Chrysler LHS is First Produced
The Chrysler LHS is a full-size, front wheel drive car based on the Chrysler LH platform.
It was Chrysler's flagship model from 1994 to 2001.
Having been praised throughout its production run as offering a blend of high end luxury and features, along with solid performance, the LHS was marketed as a rival to other cars costing thousands more. The first generation LHS offered an overall package (of both luxury and performance) very reminiscent of a higher end European car. Many American automotive journalists stated that Chrysler's flagship car could be easily mistaken for something German. This was just a few years before Chrysler Corporation's partnering with Daimler-Benz.
Originally released in 1994, a year after the Chrysler Concorde, Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision were released, the LH 207 (Chrysler LHS and New Yorker) used a version of the LH platform with a five-inch (127 mm) longer body, and took the place of the Imperial as the largest and most luxurious car in Chrysler's range and viewed as its "flagship" model. While the wheelbase of all the LH models remained the same, the 5 inch longer body allowed the engineers to push the rear seat even farther back. This gave the LHS an almost limo-like rear seat room, analogous to the various stretched "L" models from BMW or Mercedes. A very similar New Yorker model was also built as a replacement for the New Yorker Fifth Avenue and New Yorker Salon. From 1994 on, all three Chrysler LH models used the mid-level "Touring" suspension. An even stiffer "Performance" setting was an available option on the Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision.
The Concorde, which differed substantially more, was seen as the base full-size Chrysler. The six-passenger LHS was differentiated from its counter part chrome trimmed sibling, the Chrysler New Yorker, by a floor console and shifter, an upgraded interior and a sportier image. The New Yorker was dropped in favor of a six-passenger option on the 1997 LHS. The LHS received a minor face change in 1995 where the Pentastar was changed in favor of Chrysler's current medallion logo.
Being the top-of-the-line Chrysler, many features came standard on the LHS, many were only options on its siblings. These included a 3.5 L EGJ 24-valve 214 hp (160 kW) V6 engine, body-colored grille, side mirrors and trim, traction control, aluminum wheels, integrated fog lights, and 8-way power adjustable front seats. Like the New Yorker, leather seats were an option, a velour-like cloth coming standard. The LHS's leather mimicked the gathered style of its cloth seats, and projected a more expensive look than the New Yorker's more traditionally styled leather.
The headlamps on the 1994 models were very poorly designed and implemented that many owners complained bitterly about the lacklustre or dim performance (no pun intended). Chrysler rushed the redesign into the production for 1995 model year.
The LHS was sold in Europe on a special order basis as it featured rear amber turn signals, side turn signal repeaters, and headlamps that incorporated different lens geometry and bulbs.
It should be noted that the first generation LHS was praised by motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson, who is well known for criticizing American automobiles but described the LHS as "by global standards, right up there with the best."
The LHS was dropped after the 1997 model year in anticipation of a new, redesigned LHS, released for 1999. As was the case before, the second generation LHS occupied its niche as Chrysler's most luxurious car, although its interior provided no more space than the slightly longer-nosed Concorde. The differences between the second-generation LHS and the Concorde were far fewer and limited mostly to fascias and equipment levels. Also released with the new LHS was the Eagle Vision replacement, the Chrysler 300M. With the 300M, this once again gave Chrysler three full-sized models, all based on the LH platform. Oddly enough, the slightly smaller 300M ended up costing more than the LHS, however it gained more popularity than the LHS, as did the less-expensive, nearly identical in every aspect Concorde. Due to the restyling, the LHS interior felt slightly more cramped than the previous model. The side windows were more aggressively curved into the roof, reducing the space between the upper portions of the windows and the sides of the occupants' heads. While all the stated interior measurements equaled or exceeded the first LHS's, the new car's interior lost its predecessor's limo-like feel. This caused the LHS to meet a similar fate to that of the New Yorker. Ironically, in the previous generation, the LHS had been the one to become more popular and caused its discontinuation.
For 2002, Chrysler quietly dropped the LHS nameplate from its lineup, with the 2002-2004 Concorde LXi and Limited taking on the LHS's front and rear fascia styling, as well as the LHS styled interior. The 2002-2004 Concorde LX retained the same interior as the 1998-2001 Concorde.
ess with American space and character and fall short, the LHS succeeds. Thoroughly Chrysler in its bold styling, the LHS combines the space and comforts expected in an American luxury car with the road manners found in a European import.
