Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $2,600*


1996 Chrysler Cirrus LXi


1995 Chrysler Cirrus LXi


1996 Chrysler Cirrus LX


1995 Chrysler Cirrus interior


1997 Chrysler Cirrus LX

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes
  • Instruments/controls
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Rear visibility
  • Road noise

This highly capable family 4-door equals its Japanese competition in many areas, and beats them soundly for passenger and cargo space.

Overview

Replacing the long-lived LeBaron, Cirrus was the first of Chrysler’s new front-drive JA compact/mid-size sedans. The Dodge Stratus and the less-costly Plymouth Breeze were introduced a little later. Cirrus came in LX and LXi trim levels. Trendy “cab-forward” combined with a 108-inch wheelbase helped provide an unusually roomy interior. Power came from a new Mitsubishi 2.5-liter V6, with four valves per cylinder. Making 168 horsepower, it mated with an electronic 4-speed automatic transmission. Standard features included dual airbags, antilock brakes, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, AM/FM/cassette stereo, and power windows, mirrors, and door locks.

Yearly Updates

1996 Cirrus
A Cirrus with a dual-cam 4-cylinder engine arrived for ’96. The Chrysler-built 2.4-liter 4-cylinder produced 150 horsepower and was standard in the LX. Like the V6 Cirrus, it came only with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The V6 was optional in LX sedans. Rear headrests were new this year.
1997 Cirrus
Changes were minimal for the Cirrus sedan’s third season. Interiors added a new center floor console with armrests and a storage bin. However, the 4-cylinder engine was now standard in both models, with V6 optional.
1998 Cirrus
Chrysler dropped both the 4-cylinder engine and LX trim level for the 1998 model year.
1999 Cirrus
Minor exterior changes included the addition of Chrysler’s winged grille badge and standard chrome wheels. A new extra was Sentry Key, a system that disables the ignition unless the proper key is used.
2000 Cirrus
Chrysler revived the 4-cylinder engine for use under Cirrus hoods, adding a 4-cylinder LX model to join the V6 LXi sedan. Aluminum wheels and an 8-speaker AM/FM cassette stereo became standard, instead of optional. Rear child seat anchorages were added to both models.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only a V6 was available in the Cirrus’s first year: a Mitsubishi engine that produced 168 horsepower. For 1996, the lower priced LX sedan came with a standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, with the V6 optional. Both engines drive only a 4-speed automatic transmission with electronic controls.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 165-167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 168
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/28

21.0

Road Test

Cirrus offers a lot to like, starting with spaciousness. Shorter than some compacts, its long wheelbase and roomy five-passenger interior move it into the mid-size class. Front passengers have generous space, and ample rear leg room allows some people to ride with legs crossed–though the seat isn’t wide enough for three adults to fit comfortably. The modern, thoughtfully arranged dashboard has clear gauges, smooth-working wiper/light stalks, and simple climate controls. However, rearward visibility is severely restricted by a narrow back window and high rear ledge.

Six-cylinder acceleration is fairly brisk, but the engine does not generate much torque below 3000 rpm or so. For that reason, the engine initially feels flat in highway passing, or whenever you need a quick burst of power. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and downshifts quickly for passing, though it occasionally lags just a bit, as if waiting for permission. Acceleration in the 4-cylinder Cirrus ranks as adequate, and that engine delivers better gas mileage. You’re likely to notice a lot of road noise on most surfaces. Both engines are loud under hard throttle, too.

The nimble Cirrus maneuvers easily and corners with athletic agility, good grip, and little body lean–less than a Honda Accord, for instance. Power steering is quick and precise, centering well after turns. Tires on the softer-suspended LX model can squeal a little in tight corners. Suspensions produce a stable, comfortable ride on most surfaces, rebounding instantly to most bumps and holes, though they don’t absorb pock-marked surfaces well. The sporty LXi has a well-controlled but firm ride, while the softer-sprung LX allows more bouncing.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Chrysler Cirrus LX 2.5-liter

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 45

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.0 186.0 71.0 54.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.7 16.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.1 36.8 42.3 37.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Cirrus 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - 2
40%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 92
Injury 96
Theft 94

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: AC compressor fails on cars with 2.5-liter engine, especially if car is driven mostly in heavy traffic in hot weather. (1995-96)
Air conditioner
Description: Air conditioning may be intermittent or stop completely due to failed pressure transducer. (1995)
Automatic transmission
Description: Transmission may shudder when accelerating from a stop, thump when coasting down to a stop, or slip when shifting. (1995)
Brake wear
Description: Pulling to left when braking plus premature wear of the left front brake pad and right rear brake shoes caused by overheated brake fluid because brake line is too close to exhaust pipe. (See also: recalls) (1998-00)
Steering noise
Description: A bad pinch bolt on the coupling between the steering intermediate and gear shafts may cause clunking or rattling noise in the steering column. (1995-00)
Tail/brake lights
Description: Moisture builds up in taillamps. (1995)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks in between the door and interior door trim or from the cowl/plenum/floor/A-pillar seams. (1995-96)
Headlights
Description: Poor illumination from headlights corrected by replacing both headlamp modules. (1996-97)

Recall History

1995
Description: Rear-seatbelt anchors will not withstand loading required by Federal standard.
1995-96
Description: Brake master cylinder can leak fluid, due to damaged seal; warning light will signal impairment prior to partial brake-system loss.
1995-96
Description: Corrosion of ABS hydraulic control unit can cause solenoid valves to stick open, so car tends to pull from a straight stop when brakes are applied.
1995-96 w/2.4-liter
Description: Oil leakage could cause engine-compartment fire.
1995-97
Description: Lower ball joint can separate due to loss of lubrication; could cause loss of control.
1995-98 w/automatic transmission
Description: If operator presses button to shift out of “Park” with key in locked position, pin can break; “ignition-park” interlock would then be nonfunctional.
1996-97
Description: Secondary hood latch spring can disengage if hood is slammed.
1998-99
Description: Right rear-brake tube can contact exhaust system clamp and wear a hole in it; tube could then leak, reducing braking effectiveness.
2000
Description: Incorrect child lock instruction labels could cause confusion as to whether the childproof safety lock was activated.
2000
Description: The right front-brake tube may get damaged.
2000
Description: Some of the owner’s manuals for these vehicles are missing instructions for properly attaching a child restraint system’s tether strap to the tether anchorage.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.