Plymouth For 1997
By Carey Russ
Plymouth is doing very well for a brand that, not too long ago, many people figured would soon be extinct. It has traditionally been Chrysler Corporation's entry-level division, a manufacturer of solid, stolid family transportation. So much for tradition - the Prowler is here. The first production street rod adds more than a little spice to the Plymouth line of small sedans and minivans.
Another innovation from Plymouth is "Plymouth Place", an interactive computer kiosk that allows prospective customers to compare competitive specifications, and virtually "build" a Plymouth on the computer. Plymouth Place kiosks are located in non-traditional places like shopping malls.
To say that the new Plymouth Prowler is unique is understatement. Like the Dodge Viper, it is a concept car brought to production nearly unchanged - a rare enough occurrence. Unlike the Viper, or anything else from any major auto manufacturer anytime, anywhere, the Prowler is not your basic sports car, or sports coupe. It is the first production street rod, and establishes its own style and automotive genre.
Although the limited-production Prowler looks to past and contemporary hot rod style for inspiration, it is completely modern in specification. In front is the Mopar 3.5-liter single overhead cam V6. It drives the rear wheels through the Autostick 4-speed automatic transmission with manual override. Aluminum is used for many parts, including the frame. Suspension is independent at all four wheels, with a race-car-like pushrod arrangement at the front. Brakes are all disc, and a full complement of comfort and convenience features are standard equipment.
New to Plymouth in the middle of last year, the Breeze is the division's version of the compact-outside, midsized-inside JA platform also used for the Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus. Fittingly for Plymouth , the Breeze is targeted at young, first-time buyers who want style, room, comfort, and safety. Value is enhanced with standard features like air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, and a new center console. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides power, with a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions.
Many people think "minivan" when they hear the name Plymouth. The Plymouth line of minivans has been expanded for 1997 with the introduction of a long-wheelbase version of the Rallye package. This new offering has the same Rallye appearance trim and 3.3-liter V6 engine as the existing short-wheelbase model.
Voyager minivans are available in long and short wheelbase styles, with two trim levels for each. A variety of four-cylinder and V6 engines are used. The current generation of Voyagers was introduced just last year, and has a variety of mechanical, interior, and exterior refinements for 1997.
The car that showed that an American small car could have personality and character has refinements for quieter operation this year.