Chrysler Cirrus

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This article is about the car sold from 1995 to 2000. For the car sold from 2000 to 2010 in Mexico, see Chrysler Sebring.
Chrysler Cirrus
Chrysler Cirrus -- 01-27-2012.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Chrysler Corporation
DaimlerChrysler
Also called Chrysler Stratus
Plymouth Breeze
Dodge Stratus
Model years 1994–2000 (Cirrus & Stratus)
1996–2000 (Breeze)
Assembly United States: Sterling Heights, Michigan (Sterling Heights Assembly)
Designer Michael Santoro (1992)
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform Chrysler JA platform
Related Chrysler Sebring convertible
Powertrain
Engine
Transmission 4-speed Ultradrive 41TE automatic
5-speed NV T350 manual (Breeze & Stratus only)
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108 in (2,743 mm)
Length 186.0–186.7 in (4,724–4,742 mm)
Width 71.0–71.7 in (1,803–1,821 mm)
Height 54.1–54.4 in (1,374–1,382 mm)
Curb weight 2,911–3,181 lb (1,320–1,443 kg)
Chronology
Predecessor Chrysler LeBaron (Cirrus)
Plymouth Acclaim (Breeze)
Dodge Spirit & Dodge Dynasty (Stratus)
Successor Chrysler Sebring (Cirrus)
Dodge Stratus (Stratus & Breeze)

The Chrysler Cirrus and middle-priced variant Dodge Stratus are mid-size 4-door sedans that were introduced for the 1995 model year. A third lowered-priced variant, the Plymouth Breeze arrived the following year. The JA sedans were known collectively as the "Cloud Cars" because their names which referenced meteorological terms (cirrus, breeze, stratus).

Design background[edit]

The production Chrysler Cirrus was based on the 1992 concept car of the same name which debuted at the 1992 North American International Auto Show.[1] Development of the Cirrus started in 1991, with the goal to create a car that was expressive looking and fun to drive, yet safe enough to transport an everyday family.[2]

The original concept featured rear suicide doors and a 400 hp turbocharged 3.0-liter two stroke engine.[2] Both the concept and eventual production model used the Chrysler Corporation's new cab-forward design, which was launched on the larger LH sedans in 1992. Cab-forward design was characterized by the long, dramatically slanted windshield, and short overhangs. The wheels were pushed further to the corners of the vehicle, which created a much larger passenger cabin than most other similarly sized vehicles of that time.

The Cirrus was designed with flowing lines with no distinct beginning or end. This was done to eliminate the common three-box design, which was characterized by distinct breaks between the engine, passenger, and trunk compartments.[3] Design work was done by famed Chrysler designer Michael Santoro during 1991 and 1992 when the final design was frozen for production. Design patents were filed on November 30, 1993 and granted on June 18, 1996.

Details[edit]

It was often compared to other small mid-sizes such as the Chevrolet Malibu, and judged roomier than the Ford Contour by many magazines such as Consumer Reports. While the extended Ks had previously been Chrysler's main midsize offerings, the larger LH and LX platforms, conceived as replacements for the Chrysler Dynasty and Dodge Monaco, would more directly compete with the Ford Taurus, the upsized Honda Accord and Chevrolet Lumina.

The exteriors of these three cars were very similar, with the front fascia, rear bumper, taillights, and wheels being the main differences. The interiors had little variation between the three models; being almost identical, save for the name on the steering wheel, and a few available options. The fascias of each JA car corresponds with each brand's minivan offering, sharing headlights and grille designs.

All three variants of the platform were available with most of the same standard features: four wheel independent suspension (double wishbone in the front with a multilink rear),air conditioning, and driver and front-passenger air bags and available options, such as the following: an optional four-speed automatic transmission (Autostick was not available on the Breeze), anti-lock brakes, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, sunroof. A five-speed manual was available with the 2.0 L. The 2.4 L was not offered in a manual because of its high torque and difficult drivability issues, mainly due to wheel spinning.

