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2005 Chrysler Crossfire Convertible

 The Good:  Amazing exterior style.  Retractable rear spoiler.  Handling better than most other Chrysler's.  Still retains the soft luxury ride of a Chrysler.  Large 18-inch wheels up front and 19-inch wheels in back.

The Bad:  Cheap feeling interior parts.  Very low luggage space in back.  Soft luxury car suspension provides little driver feedback. 

             Chrysler has become the largest American convertible manufacturer, now offering three distinct models in drop top form.  The fruits of the Daimler-Chrysler merger have brought many models with better quality Mercedes componentry in the guise of Chrysler vehicles to market with a lower price tag as well.  For 2005, which is now in car years, the Chrysler Crossfire, based on the late model Mercedes SLK, is available in six different trim levels, three in coupe form and three in convertible form.  A standard base model, a Limited model with leather interior, and a supercharged thoroughbred SRT-6 guise is available.

The Crossfire Roadster was developed in parallel with the coupe from its inception.  Chrysler touts that this convertible was tested at speeds of 150 mph, we just wish that they would lobby the politicians to abolish the speed limit here in the USA so we can test that out for ourselves.  From its exterior looks, the Roadster certainly looks fast.  The Chrysler Crossfire convertible base model we tested certainly has the exterior looks of a high performance sports car.  It's broad and muscular front-end gives the Crossfire a bold look.  The rear end is curved down to accentuate the 19-inch rear wheels.  What is particularly exciting is the raked hood with deep grooves in the panel, as well as the side foils behind the front wheels.  A retractable spoiler is designed into the rear lid and activated when the car reaches 60 mph.  Satin silver painted sport bars are located behind the driver and passenger seats in two fairings. 

The view from the side is also dynamic with a long hood and rounded fast back.  The poised stance is heightened by the smaller 18-inch front wheels versus the 19-inch rear wheels.  A character line moves from front to rear and crosses to a negative formation as it travels, hence, the name "Crossfire".  Currently the Crossfire is a rare car on the road and you will likely have many people walking around the car while parked, just staring at all these lines.

            The overall feeling in the Crossfire is distinctly Chrysler.   The smooth ride and soft, yet stable feeling is something we find in all Chryslers.  They have done a great job of making a sportier Chrysler rather than making a true sports car.  The steering is precise, more so than any other Chrysler.  The suspension feels smooth and even, in turns it settles down easily with a soft feeling but becoming firm after a certain travel distance.  The Crossfire is not firm; comfortable is the best term to describe its ride.  The suspension is pure Mercedes, with upper and lower A arms in front and a five link independent rear setup.  This with additional stiffing to the convertible Crossfire gives you a very solid feeling behind the wheel.   Steering input is low in typical Chrysler style.  The Crossfire does not convey road feel to the driver as precisely as German makes.

            Power comes from a 3.2 liter 18-valve V6 that produces 215 horsepower and 229 pounds of torque.  Power is transmitted by a six speed manual transmission standard on this base model Crossfire.  The peppy Mercedes engine climbs to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds.  Fuel economy is rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway. 

            The six-speed manual gear shifter is also a bit awkward.  The upper three gears have a short shift point, while the lower three gears have more travel in the shifter.  For a precision sports Chrysler should have gotten the feeling of the shifter right.   The transmission is stable and quick however.  The engine revs freely and climbs very fast.  Power comes on strong at all RPM levels.  The exhaust note was quite nice with a howl when you punch it hard.  The exhaust sound really gives the Chrysler its sporty feeling when you are behind the wheel.

            Interior wind disturbance was a bit high with the top down and the windows up.  Most of the wind enters the cabin from the rear in the middle of the cabin.  With the top up however the cabin is quiet and wind noise is very low.  We liked the glass rear view window for its clarity and long life.  Braking is also very good because the brakes are from Mercedes.  They feel quite good and stop the Crossfire quickly.

Step inside and you will find an overall design very similar to the Mercedes SLK.  The dual cockpit layout is inviting and modern but remember that this is a design that was originally placed in the SLK some 6 years ago.  Great ergonomics abound with affordable German thinking in this Chrysler.  The ignition switch is located on the instrument panel as opposed to the steering column.  The lighting and control stalks around the steering wheel are straight off a Mercedes.  Almost all dials and buttons are the same shape and size as in the Mercedes SLK.  Overall the interior seems a bit smaller in width however. 

Door pulls are horizontal silver accented bars, so there is no handle to grab as in Mercedes models.  The steering wheel is thick and has nice painted silver trim.  A button for the retractable wing is located in the center console just under the stereo.  Leave it alone and it will do its job all by itself, but push it manually when parked to show everyone this nifty little feature.  The convertible top operation switch is located in the center console near the parking brake lever.  Inside temperature controls allow for dual zones and are simple to use, exactly like the Mercedes SLK. 

