Full 2008 Chrysler Crossfire Review
What's New for 2008
The base model has been dropped, leaving only the Limited model in either coupe or convertible form.
DaimlerChrysler is no more, but the 2008 Chrysler Crossfire soldiers on. As one of the first joint efforts between Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler, the Crossfire is an intriguing combination of American-styled sheet metal and German-sourced mechanicals. Unfortunately, the latter are lifted from the previous-generation Mercedes SLK roadster, which debuted way back in 1997, and that quasi-nautical styling doesn't turn heads the way it did when the Crossfire first came out. Love it or hate it, though, there's still nothing else on the road that looks like the Crossfire -- and if you're going to base a car on a decade-old platform, the Mercedes parts bin is as good a source as any. Just don't expect the Crossfire to perform as well as similarly priced coupes and convertibles with more up-to-date hardware and engineering.
The 2008 Chrysler Crossfire is a rolling reminder that looks are only skin deep. The Crossfire's SLK-derived steering system, for example, is distractingly slow and imprecise -- a consequence of its anachronistic recirculating-ball design, which seemed outdated in the old SLK a decade ago. The aged 215-horsepower V6 under the hood, also an SLK carryover, is rather timid relative to the plentiful potent power plants available at this price point, although it's certainly not slow. The interior is cramped, and the throwback switchgear will make you swear you're sitting in a decade-old car -- which you basically are. It's only on the outside that the Crossfire can pass for new.
All's not lost, however. With a fixed roof in place of the SLK's folding hardtop, the Crossfire enjoys anvil-like rigidity, and its substantial tires provide sports car-like grip. In fact, its performance numbers in general are still nothing to sneeze at, which is impressive considering its advancing age.
However, the Crossfire's $35K base price is frankly a lot of coin for what this curvy Chrysler brings to the table. The Nissan 350Z/Infiniti G37 cousins, for example, offer superior performance for comparable or less cash, and if it's German engineering you're after, the similarly conceived BMW Z4 starts around the same price, as does BMW's sizzling new twin-turbocharged 135i coupe and convertible. The entry-level 128i coupe, moreover, is considerably cheaper than the Chrysler, yet still superior by virtually every measure. If you just can't live without the Crossfire's slippery shape, you'll probably be able to get a good deal on this slow-selling model. Given its age-related shortcomings, however, many competitors would make for better overall choices.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The two-passenger 2008 Chrysler Crossfire is available in either coupe or convertible form. Only the Limited trim level is offered for 2008, as the base models have been dropped. Limited models come standard with 18-inch wheels in front and 19s out back, dual-zone manual air-conditioning, an eight-speaker, 240-watt stereo system, power-adjustable leather seats with heaters, leather-wrapped steering wheel, full power accessories and, on convertibles, a power top with a glass rear window and defroster.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 Chrysler Crossfire is powered by a 3.2-liter V6 engine that sends 215 hp and 229 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. The Crossfire can be equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic with manual mode.
The Crossfire is capable of going from zero to 60 in the high 6-second range when equipped with the manual transmission; figure a few 10ths more for the five-speed auto. EPA fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg city/23 highway for manual-equipped Crossfires, and 19/25 for models with the automatic.
Standard safety equipment on the 2008 Chrysler Crossfire includes antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control and side airbags.
Interior Design and Special Features
If you've logged any seat time in the first-generation SLK, then the Crossfire's cabin will seem mighty familiar, with the exception of the gigantic blind spots that come along with the Crossfire's "boattail" rear styling. To Chrysler's credit, though, the Crossfire's interior is pleasing enough to the eye, what with its two-tone color scheme and abundant metallic trim. However, that trim is really just silver-painted plastic for the most part, and there's no dressing-up that old Mercedes stereo's undersized buttons and mediocre sound quality. As for cargo space, it's at a premium -- not surprising given the Crossfire's intimate two-seat layout.
The modest power rating of the Crossfire's V6 belies the respectable thrust it provides above 3,000 rpm; low-end torque, however, is lacking, and the engine starts to sound breathless above 5,000 rpm, making for a fairly narrow band of usable power. With its stiff body structure and fat tires, the 2008 Chrysler Crossfire is a capable back-road companion, but steering feel and response are poor, and the six-speed manual doesn't like to be rushed. Aside from its tenacious grip and decently comfortable highway ride, the Crossfire doesn't have much to offer when compared to the newer, dynamically superior models available at its price point. As a would-be sports car, the Crossfire is clearly more about style than substance.