Considered by some to be one of Chrysler's finest sport luxury sedan in its day, the LHS was a full-size, front wheel drive car based on the Chrysler LH platform. The LHS was Chrysler's flagship model from 1994 to 2001. During its production run the LHS was praised for offering a blend of high end luxury and features along with solid performance. It proved a good rival to other vehicles that cost thousands more.
Nostalgic of a higher end European car, the first generation LHS offered an overall package of both luxury and performance. Mere years before Chrysler Corporation partnered with Daimler-Benz, several American automotive journalists thought that Chrysler's flagship could be easily mistaken for something German.
The First generation was originally released in 1994 and ran until 1997. It was released a year after the Chrysler Concorde, Eagle Vision and the Dodge Intrepid were released. The first generation had a wheelbase of 113.0 inches, an overall length of 207.4 inches, a width of 74.4 inches and a height of 55.7 inches (and 55.9 inches from 1995 until 1997). The LH 207 (Chrysler LHS and New Yorker) utilized a version of the LH platform with a five-inch longer body that took the place of the Imperial as the largest and most luxurious vehicle in Chryslers range.
The LH models retained the original wheelbase, but the LHS received 5 more inches to a longer body that allowed the engineers to push the rear seat even farther back. This length gave the LHS almost ‘limo-like' rear seat room. As a replacement for the New Yorker Fifth Avenue and New Yorker Salon, a very similar New Yorker model was built. All three Chrysler LH models used the mid-level 'Touring' suspension from 1994 onwards. Only on the Dodge Intrepid and the Eagle Vision was an even stiffer 'Performance' setting as an available option.
The LHS could seat six and it different from the Chrysler New Yorker by a floor console and shifter, along with an upgraded interior and a sportier image. In 1997 the New Yorker was dropped in favor of a six-passenger option on the LHS. In 1995 the Chrysler LHS received a minor facelift where the Pentastar was removed and replaced with Chrysler's current medallion logo.
Many features were standard on the top-of-the-line LHS while on its siblings that were only options. Some of the standard features included a 3.5 L EGJ 24-valve 214 hp V6 engine, side mirrors and trim, body-colored grille, aluminum wheels, traction control, integrated fog lights and 8-way power adjustable front seats. A velour-like cloth seat came standard while leather seats were an option like the New Yorker. Projecting a more expensive look and feel than the New Yorker's more traditionally styled leather, the LHS' leather was very similar to the gathered style of its cloth seats.
Unfortunately one of the most criticized design element were the headlamps on the 1994 models which were poorly designed and implemented. Customers complained bitterly about the dim performance and the lack luster look of it. The redesign of the headlamps was scheduled for the 1995 model year.
On a special order basis only, the LHS was sold in Europe and it featured rear amber turn signals, headlamps that incorporated different lens geometry and bulbs and side turnal signal repeaters. The 1994 LHS was priced at $30,283, while the following year it dipped to $29,595. By 1996 the base price went up to $30,225 and remained the same the following year.
Jeremy Clarkson, a man well known for criticizing American automobiles, described the first generation LHS as 'by global standards, right up there with the best.' The second generation debuted in 1999 with a wheelbase of 113.0 inches, an overall length of 207.7 inches, a width of 74.4 inches and a height of 56.0 inches. After the 1997 model year, the LHS was dropped in anticipation of an all-new redesigned LHS which would be released in 1999. The second generation LHS continued to occupy its niche as Chrysler's most luxurious vehicle, though the interior didn't provide any more space than the slightly longer-nosed Concorde.
The main difference between the second-generation LHS and the Concorde were much fewer and limited mostly to fascias and equipment levels. The Eagle Vision replacement, the Chrysler 300M was also released with the new LHS. With the addition of the 300M, this once again gave Chrysler three full-sized models, all of them based on the LH platform.
Though it gained more popularity that the LHS, the slightly smaller 300M ended up costing more, along with the less-expensive, nearly identical in almost every aspect Concorde. Unfortunately because of the restyling, the LHS interior felt slightly more cramped than the earlier model. Reducing the space between the upper portions of the windows and the sides of the occupants' heads the side windows were much more aggressively curved into the roof. Though all of the stated interior measurement either equaled or exceeded the first LHS's, the second generation lost its ‘limo-like feel'. Unfortunately this reduced the Chrysler LHS's status to that of the New Yorker, which was ironic, since the LHS had been the one to become more popular in the previous generation and caused the demise of the New Yorker.
Chrysler dropped the LHS nameplate in 2002 from its lineup. The 2002-2004 Concorde LXi and Limited received the LHS's front and rear fascia styling, along with the LHS styled interior. For 1999 the base LHS cost $28,950, it went to $28,340 for 2000 and went up slightly to $28,680 for 2001.By Jessica Donaldson