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MERGING INTO THE FAST LANE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Apr 18, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

All New 2004 Chrysler Crossfire

MERGING INTO THE FAST LANE By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

America's classic Route 66 and Germany's legendary Autobahn are two of the most famous roads in the world. This year, drivers will be able to merge onto either in Chrysler's all-new 2004 Crossfire, a sports coupe that combines Chrysler's American heritage with German engineering.

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

ALL-NEW 2004 CHRYSLER CROSSFIRE 'MERGING INTO THE FAST LANE' "Chrysler Crossfire symbolizes what the merger is all about" says Dieter Zetsche, President and CEO of the Chrysler Group. "It's a great example of what we call disciplined pizzazz, or the ability to bring a got-to-have-it vehicle with top quality to market quickly and profitably by working together, combining strengths, and effectively leveraging our resources. Chrysler Crossfire is the icon of the Chrysler brand, as it incorporates proven quality and technology in a stunning wrapper." Chrysler has been known to make bold steps, and the Crossfire follows in the steps of the Dodge Viper and Chrysler PT Cruiser - combining head-turning design with world-class engineering. The Crossfire was developed in just 24-months. After a concept was shown in 2001, a year later a production version was shown, and the car went on sale in the late summer of 2003 as a 2004 model.

With its long hood and fastback, the Crossfire's side profile is instantly recognizable. The car's broad shoulders envelop 19-inch rear wheels. Front wheels are slightly smaller at 18 inches. With the larger wheels in back, it gives the side profile a poised stance. The name Crossfire was conceived during the development of the car's distinctive character line, which moves precisely and rapidly from front to rear. The character line 'crosses' to a negative formation as it travels quickly from the front through the rear fender. Crossfire's wide, muscular rear fenders conclude in the large sculpted tail lamps. The side profile is completed with metallic-finished side air louvers. "In addition to romantic shapes and sleek, athletic lines, we gave Chrysler Crossfire a unique new glass-to-body proportion" say Trevor Creed, Senior VP-Design. "We made the body sides tall while minimizing glass surfaces. We wanted to give the driver the feeling of being inside the cockpit of something very special, sporty, and serious." The unique front fascia features quad halogen projector headlamps and Chrysler signature egg crate grille. The lower bumper features round fog lamps, and a splitter with lattice protected lower air openings.

The sculptured hood prominently showcases Chrysler's new signature winged badge, which spans the entire upper width of the chrome grille. Six grooves run the length of the hood and complement the grille. One of Crossfire's most distinguishing features is its center spine that runs the length of the car and provides a chiseled, carved appearance. The line starts at the front grille and ends between the dual exhaust pipes. This distinctive line also appears on door handles and exterior mirrors. Chrysler Crossfire's rear view is stunning, with a tapered, 'boat tail' appearance that emphasizes its wide rear wheels, tires and fenders, and beautifully designed dual center-mounted exhaust outlets. A retractable spoiler is designed flush into the rear and activates when the Crossfire reaches about 60mph. There is a push button inside to shut it off and keep it flush. Karmann, a long-time Daimler partner, manufactures all the steel body panels and interior of this very uniquely designed 2-seat sports coupe. Founded in Germany in 1901, Karmann is one of the world's leading full-service suppliers to the automotive industry.

Chrysler Crossfire's sophisticated two-tone, twin-cockpit interior complements the exterior. The distinctive exterior center spine shape also appears on the center console, shifter and instrument panel. From the drivers' seat, the center spine shape appears to continue from the instrument panel through the windshield and onto the hood. It is also integrated into the interior headliner. The leather trimmed, heated, 8-way powered bucket seats are very comfortable and very supportive, and feature Chrysler's signature winged badge embossed into both headrests. The ignition switch is located on the dashboard, not on the steering column.

