2003 Chryslers, Dodges, and Jeeps: Changes from 2002
We are not responsible for errors or omissions. Source: Chrysler press materials.
Contents: Dodge - Dodge Truck - Jeep - Chrysler
- New Neon appearance - Porsche meets Caravan - along with other Neon improvements (and of course the SRT-4).
- New Stratus appearance made Stratus and Neon look almost identical from the front; other improvements as well.
- Dakota got the five-speed automatic
- Hemi engine available on the Ram 1500
- 3.8 engine available on Town & Country eL. Voyager de-emphasized, plethora of Town & Country models to expand the Chrysler brand. Maybe by 2020 it'll be as large as Plymouth in 1998?
- The 2.5 liter engine inherited from AMC, once used in the Wrangler, Cherokee, and Dakota (confusing many people since Chrysler had a lower-power 2.5 liter of its own), is finally gone, eliminated in the Dakota and Cherokee, and replaced by the 2.4 in the Wrangler - which also got the four-speed automatic.
Across the board
- Color changes
- Six-disc in-dash CD changer replaced four-disc in-dash CD changer
- CD-changer controls added to AM/FM stereo radio with cassette in most cases
- Safety and security upgrades where needed to meet 2003 Federal standards (mostly head impact protection and LATCH system for child seats).
- Redesigned. Click here for details.
- New front end styling with Caravan-style grille area and lowered hood for a more racy look. The Neon looked just like the Stratus sedan, and is just about the same size, too. So why spend about $6,000 more for the Stratus? Apparently, based on sales figures, most customers were asking the same question...
- Automatic transmission thankfully retuned, with a new engine/transmission computer and new engine mounts for a quieter interior.
- Model lineup made more sense, albeit with no connection to any Dodge history, with the base model (SE), optioned-out SXT (replacing ES), sporty R/T, and high-performance, limited-edition SRT. The ACR was gone.
- Dodge says 83 percent of first-time buyers would buy another Neon.
- The SRT-4 boasted a refined 2.4-liter turbocharged engine with 215 horses (160 kW) and 245 lb.-ft. (332 Nom) of torque with 0-60 times reportedly under six seconds for under $20,000. The standard heavy-duty T850 manual transmission helped acceleration while the interior boasts "a satin silver center stack, shift knob and door handles. Performance seats modeled after those in the Dodge Viper and carbon-fiber texture leather on the steering wheel and shift boot all hail to the car’s racing-inspired heritage."
- Mildly revised rear with new taillamps. New steering wheel with an aluminum Dodge medallion, new wheels and wheel covers, six-disc in-dash CD player available on 2003 SXT and R/T models.
- It took virtually forever, but the fifth gear ratio on manual Neons had finally been changed to greatly reduce highway noise and increase gas mileage.
- Sentry Key made it hard to start the engine without the "real" key.
- R/T got new fog lamps, 16-inch aluminum wheels, non-gathered optional leather seat and door trim, body color center stack bezel.
Stratus Sedan (made by Chrysler)
- The SE Plus package, which few people even knew about, was dropped. Come to think of it, the Stratus itself almost seems to be a well-kept secret.
- Flexible fuel vehicle version with V6 / automatic that could deal with alternative fuel.
- SE and ES models remained even though Neon dropped ES.
- This was not new, but the Stratus sedan was given a five-star rating by NHTSA for both the driver and front passenger in a frontal impact and for rollover resistance. In addition, Dodge Stratus achieved "Good" ratings from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) on 40-mph frontal offset performance.
Stratus Coupe (made by Mitsubishi)
- Freshened exterior and interior with improvements in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH)
- New SXT package added remote keyless entry and 16-inch aluminum wheels to the base SE model. R/T continued but ES disappeared. New 17" wheels for R/T with chrome wheel option. SE and SXT get 16" wheels.
- Almost all of the Stratus coupe’s exterior had been updated for 2003, including front and rear fascias, grille, headlamps, taillamps, fog lamps and side sill moldings, hood, and trunk lid designs. The Dodge grille got chrome inserts. The exterior "draws from classic muscle car design cues," according to Jim Julow, Vice President - Dodge Division Global Brand Center. Funny, we see Porsche, first-generation Tiburon, and Caravan more than anything else.
