AUBURN HILLS, MI—In a press event at its corporate headquarters Tuesday, Big Three automaker Chrysler unveiled a new entry into its vehicle lineup known as the Reside, a midsized, five-passenger sedan designed exclusively for in-home driving.
According to Chrysler chairman C. Robert Kidder, who kicked off the event by driving a sporty red test model from his office to the showroom podium, the household automobile has been "expertly engineered" for indoor driving conditions and is "ideal" for people on the go from one room of their home to another.
"With its sport-tuned suspension and spacious, comfortable interior, the Reside provides the ultimate around-the-house driving experience," said Kidder, gesturing toward a large image behind him of the vehicle cornering smoothly around an ottoman. "It's perfect for hauling that big load of laundry, shuttling the kids off to bed, and bringing the whole family to the dinner table each night."
"But this isn't your typical ho-hum four-door sedan," Kidder added. "It's also a high-performance vehicle that's great for just hitting the open halls or cruising down to the basement rec room to get away from it all."
Following years of flagging sales, billions in government aid, and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, Chrysler hopes to reverse its fortunes by positioning itself as the first mover in the untapped within-home transportation market, which it regards as a vast and lucrative growth sector.
In a two-minute promotional video pre-sented after Kidder's remarks, the Reside was shown accelerating swiftly down a well- appointed foyer, effortlessly climbing the switchback staircase of a split-level home, and engaging in a controlled slow-motion sideways slide across a linoleum kitchen floor.
Starting at $17,595, the Reside boasts standard side curtain air bags; a five-star furniture-impact safety rating; a 3.5-liter, 239-horsepower V-6 engine capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.4 seconds; an integrated GPS turn-by-turn navigation system; and heated seats.
"This is the perfect car for an active family," said 36-year-old Anna Cavallo of Towson, MD, who test drove a Reside prototype for six months in her duplex townhouse. "I just pull right into my kids' rooms in the morning, honk them awake, and drive them over to get breakfast in the kitchen."
"After that, it's a quick drive to the garage where we can hop right into the minivan and head to school," Cavallo added.
According to EPA estimates, the Reside averages 28 miles to the gallon in hallway driving and 19 in a cluttered pantry or messy teenager's room.
In standard three-bedroom-home testing, the Reside reportedly cut the average person's commute to the bathroom by 80 percent and made driving down to the basement to pick up laundry a breeze.
"This is a fun and practical automobile, but it's so much more to boot," Chrysler spokesperson Amanda Montgomery said. "Ideal for parking right in front of the TV or a camping trip on an enclosed deck, the Reside allows you to enjoy the comforts of home without having to leave your car."
"And what could be better than an optional power sunroof for those beautiful days when you decide to take a pleasant cruise down to the sunroom?" Montgomery added.
With its "Drive Home" television and print ad campaign launching nationwide this week, the Reside already appears to have piqued considerable interest among the general public.
"It's about time, really," said 43-year-old father of two Roland Crawford of St. Louis. "Our old 1994 Hyundai Accent can barely make it upstairs anymore."