Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,200*


1997 Plymouth Breeze


1997 Plymouth Breeze


1996 Plymouth Breeze


1996 Plymouth Breeze interior


1996 Plymouth Breeze

Pros:
  • Fuel economy
  • Passenger and cargo room
Cons:
  • Acceleration (2.0-liter w/automatic transmission)
  • Noise
  • Rear visibility

Less costly than many Japanese rivals, the competent Breeze also is better equipped and roomier than some other family sedans.

Overview

Intended as the lower-priced entrant into the midsize market, Breeze was the third version of Chrysler Corporation’s JA front-drive sedan. Breeze is similar to the Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Cirrus. Only one engine was available initially: a 132-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. Standard equipment included dual airbags, air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo unit power steering, and rear defroster. Antilock braking was optional, as was an integrated rear child seat.

Yearly Updates

1997 Breeze
Only a few changes were evident in 1997 models. A new console included storage, an integrated armrest, and cupholders for rear-seat occupants.
1998 Breeze
A bigger, more-potent engine became available this year. The dual-overhead-cam 2.4-liter 4-cylinder made 150 horsepower, versus 132 for the basic 2.0-liter. Only an automatic transmission could be installed with the larger engine.
1999 Breeze
Revised suspension tuning for 1999 promised a smoother ride, but little other change was evident.
2000 Breeze
Breeze production halted early in 2000, as part of the phase-out of the Plymouth brand name. One trim level remained for this partial final season.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

For its first two seasons, only a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine was available, hooked to either a 5-speed manual gearbox or 4-speed automatic transmission. A larger (2.4-liter) dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine became available in 1998, sold only with automatic.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 129
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
26/27
22/32
30.2
27.0
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

21/30

Road Test

Except for the lack of an alternative to its initial 2.0-liter engine, the first Breeze offered essentially the same virtues and demerits as the Cirrus and Stratus. That engine has adequate pep with manual shift, but feels sluggish with the automatic transmission, especially when you need a quick burst of speed for passing or merging into traffic. Even with the manual gearbox, it’s necessary to downshift fairly often to get acceptable response for passing and merging, or when encountering modest upgrades. The 2.0-liter four also is noisy during hard acceleration.

A manual-shift Breeze got 30.2 mpg overall, while one with automatic managed 27 mpg in mostly highway driving.

Acceleration and passing power aren’t dramatically better with the 2.4-liter engine, still ranking as adequate for daily driving. The bigger engine is not a lot quieter, either.

On the plus side, it’s a roomy and well-designed family sedan that offers competent handling ability. Like its Chrysler Corporation cousins, the agile Breeze feels at home on twisting roads. A firm suspension tames body lean quite well and reduces bouncing at highway speeds, but it’s less effective at absorbing the impact of bumpy pavement surfaces.

Space is ample at all seating positions, courtesy of the “cab-forward” design. Three medium-size adults can sit abreast in the back seat without feeling like sardines in a can. A spacious trunk holds plenty of cargo, and has a flat floor and low liftover. The modern dashboard has simple and convenient controls, positioned for maximum visibility and accessibility, but interior materials are of lower grade than usual for this class of car.

The rear seatback folds down, to add storage space. Visibility is excellent to most directions but restricted through the narrow rear window.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1998 Plymouth Breeze w/2.0-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)
108.0 186.7 71.7 51.9
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 Breeze 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 101
Injury 122
Theft 90

Trouble Spots

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)
Engine misfire
Description: Poor drivability when the 2.0-liter engine is first started, and high emissions, may be corrected by updating or replacing the powertrain-control module under the emissions warranty. (1998)
Keyless entry
Description: If the remote keyless entry does not have adequate range, the receiver antenna must be replaced. (1996-97)
Steering noise
Description: The power steering may be noisy when cold (below 10 degrees F) and replacing the fluid with a new type will help (1995-98), but if there is a moaning noise when warm, the high-pressure power-steering hose must be replaced. (1996-97)
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. (1996-00)
Steering problems
Description: The steering wheel vibrates at idle giving the impression that the engine is running rough, but a steering-wheel damper will fix the problem. (1997)
Steering problems
Description: Popping noises from the front end can be felt in the steering wheel and floor requiring new tie rods. (1996-98)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks into the front through the door panel due to a problem with the plastic shields inside the doors. (1996)

Recall History

1996
Description: Corrosion of ABS hydraulic control unit can cause solenoid valves to stick open; vehicle then tends to pull from a straight stop when brakes are applied.
1996-97
Description: Secondary hood-latch spring can disengage if hood is slammed.
1996-97
Description: Lower ball joint can separate due to loss of lubrication; could cause loss of control.
1996-98 w/automatic
Description: Improperly adjusted cable could disable “ignition-park” interlock system.
1996-98 w/automatic
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.
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 label could cause confusion as to whether the childproof safety lock was activated.
2000
Description: A few cars were produced with unpainted fuel-tank straps.
2000
Description: Inadequate weld on some vehicles could result in fatigue damage of right front brake tube.
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.