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    Feb 2005

    Chrysler Cirrus (JA) 1994-2000

    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

    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. 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.

    The original concept featured rear suicide doors and a 400 hp turbocharged 3.0-liter two stroke engine. 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. 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.


    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.

    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. 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.

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