1990 Dodge Daytona ES
US model 1990 Dodge Daytona ES

Chrysler Canada sold a whack of Daytonas back in the mid- to late 1980s and early 1990s. They were aimed at imports such as the Honda Prelude, as well as the Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, the Chevrolet Camaro and others of that ilk.

So a good buy? Well, the front-wheel-drive Daytona doesn’t match imports in terms of refinement and assembly quality, but they do deliver decent performance for a fair price.

Now the question is, What’s so special about the year 1990? That year Chrysler replaced the earlier 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine with a 2.5-litre four-banger (base engine). The bigger engine serves up better, smoother performance and reasonably good fuel economy. In fact, the Turbo model boasts acceleration equal to that of most V6s.

Still, be warned that the exhaust is fairly loud in stock cars. If it’s been modified, it might even sound more intrusive. As for the V6, it isn’t as quick as the most powerful turbo, but it doesn’t work as hard at making power.

Speaking of which, at various times the then-Chrysler Canada sold a total of five engine choices from this era. They offer quite a range of oomph: 2.5-litre non-turbo (100 hp); 2.5-litre turbo, SOHC (150-152 hp); 2.2-litre, SOHC and DOHC (174-225 hp); and, 3.0-litre V6, SOHC (141 hp). Transmission choices include five-speed manual and three- and four-speed automatics. The five-speed is the best choice for virtually every engine choice, though the clutch is stiff.

Chrysler envisioned the Daytona as something of a performance car. So handling is pretty good, though the stiff suspension can make for a somewhat hard ride. The IROC’s firm suspension and wide tires make for even tighter responses. The IROC’s ride quality is somewhat unforgiving compared to the soft road manners of the base Daytona. Somewhere in the middle is the ES model.

The Daytona’s cabin is not overly large. If you’re a taller person, you’ll likely find head room is tight. Fold-down rear seats make for a versatile cargo space. But adults will not be comfortable sitting back there when the seats are up. Thick roof pillars put limits on outward visibility. Also note the low front seats have front passengers feeling a bit closed-in. The doors are long, so entry and exit can be some work.

Any car this age should always be thoroughly checked for both mechanical and body issues. If you’re considering an older Daytona, pay particular attention to the automatic transmission and the chassis issues listed in Buyer’s Alerts.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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