Chrysler Crossfire Convertible
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.
Cheap feeling interior parts. Very low luggage space in back. Soft luxury
car suspension provides little driver feedback.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.