Motor Trend test drives a 1982 New Yorker
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A scaled-down alternative for luxury lovers on a budget
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Quality was commendable thoughout the inner sanctum
with nary a squeak or rattle
Few driving devotees were dismayed when Chrysler put an early end to production of its lumbering New Yorker and Newport 4-door models midway though the 1981 season. Time had not been particuly kind to the last of the Mopar R-body battlewagons. But the demise of these luxury leviathans-though admittedly overdue-nevertheless left Chairman lee and freinds facing another classic dollar dilemma: how to come up with a replacement package that possessed commensurate prestige appeal within the confines of severely restricted investment
Chrysler's response was to refloat the redoubtable Empire State sedan on a specially tuned version of its front-engine, rear-drive F-classis, originally designed for the Aspen/Volare in 1976. In a slightly different guies, this highly refined variant had pulled duty under the LeBaron line. So when the LeBaron crossed over to K-country, Chrysler deftly slipped the New Yorker name and ambiance onto its vacated intermediate platform.
Although still no lightweight, the revitalized New Yorker has jettisoned a fair amount of its wretched excess while voyaging back into the luxury limelight. As the heavy cruiser's wheelbase dropped from 118.5 in. to 112.7 in., overall length shrank from 221.5 in to 206.7 in. and the base model curb weight dipped from 3654 to 3510 Ib. the loss of this bulk significantly improved performace, economy, and driveability. The transformation did cut interior volume from 108 to 95 cu ft and trunk space frome 21 to 15 cu ft. but the level of quality and workmanship has been noticeably improved thoughout in the exchange.
The New Yorker's most endearing quality is its $11,461 sticker price. For that relatively modest sum, Chrysler outfits the car in a manner that equals or surpasses its predecessors. Base powertrain remains the 225cid Slant Six mated to a Torqueflite 3-speed automatic. There are over 30 other items on its roster of standards, including power windows, steering, and brakes, fully reclining 60/40 split-bench seats covered in Yorkshire cloth, 17-ounce deep-pile carpeting, air conditioning, halogen headlamps,quartz clock, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The New Yorker is available in a choice of eight exerior colors, including the extra-cost Crystal Coat paints, and five interior treatments, including a leather option.
As in the past, the Fifth Avenue edition puts an extra bit of polish on the Big Apple bon vivant. As a dress-up package, it adds a selection of tape stripes and logos, wire wheel covers, and electro-luminescent opera lamps in the brushed-aluminum C-pillar trim band.
Functional changes include an illuminated entry system and passenger vanity mirror, leather interior, adjustable steering column, 6-way power for the driver's seat, cruise control, AM/FM stereo with rear speaker amplifer and power antenna, remote trunk release, power door locks, twin remote control mirrors, and full undercoating. The Fifth Avenue also arrives with the normally optional 318cid V-8 engine lurking underhood.
Chrysler offers its most sybaric sedans a one-price package, and taking the Fifth means shelling out another $1244. Our test car, finished in Fire-Mist Mahogany with a no-cost optional Kimberley velvet interior, wore a $12,705 price tag. By adding premium paint, a sunroof, the top-line sound system, forged aluminum road wheels and a few other options, it's possable to push the price of a New Yorker Fifth Avenue near $15,000. However, when you consider that Linclon's Town Car currently basses at $16,100 and Cadillac's Sedan de Ville comands a $15,699 tariff, even a mixed package Fifth Avenue represents an appealing new option in the American luxury touring market.
In addition to axing unnecessary avoirdupois, the New Yorker underwent a cosmetic makeover for 1982. This was done to differentiate it from the Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Gran Fury, which share the same basic M-body platfrom. The New Yorker recived its own front and rear body caps and trim brightwork. To establish a more distinctive profile, Chrysler had American Sunroof, Inc., graft a vinyl-covered fiberglass cap onto the rear portion of the top and add the accompanying C-pillar fillet panel. We can only hope that the fit and finish of the roofline addendum fares better on subsequent production vehicals than it did on our test car.
In order to keep interior ambient noise levels in the modest range, an extra helping of accoustical insulation surrounds the passenger compartment. Special attention was also lavished on window and door seals. Although belted for six, the split front bench and twin-bucket rear-seat bolsters make the New Yorker far better suited to seating four in extreem comfort. Six-foot passengers can be accommodated easily in both fore and aft quarters.
