor mats, and 16-way power-adjustable adjustable front seats are standard on Summit. For the first time on Grand Cherokee, front-row seat massage functionality is available.

Quad-zone automatic climate control is standard and second-row passengers have access to a second-row floor console with two illuminated cup holders and a two-tier armrest with additional storage.

The whole rig rides on 20-inch polished cast-aluminum wheels in Mid-Gloss Clear and has Sumit-specific LED fog lamps, power-folding Gloss Black side mirrors with a Platinum insert, a 360-degree camera, illuminated door sills, and roof rack with silver rails and a gloss black insert.

Jeep has also added more standard safety features on this model including active driving assist, driver attention monitor, intersection collision assist, traffic sign recognition, and parallel and perpendicular park assist.

Rear-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summits powered by a V6 cost $56,995. The four-wheel drive version of that model is $58,995. Changing out the V6 for a V8 in the 4x4 brings the price up to $62,290.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve: Exterior rear 1/4

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve is the most premium model.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve is the most luxurious Grand Cherokee L that you'll be able to get straight from the factory. It features a hand-wrapped, quilted Palermo leather, ventilated front and second-row seats, memory and massage front seats and choice of a new Tupelo interior color add distinguishable details to the model.

The interior features open-pore Waxed Walnut wood and wrapped, suede-like fabric on the A-pillars and headliner.

Jeep has given this version of the SUV 21-inch wheels and a 19-speaker McIntosh audio sound system.

The Summit Reserve trim is only available as a 4x4. Getting with the V6 costs $61,995; the V8 is $65,290.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is scheduled to start arriving in Jeep dealerships in the second quarter of 2021.

Trending News

 
 

The Acura TLX offers buyers a good time behind the wheel and true premium appointments.

Photo courtesy of Acura

The Honda Accord is a really decent car. It's perennially one of the top sellers in the U.S., and for good reason. But, sometimes the Accord isn't enough. That's where the Acura TLX comes in.

Acura has completely redesigned the TLX for the 2021 model year. It's made the car into a sharp-looking and better handling machine that is designed to remind buyers what Acura was all about in its 1990s and 2000s heyday. One quick trip around the neighborhood will show you that it achieves that, in spades. A longer trip will make you realize that it's okay to say "no" buying an SUV.

2021 Acura TLX Advance Diving the TLX is a pleasure. It's both comfortable to be in and engaging to toss around on the road.Photo courtesy of Acura

2021 Acura TLX Advance

The exterior of the car looks good. It has LEDs in the right places for its premium price point and styling that makes it stand out (for all the right reasons) more than it blends in. The car is athletic in its state and a bit moody and aggressive while fitting in with the rest of the Acura family, which includes the redesigned 2022 MDX. Every bit of that is a positive.

The TLX is longer, wider, and taller than the Accord by a few inches in each direction.

The suggestion of performance extends from the outside to the inside though the cabin does not set aside the comfort and convenience features one typically wants from a sedan for the weight-saving suede substitute upholstery or unique and different-just-to-be-different knobs, dials, and buttons that make operation more complicated than it needs to be. The TLX is more than properly trimmed out for its price point.

One of the best features of the TLX is its space. The waterfall dashboard design gives the front passenger the illusion of having more space to occupy in front of them. There is more passenger volume in the 2021 TLX versus the 2020 - slightly more room - and all other -room metrics are nearly the same from the old generation to the next. The Accord has more headroom, three cubic feet more cargo space, and nearly 10 cubic feet more passenger space.

The TLX is longer, wider, and taller than the Accord.Photo courtesy of Acura

The center console's side bolsters, with their interiors accented in real wood add to the premium look and feel of the vehicle in an unexpected way. Between those bolsters are the Acura's climate controls. They are button-operated and match what is in the RDX and MDX. They're not as fancy as what you'll find in a luxury car, but for the premium segment, they're attractive enough and extremely easy to use, which makes them winners.

Putting the Dynamic Mode drive mode selector front and center in the TLX, RDX, and MDX makes it easy to use and puts it front of mind. The shifter being directly under it frees up center console space, a logical layout that is an equal part practical.

Speaking of dynamic, the TLX is a dynamic dream, for a non-sports car. While the tester was not the TLX Type S (that super sporty variant is coming later this year), it does have quite a bit of dynamic difference form the Accord. The TLX with all-wheel drive grips the road, even when you're pushing the limits of what it can handle.

Steering is accurate and properly weighted, and allows the car to easily go where you want it. The TLX takes corners with ease and little body lean. There's no need for super bolstered seats as the TLX doesn't toss you around unless you make it.

The car's waterfall dashboard gives the interior a spacious feeling.Photo courtesy of Acura

Acceleration from its 2.0--liter turbo-four is plenty for daily drivability, and even when you want to go have a riot behind the wheel on the weekend. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that delivers the 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque smoothly and relatively efficiently. Changing to the Sport drive model gives the TLX noticeably shorter shifts and changes up the throttle response and damping capability, and tightens up the steering. It's a proper Sport mode.

While you're at speed, or idling, there's a lot to take in on the driver's information display. Smartly, Acura has put the necessary information front and center. If you're looking for your trip meter, fuel efficiency, or odometer information, you're doing to need to look to the smaller area of the screen. While you might strain your eyes to see it, you don't really need the info displayed there on-the-go.

There are folks out there that complain about the Acura touch interface for the infotainment system controls. Spend some time with them and sincerely get to know them and they suddenly become incredibly easy to use. Just remember, unlike a mouse, there's no swiping to move the selector. It's a touch-for-touch system like on an iPad.

The touch pad interface and wireless device charging are well placed.Photo courtesy of Acura

The space where Acura has elected to fit the wireless device charger is also its own type of genius. It's below the center console bump out wrist rest for the touch interface, which holds it in place when carving corners, and keeps it close enough to the driver that you can look down and see what alert has popped up if you're not using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at the time.

Acura's long list of standard and available safety and driver assist features help keep you going down the road without nagging. The car also has Acura's new airbag technology for the front seat passenger.

Pricing for the TLX starts at $37,500. As tested, the car was nearly $50,000. The TLX blows away its closest premium competition by a mile. Maybe more. It's also a lot better at $48,000 than what you'll find in many other luxury cars for the same price.

Most importantly though, Acura has put significant daylight between its Honda brother, not just in price, but also in materials, drivability, maneuverability, and design. That's a big step in the right direction for the brand.

Trending News