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Next Neon Keeps Quiet About Its Changes

30 December 1998

Next Neon Keeps Quiet About Its Changes

The 2000 Plymouth Neon

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29 -- Quiet, sophisticated and still a lot of fun. This philosophy, along with a focus on quality and efficiency, is what led to the all-new 2000 Dodge and Plymouth Neon.

"When we began the process of developing the 2000 Neon, we made it a clear and unwavering goal to keep all the fun-to-drive characteristics that made the first Neon so successful," said Cindy Hess, Vice President, Small Car Platform. "However, we wanted to add a level of refinement and sophistication that would exceed the expectations of a demanding consumer."

"Making Neon the quietest and most refined car in its class was a major goal for us," said Jack Broomall, Director of Vehicle Development, Small Car Platform.

One major change is the adoption of full-framed doors, which provide a tighter seal to the car body for a quieter ride. Baked-on mastic and expandable foam baffles were added to substantially reduce dB levels.

"The baffles are made with material that allows them to expand when exposed to extreme heat," Broomall explained. "Strategically placing the baffles in the structure during the coating stage -- when the structure is placed in an oven -- allows for the expansion and permanent sealing of various crevices in the vehicle."

Also contributing to the new Neon's quieter ride is an exhaust system that now includes a larger muffler as well as an exhaust flex joint for quieter engine operation.

Smoother Ride

Enhancements to the Neon's ride quality came from a variety of initiatives in the steering and suspension areas. A slight increase in ride height allowed a redesigned MacPherson strut-type independent front and rear suspension, improving jounce travel in the front by 15 percent and 30 percent in the rear. This greatly increases overall ride quality while decreasing the chance of bottoming under heavy loads. To maintain the fun-to-drive handling, rear sway bars and premium shock absorber valving were made standard on the all-new Neon (previously available only on the BUX and R/T packages).

The new Neon's body structure also was extensively re-engineered. Bending stiffness was increased by 37 percent from the first-generation Neon, while torsional stiffness was increased by 26 percent. The benefit to the customer is a smoother, quieter and more controlled ride, even under heavy loads.

"The 'keep-it-fun' message in terms of ride was very clear from our customer feedback," said Frank Frederick, Director, Chassis, Small Car Platform. "So, we kept it fun, but, in typical Neon fashion, we took it bit further and provided the customer with more delights than expected."

Beefier Brakes

The brake system was redesigned for improved pedal feel while low metallic front linings were maintained for quiet operation. The thickness of the front brake rotors was increased while the rear cylinders were made larger, both for added durability.

In addition, a disc/drum system is standard on the 2000 Neon. A four- wheel disc system including anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake proportioning and traction control is available as an option.

Best-In-Class Powertrain

The 2000 Neon features a 2.0-Liter SOHC four-cylinder engine for North American markets. New air induction and intake manifold systems were developed to increase available torque over broader operating speeds. A new exhaust manifold, cylinder head cover and timing belt cover were engineered for quieter engine operation. According to Broomall, many strides were made in reducing direct and indirect engine noise.

"We looked at all aspects of the powertrain to achieve quieter, more efficient operation wherever possible," said Mike Donoughe, Director, Powertrain Engineering, Small Car Platform.

Examples include a new, dual cycloidal automatic transaxle pump which makes the powertrain quieter on the inside, while a new four-point engine mount system reduces noise transfer to the passenger compartment.

Other engine efficiencies include a Double Start Override feature to disengage the starter and prevent double starting. A lower idle speed means greater fuel efficiency, while increased cooling capacity for the engine, transaxle and power steering allows the entire powertrain to run more smoothly and economically.

The 2000 Neon is manufactured at DaimlerChrysler's Belvidere, Illinois, assembly plant and will be available in the first quarter of 1999.