New Car/Review

1998 CHRYSLER CONCORDE LXi

by Matt/Bob Hagin

chrysler

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 21,305
Price As Tested                                    $ 25,675
Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 197 cid/3231 cc
Horsepower                                   220 @ 6600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               222 @ 4000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                    113"/74.7"/209.1"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3515 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    17 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P225/60R16
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                 65 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.29

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            19/29/23
0-60 MPH                                        9.5 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                         17 seconds @ 87 mph
Top speed                                           115 mph
     * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Bob Hagin remembers the days when the "big" Chryslers were really big. Matt Hagin says he's thankful that those days are over and that the new Chrysler Concorde is more reasonable in its dimensions.)

BOB - The window sticker on this new Chrysler Concorde that we're driving this week states that it's a large car, but I guess everything is relative, Matt. The first Chrysler I had was a '52 Imperial with the famous 331 cubic-inch Hemi engine and a trunk big enough to hold this Concorde with room to spare. But that was a long time ago and Chrysler's big-car line uses the modern concept of light-and-nimble being a primary virtue.

MATT - Although it isn't as cavernous as those road-giants of 45 years ago, this Chrysler still has enough room for five full-sized adults with plenty of leg and head room. In fact, those people in back can wear a baseball cap without rubbing against the headliner. Unfortunately, Chrysler has changed the middle rear seat belt from a three-point shoulder harness like the previous model, to a basic lap belt, which isn't as safe. They've also done away with the built-in child's seat. I guess that there weren't enough of us young family types buying Concordes to justify it being included on the options list.

BOB - There's two versions of the Concorde, Matt, the LX and the LXi. They're pretty close in form but the main difference is under the hood. The LXi that we tried used a 3.2 liter V6 engine with a single overhead camshaft on top of each cylinder head, which operates four valves per cylinder. It puts out 220 horsepower and it's considerably smoother that its predecessor. The basic engine in the LX version is 2.7 liters in size, but it's somewhat more sophisticated in that it uses dual overhead camshafts to operate the valves. Both engines are all-aluminum and new this year.

MATT - The engines aren't the only things new on the Concorde this year, Dad. The styling is a complete makeover and it's almost eight inches longer than the old version, although the wheelbase is the same. The body styling looks more like a concept car at an auto show than a production-line family sedan. One way to tell is by looking at its coefficient of drag, which more or less is indicative of its streamlining. Concorde's is only .29, and that's very low. The only things that are "retro" on the Concorde are the winged Chrysler hood logo and the wide-grin "egg crate" grille that looks like it came off a European sports car of the '50s.

BOB - The instruments are vintage too, with big, round white-faced dials for the speedometer and tachometer. There's been some tightening of the chassis, with stiff crossbars tying connected to the suspension struts. Along with a lot of other items on the car, these struts are made of aluminum and the overall package has been reduced in weight by about 100 pounds. Our test car came with a "Customer Preferred Package" which added air conditioning with temperature control, an anti-lock brake system and four-wheel disc brakes, an auto-dimming inside mirror, traction control, leather upholstery and other fancy equipment.

MATT - It handles pretty good too, Dad, but I think that the special P225/60R16 tires that come in that package help. Another item in the package is a full-sized spare tire, but it's on a steel rim, which makes it unlikely to be part of a five-wheel tire rotation. There's more trunk room now, but it has a pretty high lift-over, which make loading cargo difficult. It doesn't have a split rear seat like some of the other Chrysler products, but the rear armrest drops to provide inside storage space for skis or other long items.

BOB - These new Chryslers are probably the most avant-garde designs on the road today, Matt. The company has come a long way since its design criteria of the '80s and early '90s which included such forgettable items as fake wire-wheel hub caps and vinyl tops.

MATT - That's true, and while you and I look back at mid-century Chryslers as near-classics, I don't think anyone will consider the Chryslers of 20 years ago as collectible cars.

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