Chrysler Cirrus (1997)

Chrysler Cirrus (1997)I think my wife summed this car up perfectly. After riding half a block inthe passenger seat, she said, "What's this?" "A Chrysler Cirrus," I said."It feels like a rental car," she mused. To that I would only add, "A verynice rental car."

The Cirrus is Chrysler's midsized "family" car. It's supposed to competewith the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Taurus. It's also sold as theDodge Stratus and the Plymouth Breeze. (Someone was obviously passing aweather stone at Chrysler that week.) It's a very nice car. It's veryroomy for its exterior size, the six-cylinder engine in the Cirrus hasplenty of power (others come with a four-cylinder base engine), and thehandling is very good. Controls are well laid out, everything is easy tofind, and the seats are comfortable. It feels like a bigger car than it is.So, what's to complain about? Well, visibility out the back is prettylousy. And the turning circle is about half the circumference of Pluto.

Then there's reliability--we have no idea whether this car will prove to bereliable or not, but it's certainly not a "given." It seems our AssociateProducer Ken Rogers has his Eagle Vision in for repair once a month or so.So, because of our uncertainties about Chrysler's reliability, this carwill receive a probationary recommendation. And, as my wife implies,there's something a little bit, uh, "plain" about it. It's not a car youget particularly excited about. But who says everyone wants to get excitedabout their darn car?? Maybe some people just want a nice-looking,good-driving, reasonably priced car that's going to get them from here tothere without jostling their kidneys around or making them seasick. TheCirrus certainly does that. And that's why the "rental car" analogy worksso well. For some people, people who are used to driving something reallyexciting--like, say a 1963 Dodge Dart convertible--a rental car is a drab,boring appliance. But if you drive a heap, as most people do (like, say, an'87 Dodge Colt Vista), driving a nice, clean, new rental car might be athrill and a half! Just the lack of smell might be rejuvenating. So,overall, the Cirrus is a very decent, good-handling, nice-size car. If wefelt more confident about Chrysler's reliability, we'd give a veryenthusiastic recommendation.

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