For years now, we’ve had Chrysler on Death Watch. No, not just me…in 2009, even Brian Lohnes, eternal optimist that he is, was wondering if the brand was done. It’s been difficult as a Mopar fan, and one who has a strong historical tie to the Chrysler brand, to watch. As a kid, my grandfather’s parade of well-heeled Crystal Key’d cars made an impression. The E-class, the 1989 New Yorker (with it’s opulent Mark Cross leather), the 1993 New Yorker Fifth Avenue that came next…they set the framework. Cars like the 1994 LHS, the 1969 Three Hundred, the 1970 300-H, the Cordoba, and the 300C of late were high points. But after the 300C’s initial (and surprisingly huge) wave of popularity crashed, it seems that the company would rather focus on anything else. Dodge, Ram and Jeep flourished. Chrysler, however, was steadily de-contented. The angry banker’s ride, the SRT-tuned 300, was booted in 2014 and ever since that point, the 300C has moved from the “now” car into the role last occupied by mid-2000s Chevrolet Impalas: the rental fleet darling.
Amazingly, after the recent ownership change, Chrysler isn’t dead. In fact, none of the brands that now make up Stellantis are. They were all given ten years to prove their worth, and if any of the brands underneath that umbrella needed to whip up a miracle, Chrysler was in dire need. Lancia might have been the only brand worse off, but not by much. The brand was surviving on two models: the Pacifica/Voyager minivan (they’re the same vehicle, I don’t wanna hear it) and the 300. Chrysler has been stagnant for years. Which is why I don’t hate the Airflow concept.
The 2025 Airflow smacks of everything that normally annoys me: a repurposed name, a CUV-ish shape, the current trend of throwing every last electronic doo-dad possible into an EV while the company promises the moon on range. But the name thing here doesn’t really matter, since anyone who is still angry about the old Airflow, if they are alive at all, are eating their meals in mushed form at the nursing home. The CUV, like it or not, is the hot ticket for sales, so that makes sense. The EV thing isn’t going away (much as I wish it would) and is at least a way to get eyes on the vehicle and tongues wagging in preparation for Chrysler’s 2028 goal of being EV-only, and given the current culture’s obsession with “ooh, shiny!”, I begrudgingly understand the need to load every kind of infotainment crap into a cannon aimed into an open door.
When it comes to light, I hope the Airflow does well. I really do. But I would suggest that Chrysler do a couple things to guarantee long-term success:
- Quit benchmarking Tesla as competition, as some interviews have hinted at, because the market sees Chrysler as a barely-there right now. Focus on getting the quality right, focus on making the experience with the brand a positive one, and focus on wiping the mud off of the nameplate first.
- Don’t price this thing into the stratosphere. In fact, actively go after dealerships who play the mark-up game.
- Resist the urge to force your way upmarket if you do see success from this one model. You are not Tesla. You are not Rivian. You are not even on-par with Dodge at this point.
Harsh? Yep. But after years where the Chrysler 200, the Sebring and the bloated second-generation Concorde were the “shining lights” and years of seeing the brand rust on the vine, a bit of humility is going to be necessary in order to be more than just a flash in the pan. The Airflow is the first act of Chrysler’s next phoenix act. Without a doubt, a minivan-like vehicle is going to be in the works. But if there’s any hope of a sedan worthy of Walter P.’s name on the badge, getting this first vehicle right is critical.