1999–2000 Chrysler Cirrus LXi

The Chrysler Cirrus was introduced for 1995 as replacement for the Chrysler LeBaron sedan. It was originally available in two trim levels: the well-equipped base LX and the luxury LXi. Both models featured sporty, black twin-post side mirrors, fog lights, the same body-side moldings, chrome bumper accents, an automatic transmission and a low extending waterfall grille that was either chrome or body colored depending on color of the vehicle. The Cirrus was one of the first Chrysler vehicles to feature the rose medallion logo, which had not been used in 41 years.[4] From 1995 to 1997, the Cirrus was offered in two trim levels: the entry-level LX and the luxury LXi. The LX model was dropped for the 1998 model year, but returned in 2000 to compensate for the Plymouth Breeze which was discontinued early in the 2000 model year. It was replaced by the 2001 Dodge Stratus sedan.

Trim levels[edit]

  • LX • 1995–1997; 2000
  • LXi • 1995–2000

Engines[edit]

  • 2.4 L I4
  • 2.5 L V6

Model year changes[edit]

  • 1995: The all-new Chrysler Cirrus sedan is launched in the United States and Canada.
  • 1996: Rear headrests were added.
  • 1997: The 4-cylinder engine was made standard in both models, with the V6 as an option. The interior gained a new center console with a storage compartment and integrated armrest.
  • 1998: The 4-cylinder engine and the LX trim level were eliminated, leaving only V6 LXi models.
  • 1999: For its fifth model year, the Cirrus received a redesigned open grille with Chrysler's new winged grille badge. Chrysler's Sentry Key system was a new option. Sentry Key disabled the ignition unless the proper key was inserted. Standard 15-inch (380 mm) wheel covers could be upgraded to new 15-inch (380 mm) alloy wheels. Cirrus was the only one of the JA "cloud cars" to receive any form of facelift over the course of its production.
  • 2000: For its final model year, the 4-cylinder LX model returned to join the V6-powered LXi sedan. Previously optional rear child seat anchorages, aluminum wheels, and an 8-speaker AM/FM cassette stereo were now listed as standard features. The last Chrysler Cirrus rolled off the assembly line on June 13, 2000.

Plymouth Breeze[edit]

1996 Plymouth Breeze

The Plymouth Breeze was released in late 1995 as an early 1996 model year. Although it did not match the sales of its predecessor, the Acclaim, the Breeze did manage to sell over 230,000 units and total production was greater than that of its Chrysler Cirrus sibling, which was produced for nearly two additional years.[5]

As part of Chrysler's new marketing strategy which addressed concerns that its brands were treading into each other's marketing territory, Plymouth, as Chrysler Corporation's low-price brand for essentially its entire existence, was to focus exclusively on value.[6] As a result, the Breeze (as well as the base model Stratus) filled the position as the entry-level JA car. Due to this, the Breeze lacked certain features including an available V6 engine, alloy wheels, leather interior, body-colored door handles, fog lights, and Chrysler's Autostick transmission, all of which were offered on the Stratus and Cirrus.[2][7]

The Plymouth Breeze came only as one basic model. Equipped nearly identically to a base model Dodge Stratus, the Breeze came standard with the 2.0 L I4 engine, five-speed manual transmission, 14-inch wheel covers, air conditioning, and driver and front-passenger air bags. Although it came in only a base model, the Breeze was still available with many options, such as a four-speed automatic transmission, a 2.4 L four-cylinder engine (available with automatic transmission only), anti-lock brakes, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, and a sunroof. Additionally, 1998 and 1999 Breezes offered an "Expresso Package". Similar to Expresso packages offered on the Voyager and Neon, content included special badging, unique wheel covers, upgraded audio system, and premium interior cloth in unique "Rhythm" pattern.[7] The Breeze was discontinued early in the 2000 model year,[2] as part of the Chrysler's phaseout of the Plymouth brand; the last Breeze rolled off the Sterling Heights Assembly line on January 7, 2000.

