Category Archives: Chrysler

2000 Chrysler Sebring Convertible (286)

Overview:
This 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible reminds be so much of the Pontiac Firebird. One difference is that the Firebird is a muscle car with a big V8 and torque to burn the tires of the car. Overall I received a lot of good comments. Shelly says “Oh you’re driving the Sebring, my most favorite car in the whole world. Don’t you just love it?” Well, now that you mention it, I do think it’s a pretty nice car. Shelly is just beyond teeny bopper but old enough to have a passion for cars. Yes even women have love affairs with their cars.

I reserve my enthusiasm not because I’m jaded by having too many… cars to drive but more because there have been questions about quality. Will it hold up? Time is the only test and that’s why reputation is so important to develop. I have to say it feels as solid as a coupe. The 1991 Camaro convertible I bought new wasn’t even solid the day I drove it off the showroom floor. It would shake, rattle and roll when you went up so much as a driveway. This Sebring isn’t that way at all, and it was one of the first things I noticed about it.

In spite of that fact, I believe you’ll notice drive train and road noise more than you should. Convertibles tend to be noisy but this seemed even more so than I expected.

Another thing you’ll notice is that it feels like a slug off the line. It felt like those 163 horses were straining a bit.

Handling:

Quite good considering most of the time I was testing this Sebring it was pouring rain. I tried to get it to mis-behave but it wouldn’t. Men do that you know. They keep pushing until they get into trouble. The “autostick” (Porsche calls it Tiptronic) allows you to shift manually for those mountain driving days.

Styling:

Noticeably sporty and good looking.

Fit and Finish:

This wasn’t a great time to have a convertible because California decided to pour down rain for nearly the entire time I was testing the car. Convertibles are more fun in the sum-sum-summer time but on a positive note it was a golden opportunity to see if it leaked. My Camaro had an annoying drip from the corner of the top on the driver side and you just knew it was a soft top. This Chrysler has a full headliner, no leaks and you don’t get the “soft-top” feeling when it’s up.

Conveniences:

I did put the top down when it stopped raining and unlike the Camaro manual top I had, this one is power activated and goes up and down without much effort. Yep, with the ’91 Camaro I had to get out of the car if I had the urge to “go topless”.  This Sebring top also includes a real Glass rear window and has a defroster. Mine was Plexiglas and it fogged  up in winter and in time they all discolor, so you can’t see through them even when it didn’t fog up.

Cost:

The base price covers most everything, but add $1,890 for upgrade in décor, traction control full 4-wheel disc brakes.

Recommendation:

The jury is still out on how well this Sebring will hold up. All Chrysler products in generations past were weak on quality. I wonder about the influence the Damlier/ Chrysler combination will have on quality. And I also wonder if being assembled in Mexico is a positive or a negative.

The competition:

Chevrolet Monte Carlo $19,290-21,735, Dodger Avenger $19,045-21,290, Ford Mustang $16,615-31,605, Honda Prelude $23,500-26,000, Mitsubishi Eclipse $17,697-20,287, Pontiac Firebird $18,590-30,950, Saab 9-3 $16,695-21,165, Toyota Celica $16,695-21,165.

Good News:

Convertible versatility, visibility good when top is down , roomy back seat for two more adults.

Bad News:

Convertible visibility is poor when top is up, too much road noise for my liking, sluggish off the line.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter V6 163 horsepower engine, 4-speed automatic trans with autostick, air bags, antilock front disc and rear drum brakes, keyless entry, theft deterrent system, power steering, air conditioning, cloth headliner, power locks, power driver seat, cruise control, stereo with cassette and 6-CD changer, tilt steering  with leather wrapped wheel, power windows, convertible top with boot cover, power mirrors and console.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 26 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP  $26,560.

 

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright ©1998 – Automotive Love Affair

2000 Chrysler LHS (278)

Overview:
Right out of the chute you have to notice the forward thinking styling of this 2000 Chrysler LHS.  You may not like it, but you have to notice it. That’s one thing I sensed immediately. And although I’ve heard it said, you either love it or hate it, my personal experience is that I only heard positive comments. Me – I love the overall design and styling.

Chrysler introduced the LHS as a 1994 model year to cover the full-size sedan segment of the market. They say its “paperless” design CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application) trimmed eight months off the total development time for the new LH models.  It comes in a single trim so decision making is made simple, especially since there are so many standard features.

Chrysler products were not my cup of tea in years past, and in fact I thought mom’s Dodge, with that old push button transmission, was a piece of junk. I thought it was cheaply made and obviously lots of other folks did too. That fact or at least the publics perception of poor quality took its toll on the company. If it hadn’t been for the efforts of  Lee Iacocca at that precise time in history we would have lost one of the Big 3 American automakers. Some thought we should have anyway. Why bail them out? The cries were loud from both sides but there were lots of people who would have lost their jobs if the company went out of business.

