2000 Neon Gets Refined Exterior and Interior
30 December 1998
Refined Exterior and Interior Gives 2000 Neon Substance with Style
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29 -- In a landscape of look-alike small cars, the 2000 Neon maintains its unique character and distinctive appearance. In addition, there are some surprises and numerous refinements that will keep it fresh into the new millennium.
"We wanted to keep all the great things about the first-generation Neon that the customer told us they loved," said John Herlitz, Senior Vice President, Product Design. "We also wanted to surprise and delight them with the enhancements we added inside and out that, by design, take Neon's image to a much higher value level."
The new Neon's exterior is the next step in the "cab forward" design philosophy. New jewel-like headlamps and color-keyed fascia provide a richer, more refined appearance, while the base of the windshield was moved forward three inches. Also, the exterior features new rear-end and taillamp designs, and more pronounced wheel arches for a smoother, more substantial appearance.
The 2000 Neon has full-framed doors for a quieter ride, increased body stiffness, and improved door fit and window function. In addition, the triple-sealed doors have heavy-gauge silencers that provide a protective barrier against road and wind noise.
"Our philosophy was to slightly increase the size of the overall car -- with a longer wheelbase and wider track -- for an improved ride and better interior ergonomics, but maintain the nimbleness of the first-generation model," said Ernie Laginess, Director, Body Engineering, Small Car Platform. "We knew that enhancements to the exterior, such as wind and water management, were going to work hand-in-hand with refinements on the interior. This combination makes the new Neon a more sophisticated, serious product, with an element of fun that many buyers want in a small car."
Consumers will find a new level of sophistication in an interior that emphasizes style, comfort and convenience.
"The 2000 Neon is a car that has grown with its customers and their needs, and our all-new interior reflects that," said Tom Edson, Director, Interior Systems Engineering, Small Car Platform. "We've designed an environment that has all the attributes of a much larger, more expensive sedan -- something that allows Neon to stand out."
New materials and fabrics mean Neon raises the bar once again in the small car market. An all-new instrument panel with sporty, circular analog gauges and a wide dashboard brow are part of a more robust, dimensionally stable structure. Power switches have been repositioned on the door for easier access, along with a more versatile 60/40 split rear folding seat with head restraints. "Soft touch coating" on the instrument panel and soft vinyl premium door trim provide a richer appearance and feel. Taupe has been added as a new, more contemporary interior color.
Easier rear-seat entry and exit, and more shoulder room (0.9 inches front, 1.5 inches rear), hip room (1.6 inches front, 2.3 inches rear) and rear head room (0.3 inches), are all the result of the interior enhancements. In addition, the higher front seating position (0.5 inches) improves down-the- road visibility.
"The new Neon interior demonstrates a new standard for the entire segment," Edson said. "We emphasized style, comfort and convenience that improved the overall quality and feel of the vehicle. We created a small car that doesn't feel like a small car when you get inside."
Standard equipment on the 2000 Neon includes many features not traditionally found in small cars:
* AM/FM cassette radio with six premium speakers, including the first use by DaimlerChrysler of dome tweeters
* Four cup holders -- including those with Big Gulp(R), handled-mug and juice box capabilities
* Split rear folding seats
* Full trunk trim, including decklid
* Infinitely variable intermittent wipers with mist feature
* Bolt-on, 15" wheelcovers
* Rear defroster
* Body colored bodyside moldings
* Body colored door handles
* Visor vanity mirror
* Floor mats
* Trunk light
* Body colored front and rear fascias
Optional equipment highlights include four-wheel disc brakes and ABS, with electronic brake proportioning and low-speed traction control, new Sentry Key(TM) Security Group with remote keyless entry for increased safety and convenience, and a new anti-theft alarm with a tamper alert feature. Items such as tilt steering, cruise control, aluminum wheels, power windows and air conditioning also are available.
Simplified ordering packages with reduced options -- a very well-equipped standard "D" package or the fully equipped "G" option package -- make ordering easy.
"We're out of the base car business," said Walt Battle, Neon Planning Executive, Small Car Platform. "We've made many traditional options standard because the compact customer demands more. The next Neon meets the challenge and delivers many surprises and delights."
The 2000 Dodge and Plymouth Neon is manufactured at DaimlerChrysler's Belvidere, Illinois, assembly plant and will go on sale in the first quarter of 1999.