For years, Chrysler Group's namesake brand enjoyed a premium luxury position similar to and competing with Cadillac and Lincoln, owned respectively by Chrysler Group's Detroit rivals, General Motors and Ford Motor Company. Chrysler was originally the top brand in the portfolio of what was then known as Chrysler Corporation, led by its top model, the Imperial. After the corporation decided to spin Imperial off as a separate brand in 1955 to better compete with Cadillac and Lincoln, Chrysler became the corporation's number two brand, but still offered luxurious products. After the Imperial brand was axed in 1975, Chrysler once again became the top brand, and for a few years carried products to compete directly with Lincoln and Cadillac.
However, since the 1980s and the K-car era, Chrysler has struggled to remain true to this background, mostly being forced to sell upscale versions of offerings from lower price brands Dodge and Plymouth of parent company Chrysler Corporation. Since this point in time, Chrysler has taken on a role similar to Oldsmobile or Buick in their respective companies, offering upscale cars slightly below the true luxury brands. After the low cost Plymouth line of cars (which were sold alongside the Chrysler brand) were discontinued, Chrysler began offering low cost (Voyager) and even economy cars (such as the PT Cruiser alongside more upscale models such as the 300C.
Following Fiat's acquisition of a 20% stake in Chrysler LLC, Fiat stated in October 2009 that future plans for Chrysler brand vehicles include closer cooperation and shared development between Chrysler and Lancia, an upscale Italian automaker within the Fiat Group. Plans are to return the brand to a more upmarket marque again, discontinuing the PT Cruiser and replacing the Sebring with the 200.