Today it is a different story and you have to give credit where credit is due. Chrysler is a contender in the “Rocky” sense of the word. It’s a scrappy company that successfully fought its way back. They seem to have “no fear” when it comes to design and innovation. And because they are state of the art in design techniques, they have kept the prices down to sane levels. One has to wonder what effect Daimler will have on the new Chrysler company in the years to come. But as of now, they produce cars that are extremely competitive.

Bravo, Chrysler, you get the award for tenacity over these many years of rebuilding. Yes, I know time is the test of all things and long-term quality of the new sedans remain a question mark. But, I can only judge based on the many cars I drive. I don’t notice all that much difference in higher priced cars in or out of class. I have encouraged family and friends to look at buying American because they are the best values on the market and have been for the past five plus years. That gap has to close, but it hasn’t yet.

The styling is different but in addition to having sweeping clean lines, the design is practical. It has a spacious interior, limousine-like rear seat, better than average visibility, large doors for wide easy entry, large front seats, quiet and well insulated, elegant interior feel with leather upholstery and nice touches such as a classy looking analog clock in the center of the dashboard, and wood trim. On the negative side I found the seats a little less comfortable than most and I think Chrysler needs to look at the seat design.

In keeping with the LHS being a full sized sedan with a roomy interior, the trunk is huge and even has a pass through to the rear seat. The opening of the trunk, however, is a little high which makes putting stuff in a little more difficult, but not bad. And in spite of the fact that it is a larger sedan, it’s not a boat. Remember American cars of the past that oft times road like boats. The suspension systems were so soft that when you went over a dip the car would float up and down for another block. Well, not so for most bigger cars in today’s world. This is true of this LHS with handling that more closely resembles a sports car.

The LHS shares its platform with the Concorde, 300M and Dodge Intrepid, and all are assembled in Canada.

The competition:

Buick Park Avenue $31,725-36,800, Infiniti I30 $29,465 – $31,540, Lexus ES 300 $31,405,  Lincoln LS $30,915 – $34,690, Mazda Millenia $24,995 – $30,995, Mitsubishi Diamante $27,199, Pontiac Bonneville $23,680 – $31,635, Saab 9-3 $25,900 – $44,995,  Volvo S70 $27,500 – $33,600.

Good News:

Roomy, classy interior, futuristic design, large rear seating area, fast, smooth ride, large car feeling with small car handling, well priced.

Bad News:

No side airbags, stigma of Chrysler poor quality in early years.

Standard Equipment:

3.5-liter, 253-horsepower V6 engine, four-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, speed sensitive steering, climate control, power widows, locks, cruise control, tilt leather wrapped steering wheel, memory settings, keyless entry, AM/FM cassette and CD system, security, 8-way power heated front seats, auto headlights, fog lights, power mirrors and 17” aluminum wheels.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 26 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $28,090

 

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2003 – An Automotive Love Affair

1999 Chrysler Concorde (258)

Overview:
Perhaps the most impressive thing to me in Chrysler’s Concorde full-size 6-passenger, 4-door sedan is the price. It’s available in a single trim: the LX and the price is $21,740. The available engines are either a 2.7L V6 200-hp or a 3.2L V6 225-hp and a 4-Speed automatic transmission. With the exception of the price and the smaller engine, I found it much the same car as its siblings, the LHS and the 300M. For the money you have to look at this model.

Included in the competition is its close cousin the Dodge Intrepid at about the same money. The attorney’s secretary, next door to my office, visited me when she saw I was driving the LHS and said it was her dream car. Well, so much for dreams – she went out and bought the Intrepid.

As most people seem to know, quality has been an issue in the past for Chrysler cars, and I have always been acutely aware of that criticism. When I drove the Jeep and had the emergency brake release button fall off in my hand, I was not impressed. I wondered at that moment if all the bad mouthing was well founded? But I know better and know that new cars, like computers when new, may have “bugs”. And as you’d expect, that emergency brake handle problem was a recall item and it was fixed at no cost to the consumer. My friend Norm bought a new Jeep Grand Cherokee and was not a happy camper. I think he either got a lemon or Norm is just more picky than I am. I happen to like the Jeep a lot because of the off road experiences I’ve had with them. If you go on a Jeep Jamboree you too will become a believer.

Anyway, for many people, the jury is still out on the quality issue and only time will tell. I don’t think the fact that this Concorde is assembled in Canada makes any difference. People are people and we all make mistakes. The quality of a car has more to do with the attitude of the company and its management. In the meantime, I see a lot of value in American cars and that is particularly true of Chrysler. They are proud of the fact that their cars are the first to be completely computer designed and with these new cost saving computer designs I sense there will be a marked improvement over past products.