While everything looks nice and solid to the eye, it is a much different feeling when you touch the controls inside.  The satin silver finish of the center console feels cheap to the touch.  Buttons are very light and feel much cheaper than in a SLK.  The upper dash is vinyl with a studded button look, and this carries over to the door panels as well.  Neither piece looks or feels very nice.  We also did not like the silver plastic trim on the center console.  Automakers need to learn that making plastic of silver color will not make it look and feel like true aluminum trim.  The temperature control dials on the center console also are made of lightweight feeling plastic.  The stereo is modern but has many small buttons again with a strange cheap plastic feel. Convertibles generally require one-touch windows, however the Crossfire does not offer this handy feature, so we were waiting for windows to close one by one because the buttons are so far spread out.  Daimler-Chrysler has purposely changed everything that you would likely touch on the Crossfire to calm the anger from SLK owners angry over the high use of Mercedes parts.  This however leads to a car that feels cheap inside, like a Korean chop shop has taken the car and replaced everything inside with hollow plastic.

            At night the interior glows a lime green color.  The headlights were excellent for standard halogen beams.  They had a distinct cutoff in the low beam, which is good for oncoming drivers.  The high beams were very bright and cast a beam of light directly in front of the car as well as very far down the road. 

            The convertible top folds down in a slow 22 seconds, so you will not likely be doing this operation at a stoplight.  The cloth top operation is allowed when a very cheap feeling divider is placed in the trunk upright, cutting trunk space to hold about three grocery bags.  Once the divider is in place, you must unlatch the front of the top by twisting the hinge and pushing up to partially open the top.  Now you can push a small button in the center console and the top will start its automatic operation.  The rear window moves up first, then the body panel underneath flips open, and the top begins to move into the space underneath. The noise that this top makes while opening or closing is not very comforting.  Many clunks and clicks sound as if something has gone wrong.  We would like to see a quieter and smoother top in the future.  We found the divider in the trunk to be very lightweight and of low quality.  Also with the top up and full trunk space available, visible metal and wiring makes trunk look very cheap.  The saving grace is that the Crossfire features a hard painted cover for its top, which makes the top totally invisible when stowed, while most other competitors usually offer a stretched top that simply folds down without any cover.

            The Crossfire did not raise our heartbeats, nor did it invoke some emotion while driving.  The exterior of the car is great by any standard, but get behind the wheel, and drive it daily and you are left with a feeling that you can easily forget.  More driver feedback, from the steering and the wheels should be built into the crossfire.  You do not get out of the car saying "my god I want to go drive this thing again".  If the Crossfire was more willing to talk to its driver, perhaps it would truly be a sports car.

 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 31,577 34,085
Destination 875 875

 

 

  2005 Chrysler Crossfire
2dr Roadster (3.2L 6cyl 6M)
2004 Audi TT
180hp Fwd 2dr Roadster (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
2004 BMW Z4
2.5i 2dr Roadster (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
2004 Nissan 350Z
Enthusiast 2dr Roadster (3.5L 6cyl 6M)
2004 Porsche Boxster
2dr Convertible (2.7L 6cyl 5M)
Pricing Crossfire TT Z4 350Z Boxster
MSRP $34,085 $35,250 $33,600 $34,050 $42,600
Invoice $31,577 $31,822 $30,735 $32,388 $37,121
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V6 inline 4 inline 6 V6 flat 6
Base Engine Displacement 3.2 liters 1.8 liters 2.5 liters 3.5 liters 2.7 liters
Valvetrain 18 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
20 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 215 hp @ 5700 rpm 180 hp @ 5500 rpm 184 hp @ 6000 rpm 287 hp @ 6200 rpm 228 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque 229 ft-lbs. @ 3000 rpm 173 ft-lbs. @ 1950 rpm 175 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm 274 ft-lbs. @ 4800 rpm 192 ft-lbs. @ 4750 rpm
Tires P255/35ZR19
performance
P225/45YR17
performance
P225/50VR16
run flat
P235/50WR17
performance
P225/50ZR16
performance
Max. Cargo Capacity 7 cu. ft. 8 cu. ft.   7 cu. ft. 9 cu. ft.

 

City 17 mpg. 20 mpg. 20 mpg. 20 mpg. 20 mpg.
Highway 25 mpg. 28 mpg. 28 mpg. 26 mpg. 29 mpg.
Length 159.8 in. 159.1 in. 161.1 in. 169.4 in. 170.1 in.
Width 69.5 in. 73.1 in. 70.1 in. 71.5 in. 70.1 in.
Height 51.8 in. 53 in. 50.1 in. 52.3 in. 50.8 in.
Weight 3140 lbs. 3131 lbs. 2932 lbs. 3428 lbs. 2811 lbs.
Wheel Base 94.5 in. 95.4 in. 98.2 in. 104.3 in. 95.1 in.
Front Headroom 37.3 in. 38.3 in. 37.3 in. 39.2 in. 38.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room 52.7 in. 55.6 in. 52.5 in. 53.6 in. 51.7 in.
Front Leg Room 42.7 in. 41.2 in. 42 in. 42.6 in. 41.6 in.

 

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