1996 Plymouth Breeze

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1996 Plymouth Breeze

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Available in 1 styles:  Breeze 4dr Sedan shown
Asking Price Range
$994–$5,582
Estimated MPG

25 city / 36 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 5

By 

The Morning Call and Mcall.com

Moderate.

That's the only way to describe Plymouth's new entry into the compact sedan wars.

In a way, it's a return to its roots for Plymouth, which started out as the low-priced Chrysler Corp. line, and over the years found its image blurred as its products became nothing more than rebadged Dodges and Chryslers.

With a new version of its original Mayflower logo, Plymouth fields its version of Chrysler's cloud cars (the Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus) with just one engine and a limited list of options.

It couldn't come too soon. The only other Plymouth car being sold is the subcompact Neon.

So what does a Plymouth buyer get for his or her money?

To start with, you get all the amenities of the basic cab-forward design. This is design-speak for a short hood and large passenger cabin. For the size of the car, the amount of interior space is impressive. Front-seaters are treated to immense amounts of room, helped by the large, sloping windshield and massive dash shelf. The dash itself is low-slung, a la Honda. In back, things aren't as roomy as up front, but are a bit better than the rest of the class. Headroom is tight because of the sloping roof line, but only the truly tall will object.

Styling is differentiated mainly up front, with a strong crosshatch grille and aggressive slatted chin spoiler. The test car was white with purple trim and blackout molding, lending a more sporting air to this four-door's rakish stance.

The sportiness continues when driving. The Plymouth, like its cloud-car cousins, has superb handling. Steering is quick and precise, enabling the sporting driver to toss the car through corners with ease. The car stays flat through twisting, turning roads, and the double-wishbone suspension soaks up bumps without transferring the shock to the passenger cabin.

The only downside is the engine. There's only one choice: the Neon's 132-horsepower 2.0-liter 16-valve single overhead cam four-cylinder. With only 129 foot-pounds of torque at a peak 5,000 rpm, this engine doesn't seem to enjoy being mated to the four-speed automatic transmission. Keep up the revs and there's adequate power for most circumstances, but you do have to push it. The result is fairly noisy, though certainly no louder than some competitors. The result is the toll it takes on fuel economy, a mere 20 mpg on a mixed driving loop.

Interior accommodations are as good as the handling. The dash is modern, clean and easy to use. The rotary knobs for the climate control have a good feel to them. The standard AM/FM stereo also was easy to use and boasted decent sound, with enough bass to make the mirror wobble during certain rap songs. The steering-wheel-mounted cruise-control switches were convenient, but easy to knock on accidentally. Some interior trim seemed cheap -- there was a small high-pitched noise when turning the steering wheel. Otherwise, the test car was well-made. The 15.7-cubic-foot trunk was roomy and flat, although not especially wide. The rear seat folds for longer items.

While Plymouth doesn't have standard anti-lock brakes (they're optional) or power locks standard like some competing GM models, it does offer some surprising amenities standard. Included in this test car were dual vanity mirrors, tilt steering wheel and a remote trunk release.

There are options, such as a cassette player and sunroof. But if you want frills, go to another Chrysler Corp. showroom. Moderation is the key here. True to its heritage, this car starts at just $14,060. The test car had one option, an automatic transmission, which brought the sticker price to just over 15 big ones. Not bad for a car with this much space and such good handling.

Moderate price, moderate accommodations, moderate engine. As long as you don't mind the engine's winded feel, this dose of moderation in an era of spiraling price tags is, indeed, a refreshing breeze. P>

1996 Plymouth Breeze Standard: 2.0 -liter single overhead cam four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent double wishbone suspension, power front disc-rear drum brakes, power rack-and-pinion steering, stainless steel exhaust, P195/70R14 tires with wheel covers, air-conditioning, AM/FM four-speaker stereo radio, tilt steering wheel, dual air bags, floor mats, remote trunk release, rear defroster, intermittent wipers. Optional: Four-speed automatic transmission. Base price: $14,060 As tested: $15,750 EPA mileage: 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway Test mileage: 20 mpg


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