Ever since the days when Walter P. Chrysler founded his Chrysler Corp. the company has built some upscale automobiles. But none surpassed the all-new, 1999 Chrysler LHS, the most luxurious Chrysler ever.

The '99 LHS sedan builds on the corporation's heritage of design and engineering innovation. The new car emulates in modern tones the classic themes of the past, while offering a blend of current-dayperformance.

Chrysler initiated the styling theme of cabin-forward design, and has carried it forward in its new four-door. With the wheels pushed out to the sedan's four corners and the flowing lines marked by an aggressive-looking front end, the LHS presents an aura of slick styling.

The styling doesn't do too badly from a technical standpoint either, as the co-efficient of drag for the large sedan is a respectable 0.31.

With a steeply raked windshield and a sloping roof, the LHS combines the look and feel of a sports coupe with the functionality of a four-door. Its cabin-forward design increases both the cabin area and the cargo space.

Designers of a luxury automobile need to pay attention to detail, and the car's interior stylists did that by filling the five-seater'scabin area with premium features.

Standard power accessories and leather are a given. It's the other little touches that separate the LHS from the upscale mundane.

An example is the chrome-ringed interior gauges that blend the lettering style and design of fine Swiss watches with electroluminescent lighting. This technology was used on Chrysler's1996 LHX concept car.

The instrumentation is the standard four-gaugespeedometer-tachometer-temperature-fuel, plus a plethora of monitor lights for operating conditions. Complementing the gauges is an analog clock placed in the center of a winged relief, with the winged theme reminiscent of Chrysler badging that dates back to Walter's time.

Dash mounted controls include stereo and ventilation controls that are arranged in a center stack bezel that flows into the center console. The heated front leather seats have personalized memory controls for the driver. The seat backs mount four-way adjustable head restraints.

In the rear seating, there is a pass-through section behind the center arm rest that allows access to the trunk.

Devotees of luxury sedans may possibly prefer vehicles with two more cylinders, for powering the LHS is a V-6.

However, Chrysler says its new high-output engine is the best performing normally aspirated V-6 on the market, and features an aluminum block with cast-in iron liners and cast aluminum heads. The motor displaces 3.5-liters (214.7 cubic inches), features a single overhead cam (per bank) activating four valves per cylinder, and produces 253-horsepower and 255 foot-pounds of torque. That's pretty impressive for a single stick with rocker arm valve action, especially considering that maximum engine speed is a stellar 6,800rpm.

That puts it right up there with the double overhead cam crowd. Chr ysler engineers maximized all the engine's air-flow systems through extensive use of computer simulations, and as a result obtained higher output per cubic inch of displacement.

It is quite obvious that the horse-power is well above the performance benchmark of 1-horsepower per cubic inch. These 253horses will get an LHS down the road in a hurry. I'm going to speculate that, with the speed calibrated to 120 mph, there will be no great difficulty at pegging the indicator at that number.

Speed does not a luxury car make. And the package that makes the LHS a luxe set of wheels is a combination of styling, technology, and the ease and comfort of driving the thing.

The new body/chassis structure is stiffer than the predecessor model, and this provides a platform for the front-drive's advanced, luxury-tuned four-wheel independent suspension to do its work. The sedan stands of 113 inches of wheelbase and is 207.7 inches in overall length, specifications that put it in the large car cate gory. With ISO struts with integral gas-charged shocks in front, and Chapman struts with integral gas shocks plus a multi-link system in the rear, the LHS possesses a combination of ease of ride with sure-footed stability.

From the time the initial LHS was introduced in May 1993 as a 1994 model, the car has been progressively improved to where Chrysler can claim "best ever." And with a sticker price of $29,445, the company can claim "best price ever" considering its features.