Trim levels[edit]

  • base: 1996–2000
  • Expresso: 1998–1999

Engines[edit]

  • 2.0 L I4
  • 2.4 L I4

Year-to-year changes[edit]

  • 1996: Plymouth Breeze sedan is released.
  • 1997: A new center console which included storage space, an integrated armrest, and rear-seat cupholders.
  • 1998: The 2.4 L I4 is added as an option, and so is the Expresso trim level.
  • 1999: Revised suspension tuning for 1999 which promised a smoother ride.
  • 2000: Breeze production was halted early in 2000, due to the phaseout of the Plymouth brand name. Only a base model Breeze was available.

Dodge Stratus[edit]

1996 Dodge Stratus ES

The Dodge Stratus was introduced in 1995, with two trims: base (later renamed SE in 2000), which came standard with the 2.0 L I4 or optional 2.4 L; and the ES, which came standard with the a 2.0 L from 1995–1997, and had a DOHC 2.4 L and a 2.5 L V6 as optional. In 1998 the 2.4 L was standard and the 2.5 L V6 was optional on the ES, and from 1999–2000, the 2.5 L V6 was the only engine on the ES model.

The Stratus directly replaced the high-volume Spirit and Dynasty (United States only) to favorable reviews, but lower sales.

Mexico: A turbocharged version of the Stratus was sold in Mexico, with the 2.4 L DOHC 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. This engine produced 168 hp (125 kW; 170 PS) at 5200 rpm and 216 pound force-feet (293 N·m) of torque at 2200 rpm.

In 2000, the Stratus was available for its last year of sales in Canada, with the Chrysler Sebring taking over as the company's only lower mid-size sedan - Dodge did not sell the equivalent version in Canada.

Chrysler Stratus[edit]

The Stratus was marketed as the Chrysler Stratus in markets that the Dodge name was not used; such as Europe, Argentina and Brazil.In Brazil, the Stratus had the same engines as the North American version but a higher ground clearance for the road conditions there. In Europe, only the 2.0 L 4-cylinder engine or the 2.5 L V6 engine were available. The European version also had chrome accent moldings along the doors and bumpers.

Year-to-year changes[edit]

  • 1995: Stratus sedan is released.
  • 1996: No changes
  • 1997: A new center console which included storage space, an integrated armrest, and rear-seat cupholders.
  • 1998: 2.4 L becomes standard on ES
  • 1999: V6 engine becomes standard on ES
  • 2000: Base trim renamed SE

Trim levels[edit]

  • base 1995-1999
  • SE 2000
  • ES 1995-2000

Engines[edit]

  • 2.0 L I4
  • 2.4 L I4
  • 2.5 L V6

Accolades[edit]

The Cirrus, Breeze, and Stratus were Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1995 and on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1996 and 1997.

Production Numbers[edit]

Breeze[edit]

Model Year Sales
1996 46,355
1997 70,549
1998 66,620
1999 47,911
2000 2,030
Total 233,465[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1995-2000 Dodge Stratus, Plymouth Breeze, and Chrysler Cirrus" Information courtesy of Chrysler, allpar, retrieved on 2010–05–09.
  2. ^ a b c d "Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus development story" Information courtesy of Chrysler, allpar, retrieved on 2010–05–09.
  3. ^ "Styling" Information courtesy of Chrysler, allpar, retrieved on 2010–05–09.
  4. ^ "How Chrysler Works: The Chrysler LHS and Chrysler Cirrus" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, retrieved on 2010–05–09.
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of American Cars "Plymouth" p.280-81: "Chrysler Production Figures."
  6. ^ Yates, Brock (1996). The Critical Path: Inventing an Automobile and Reinventing a Corporation "Showtime in St.Louis" p. 209–11. Little, Brown. 
  7. ^ a b Daimler-Chrysler Corporation Factory Sales Brochure "1999 Plymouth lineup"
  8. ^ Encyclopedia of American Cars "Plymouth" p.719: "Plymouth Production Figures."

External links[edit]