Precise, elegant gauges are white-on-black with metallic accent bezels and a chrome trim rings. You get a 160 mph speedometer, 7,000 rpm tachometer, and smaller gauges for fuel and engine coolant temperature. Bright LED lights warn of system or safety failure. An LED readout for the current time and outside temperature are also featured on the instrument panel. The leather wrapped and telescoping, four-spoke steering wheel feels great in your hands. The center console has a metallic finish, and flows from the top of the instrument panel through the center of the car to achieve a cockpit environment. Metallic accents are featured throughout the interior, including on the doors, shifter knob, foot pedals, steering wheel and instrument cluster. The big metallic shifter knob is in the right place for easy operation. Standard equipment inside includes power door locks/windows, with one-touch down, electronic speed control, Infinity Modulus audio system with AM-FM-CD, and a 240-watt digital amplifier with six speakers including dual subwoofers (this terrific sound system is based on Infinity's Modulus home theater surround sound system), dual-zone AC/heating, theater lighting with dual map lights, thick pile carpeting/floor mats, door storage slots, remote keyless entry, universal garage door opener and customized Crossfire touring gear-three specially designed luggage pieces that feature design cues from the Crossfire that fits neatly into the small trunk.

Under the skin, and out of sight is the proven Mercedes-Benz mechanicals that powers and controls the all-new Crossfire. The exciting Crossfire gets Mercedes 3.2 liter 18-valve SOHC V6 engine making 215 hp at 5,700 rpm and 229 lb. ft. of torque at just 3,000rpm. Mated to this potent engine is a smooth shifting six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed electronically-controlled adaptive automatic with AutoStick that gives you the choice of a semi-manual shifter. This rear-wheel-drive sports coupe is pinned to the ground via a race proven independent double wishbone front suspension with coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers and link-type stabilizer bar. The independent rear suspension is a five-link setup with coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The power assisted rack & pinion steering system does a great job of guiding you, whether your are just cruising or challenging the sharpest curves. Enhancing the compliant rides and supercar handling dynamics are big Michelin 225/40ZR18 front and 255/35ZR19 rear Pilot Sport tires that wrap around gorgeous seven-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, 18 x 7.5 in. front and 19 x 9 in. rear. On the track Crossfire hit 60 mph from a standstill in 6.1 sec. and pulls a mighty 1.1 g. on the skidpad - a very impressive figure for handling, and only attained by supercars. Quickly slowing the Crossfire from speed are power-assisted, 11.8 in. vented discs up front and 10.9 in. solid discs in the rear. These brakes feature ABS and large, single piston calipers. Helping to keep you in control during spirited driving is an electronic stability program (ESP), that is designed to assist you in maintaining control during severe steering maneuvers. ESP senses when a vehicle is staring to spin (oversteer) or plow (understeer), and attempts to correct the vehicle's course by automatically applying the brakes at individual wheels, and reducing throttle. All-speed traction control senses drive-wheel slip and individually brakes the slipping wheel and/or reduces excess engine power until control is regained.

The all-new Crossfire is a driver's car, yet very elegant, luxurious, and very uniquely designed. Safety features include Next-Generation driver and passenger front airbags, supplemental door-mounted thorax side airbags, LATCH child seat anchor system, front passenger airbag on/off switch, tire pressure monitoring system, Sentry Key engine immobilizer, and security alarm system with tow-away protection. Chrysler Crossfire is the Chrysler brand's first modern 21st-century two-seat sports car. With evocative styling, and graceful performance, Chrysler Crossfire represents the ultimate expression of the Chrysler brand. Crossfire is the sports coupe of the future as it combines stunning American design with proven German engineering. There is only one thing that I would change on the Crossfire. Legroom is listed at 42.7 in., but that has to increase for the-over-6-footers to really enjoy the pleasure of driving the Crossfire. I am 6 ft. 3in., and felt cramped behind the wheel. I am told that a convertible Crossfire will be coming to market in the summer, followed by a supercharged version - and I hope that they also increase the legroom by at least 3 inches. © Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Chrysler products, go to www.chrysler.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: Chrysler Crossfire Price: $34,495.00 Engine type: 3.2 liter SOHC, 18-valve V6 with aluminum heads/block Horsepower: 215 at 5,700 rpm Torque: 229 lb. ft. at 3,000 rpm Drive configuration: front engine/rear wheel drive Transmission type: six-speed manual/five-speed automatic with AutoStick Front suspension: independent double wishbone with coil springs, gas-charged shocks, link stabilizer bar Rear suspension: five-link with coil springs, gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 18X7.5in. front aluminum alloy wheels, 19X9in. rear aluminum alloy wheels, 225/40ZR18 front and 255/35ZR19 rear; Michelin Pilot Sport Performance tires Overall length: 159.8 in. Overall width: 69.5 in. Overall height: 51.4 in. Curb weight: 3,060 lbs. EPA mileage: 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway 0-60 mph: 6.1 sec.

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