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Chrysler

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Chrysler LHS (2000)

By Tom Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 28,090
     Price As Tested                                    $ 29,960
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 214 cid/3518 cc
     Horsepower                                   253 @ 6400 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               255 @ 3950 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  113.0"/74.4"/207.7"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3592 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  17.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                       P225/55R17 touring tires
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 82 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.31

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/26/21          
     0-60 MPH                                        8.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.5 seconds @ 87.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           120 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

When Chrysler introduced its line of LH sedans in 1993, it started a revolution in auto styling. Of the five originally introduced, Chrysler Concorde, New Yorker and LHS, Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision, only three remain; Concorde, Intrepid and our tester for the week, the LHS. A new model, the 300M, was unveiled last year.

They're all based on the same chassis and share many parts but they target different markets. The LHS is aimed at a "mature" audience.

OUTSIDE - The LHS is arguably the best-looking of the four LH sedans. Its profile is different from its Chrysler product siblings. It's longer than the 300M by nearly ten inches, all of it going to the front and rear overhangs. Its role in the Chrysler lineup is that of a more sophisticated, conservative sedan. Led by an egg-crate grille with its familiar Chrysler "winged" emblem, the LHS is all smooth contours and round corners, without any flat planes. Its quad projector-beam headlights are scalloped into the bumper and leading edge of the hood, and the radically raked windshield sweeps up and over to an equally-raked rear backlight. Its beltline is high, giving it muscular- looking lower haunches, while the round cut lines of the doors, pioneered by Chrysler with the original LH sedans, are now universally accepted. New this year is chrome side window molding that was borrowed from Chrysler's one-off concept car, the 300-horse 300M Special.

INSIDE - As the most luxurious of the LH sedans, the LHS is decked out with all the trimmings. Overstuffed leather-covered seats are soft and comfortable, with good side and lumbar support. A set of chrome- rimmed, white-faced instruments use script-style numbers, while a small antique-style clock resides in the center of the dashboard. The faux wood trim across the dash is also applied to a small portion of the center console and door panels. All of the controls are easy to operate and within easy reach, while large ventilation ports can be aimed virtually anywhere inside the cabin. Its extra length over the other LH sedans adds 2.5 inches of rear seat room as well as almost one cubic foot of trunk space over the previous LHS. New this year are chrome window and door lock switches, color-keyed power mirror switches. Standard features include automatic climate control, power windows, outside mirrors, front seats and door locks, cruise control, rear window defroster, variable-speed intermittent wipers and a 240-watt stereo. A 360-watt, 11-speaker Infinity-brand unit is optional.

ON THE ROAD - One thing LHS doesn't share with the rest of the LH sedans is its engine. Where its corporate siblings use either 200 or 225-horse V6 engines, the LHS (and the 300M as well) gets an extra dose of power via an all-aluminum 3.5 liter V6 with single overhead cams and 24 valves. It produces 253 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. Over the years, Chrysler has been refining its V6s to the point that they're almost as smooth and vibration-free as the luxury imports costing much more. It's quick off-the-line, and has power in reserve for quick blasts above freeway speeds. It's mated to a smooth four-speed automatic that's also been refined.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - While the LHS shares its platform with several stablemates, the difference lays in the tuning of its suspension and steering systems. Its strut-type independent suspension features more assertive handling with "tighter" anti-roll bar isolators, jounce bumpers and dampers, along with a torsion bar-based, variable-assisted rack-and-pinion power steering. It handles very well for a large sedan, with most of its limitations coming from its tires, which protest loudly during heavy cornering. And though its ride is soft, it doesn't float like the luxury barges of the past. Rather, its ride is well-controlled with little undulating over those large whoop-de-doos found on most backcountry roads. Braking duties are handled by four-wheel disc brakes and the car is equipped with a standard anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - Dual next-generation airbags, side-impact door beams, ABS and traction control are standard.

OPTIONS - Uplevel stereo: $515; chromed wheels: $750.

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