- Two new interior color schemes (Dark Taupe with Medium Taupe and Black) and new trim bezel accents featuring a geometric carbon-fiber look. An instrument panel with white gauges on the cluster was welcome to those who found the original panel to be poorly conceived.
- The Stratus retained unusually good cargo and interior volume. Seat fabrics were new, as were door trim panels. An auto-dimming rear view mirror with compass and thermometer were added, along with garage door openers and readin glamps. The center console had been improved, and the R/T includes wheel-mounted radio controls.With cargo volume uncommon for coupes, the Dodge Stratus held its own and then some, with 102.6 cubic feet of total interior volume. The 60/40 spilt-folding rear seatbacks also allowed for stowing long items including skis or snowboards.
- The base engine was at 147 horsepower (158 lb-ft), not up to the Chrysler 2.4 engine in the Stratus sedan. The Mitsubishi 3.0 V6 put out 200 horsepower, just like the Chrysler 2.7 V6 in the Stratus sedan. AutoStick was optional with an automatic-equipped Stratus R/T, but it was based on the Mitsubishi transmission.
- The R/T was gone, the ES package L was gone, and the ES got the STX package standard. Confused yet? We were sorry to see the R/T go. The SXT package, with its cheesy interior, doesn't do it for us, even though it had a 244 horsepower V6. (A manual transmission would help it against the sub-seven-second Accord).
- Momentum 16-inch chrome wheels and 16-inch all-season touring tires on Intrepid SXT.
Caravan and Grand Caravan
- eC model discontinued
- SE Value Package has Remote Keyless Entry and AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and CD player optional
- Grand Caravan SE models now offer three-zone manual air conditioning
- eL adds 3.8-liter V-6 engine Optional
- Sport Caravan package named Popular Equipment Package
- Grand Caravan Package H named Family Package and K named Popular Equipment Package
- 3.8-liter V-6 included with Grand Caravan Popular Equipment Package
- ES added power liftgate, removable center console, Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC), auto dimming mirrors, AM/FM radio with cassette and CD, third-row lamps and grab handles, roof rack, steering wheel radio controls, 16-inch chrome "Ingot" aluminum wheels
- One-touch power sun roof with one of the largest openings in the segment (840 x 532 mm).
- Factory-installed DVD entertainment system, available with or without a power sun roof, using a flip-down 7-inch diagonal LCD screen and an in-dash DVD unit that plays both DVDs and CDs. It came with a wireless remote and two sets of minivan-first wireless headphones; auxiliary input jacks were included. With 130-degree viewing capability, this screen offered comfortable viewing for all rear seat passenger positions.
- Power adjustable pedals. With adjustable pedals, drivers had the ability to adjust their accelerator or brake pedals up to 2.75 inches (70 mm) rearward.
- New Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500
- No changes to Ram Van, Ram Van Wagon - these were being replaced by the Mercedes Sprinter, built by Freightliner and sold as Dodges and Freightliners.
- The 545RFE five-speed automatic was finally available with the 4.7, for better passing acceleration and an overall superior driving experience. It was optional on the Sport, Sport Plus, SLT, and SLT Plus. The 2.5 four-cylinder AMC engine was finally gone. It was ahead of its time but the Dakota's pretty heavy for a four-cylinder.
- Four-wheel disc brakes with rear-wheel anti-lock (RWAL) were standard on 4WD models and 2WD models 5350 lbs. GVWR and over
- 16" x 7" cast-aluminum wheels were standard on all models except R/T. Tires have chanced.
- Stampede Ground Effects Group for Regular and Club Cab® Sport models, (standard on R/T and optional on Regular and Club Cab 2WD models) included body-color front fascia with extension, rocker cladding, rear body color bumper with step pads, and tire and handling group.
