What's New for 2002
The Concorde goes uptown by adopting the LHS' (which is dropped this year) front and rear styling. More power is on tap for the LXi. And a new trim level debuts -- the Limited, which essentially replaces the LHS.
Even in its fifth year of production, we still find this generation of the Concorde very attractive. The sense of proportion and flowing shapes imbue this family/luxury sedan with timeless appeal. But for 2002, Chrysler traded last year's sexy nose for the more ungainly look of the now discontinued LHS. And who said high style has to be impractical? There is plenty of room for five adults to ride comfortably, and the spacious trunk has a flat load floor, allowing the most to be made of its 19 cubic feet. The only negative aspect of this car's design concerns blind spots created by the cheeky C-pillars and sloped rear window.
The cabin features large gauges, plush seats and mostly sound ergonomics. The gripes center around the stereo, which has confusing buttons and an annoying two-step method of setting radio presets. Interior materials are mostly fine, but a few low-grade trim pieces are present, as well.
Sharing its platform with the Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler 300M, the Concorde is now available in three trim levels: base LX, plush LXi and top-of-the-line Limited.
The LX is powered by a 2.7-liter 200-horsepower V6 and has most of the features folks want, such as air conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, power everything (including driver seat), keyless entry, a decent stereo with cassette and full gauges. The LXi has a larger V6 (a 3.5-liter unit that replaces last year's 3.2) with 234 horses, automatic headlamps, alloy wheels, leather seating and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Buyers who go whole hog and get the Limited will enjoy even more power (a stout 250 ponies) and luxury features. None of those engines will be mistaken for something from Lexus, as the Chrysler V6s growl noticeably under hard acceleration.
In addition to their healthy output, the V6 engines are frugal with fuel, earning EPA figures as high as 19 city/28 highway (2001 estimates for 2.7-liter engine). Another nice surprise is the Concorde's handling, which is impressively agile for a car that has a 113-inch wheelbase and stretches 209.1 inches in length.
Since it's a large car, one might automatically assume that the Concorde would ace all the crash-test scores, but up until last year, the Concorde posted only a "Marginal" rating in the critical frontal offset category. That score improved in 2001 to "Acceptable" and performance in most of the other categories was rated as "Good." 2002 scores were not available as of press time, but should be as good as, if not better than, the 2001 ratings.
In the past, Chrysler has been criticized for shoddy build quality and questionable reliability. Fortunately, the company has been making major headway in these critical areas, which makes the Concorde's great combination of style, room, comfort, performance and fuel economy all the more enticing.