The 1996 Chrysler Cirrus has attractive exterior styling with a roomy and well-designed interior and capable powertrains as well as the potential to challenge the Ford Taurus as the top midsize sedan. The base version receives a new inline four-cylinder engine standard in order to drop the price while not losing too much performance. A new torque converter gives the V-6 better power transfer.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 2.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Chrysler Cirrus LX, Chrysler Cirrus LXi
The 1996 Chrysler Cirrus LX receives a new four-cylinder engine, pulled down from the V-6 that was present in previous years. To get better response out of the V-6, the LXi gets a revised torque converter. New options include a power sunroof and chrome-plated aluminum wheels, while new colors are available as well inside and out.
The 1996 Chrysler Cirrus is well-developed, uniquely Detroit, and fairly handsome. Viewed from the front, the grille and headlights are slightly large and ridiculous, but the rest of the exterior is flowing lines. It has a design that is not built around a fad and is one that has the potential to stand the test of time. It is not flashy or ostentatious but not overly conservative either.
The 1996 Chrysler Cirrus is fairly roomy for a midsize sedan, and there is plenty of legroom and headroom. The quality of the seats is debatable since it has less support than the competition. The interior is near-perfect when it comes to ergonomics with one of the best laid-out cabins on the market. There is plenty of glass to provide decent visibility, although the rear pillars are slightly thick.
Performance & Handling
The 1996 Chrysler Cirrus gets a new engine in the LX but does not see much of a performance change. The 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder has slightly less power than the V-6 but not so much as to seriously degrade acceleration or highway cruising capabilities. Handling is capable until it gets weighed down with passengers and cargo. Even with a modest load, the handling deteriorates. Packed full of passengers and cargo, it's sloppy and clumsy. The brakes are truly the only part that can keep up with increased loads.
The 1996 Chrysler Cirrus does come with standard four-wheel antilock brakes and driver and passenger front airbags. However, it didn't fare well in crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave three out of five stars in driver and side impact front protection and only two out of five for side impact rear. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a ?poor? rating overall, as well as ?poor? ratings for structural integrity, safety cage, leg, and foot protection. It did get a ?good? rating for head, neck, and chest protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Chrysler Cirrus: 18/26 mpg city/highway
- A design that can stand the test of time
- Plenty of interior room
- Durable and reliable
You Won't Like
- Poor handling when full
- Seats are uncomfortable due to lack of support
A surprisingly well-built American sedan.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Buick Century
- Mercury Sable
- Chevrolet Lumina