The second-generation Chrysler LHS and the Chrysler 300M
Key competitive vehicles were used as benchmarks in the design of new vehicles; benchmarking was used to set quality and function objectives. Benchmark vehicles having similar technology and construction were assessed to determine their efficiency and performance on key functions. For example, cars with longitudinal, front-wheel drive power trains were evaluated for power train noise, vibration and harshness characteristics.
The following benchmark vehicles, which are different from the marketing target vehicles, were used to establish functional performance criteria:
|Chrysler LHS||Chrysler 300M||Both LHS and 300M|
|Lexus ES 300||Lexus GS 300||1993-1997 Vision and LHS|
|Toyota Avalon||BMW 528 and BMW 740i||Nissan Maxima|
|Lincoln Continental||Buick Park Avenue||Infiniti Q45, J30, I30|
|Cadillac STS||Oldsmobile LSS||Mazda Millenia|
|Oldsmobile Aurora||Audi A6||Lexus LS 400|
All seat tracks had 8.7 inches (220 mm) of longitudinal adjustment. This range of travel accommodated 96% of the US adult driving population. Slim center and rear pillars provided wide door openings, particularly in the rear, for easy entry and exit. The LHS trunk was roomier than in 1997; both LHS and 300M trunks benefited from a new hinge linkage that did not intrude on useable space.
The 3.5-liter V-6 engine increased acceleration. Stiffened, strengthened and refined engine structure made it run smoother and quieter. Platinum-tipped spark plugs and coil-on-plug ignition systems provided 100,000-mile scheduled tune-up intervals for both engines.
Fuel economy was increased by lowering weight and reducing brake and aerodynamic drag.
Subtle revision of the steering system, suspension systems and tires increased steering, handling, and ride qualities with reduced harshness and road noise.
A "battery saver" system turned off exterior and interior courtesy lamps if the driver forgot. The starter was prevented from operating when the engine was running. Enhanced power train electronic system capabilities helped assure mobility.
- The body structure was substantially stiffer than previous models for enhanced interior quietness.
- Unique structural sill construction that had no outer skin allowed each body to have a unique sill appearance using molded plastic sill cladding.
- Quad head lamps were standard on Chrysler LHS and Chrysler 300M.
- Aerodynamic development of the body and related systems significantly improved windshield wiper and washer performance. Body mounted windshield washer nozzles with six individual washer jets (three per side) provided full glass coverage.
- One-piece, die-cast window opening moldings increased fit and finish.
- All-new seats provided increased comfort and support
- A new windshield defrosting system cleared the glass more quickly and more completely than the prior system
- New radios provided easily understandable features and controls
- Radio and HVAC controls had the same appearance and feel
- The driver's floor mat included a tie-down hook to hold it in place
- The column-mounted multi-function switch stalk was raised slightly and its graphics were rotated toward the driver to improve visibility through the steering wheel
- The floor console armrest was raised 1.2 inches (30 mm) and the leading edge was slightly forward of its former location, making it level with the door armrest
- The remote trunk release button was readily visible and accessible on the instrument panel
- Radio and HVAC controls were in the center of the instrument panel and placed closer to the driver than on prior models. A new radio mounting system allowed radio and HVAC controls to be closer to each other for easier access
- Radio and ATC (automatic temperature control) operation and logic were refined. Button shape, nomenclature, freedom from hidden functions and tactile feedback contributed to clear and intuitive operation
- The steering column tilt lever curved upward for easy access
- Steering wheel spoke size and placement were designed to allow a variety of hand positions and assured visibility of cluster and switches
- The steering wheel rim was softer and more comfortable
- Pressing the flexible steering wheel trim pad operated the horn switch
Safety And Security
- Next-generation, hybrid driver and passenger air bags used smokeless inflators
- Interior trim provided extended head impact protection meeting 2003 standards
- Dynamic side impact protection system
- A Sentry Key(TM) Theft Deterrent system provided enhanced vehicle theft protection
- Standard HomeLink universal transmitter used "rolling code" technology to enhance security
Reduced engine noise, better suspension isolation, improved body structural stiffness and better insulation all contributed to quietness. A rubber-isolated rear suspension cross member significantly reduced interior noise for rear seat passengers. Front suspension and power train mounting cradle isolation was significantly refined. Larger door weather strips and more accurate door fitting helped minimize wind noise. Full-stamped doors provided a consistent sealing surface for the weather strips.
Aerodynamics played a major role in refining the exterior designs. The combination of a rounded front end in plan view, lower fascia shaping, gently flowing windshield pillars, aero-tuned sill cladding to enhance air flow around the tires and a tapered rear end combined to give these cars outstanding aerodynamics. The designs contained subtle aerodynamic refinements in the cowl, outside mirrors, windshield pillars and windshield header that reduced wind noise and helped control water flow over the body as well as reducing drag. The drag coefficient of both vehicles was .31.
Aerodynamics features for water flow management and wind noise reduction included:
- One-piece side window moldings had the least possible offset from the glass and included full perimeter sealing to the door frame that minimizes wind noise
- Full-stamped doors and full side aperture body construction provided more stable and accurate sealing surfaces to reduce wind noise
- A cowl screen formed to deflect air above wipers reduced wind noise and eliminated washer fluid upward flow off parked wiper blades
- Water channels in the windshield side moldings kept the lower half of the side windows clear while limiting wind noise
- Outside mirrors were shaped for low wind noise
- Full door opening upper weather stripping stopped roof water from entering open doors
The following new or improved features helped to ensure ample cooling air flow through the engine compartment:
- Cubic-curve surfaces surrounded the grille opening to maximize air flow through the grille
- Slots in the cowl screen allowed air to flow over the engine mounts and exit at the rear lip of the hood
- A portion of the hood-to-cowl seal was removed to provide a cooling air flow path over electrical and electronic equipment
- Louvers in the engine compartment side panels and enlarged openings for the drive shafts and tie rods allowed air to exit through the wheel wells
- Vastly improved front air dam and fascia and a small under tray between the lower radiator cross member and the power train/suspension cradle forced air to exit aft of the engine, not recirculate through the cooling module
- Baffles between fascia and radiator support panel forced incoming air through the cooling module
300M and LHS Noise Reduction
Updates and notes
For 2000, the 300M and LHS gained new colors, revised instrument cluster vacuum-fluorescent display shapes, a four-disc CD changer (in the cab) with Infinity II stereos (early models tended to have bounce issues with CDs), cupholders in the rear center armrest, chrome window and lock switch rockers, and color-keyed mirror switches; the rear suspension was modified to cut noise, vibration, and harshness (in spring 1999), and the gas cap was changed. The 3.5 V6 was LEV compliant in California-like regions.
The 2002 Chrysler LHS was renamed to Chrysler Concorde, and the existing Concorde was eliminated. We have a review of this vehicle (the Concorde-named LHS), as well as the 1999 and 2001 300M and the 2002 Chrysler 300M Special.