1989 Eagle Premier

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chicagotribune.com
The Eagle Premier deserves better, and that`s what it`ll get in the 1990model year, when Chrysler comes up with a new Dodge Monaco based on thePremier.

Monaco will give Chrysler an additional midsize, front-wheel-drive sedan. Now Jeep-Eagle dealers, who operated under the American Motors Corp.banner before the Chrysler takeover, might not agree that having to share aPremier offshoot with Dodge is that advantageous.

But sharing a car with Dodge dealers is far better than having no Premier at all.

For some time we`ve questioned the life expectancy of the Premier. In the 1988 model year, Chrysler sold 29,878 Premiers, hardly the type of demand toguarantee keeping the lights on at the Bramalea plant in Canada, which canproduce 200,000 to 300,000 vehicles annually.

Things have picked up slightly. Sales of the `89 model total 35,488, andChrysler expects to sell close to 50,000 before the `90 models arrive.

The addition of a Monaco will increase plant output and buy time forChrysler until it can bring out its midsize L-H replacements for the Premierand Monaco, probably in the spring of `92.

L-H is the designation for what at one time was going to replace thecompact K-bodies. Now, reportedly, the L-H will step up in stature.

The L-H supposedly will spring from the Premier platform, and there`s achance the L-H line will continue the Premier and Monaco names.

Premier is an inheritance from the days when Renault owned AmericanMotors. The Renault relationship has been a stigma for Premier. People tend toremember Renault being responsible for the Alliance and Encore, and theyforgo giving Premier a try.

Premier is offered in two front-wheel-drive, four-door sedan models, theLX and Euro-styled ES. And the ES is available in a super dolled-up Limitedversion.

We test-drove the `89 Premier ES Limited, with its standard 3-liter V-6teamed with 4-speed automatic, a quiet and peppy combo.

You first have to get past the plain, simple styling to appreciate thecar. In looks, Premier is similar to the new Dodge Spirit. The only designaward Premier or Spirit would win would be for perseverance.

All white, the ES Limited comes across as a step above the ordinary.Famed Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro is credited with dolling up the ESwith louvered lower body cladding, plastic body-colored wraparound bumper and plastic body-colored grille.

What Premier lacks in pizazz on the outside, it makes up for in roominess and comfort on the inside. It`s spacious front and rear, with one of theroomiest back seats in the business. The trunk is huge.

The base Premier LX comes with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine thatdevelops 111 horsepower. The ES comes with a 3-liter, 150 h.p. V-6 asstandard. Both are teamed with a 4-speed automatic.

The `90 Dodge Monaco will be offered in an LE version, with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or optional 3-liter V-6, a nd an ES version, with the 3-liter V-6.The LE will offer a 4-speed automatic as standard. The ES will have a 5-speed manual, with a 4-speed automatic as an option.

Premier isn`t in the same league as the Pontiac Bonneville SSE when itcomes to ride and handling. But it wasn`t meant to be. Ride is smooth, ifoverly soft. Handling is characterized by a noticeable lean and sway in turns and corners.

There`s an impressive list of standard equipment, including power brakesand steering, power windows/mirrors/seats/door locks, air conditioning, tintedglass, electric rear-window defroster, AM/FM stereo with cassette, 15-inchall-season radial tires, cruise control, leather seat trim, floor mats and a front seat center console with dual cupholders.

The base LX starts at $14,026, the ES at $16,309 and the ES Limited at$19,631.



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