Plymouth Breeze

A mid-sized 4-door sedan, the Plymouth Breeze was introduced as the lower-priced entrant into the midsize market. The third version of Chrysler Corporation's JA front-drive sedan, it was the companion and similar to the Chrysler Cirrus and the Dodge Stratus which were released in late 1995. Replacing the successful, yet outdated Acclaim, the Breeze, Stratus and Cirrus were collectively known as the Cloud Cars. For 1997 the Plymouth Breeze was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best List and when it was initially introduced it came in only trim level.

Only one engine for the Breeze was available originally, a 132-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. Equipment that was standard included air conditioning, dual airbags, rear defroster and an AM/FM stereo unit power steering. Optional items included anti-lock braking as well as an integrated rear child seat. Much like the Dodge Stratus the Breeze was constructed with the 5-speed manual transmission as part of its base model.

Early on in the 2000 model year the Plymouth Breeze was discontinued as part of the Chrysler's phase-out of the Plymouth brand, and it was Plymouth's final mid-size model. The Breeze offered a softer tuned suspension, along with special order packages (like the Expresso), though it was still considered to be the low-end model of Chrysler's Cloud Cars. A V6 engine wasn't available in the line-up like Dodge Stratus or the Chrysler Cirrus. The 2.4 L DOHC 4-cylnder engine was available as an upgrade and was also available on the Expresso trim while the 2.0 L SOHC 4-cylinder engine was standard with five-speed manual available.

The Breeze utilized the cab forward design, which was initially introduced by the full-size LH Cars which included the Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde and Eagle Vision in 1993. Though similar in appearance to the Stratus and the Cirrus there were two unique features that set the Breeze apart from the others; an eggcrate grille, which was a Plymouth staple of the current era, and ridged taillights which incorporated the reverse and turn signals into it instead of a separate strip.

In 1996 the Breeze sedan was officially released and was available with 2.0-liter 132 hp inline-4 engine. A total of 46,355 units were produced in this first year. For 1997 only a few changes were made which included a new center console that included storage space, an integrated armrest and cupholders for rear-seat passengers. A total of 70,549 models were produced for this year. For 1998 the Breeze now offered a more powerful engine, the DOHC 2.4 L 4-cylinder that was 150 hp, with the regular 2.0 L was 132 hp. Only an automatic transmission was available with the DOHC 2.4 L 4-cylinder engine. Much like the Voyager and Neon, an all-new trim level; the Expresso was newly unveiled in 1998. It added new features that included wheel covers that gave it a much more ‘sporty' appearance. For this year a total of 66,620 units were produced.

For 1999 a smoother ride was offered with a revised suspension tuning and was one of the few changes made this year. Production dipped to 47,911 units for this year. Early on in 2000 the Plymouth Breeze's production was halted due to Plymouth's phase-out. For this year only a base model Breeze was available as part of most Plymouth's being re-branded as Chryslers. The Breeze and the Cirrus were both replaced with the Chrysler Sebring sedan. For 2000 production dropped way down to 2,030 units. The total tally for four and a half years of combined production was 233,465 units. On January 7, 2000 the final Breeze rolled of the Sterling Heights assembly line.

By Jessica Donaldson