Lemons Wish List: Late-Model Chrysler Models Provide a Ripe Batch

By: Eric Rood Photo Credits: Chrysler PR
September 5, 2019

Yes, it’s time for another of the 24 Hours of Lemons Organizer’s Wish Lists. We keep a running tab on cars that should show up in Lemons races but haven’t. Periodically, we add a fresh batch with a handful of cars we’d love to see. With the recent overall victory of a (mostly wounded) Pontiac Solstice in Lemons (more on this soon), we pondered what late-model cars (the Solstice being “new” at 13 years old) might turn up soon. The list is long and starting to run into the decade-old hypothetical “What Lemons cars would you bring in 2020?” We’ll have a few more lists of this nature soon, but we figured we’d start with the paragon of Lemons-dom: Chrysler.

Chrysler Crossfire

We’re now 15 years removed from the debut the Crossfire, which is one of the shining gems from Daimler-Chrysler’s ill-fated merger of equals. Considering we’ve had a couple of Copart-acquired Pontiac Solstices in Lemons, we would love nothing more than an All-American-By-Way-Of-Germany showdown. Not only was the Solstice a rebadged Opel, the Crossfire too was largely a gently reworked R170 Mercedes-Benz chassis.

Wikipedia says the Crossfire 80 percent of a Mercedes SLK roadster, so how badly could Chrysler screw up the other 20 percent? If you’re the type to scour Copart, buff out crash damage, document the process, and then still roll the dice on a Chrysler drivetrain, consider this Lemons issuing a challenge.

Dodge Avenger

It hasn’t taken 15 years, however, to render the Dodge Avenger a minor footnote in Dodge’s history. That’s exactly how Chrysler wants it, too. We’ve heard rumor that Dodge’s public-relations team never kept press loaner final-generation Avengers around so no one would review the hopelessly outdated Avenger. Indeed, reviews are pretty scarce and the ones that do exist are brief to the point of suspicion. It doesn’t take long for these to end up junkyards, so maybe—just maybe—that Avenger R/T or SXT headed for scrap with its 283-horsepower Pentastar V6 could be the true  secret to winning Lemons.

Chrysler Minivans, Post-K-Platform

We’ve had a couple of boxy K-Car-based minivans in Lemons, but none have dared bring Chrysler’s jellybean-shaped people-carrying successor. With the Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country’s third generation, Chrysler purged the K-Car basis (a plus) which also meant tossing out the optional manual transmission (a minus). Nevertheless, the Chrysler-designed pushrod V6s (3.3 and 3.8 liters) have largely been untested in Lemons. Neither engine is likely to propel a 1998 Plymouth Voyager to an overall victory, but minivans have been solid Class C contenders. They also have extra room for silly engine swaps. Mid-engined, twin-engined, quadruple-engined? Do it to it.

Plymouth Breeze and Chrysler Cirrus

We’ve seen a Dodge Stratus in Lemons before, but neither of its “Cloud Car” platform mates have yet to turn up. That’s a major disappointment, considering the Stratus’ role as one of several successful road-racing efforts by Chrysler in the 1990s. Of course, the driver’s ed-grade Breeze and the “upscale” Cirrus lack that “pedigree.” Instead, they had the 2.4-lite engine based on the Neon’s engine or an optional 2.5-liter V6 based on the earlier (and awful-in-Lemons) Mitsubishi 3.0-liter 6G72. Given that the original concept for the car made 400 horsepower from a turbocharged two-stroke engine (for some reason), the available Breeze and Cirrus options might be a disappointment. So perfect for Lemons, in other words.

Chrysler Pacifica

Yes, this is the vehicle with literally everything working against it. That’s not just a statement about its utility in Lemons, either. Chrysler tried to cast this Daimler-Chrysler joint failure’s legacy down the memory hole by renaming their minivan Pacifica in 2017. Just to start in Lemons, you’ll need a weight waiver for the crossover Pacifica to meet the 4,200-pound maximum (it weighs around 4,450 pounds).

Should you get that, you’ll need to somehow keep any of the optional V6s running, then somehow make the all-wheel-drive system survive. Then it’s just the matter of keeping tabs on the fritzy electronic systems and poor handling. Even then, you’ll have to willingly suffer the indignity of looking like Karen who can’t find the yoga studio that her friend recommended and ending up on a racetrack instead. But legend status seldom comes easily in Lemons.

More? Oh, we’ve got more.

Of course, we’re still waiting on Lemons’ first Dodge Nitro, Dodge Caliber, Dodge Magnum, and pretty much anything else Chrysler built from 2000-2010. And really anything Chrysler has ever built. It’s all primed for Lemons. Want more ideas? We’ve got a whole gaggle of Wish Lists below.

Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 1
Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 2
Late-Model American Cars We’d Like to See
Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 3
Six More Cars On Our Wish List
Still More Wish List Cars
Weird GM Hatchbacks for Lemons
Even More Wish List Cars
Five American Cars With Imported Engines
7 Cars for Class C Domination

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