Today, Chrysler rolled out a new incentive plan that offers rebates of up to $4,500 on most new 2009 models, targeted at drivers contemplating trading in an older model under the government’s "cash for clunkers" program. The Chrysler plan is being pitched as a way to double the federal incentives of up to $4,500 for a discount up to $9,000 on a new Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep vehicle. But more than half the vehicles eligible for this Chrysler incentive will receive just $3,500 from the automaker, with just eight models qualifying for the full $4,500 including the Ram 2500 and Ram 3500.
Comparing these new offers against the incentives available earlier this month show that the campaign is much more than a clever tag line. Chrysler is putting significant money on the hood, certain to help dealers clear the lots and make way for 2010 models. In many cases, the offer is at least $1,000 greater than what was available last week. The Chrysler PT Cruiser gets the largest boost, with $3,500 more on the hood.
Billed as "Double Cash for Your Old Car," the program runs through August 31, 2009. Drivers have the option of choosing 0-percent financing for up to 72 months instead.
The vehicles exempted from the new rebates are the Dodge Challenger, Jeep Wrangler, all SRT performance models, and the Dodge Sprinter truck. But buyers looking to trade for one of those models should take heart. Most of them, including both two- and four-wheel-drive versions of the Jeep Wrangler, are ineligible for the federal program anyway, because they fail to meet the minimum mileage requirement.
For a trade-in to qualify for the federal program, vehicles must have been registered and insured by the current owner for at least the past year, be less than 25 years old, and have an EPA overall fuel economy rating of 18 mpg or less. Drivers must trade for a new car rated at 22 mpg or better, or a light truck rated at 18 mpg overall or more, that makes a significant fuel economy improvement. (Learn more about cash for clunkers.)
Tempting as a potential savings of as much as $9,000 may seem, our advice remains to look beyond the short term. There’s more to owner costs and satisfaction than a low purchase price. Chrysler vehicles have not performed as well as competing models in our recent testing, and our Annual Owner Survey results show reliability lags behind, as well. No current Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep vehicles make our list of Recommended models. (See how Chrysler stacks up in our Detroit report cards.)
|Model||Overall EPA mpg range||New Chrysler incentives||Previous Chrysler incentive range|
|Chrysler 300||15-20||$3,500||$0 - $4,000|
|Chrysler Aspen||15-16||4,500||1 ,500|
|Chrysler PT Cruiser||21-23||4,500||500-1,000|
|Chrysler Sebring||20-24||4,500||0 - 500|
|Chrysler Sebring Convertible||20-23||3,500||1,500|
|Chrysler Town & Country||18-20||3,500||1,500-2,000|
|Dodge Grand Caravan||18-20||3,500||1,500-2,000|
|Dodge Ram 1500||15-16||4,500||2,500-3,000|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||15-18||4,500||3,000|