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Chrysler's designers did a great job with the Concorde. Three years after its debut, the bold grille and fluid lines still look terrific. Yet its design doesn't prevent it from being a practical car with a comfortable, roomy interior.
Subtle changes to the windshield pillar moldings for 2001 have reduced wind noise and help better channel water away when it's raining. The suspension was refined last year for a quieter, smoother ride. Safety has been improved for 2001 with the addition of a three-point seatbelt in the rear center position, an inside emergency trunk lid release and optional front side airbags.
The Concorde offers impressive grip in hard cornering and solid, stable braking performance. It's amazing how well this car handles given its size. It's easy and fun to drive on winding roads. Yet it's very stable on the open road at high speeds and relatively unaffected by crosswinds.
The fully independent touring suspension provides this handling prowess without sacrificing ride comfort. The secret lies within the Concorde's rigid chassis and unibody. An aluminum crossbeam behind the instrument panel helps reduce noise and vibration. The stiff structure reduces body shake and roll, which allows better handling and a quieter ride. The Concorde provides a smooth ride even when traveling on rough, beat-up roads. It may not be the quietest sedan in its class but, in terms of noise and vibration, this Concorde is light years ahead of pre-1998 models.
The 2.7-liter engine used in the LX is a marked improvement from the engine it replaced; it's quicker, quieter and much more powerful than the old 3.3-liter push-rod cast-iron V6. It's still not the best engine in its class in terms of refinement, however. This engine achieves decent fuel economy, and is classed by the government as a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV). The 2.7-liter engine works well around town, but seems a bit taxed when accelerating onto the freeway fully laden with passengers.
Step up to the 3.2-liter engine if you want stronger off-the-line acceleration. This engine comes standard in the Concorde LXi model. The 3.2-liter V6 growls aggressively under hard acceleration and delivers good acceleration performance, whether starting from a standstill or passing at high speeds. Most of this comes from its increased torque: While the 2.7-liter V6 generates 190 foot-pounds of torque at a relatively high 4850 rpm, the larger 3.2-liter V6 produces 222 foot-pounds of torque at just 3950 rpm. Torque is the force that propels you away from intersections. They say horsepower sells cars, but torque wins races. On the downside, this is not the smoothest engine in a world of highly refined V6s.
Both Concorde models come standard with a four-speed automatic. It shifts effectively without hunting for the appropriate gear. The Dodge Intrepid offers an AutoStick, which is not available on the Concorde. But the AutoStick is a toy. You don't need it.
The Concorde's brakes are excellent, offering quick, predictable stopping power at the threshold limit. ABS is standard on the LXi and a $600 option on the LX. We recommend ABS highly; anti-lock brakes allow the driver to maintain steering control during emergency braking situations. Like ABS, traction control is standard on LXi and optional on LX; traction control enhances driver control by reducing wheel spin under hard acceleration, making the car easier to drive in slippery conditions.
Unlike the pre-1998 models, the current Concorde's quad headlamps provide brilliant illumination as well as a classy styling touch. Windshield wipers are far more effective, as is the defroster, which proved particularly welcome during a nasty blizzard.
Chrysler's Concorde sports elegant styling that continues to draw admiring glances. It offers a roomy, comfortable interior. Handling is impressive. While not the most refined vehicle in its class, the Concorde delivers class, style and value.