- Four-gauge cluster standard on base and SXT models
- Next-generation controller (4.7L engine only)
- New six-disc in-dash CD changer radio was optional (late availability)
- Onboard Refueling Vapor Recovery System added to all Club Cab models
- Natural Vacuum Leak Detection Pump added (4.7L engine only)
- Standard four-wheel disc brakes for increased stopping power
- New 16" x 7" cast-aluminum wheels, standard on Sport models
- P245/70R16 black sidewall on/off road tires, standard on Sport 4x4
- 40/20/40 second row seat was standard
- Four-gauge cluster standard on Sport and SXT
- Woodgrain center stack bezel was replaced by Satin Silver SLT Plus
- Interior color-key door handles were replaced with Brushed Chrome
- Optional AM/FM stereo radio with six-disc in-dash CD
- New 2500 and 3500 models with many features including superior Hemi engines (click for details)
1500 SLT Plus was rebadged as Laramie on Regular and Quad Cab models and includes cosmetic touches, seventeen inch aluminum wheels, leather seats with eight-way power driver and passenger seats (the latter only on Quad Cab), four-wheel antilock disc brakes, overhead console with storage bin, map lights, HomeLink® universal garage door opener, compass, outside temperature display and trip computer, sliding rear window, remote keyless entry, theft deterrent system, woodgrain instrument panel bezel, dual zone temperature control, six-CD in-dash changer, wheel-mounted audio controls, and power adjustable pedals.
- "Work Special" Group, included grey bumpers with rear step pad, grey grille and wheels.
- Off Road Group (4WD 1500 series only), included 3.92 axle ratio, anti-spin differential, fog lamps, heavy-duty engine cooling, all-terrain tires, 17" x 8" aluminum wheels, tow hooks, transfer case and front suspension skid plates
- Light Group (late availability) was optional on SLT and Laramie and included cupholder, ashtray, underhood lamp and auto electrochromatic day/night mirror, switchable dome lamp, illuminated vanity mirrors
- Tow hooks standard on Laramie 4WD, optional in Protection Group for 4WD ST and SLT, 2WD ST, SLT and Laramie
- Adjustable pedals with manual transmission Optional
- AM/FM stereo with six-disc in-dash CD Optional
- Steering wheel-mounted audio controls were packaged with AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and CD player or an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and six-disc in-dash CD changer SLT; both equipped with 11-speaker Infinity system
- Electronic throttle control on 5.7-liter Hemi Magnum V-8 engine
- Automatic locking retractor added to passenger seat belts
- Wagons discontinued
- New 16" x 6.5" Steel painted wheels were standard on 1500 Models
- Renegade Premium model had dual power leather seats, premium interior, overhead console
- Four-wheel disc brakes standard on all models
- Full-size spare with matching wheel - Standard
- Available roof rack cross rails
- Reduced pressure shocks for improvements in overall ride comfort.
- Reduced brake pedal effort allowing shorter stopping distances during braking maneuvers was accomplished by increasing the master cylinder output pressure for a "lighter" brake pedal feel.
- New brake calipers for 2003 complement lighter brake pedal feel, providing smoother and more linear braking.
- Reduced steering effort both on- and off-center by a very noticeable 20-percent through the use of a revised steering gear torsion bar.
- Standard, multi-stage driver and passenger front air bags were designed to deploy at different levels depending on the severity of the impact.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo models featured a new high-back cloth seat for 2003. A low-back version was also available on Laredo models. In all Jeep Grand Cherokee interiors, a new cubby bin for holding sunglasses or cellular phones was added to the instrument panel, replacing the ashtray.
- New Rubicon model with Dana 44 heavy-duty front and rear axles, rear electronically controlled locking differentials with limited slip. A push-button operated switch allows either both the front and rear axles to be locked or just the rear differential for increased off-road performance. Also:
- 4.11 axle ratio
- Rock-Trac heavy-duty part-time transfer case with 4.0:1 low range
- LT245/75R16 MTR 31"-tall tires
- 16" x 8" Moab aluminum wheels
- Four-wheel disc brakes
- Diamond plate sill guards, unique "Rubicon" graphic
- 2.4-liter DOHC minivan engine finally replaces the ancient AMC 2.5.
- 42RLE four-speed automatic transmission with skid plate was optional with 2.4-liter and 4.0-liter engines (replacing the old, old three-speed automatic).
