The Chrysler Concorde
Some of the old stuff was treated with "benign neglect." The Y-body, for example, vanished after 1993 and only two interim changes of note: a 3.8-liter V-6 for '91 (standard for Imperial, optional on Fifth Avenue) and a mild Fifth Avenue facelift for '92. Sales faded in both cases. Imperial dropped under 12,000 for '91, then to 7600 and a final 7000 or so.
Fifth Avenue held up better, scoring no worse than just under 30,000 in its last model year. Still, against Cadillac and Lincoln, these cars were only a token luxury presence for the Chrysler brand, and in looks and driving feel they were about as modern as a leisure suit.
The same could be said for the C-body New Yorker, which lost its spiffy Landau version for 1991, then got a nearly imperceptible facelift before closing out as a single '93 model all but identical with the Dodge Dynasty. Despite base prices that never exceeded $20,000, this New Yorker couldn't match the sales of the costlier Fifth Avenue, managing just 20,000-23,000 a year after 1990.
LeBarons were fiddled with during this period, but not drastically changed. The J-body line was rearranged for '91, then added optional antilock brakes for '92, when the A-body sedan expanded to base, LX, and Landau models. Two-doors got a nice facelift for '93, showing new grilles and exposed headlamps. Turbo engines were dropped, but the Mitsubishi V-6 was now standard for midline LX and sporty GTC coupes and convertibles.
At the same time, the LX sedan departed and the base model was renamed LE. Coupes and four-cylinder power disappeared for '94, leaving the two sedans and one GTC convertible with standard V-6. Only the ragtop returned for '95, after which the LeBaron name was finally put to rest (at least so far). Though sales declined with all models, the J-body two-doors fared a little better.
Heralding Chrysler's next generation was the front-drive Concorde sedan, the 1993 replacement for the C-body New Yorker. Though billed as an intermediate car, it was really a full-size, standing nearly 17 feet long on a rangy 113-inch wheelbase. All-independent suspension and no-cost antilock brakes recalled Chrysler's glory days. So did appearance.
With its new "LH" platform (still a "unibody," of course), Concorde introduced "cab forward" styling that made for vast interior space and a sleek, even daring, new look -- a refreshing break from boxiness. For the first time in nearly 40 years, Chrysler could claim industry design leadership. Though Concorde's form was shared by divisional sisters Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision, Chrysler wisely made sure there were enough differences among the three to avoid the possibility of buyer confusion.
Essentially, cab-forward lengthened the greenhouse and pushed the wheels out closer to the car's corners, resulting in a stubby deck, foreshortened nose, and purposeful wide-track stance (though a longitudinal engine dictated lengthy front overhang). General design thinking had been moving in this direction, so cab-forward was not entirely new or unique to Chrysler. But nobody would it use more. In fact, cabforward was the company's new design signature.
Concorde bowed in a single, well-equipped model base-priced at $18,341. Included were front bucket seats, shift console, tachometer, dual airbags, full power assists, and other amenities. Power came from one of two V-6s. The pushrod 3.3 was standard, tuned for 153 bhp. Optional was a new 3.5-liter unit with dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and 214 bhp. Both were mated with four-speed automatic transaxle. Key options included electronic traction control, a firmer "touring" suspension with performance tires, leather interior, and an innovative built-in child safety seat that flipped out from the rear backrest.
Though advertised as "the renaissance of the American car," Concorde was assembled in Canada, as Chrysler was obliged to note in fine print. It was just another sign that the auto world had become a small one after all.
The LH cars had been branded by some as the "Last Hope" for Chrysler's survival. Fortunately, they were the solid success the company needed. Concorde alone scored debut model-year production of 56,218, and its 1994 volume was nearly 86,000. The sophomore edition creeped up to $19,500, but gained the touring suspension as standard, revised transmission controls, eight more horses for the 3.3 engine, power steering that increased effort with road speed, and a power moonroof option. No big changes occurred for '95, though trim levels expanded to LX and posher LXi.
For more on the amazing Chrysler, old and new, see:
- Chrysler New Car Reviews and Prices
- Chrysler Used Car Reviews and Prices