68 total-vehicle and vehicle-system target areas were established to define the character of the cars and to delight the customer. Objectives were shaded to reflect the individual character of each vehicle (Dodge vs Chrysler, Concorde vs 300M vs LHS). 296 Product Excellence targets were also established to increase the focus on ergonomics and the refinement of controls, switches, instrumentation, and body hardware.
The program used benchmarking to assess and rank key aspects of competitive vehicles and to establish fit, finish and body surface quality objectives. From that assessment, the capabilities of each car line in these areas were established and ranked on the basis of customer expectations and resource availability. Benchmark vehicles having similar construction were assessed to determine their technical efficiency. For example, cars with longitudinal, front-wheel drive power trains were evaluated for engine mount and power train noise, vibration and harshness characteristics.
For Intrepid and Concorde, the following benchmark vehicles, which are different from the marketing target vehicles, were used to establish functional performance criteria:
The 1998 Concorde interior was 2.5 inches (64 mm) longer aft of the front seat, making its rear seat as roomy as that of the 1997 Chrysler LHS. Both manual and power seat tracks had 8.7 inches (220 mm) of longitudinal adjustment.
Lowering Concorde and Intrepid 0.5 inch and moving the windshield header rearward 0.62 inch (16 mm) made the appearance sleeker. To maintain head clearance, the front seating position was lowered 0.25 inch (7 mm) and both the seats and the pedals were moved rearward 0.5 in. (13 mm). This also placed the pedals in line with the wheel houses, while providing more left-foot room for a more comfortable driving position. Concorde and Intrepid trunks were both larger and had more useable space than in 1997. Slim center and rear pillars provided wide door openings, particularly in the rear, for easy entry and exit.
Both new engines provided increased specific output-power and torque per unit of displacement-while maintaining or increasing acceleration. Both engines were structurally stiffer, stronger, and more refined than their predecessors to make them run smoother and quieter. Both had platinum-tipped spark plugs and coil-on-plug ignition systems to provide 100,000-mile scheduled tune-up intervals.
Refinement of the steering system, suspension systems and tires enhancde steering, handling and ride while substantially reducing noise, vibration, and harshness.
The 1998 Concorde and Intrepid provided better fuel economy than their predecessors, thanks to:
A "battery saver" system turned off exterior and interior courtesy lamps if accidentally left on, to prevent discharging the battery. A starter override system prevented starter operation 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.
Larger, quad halogen bulb headlamps gave Concorde and Intrepid significantly improved lighting performance.
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 provided world-class fit and finish.
The following interior features were new or improved:
Reduced engine noise, better suspension isolation, improved body structural stiffness and better insulation all contributed to the quietness of the Concorde and Intrepid. 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.
The combination of a rounded front end in plain view, lower fascia shaping, gently flowing windshield pillars with a "cubic-curve" cross section (a shape that resembled a graph of the equation y=x3), aero-tuned sill cladding to enhance air flow around the tires and a tapered rear end improve aerodynamics. Both 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. Drag coefficient varied among the two bodies due to detail variations in design, averaging 10 percent lower than the prior bodies. Aerodynamics helped design the following features to provide water flow management and wind noise reduction:
The following new or improved features helped ensure ample cooling air flow through a tight engine compartment populated by high-output aluminum engines and close-coupled catalytic converters:
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