- Four-wheel disc brakes optional on Sport and Sahara
- New side view mirror design
- New interior colors, steering wheels, front seats
- Smoker�s Package optional on all models
- Auxiliary 12-volt outlet
- Speaker Pods replace Sound Bar
- New flush-mounted stereos
- New electrochromic rearview mirror standard on Sahara
- On-Board Refueling Vapor Recovery (ORVR)
- Power adjustable pedals were available in Chrysler Voyager LX. With adjustable pedals, drivers had the ability to adjust their accelerator and brake pedals up to 2.75 inches (70 mm) rearward. Optional (late availability).
- Driver and passenger air bags with multi-stage inflators to deliver appropriate restraint for the severity of impact
- Available supplemental side-impact air bags for front outboard occupants
- The eC model which almost nobody has heard of was gone, leaving the LX (why even name it if it's the only one, we wonder?) with two option packages: Value and Popular Equipment Packages
- Fold/recline feature added to second- and third-row seats on Value Package
Town & Country
- All wheel drive was no longer available on the LX. The eL had an optional 3.8 V6. The eX gained a standard driver-side power sliding door, steering wheel audio controls, Security Alarm, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The LXi adds power liftgate, Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC), auto-dimming mirrors, AM/FM radio with cassette and CD, third-row lamps and grab handles and roof rack. The Limited added heated front seats, AM/FM radio with cassette and six-disc CD changer and Quad-Command® seats with 50/50 rear bench.
- One-touch power sun roof with one of the largest openings in the segment (840 x 532 mm).
- Factory-installed DVD entertainment system. This new feature is available with or without a power sun roof. It was a flip-down seven-inch diagonal liquid crystal display (LCD) screen and an in-dash DVD unit that plays both DVDs and CDs. The entertainment system came complete with a wireless remote control and two sets of minivan-first wireless headphones. Auxiliary input jacks allowed connections with video games, MP3 players, video cameras, etc. With 130-degree viewing capability, this screen offered comfortable viewing for all rear seat passenger positions.
- Power adjustable pedals. With adjustable pedals, drivers had the ability to adjust their accelerator and brake pedals up to 2.75 inches (70 mm) rearward.
- Sirius Satellite Radio introduced on 300M (Late Intro.)
- Next-generation driver and front-passenger air bag, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with low-speed traction control, a vehicle theft deterrent system with the Sentry Key engine immobilizer, internal emergency trunk release and optional side air bags for front seat occupants.
- 215 horsepower turbocharged models with AutoStick or Getrag manual
- "The Chrysler PT Cruiser model lineup offered customers good value, as evidenced by a perfect score in the 2002 Consumer Reports annual automobile reliability ratings.
- New 15-inch bolt-on wheelcovers with bright lug nut caps are standard on the entry-level PT Cruiser. New accent color bodyside moldings were also standard, as were a fold-flat front passenger seat and rear seat head restraints.
- Sixteen-inch painted cast-aluminum wheels were standard on Touring Edition vehicles, as were new body color monotone front and rear fascias. A 16-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheel treatment also was available as an option on the Touring Edition.
- The 16-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheel treatment was standard on the PT Cruiser Limited Edition. This model's long list of standard features also included body color monotone front and rear fascias in 2003. An AM/FM radio with cassette and CD player also was standard on the Limited Edition model.
- An AM/FM stereo radio with integrated six-disc CD changer was optional on all 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser models.
- The 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser offered several safety features, including available remote keyless entry and a Sentry Key® Engine Immobilizer that made it almost impossible to start the engine without a customized owner's key. A rear seat trapped occupant release, rear door child protection locks and a LATCH (Lower Anchors and upper Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchorage system also were standard safety equipment on all PT Cruiser models, as were front and passenger side air bags. All PT Cruiser models included a unique transverse beam in the vehicle's body structure to protect occupants in the event of a side-impact collision. Front sup-plemental side seat-mounted air bags were also available. All three PT Cruiser backseat positions included shoulder seat belts. The PT Cruiser's available four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with low-speed traction control also helped prevent wheel lockup in hard braking situations.
- New exterior colors for the PT Turbo and all 2003 PT Cruisers included Electric Blue Pearl Coat and Onyx Green Pearl Coat.
- 2.7-liter SOHC V-6 Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) engine with ATX
- 15-inch painted 10-spoke Chrysler wheelcover Standard on LX
- No discernible changes