New Car/Review

1998 Chrysler Concorde

by John Heilig


SEE ALSO: Chrysler Buyer's Guide


ENGINE:                  3.2-liter 24-valve V-6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE:       220 hp @ 6600 rpm/222 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION:            Four-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY:            20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 24.3 mpg test
WHEELBASE:               113.0 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 209.1 x 74.7 x 55.9 in. in.
CURB WEIGHT:             3463 lbs 
FUEL CAPACITY:           17.0 gal (est.) gal.
LUGGAGE CAPACITY:        18.7 cu. ft.
INSTRUMENTS:             Speedometer, fuel level, water temperature, 
                         fuel management computer, compass, 
                         exterior temperature readout, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT:               Power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, 
                         power seats, power sunroof, cruise control, 
                         air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio 
                         with in-dash CD, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, 
                         dual front air bags.
STICKER PRICE:           $27,000 (est.)

While there was a time when Chryslers and Imperials stood for the best among luxury cars, it has been a long time since Chrysler has had a true luxury car. Through the doldrums, the K-Car platformed Chrysler products did nothing to enhance the image of the company (although it did help make profits).

The first edition Chrysler Concorde was a step in the right direction. The LHS was a further step. But with this second edition Concorde, I believe Chrysler has finally re-entered the field of luxury cars. They have something to be proud of with this car.

While you don't get traditional "luxury car" styling with the Concorde, you get instead aerodynamic cab forward styling with a sloped windshield and a slippery shape. But other than that, you have a car that is as luxurious as anything else in its field, and has the interior room to go along with the luxury. And while the exterior look may be too sleek to say "luxury," the feel inside and the ride quality definitely shout the term.

The Concorde can compete well with the likes of the Lincoln Continental and Cadillac DeVille. These two other cars have V-8 engines, while the Concorde is still working with a V-6. But the 3.2-liter V-6 in the Concorde is a nice unit. Rated at 220 horsepower, it drives the front wheels through a four-speed automatic gearbox. The combination of engine and gearbox is smooth and gives the kind of performance you'd expect from a luxury car.

In addition, the Concorde's body is solid and taut. There is a feeling of sturdiness in the car that you never had in the K-Cars. You'd feel comfortable taking your boss out in the Concorde, for example.

Front seats are powered individual buckets with a three-passenger bench in the rear. All seats are upholstered in leather. Legroom both front and rear is exceptional, and must be among the best in the category. Above the seats is a power sunroof. Behind the seats is an 18.7 cubic foot trunk that is large enough to hold three golf bags. One of the criteria for judging luxury cars is the number of golf bags the trunk will hold. Of course, you can carry luggage back there as well..

Instrumentation is the standard four gauges. they are white-on-black during the day and green-on-black at night with red pointers. They are easy to read and offer an air of dignity, unlike the orange-lighted dials in some cars. In addition, there was a compass and exterior temperature readout. The dash is trimmed in wood, just enough to give you the feel you're in a luxury car. Now, I know it may not be real wood, but they're making plastic look so good these days (and it's easier to care for than real wood) that it doesn't make that much of a difference.

I was fortunate to drive one of the first edition Concordes at the car's introduction, and we put some "soak miles" on an LHS shortly thereafter. I thought both cars represented a big step for Chrysler, which had been coming out with some pretty mundane automobiles. This new Concorde is another big step forward. In my mind, it puts Chrysler back into the luxury car field and gives the company the opportunity to compete with Lincoln and Cadillac, which it hasn't been able to do for a long time.

Welcome back to the luxury car field Chrysler.

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