The Concorde was first introduced in 1993 promoting the term “cab forward”. The design is known for the roomy interior it has, but I also feel a uniqueness in the driving experience. Road visibility is great and you feel you’re right out there on the pavement. It’s like there is no front end at all. That is kind of true with other car designs these days as well. Perhaps it is more noticeable to us older drivers who remember when hood ornaments were somehow “necessary”. Not only could you see the ornament in those early days, you also had full view of the hood, fenders and even headlights were visible if you were driving many pre 1940 autos. Well, fewer and fewer cars still show much of the hood and fewer have hood ornaments, like Mercedes, Jaguar and Rolls Royce.

Well, it is apparent that American cars are back and worth close attention and consideration when you buy your next car.

The competition:

Buick LeSabre $22,890 – $26,695,  Chevrolet Lumina $18,335 – $20,535,  Dodge Intrepid $20,120 – $22,965,  Ford Taurus $17,495 – $29,050,  Honda Accord  $15,200 – $24,300,  Mercury Sable $18,540 – $19,640,  Mitsubishi Galant $16,990 – $24,350,  Nissan Maxima $21,049 – $26,249,  Pontiac Bonneville $23,010 – $30,010,  Toyota Camry $17,098 – 25,058.

Good News:

Great pricing, roomy, comfortable, quality of much more expensive competition.

Bad News:

That same old question of how well they’re built.

Standard Equipment:

2.7-liter DOHC V6 engine delivering 200 horsepower, with the option of a more powerful 3.2-liter 225-horsepower V6, dual airbags, child safety locks, anti-lock brake system (ABS), traction control, air conditioning, power door locks and windows, AM/FM stereo cassette, remote keyless entry, an 8-way power driver’s seat, intermittent wipers. Note: the LXi package adds automatic climate control, a 5-function trip computer, leather seats, an upgraded stereo system and power front seats.

Gas Stats:

21 City and 30 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $21,740

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2004 – An Automotive Love Affair

1999 Chrysler LHS (253)

Overview:
This weeks 1999 Chrysler LHS is a 5 passenger sedan and is the luxury flagship of the company. It’s totally redesigned and is rather unique. We’ve all heard of the paperless office, now Chrysler gives us the “paperless” car design where all aspects of the new model were created using Chrysler’s CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application).” They claim that this process trimmed eight months off the total development time for the new LH models.

Some folks no doubt will say, yes, and it looks like it. I rather like the way it looks, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder whether computers are causing us to take too much of the “person” out of the things we do. I applaud Chrysler’s creative courage, but when you think about it, the late 1950’s “paper” designs brought us cars with fins and other “brave” attempts at being different. What they did lack was the concept of aerodynamics, and for that reason and others, they burned gas like there would always be friendly oil coming from the Middle East.

In the evolution of the automobile, those designs of the past did a wonderful thing in that they etched a statement on the mind of time. It was an era of wild almost reckless abandon in design and some of it was really bad. However, the computer aided designs of today somehow makes the outcome almost sterile and too perfect. The rough edges have been taken off and as we reach perfection I’m afraid we’ll also approach boredom.

Looking back also reminds me of the Lee Iococca days at Chrysler and how he orchestrated the government assisted bail out of that then failing company. Now we see them teamed up with Mercedes Benz and the new combination should prove interesting. I’m looking forward to the Daimler – Chrysler years, not only because it assumes progress for both companies and the cars they make, but almost more because it leads us away from the sins of the past. German companies have been the focus of bad publicity recently over WWII, but when people come together from different cultures toward a common goal they are better for it. In any case it validates the American experience. It proves that when people live and work together they are less likely to fight with each other. The American way surely seems better than what the world has known up until the birth of this nation. The flood of oppressed people to the US is a pretty telling story.

Can you tell that I’m writing this on the 4th of July – America’s birthday? Our group at the park included people from Holland, Yuguslovia, Poland, Italy and England. I’m proud of where we’ve come from and more proud of where we’ve come as a nation over about 200 years and I enjoy celebrating that birth each year. I’m fortunate my grandparents came from Italy at the turn of the century. I’m reminded of their struggle as I look back at old photos. Our history is rich and when I read about the history of the automobile you realize it was that same bunch of immigrants who pioneered the growth and development of so many industries resulting from the American dream. We seem to always overcome obstacles as a wonderfully diverse people from all nations and ethnic backgrounds. That diversity is clearly at the root of what we call American ingenuity.

This Chrysler LHS is all American even if it is assembled in Canada. Fantastic, eh? Because what draws people closer together is those things we have in common. Perhaps Chrysler should put a plant in Kosovo, another in Ireland and a third in the middle east.

Of course Chrysler would be blamed for Yankee Imperialism and Germany for trying to trying to conquer the world.

