New Car/Review

1997 EAGLE VISION TSi

by Tom Hagin

Eagle
SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,485
     Price As Tested                                    $ 25,990
     Engine Type                             3.5 Liter V6 w/MFI*
     Engine Size                                 215 cid/3518 cc
     Horsepower                                   214 @ 5850 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               221 @ 3100 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                    113"/74.4"/201.6"
     Transmission                Auto-stick Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3543 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                    18 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                                 88 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.31

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/26/21
     0-60 MPH                                        8.6 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.9 seconds @ 83 mph
     Top speed                                           113 mph
     * Multi-point fuel injection

The projected launch of Chrysler's new line of LH sedans is fast approaching. The Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid will appear first, followed by the Eagle Vision and Chrysler LHS next spring.

When introduced in 1993, the line of spacious family vehicles transformed Chrysler from a conservative sedan builder to an innovator of new products. This week's test features the current Eagle Vision TSi, the sport version of Eagle's two-car LH lineup.

OUTSIDE - Chrysler's Eagle Division added a European flair when it designed Vision. In a survey among readers of a major automotive magazine, more than 60 percent reported that Vision's styling was the main reason they chose this particular car. It's sleek and pointy, with a wind-cheating design that offers an impressive 0.31 drag coefficient. Cab-forward puts the windshield ahead of the firewall, at almost the centerline of the front axle, and makes the hood look very short. The look was modern and cutting-edge when it was introduced five years ago, yet next year's restyle promises and an even more futuristic style. Vision TSi offers the sportiest exterior of the two, with heated and powered mirrors, body-color side moldings and bumpers, and brightly polished 16-inch alloy wheels. TSi models also come with fog lamps.

INSIDE - Space is the main selling feature of the Vision, as there is space for five full-sized adults inside. The interior is wide and expansive, especially in the back seat, where headroom is abundant. The front bucket seats are softly padded and comfortable, but could use more side support. The dashboard layout is ergonomically correct, except the long reach for the glove box latch, and the small radio controls. Both Vision models come with air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks, and intermittent wipers. Vision TSi interior features include automatic climate control, power front seats, extendible sun visors with lighted vanity mirrors, keyless entry, AM/FM cassette and an overhead console that comes with a compass, trip computer and a small storage compartment.

ON THE ROAD - Vision TSi comes with a 3.5 liter V6 engine that produces 214 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. This torque figure appears at a low 2800 rpm, which gives the big car good launch from a stop. It has four valves per cylinder and a single camshaft atop each cylinder head. Acceleration is impressive, but once at the rpm limit, it loses power dramatically. Power is adequate to achieve freeway speeds quickly, though it's loud when pushed to the top of its rpm range. One complaint we had was the over-eager throttle response when accelerating from a dead stop - it too easy to push the accelerator pedal. Vision TSi's standard four-speed automatic transmission is enhanced with Eagle's Autostick system, where the gearbox has two modes of operation. In the automatic mode, it behaves like a normal automatic transmission. In the AutoStick mode, the driver pulls the shifter one notch back from Drive, then can manually upshift or downshift with the flick of a wrist.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Both Vision models use fully independent suspension consisting of struts, gas-filled shocks and anti-roll bars which give it good grip. The ride was solid, smooth and relatively quiet over smooth, undulating pavement, though potholes and freeway expansion joints were quite noticeable. We also felt some body lean and tire scrub under heavy cornering conditions, but this can be cured with an optional performance suspension package that firms the ride and enhances cornering grip. This, however, would come at the expense of the standard suspension's smooth ride. Its speed-sensitive, quick-ratio steering system provided good feedback and crisp turn-in, and is not very heavy. Braking could use some help, though. With the standard TSi four-wheel disc brakes and anti-lock braking system (ABS), we could barely manage to pull the big car down from 65 mph in less than 165 feet. Traction control, a wheelspin-limiting system, is standard on TSi models.

SAFETY - Vision TSi offers dual airbags, side-impact beams and ABS.

OPTIONS - Our car came with a package that included a trunk cargo net, uplevel stereo, leather seats, full-sized spare and an alarm.

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