Black Enterprise Auto Guide

Reviews of 36 new vehicles arriving in 1999

promotion with bigger cars at lower rates across the U.S. Get an SUV/Minivan at a midsize car price ($49 per weekday; rate code 4W) or a compact car at a subcompact price ($29 per weekend day; rate code X5). ..RJ.- –Valerie Lynn Gray

Of the two newest Chrysler cars, the LHS is aimed at the more traditional American buyer. It is longer than its sibling 300M, with greater interior room and a more plush ride. The result is a Chrysler that harkens back to an age when this company’s cars held a dramatic presence on the road. A huge, chromed grille leads the way, mimicking a Ferrari. The windshield is swept back sharply to make the car appear more like a coupe than a sedan.

The interior design creates more drama with chrome-surrounded instruments styled like the face of an expensive watch. There’s ample room for five adults, although the sweep of the roof line does make entry and exit somewhat of a challenge.

While there are many cues to remind the viewer of great cars of the past, the one unfortunate reminder is Chrysler’s still-below-par build quality. Gaps between metal panels leave one wondering if this can really compete with other cars in the $29,000 to $31,000 range. Certainly, the LHS has the room, style and features. The 253-horsepower V-6 provides ample thrust and the luxury level is acceptable. All this makes one wish that the company could build its cars with the same level of quality seen at Toyota or Honda, or even rival domestic brands.

As one of the last purveyors of time-honored American cars, Buick brings full-size luxury to the forefront. There are no claims of “Europ
ean sportiness” here. Instead, you get room for six adults. The ride is aimed more at comfort than wringing another mile per hour around the skid pad. Under the hood is a large and well-proven V-6. If 205 horsepower isn’t enough, the blower gives you another 35.

Despite traditional ideas, the application is purely modern. The power under the hood flows evenly through a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. Should the road surface become slippery, traction control is available to tame the driving experience. That supple ride provides just enough feedback to the driver to allow sporty driving when desired.

Within the passenger compartment, the experience is serene. When a driver approaches the car, his or her personal key fob can unlock the door or sound the alarm. Once inside, internal mechanisms can program everything from the seat position to the climate control and audio settings. The low- to mid-$30,000 Park Avenue is for those who believe in effortless driving. ..RJ.-

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