Does any of this nonsense in the world remind you of your childhood, when the scene was – Joey started it! Uh, uh, Johnny did! Did not. Did too. Did not. Did too. …. Go to your rooms, both of you. Wait till your father gets home. “Oh, no dad’s going to kick our butts, and it’s all your fault”. Is not. Is too. Is not. Is it that simple? Do you think the world just needs a good spanking.

Anyway, I have a lot of hope for Chrysler. They have been criticized for poor quality but they’ve come a long way and the product has improved tremendously over the years. And of course, you get what you pay for and they combine the best of our auto industry at prices that are affordable. Consider the retail price of $28,950 for this LHS and you know you can’t ignore it when considering the competition. With the LHS, what you see is what you get – a single model, and the only options available are an upgraded stereo system, special alloy wheels, and a power glass sunroof.

The competition:

Buick Park Avenue $31,130 – $36,025, Infiniti I30 $28,900 – $31,200, Lexus ES 300 $30,905, Lincoln Continental $38,525, Mazda Millenia $26,745 – $31,245, Mitsubishi Diamante $27,199, Volvo S70 $27,385 – $33,520.

Good News:

Great pricing for a luxury car, nice ride, roomy, good handling, different styling, love the guages.

Bad News:

Stigma of poor quality issues of the past.

Standard Equipment:

3.5-liter aluminum V6 253 hp engine, 4-speed auto trans, dual airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, child safety locks, automatic climate control, power door locks, mirrors and windows, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, integrated fog lights, leather trim, power heated front seats, stereo with cassette and CD, keyless entry, security alarm and more.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 27 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $28,950

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

 Copyright ©1994 – An Automotive Love Affair

1998 Cirrus LXi 4-door Sedan (197)

Overview:
The Cirrus LXi is “cookie cutter” but it won’t kill the budget. Good old American ingenuity. What began at the turn of the 20th century with Henry Ford’s Model T and later the Model A, continues with companies like Chrysler. Well, Ford’s only came in one color back then – black, and cost was affordable enough for anyone at about $800. Chrysler makes cars that are still aFordable and they come in some pretty nice colorstoo. If you don’t need the snob appeal of a pricey car like the Infiniti Q45 that we talked about recently, you can have two Cirrus’s and bankten grand. For most of us on limited budgets, two Cirrus’s and ten grand in the bank might just be a better decision.

As you know, Chrysler was nearly in the toilet until Lee Iacocca bailed them out not so many years ago. They surely know how to compete in this tough car market and Mercedes-Benz must agree since they are now a part of Chrysler, or is it the other way around. Pretty interesting times, eh?

My engineer friend, Merkel, helps me to get real and keep my perspective. He reminds me of “We the people…” in America who are so bombarded with media hype that we can’t be bothered with “just the facts, nothing but the facts”. We’re often blinded to the truth by being told over and over again how we need or can’t live without what we’re being sold. “People are getting smarter”, says Merkel. Perhaps, but a bad guy in the 30’s said “Tell a lie often enough and people will believe it” would have done better for the world if he’d become an advertising executive. Dad told me “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see”. You were right dad.

Well, here are a few facts you can believe. Cirrus was first introduced in 1995 as a midsize and the most affordable Chrysler they make. It is essentially unchanged from 1997. And finally, the Cirrus has some pretty impressive competition that you will surely want to investigate. The Buick Century, for example, is nearly identical in features, and since people buy on emotion the Buick may look better to you. Let’s be honest, some us wouldn’t be caught dead in a foreign car or visa versa, just because it’s built THERE. Don’t tell anyone that some VW’s are made in Mexico, some Mercedes are made in America and some Cadillac’s and Ford’s are made in Germany. Life is getting so complicated you can’t bitch about anything. Next thing you know they’ll be building cars in Africa.

Is nothing sacred?

The competition:

Buick Century $18,215 – $19,575, Chevrolet Malibu $15,670 – $18,620, Dodge Stratus $14,840 – $17,665, Honda Civic $10,650 – $16,480, Hyundai Sonata $14,749 – $18,549, Mazda 626 $15,550 – $23,240, Mercury Mystique $13,960 – $17,270, Volkswagen Jetta $14,595 – $20,955.

Good News:

Priced well. Best rating in problems per 100 cars of the competition listed here, per JD Powers. Couldn’t find any Bad News.

Bad News:

See Good News.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 168 horsepower V6 engine, 4 speed automatic trans, dual air bags, front disc with rear drum ABS brakes, keyless entry, rear child door locks, power speed sensitive rack & pinion steering, air conditioning, power windows & door locks, cruise control, tilt steering column & leather wrapped wheel, AM/FM cassette radio, fold down rear seat, fog lights and dual power / heated side mirrors.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 28 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP is $19,460