DaimlerChrysler has given its mid-sized Dodge and Chrysler cars nearly a billion-dollar redesign for the 2001 model year.
In addition to new engines and sheet metal, the sedans and coupes have undergone major engineering changes to reduce noise and improve handling.
'I want a vehicle to perform under the skin as well as it does in our design signature, which we have become famous for,' said Jim Holden, president of DaimlerChrysler in North America. 'It's NVH, it's handling, it's braking capability under the worst conditions, it's the whole package.' NVH is short for noise, vibration and harshness.
DaimlerChrysler unveiled only two of its mid-sized models at the Chicago show, the Dodge Stratus sedan and the Stratus coupe. The Avenger nameplate has been dropped, though the 2001 Stratus coupe will target the same market.
It will be more efficient to market both cars under the Stratus name, Holden said.
Replacements for the current Chrysler Cirrus sedan and Sebring coupe will bow at the New York auto show this spring.
The automaker said engineers made significant improvements in the Stratus sedan's structural rigidity and stiffness. For example, the new sedan has a 13 percent reduction in twist and a 33 percent reduction in bending.
In addition, the Stratus sedan is available with DaimlerChrysler's 2.7-liter V-6, which is quieter and offers 32 more hp and 20 more pounds-feet of torque than the Mitsubishi V-6 offered on the 2000 model.
The Stratus coupe stays on the current Mitsubishi-based platform and will be assembled by Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc. in Normal, Ill., where the current Avenger coupe is assembled. According to DaimlerChrysler, the 2001 coupe's body rigidity has increased significantly: 90 percent in bending and 9 percent in torsion.
The Stratus coupe goes on sale in late summer, followed by the sedan.