Used Vehicle Review: Chrysler Intrepid, 300M, LHS and Concorde, 1998 2004  used car reviews chrysler
2002 Chrysler Concorde. Click image to enlarge


By Chris Chase

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When Chrysler’s LH sedans – the Chrysler Intrepid, LHS and Concorde and the Eagle Vision – went on sale in 1993 and 1994, they were some of the few cars from Chrysler that weren’t derived in some way from the K-Car. The large LH cars featured wedgy “cab-forward” exteriors, spacious cabins, and surprisingly good ride and handling.

The second generation of these cars, which debuted in 1998, carried on the styling trend set by the first batch, with their long wheelbases and steeply raked windshields. The Intrepid, Concorde and LHS carried on as variations on a theme, but the Vision died along with the rest of the Eagle lineup. In its place came the Chrysler 300M, a resurrection of an iconic Chrysler nameplate from the 1960s.

In 1998, the new cars got some new powertrains to go with their freshened looks: the Intrepid and Concorde got either a 2.7-litre (200 hp) or 3.2-litre (225 hp) V6, while the 300M and LHS used a 3.5-litre V6 making 253 horsepower (250 in 2001 and newer models). All four used a four-speed automatic transmission. In 2001, an Intrepid R/T became available, powered by the 3.5-litre engine; in 2002, the LHS was dropped and the 300M Special model debuted with sharp 18-inch wheels and a few more ponies under the hood.

Used Vehicle Review: Chrysler Intrepid, 300M, LHS and Concorde, 1998 2004  used car reviews chrysler

Used Vehicle Review: Chrysler Intrepid, 300M, LHS and Concorde, 1998 2004  used car reviews chrysler
2003 Chrysler 300M. Click image to enlarge

Also that year, the 3.2-litre V6 was dropped, and the 3.5-litre became the only optional powerplant in the Intrepid (mid-level ES versions had a 234-hp version of it; top-end SXT models got 244 horsepower). In 2004, the Intrepid, Concorde and 300M were replaced by the all-new and wildly-successful Chrysler 300 and 300C (which was eventually joined by the Dodge Charger and Magnum), built on a rear-wheel-drive platform derived from the previous generation Mercedes E-Class.

While the LH-platform-based sedans were generally well-regarded for competent driving dynamics and comfortable interiors, they were not without fault when it came to reliability. As with many Chrysler products from this era, automatic transmission problems were common. Some problems have been linked to faulty electronic sensors and others result from plain old mechanical failures. Causes and fixes for a few of the common issues can be found on this page at Allpar.com.

Clunking noises from the front end are common, as are problems with tire pressure sensor systems on higher-end versions. Also, power windows and seats frequently develop minds of their own and sometimes refuse to respond to their controls. The 2.7-litre V6 is known for being somewhat problematic, with oil burning being particularly common. This page at DodgeIntrepid.net (the Intrepid was sold as a Dodge in the U.S., but was mechanically identical to the Canadian Chrysler version) details one fix: swapping the 2.7-litre engine out for one of the larger 3.2- or 3.5-litre motors.

Shadetree mechanics may appreciate this link to an LH sedan shop manual in PDF form. And those who like to read about others’ automotive misfortune may want to check out the distinct anti-Chrysler sentiment at www.daimlerchryslervehicleproblems.com.

Used Vehicle Review: Chrysler Intrepid, 300M, LHS and Concorde, 1998 2004  used car reviews chrysler
2001 Chrysler LHS. Click image to enlarge

The LH sedans performed reasonably well in crash tests. Depending on the model, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded these cars with three or four stars in their testing for front and rear seat occupant protection in frontal and side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recorded a poor result for the 300M, Concorde and LHS for 1999-2000 models in that organization’s frontal offset crash test due to inadequate front airbag deployment; a redesigned airbag system for 2001 improved that result to acceptable. The 2000-2004 Intrepid earned an acceptable rating from the get-go.

Safety features like anti-lock brakes and traction control were available on all of the LH sedans (except for entry-level Intrepids), and were standard in higher-end models. Side airbags became an option on all cars in 2001.

Used Vehicle Review: Chrysler Intrepid, 300M, LHS and Concorde, 1998 2004  used car reviews chrysler
2003 Chrysler Intrepid. Click image to enlarge

Fuel economy varied from 11-11.3 L/100 km (26-25 mpg) city and the low 7 L/100 km (40 mpg) highway range for the 2.7-litre, to 12.6-12.9 L/100 km (22-23 mpg) city and 8 L/100 km (35 mpg) highway for the 3.5-litre, with the 3.2-litre just about splitting the difference. In the real world, don’t expect much difference between the three; given the rarity of the 3.2-litre engine and the 2.7-litre’s mechanical issues, the 3.5-litre looks like the best choice given its decent economy-to-power ratio.

Canadian Red Book values first-year (1998) Intrepids at about $4,200 predicts that a Concorde from the same year might fetch $4,700-$4,800. The high end of the price range stretches to just under $25,000 for a 2004 300M Special, which represents a huge depreciation hit for a car that retailed for more than $44,000 brand new. Interestingly, real-world asking prices vary from a few examples selling for well over Red Book prices, and a surprising number going for well under those numbers. Look for a well-cared-for 300M and you could drive away in a sharp-looking car with nice performance and lots of goodies for a little under $20,000. For a more basic big car, look for a 2003 or 2004 Intrepid ES (so as to avoid the 2.7-litre V6), which you should be able to find for somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000.

