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The Chrysler Concorde still cuts a nice profile, impressive given this design is in its fifth year. Most cars, particularly those with more daring designs, tend to look dated after a few years. This isn't one of them. The bold grille and fluid lines still look terrific.
Yet the sleek design does not prevent the Concorde from being a practical car with a comfortable, roomy interior, and beautiful detail and appointments. Backing up beauty and comfort are strong acceleration performance, a controlled, luxurious ride, and sport-sedan handling.
That description sounds like a car costing $40,000 or more. Yet the Concorde starts at just $24,825. Surely, the Chrysler Concorde represents one of the greatest values in the full-size sedan class. While not the best in class by every measure, it is very good by most measures. It is a lot of car for the money.
The Concorde continues essentially unchanged for 2003, aside from some new exterior colors. An optional six-disc CD changer replaces the four-disc unit offered previously.
The Chrysler Concorde delivers a smooth ride, brisk acceleration performance, and impressive handling. This car handles rough roads well. The suspension filters unwanted vibration without isolating the driver from the road. Although not the quietest car in its class, the Concorde keeps noise and vibration low.
The Concorde feels extremely stable at high speed. Its direct, precise steering does rate among the best in its class. The chassis grips impressively in hard cornering and the brakes deliver a solid, stable performance. It's amazing how well this car handles given its size. It's easy and fun to drive on winding roads.
The fully independent touring suspension provides this handling prowess without sacrificing ride comfort. The secret lies within the Concorde's rigid unit-body and chassis. An aluminum crossbeam behind the instrument panel stiffens the structure just where it needs it the most, helping to reduce noise and vibration, and nearly eliminating body shake. The stiff body allowed tuning the suspension more precisely and effectively. The Concorde provides a smooth ride even when thumping over rough, beat-up roads.
The 2.7-liter V6, standard in the LX, is a modern double-overhead-cam design with 24 valves. It delivers good performance around town, decent fuel economy, and a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) rating from the government. But it isn't the most refined engine in this class, and it can feel a little taxed when accelerating onto the freeway fully laden with passengers.
The high-output, 3.5-iter V6 in the Limited model offers a lot more punch. Quiet when cruising, it serves notice with an aggressive growl when provoked. Plenty of power is on tap for accelerating away from intersections, onto freeways and for passing on two-lanes. Yet the 3.5 is tuned with a broad torque curve, to provide instant throttle response at any speed.
We didn't drive an LXi, but we expect that its 234-hp V6 performs nearly as well as the 250-hp unit in the Limited.
All Concordes come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission that shifts effectively without hunting for the appropriate gear.
The Concorde's brakes are excellent, offering quick, predictable stopping power at the threshold limit. ABS is standard on the Limited, but it's a $600 option on LX and LXi. We recommend ABS highly; anti-lock brakes allow the driver to maintain steering control during emergency braking situations. Likewise, traction control is standard on the Limited, optional on LXi; traction control reduces wheel spin under hard acceleration, making the car easier to drive in slippery conditions.
An elegant interior, solid acceleration and excellent handling complement the appealing looks of the Chrysler Concorde. With its roomy back seats and generous legroom, the Concorde can haul four people in comfortable surroundings. Those surroundings are particularly luxurious in the Limited model with its premium leather. All Concorde models are supremely smooth and stable at highway speeds. We could spend many miles in any one of them.