Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the Jeep Patriot are getting makeovers next fall.

The Jeep Compass and Patriot, widely criticized for their interiors, will get new ones this fall, according to Ralph Gilles, Chrysler LLC designer.

The interior redesign comes well ahead of what would be the normal schedule, he said at the Detroit auto show. The Dodge Caliber car, built on the same platform as its Jeep siblings, will get a new interior slightly later than the Jeeps, Gilles said.

"Even before these products were launched, we did some soul searching," Gilles said.

That soul-searching included talks with dealers and employees about what was wrong and what could be done to fix the interiors, he said.

As part of the redesign, Chrysler hired a consultant who helped develop grainy, European style textures for Jeep's two smallest vehicles.

Also, Gilles said, the "doors have been softened in the elbow contact area" and other places.

Gilles said these rapid changes--within a year of introduction--would not have been possible had Chrysler not been privately owned by Cerberus Capital Management.

"Think about it: The products are barely a year old," he said. "We're trying to put the customer first."

Gilles declined comment on whether interior changes are in the works for the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger cars.

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