Chrysler’s second LH sedans are an attractive option, offering a lot more style than competitors from General Motors and Ford, at prices comparable or even lower than those for well-equipped mid-size imports. Look for an example that’s been well maintained and with a bit of luck, you could end up with a decently reliable and stylish big sedan.


Online resources

www.allpar.com – simply put, this is one of the most comprehensive sites on the web for Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth owners and enthusiasts and a must-browse for anyone looking to learn more about any car built by Chrysler Corporation and DaimlerChrysler.

www.chryslerforum.com – this isn’t a terribly busy site, with only about 1,500 members. Forums dedicated to the LH sedans are buried in a “Past Chrysler Models” section with a scant 72 topics – fewer than the number found in the minivan forum. Nevertheless, you never know where you might find what you need, so it’s worth at least a quick look.

www.330mclub.org – here’s a more popular spot, with about 3,200 members and a heap of forum sections covering just about everything under the Sun related to the club and the Chrysler 300M. Go here for a good FAQ about these cars.

http://www.dodgeintrepid.net – this site was designed around the name of the Dodge Intrepid, which was sold only in the U.S. but is identical to the Canadian-market Chrysler version. It’s a relatively hopping spot, with more than 13,000 members and busy forums. One neat page is a list of rare Intrepid/LHS/300M/Concorde original equipment parts, complete with photos in many cases.


Manufacturer’s Website


Recalls

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003035; Units affected: 135,327

1998-2002: On certain vehicles, the driver seat recliner bolts could break which would allow the seat back to recline unexpectedly while the vehicle is in motion. Correction: Dealer will replace the recliner bolts with new shoulder bolt and, for vehicles with power driver seats built through January 2000, the recliner tracks will be realigned and a longer recliner driveshaft will be installed to prevent disengagement.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1998055; Units affected: 5

1998: The air bag module initiator assemblies may be missing some required initiator components. This will prevent the affected air bag from deploying when required. Correction: a replacement module was installed on this vehicle.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1998216; Units affected: 261

1999: These vehicles may not comply with C.M.V.S.S. 1101 – emission device. The wrong vehicle emission control information label (VECI) may have been installed on the subject vehicles. Correction: correct VECI label along with installation instructions will be mailed to owners.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000045; Units affected: 17,530

1999-2000: On certain vehicles, the adjustable turning loop on the shoulder belt top mounting bolt may have been manufactured with a core hardness that exceeds the specification for this type of application. Due to the excessive core hardness, these mounting bolts may not withstand the force required to function properly in certain impact situations, increasing the risk of injury to a belted occupant. Correction: The upper adjustable turning loop bolt will be replaced with a bolt of proper hardness.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004003; Units affected: 277,416

1999: On certain vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission and a floor-mounted shifter, the ignition-park interlock may become defeated and allow the shifter to be moved out of the Park position with the key removed. An inoperative interlock may also allow the key to be removed when the shifter has not been placed in the Park position. This may result in the vehicle rolling away without warning. Correction: Dealer will inspect the function of the ignition-park interlock system. Vehicles found with functional interlock systems will have a load-limiting push rod installed into the floor shifter lever. Vehicles with a non-functional ignition-park interlock system will have the shifter assembly replaced.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001134; Units affected: 10,930

1999: Certain vehicles fail to comply with requirements of C.M.V.S.S. No. 209, “Seat Belt Assemblies.” The front seat belt retractor may not work properly, it therefore will not adequately protect occupants in the event of a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the seat belt retractor.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000013; Units affected: 25

2000: On certain vehicles, the passenger side air bag inflator assembly contains an incorrect inflator charge. This condition could increase the risk of a passenger occupant injury in the event of a crash. Correction: Passenger air bag modules will be replaced.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000044; Units affected: 1,230

2000: On certain vehicles, the moulding flash on the primary lever may prevent operation of the deceleration lock and tilt lock functions of the driver’s side retractor. If this should occur in a frontal crash situation, driver protection from the seat belt may be reduced, increasing the risk of injury. Correction: Left front retractor assemblies will be replaced on affected vehicles.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000164; Units affected: 40

2000: On certain vehicles, the brake master cylinder piston retainer snap ring may have been bent inward during the assembly process. The master cylinder piston may be in the “brake applied” position due to the damaged snap ring. When the piston is in the applied position, the fluid compensation ports are closed which results in a brake drag condition which could cause brake system overheating, brake fade and increased stopping distance. Correction: Master cylinder will be replaced.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003219; Units affected: 2,916

2004: On certain vehicles, an internal hood latch component may have been manufactured with a crack, which could eventually propagate and break, allowing the primary/secondary latch spring to become disengaged. This could result in loss of both primary and secondary hood latch function. Loss of hood latch function can result in the hood opening without prior warning. Correction: Dealer will replace the hood latch.

Autos’s complete list of Used Car Reviews

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.