What's New for 1996
An automanual transmission called AutoStick gives the 1996 Vision a feature to distinguish it as Chrysler's premier sport sedan. Interiors have been quieted down, and the ESi gets standard 16-inch wheels. Headlight illumination has been improved, new colors and seat fabrics are on board, and improved sound systems debut.
Chrysler's LH-series of sedans has redefined the traditional American sedan. The Chrysler Concorde emphasizes the luxury portion of the equation, while the Dodge Intrepid has mid-America squarely within its gunsight grille. Eagle's Vision is designed to appeal to those of us who want a dash of flair and sophistication in our family haulers. It is the most sporting and European of the trio, with a distinctive look all its own. However, if Chrysler's sales charts are any evidence, there are few takers for this recipe in the marketplace.
Product planners have given enthusiast drivers a good reason to buy a Vision in 1996. The Vision TSi is equipped with a new driver-controlled, four-speed shiftable transmission called Autostick. An auto manual transmission similar to Porsche's Tiptronic, Autostick allows the transmission to operate in two modes. It will operate in a regular "drive" mode, with the transmission automatically shifting the gears, or the driver can manually shift the transmission with the Autostick engaged. Drop the stick into the lowest shifter position, and then flick the stick to the left for downshifts and to the right for upshifts, all without lifting your foot off the accelerator.
Autostick is an Eagle exclusive for the first six months of 1996, and then the transmission will appear as an option on the Dodge Intrepid ES. The feature is too good to restrict to just one car, but Chrysler will use it to build brand awareness for the Vision. We think that something else is needed to differentiate the Vision from the other LH-sedans, because once the Dodge gets Autostick, the Vision will likely fall back into sales oblivion.
It's too bad the Vision doesn't sell, because it's a great car. Perhaps the jutting grille with its big bird's beak emblem puts potential customers off. Maybe the Eagle division, formed in 1988, hasn't developed the brand image necessary to move the merchandise. Could be that people don't think car' when told to drop by their local Jeep-Eagle dealership for a test drive. No matter. Eagle has been heavily advertising the Vision to get the car noticed. It seems that pitchman Greg Kinnear has been getting more mileage out of these ads than Eagle has.
In addition to Autostick, Vision receives some updating from Chrysler for 1996. ESi models get 16-inch wheels, and the TSi gets chrome rims. Headlamp illumination has been improved, and new seat fabrics are found inside. New colors, improved stereos and a quieter interior sum up the changes for 1996.
Vision offers rakish styling, a long list of standard features, and more interior room than all of its competition. It handles very much like its LH brethren, which is to say, extraordinarily well for a big sedan, and the TSi's Autostick feature is sure to stir up a few additional sales in 1996. We think the Vision is a logical choice for sedan buyers who want a little pizzazz in their daily commute, and sales types are likely to wheel and deal more aggressively than the boys at the Dodge or Chrysler dealer to get the slow-selling Vision onto highways and into driveways.