Although the second-generation LHS is an evolutionary development of the car of the same name first introduced for the 1994 model year, little besides that name is unchanged. If the new LHS's bolder styling is the most obvious difference, the unseen changes are the most important. A more rigid chassis structure reduces noise levels and allows for improved suspension tuning, and an all-new high- output overhead cam aluminum V6 engine gives smooth, sophisticated performance.
Typically for today's Chrysler line, the LHS is priced to compete with competitor's "entry-luxury" lines. But nearly every comfort and convenience feature expected in a luxury car is included in the base price. The short option list is tailored to specific needs such as cold-weather operation and smokers (yes, the lighter and ashtray are now options), and upgraded wheels and stereo systems. This week's test car was delivered to me with no options at all. None were missed. If the price is at the low end of the luxury class, the LHS's equipment levels are solidly in the middle and its interior space compares favorably with many premium luxury cars. It is offered only with a V6 engine, not a "prestige" V8, but that V6 makes more power than some V8s found in more expensive luxury cars. There is no mistaking the LHS's origin -- it's an American luxury sedan through and through. But, it's a modern American luxury sedan that can hold its own against any competitor, including those costing $10,000 more. And it has styling and balanced performance that should appeal to the younger buyers courted by all domestic luxury manufacturers.
APPEARANCE: Is it futuristic or is it retro? Neither, really. Bold grilles have been a Chrysler styling hallmark since the 1950s, and the large, ovoid, egg-crate grille on the LHS keeps the tradition going. It has a similarity to the Italian-built Chrysler Corp. show cars of the early 1950s, perhaps. The kidney-shaped headlights are the latest in automotive fashion; the front fender line follows their contours. True to its "cab-forward" heritage, the new LHS is characterized by a long arched passenger cabin and short body overhangs. The formal rear window establishes continuity with the original LHS, but looks more integrated into the total design in the new car. The LHS is long, but not overly wide, which makes parking easier. That also makes it look compact when viewed directly from the front or rear.
COMFORT: The LHS's interior is contemporary with a slight nod to the past in the chrome-bezeled black-on-white instruments and analog clock. They provide contrast to the monochrome dark gray leather and synthetics of the seating and door trim, and the faux-wood trim. Its an interesting design that could look right out of the dark ages of "fine Corinthian leather" if done poorly. Large windows and careful design help prevent that. Both front and outboard rear seating areas are of perforated leather for some ventilation in warm weather. The comfortable front buckets are heated, and the driver's seat has two- person memory that includes mirror position and radio station memory. The hooded main instrument pod presents necessary information well, and important controls are logically-placed and easy to use. There are five vents on the dash for the climate control system, plus rear-seat vents at the end of the center console. Power accessories, plenty of storage spaces, and visors with extensions add to convenience. A driver information center mounted above the rearview mirror gives useful information. The rear seat provides as much space and comfort for the outboard passengers as is found in front; a third person can fit between them. The rear seat has a central armrest and ski-passthrough. The huge trunk has external struts to prevent crushed luggage.
SAFETY: The 1999 Chrysler LHS has 4-wheel antilock disc brakes and "Next-Generation" depowered front air bags.
ROADABILITY: The LHS shines in the ride and handling department. Its fully-independent strut-type suspension balances ride comfort and responsive handling better than some of the luxury imports. It's smooth and quiet, but surprisingly nimble, especially considering its size. Some American luxury cars can be fun to drive! The vehicle-speed proportional power steering is weighted very well for all speeds, and not too light for good control at highway speeds. The four-wheel antilock disc brakes stop surely.
PERFORMANCE: The LHS's new 3.5-liter single overhead cam, aluminum alloy V6 is a modern design with 253 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. That's better than some competitor's V8s. Low-rpm torque is very good, giving the LHS very good acceleration from the low and medium speeds commonly encountered in American driving. The four-speed automatic transmission is smooth and quiet, and a good match for the engine.
CONCLUSIONS: The Chrysler LHS is an American luxury car for today's luxury car customers.
The Chrysler LHS was introduced for the 1994 model year to give Chrysler a premium entry in the full-size sedan segment. Chrysler began the redesign of its LH platform two years ago with the all-new 1998 Concorde and Dodge Intrepid. Taking the platform to the next level, the automaker jumped into the 1999 model year with an all-new LHS. The redesigned luxury flagship of the Chrysler brand features an engine that is both more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor. The LHS is part of Chrysler's first "paperless" design, and all aspects of the new model were created using Chrysler's CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application). Chrysler claims that this process trimmed eight months off the total development time for the new LH models.