This big-city slicker adds a bit more flash and ersatz featherwood veneer to the standard Chrysler dash and interior trim. The instrument panel layout features a "command module" design, with the left side devoted to housing all the functional controls. The two nacelles contain a black-on-chrome speedometer with resettable trip odometer and fuel gauge. Grouped in twin vertical columns to the immediate left ate the ammeter, water temperature gauge, rear window defroster, and a battery of idiot lights. The headlight lever is slightly farther outboard. A single stalk control on the left side of the steering column directs the activities of the high beams, directionals, cruise control, and washer/wipers. Stage right, one finds the heating/ventilation quadrant for the semi-automatic climate regulation system, and controls for the radio and rear speaker amplifier.
The Fifth Avenue's 6-way power seat can be adjusted to accommodate just about any driver. In light of the minimal lateral support the seat provides, using the pull-down center armrest becomes almost mandatory. But like the other seating positions,it does afford easy-chair comfort. Much of the interior trim panelling is covered in a maching velvet material that enhances the opulence. It's likely that small children could easily disappear into the deep pile carpeting used on the floor and lower door panels. Quality was commendable throughout the inner sanctum with nary a rattle or squeak. Again, we were a bit less than impressed with the fit and finish of the headliner trim in the rear cap area.
One real irritant was found lurking about inside the New Yorker. The power window/lock panels on the doors have hard, crisp edges that possess an uncanny knack for digging into the calf of the closest human leg they can find. This occurs whenever the vehicle is driven through a coner with more tham just the slightest bit of lateral loading.
In trimming down from battleship to medium cruiser, the nouveau New Yorker has shed much of the dreadful suspension float and wallow that plagued its earlier incarnations. While handling is hardly its forte, the car does possess a surprising amount of evasive maneuvering capability for a vehicle in its class. Blatantly compliant underpinnings still do a wonderful job of smoothing out gross road imperfections. But as one might expect, its soft ride syndrome leaves the New Yorker far better suited to duty on superslabs than any other automotive work area.
The New Yorker uses Chrysler's classic transverse torsion-bar front suspension with upper and lower control control arms, and premium-quality shock absorbers to swallow up the most intensive highway harangues. The upper control arms are inclined to help provide a bit of anti-dive compensation, and a 1.0-in. stabilizer bar helps keep body roll in check. The rear suspension uses an asymmetric, 4 leaf, semielliptical spring on either side of the solid rear axle. These work in conjunction with another set of premium ride shocks. More discerning drivers can specify a heavy-duty 5-leaf spring with roughly 15% more stiffness. No rear anti-roll bar is offered with either selection.
It does take a fair amount of riding time to become familiar with the New Yorker's response and reaction cruves. Once one is attuned to its abilities and limitations, this mid-size tourer can be shuttled about city and suburban confines with a good deal more agility than one might expect, though the wide C-pillar demands that one exercise a trifle more caution when attempting to knife in and out of heavy traffic.
A big part of the New Yorker's character is directly linked to its powerplant. The standard engine in 49 states is Chrylser's veteran Slant Six, which is fed by a 1-bbl carburetor. It puts out 90 hp at 3600 rpm, 160 Ib-ft of torque at 1600 rpm, and earns EPA ratings of 18 mgp city and 22 highway. But even bolted to the mandatory 2.94:1 rearend, the baseline engine is playing pretty close to the limits of its performance envelope most of the time.
The optional 318cid V-8-standard in the Fifth Avenue-developes 130 hp at 4000 rpm and makes 230 Ib-ft of torque at 2000 rpm in federal trim. The 49-state version uses a single 2-bbl carburetor for induction and relies on a catalytic converter, EGR, and air injection to keep emissions in line. It carries an EPA rating of 17/26 mpg with the 2.2:1 standard axle ratio. A 2.94:1 performance cog is also available.
The real surprise is found in the California variant, which serves as the New Yorker's police package in all other locales. The Golden State V-8 mounts a 4-bbl and a 3-way closed loop catalyst. It produces a heady 165 hp at 4000 rpm and 240 Ib-ft of torque at 2000 rpm. The 2.2:1 rear axle keeps EPA numbers at a respectable 16/25 mpg level.
Our test car was federally outfitted V-8 a federally oufitted V-8 with the 2.2 final drive. While hardly a rocket, the New Yorker rambled from 0-60 mph in 12.98 secs and tooled down the quarter mile in 19.12 secs at 72.90 mph. The Torquefilte automatic delivered its usual quality performance and smooth shifting action in both directions, and fuel economy settled in the 16-18-mpg range.
The New Yorker's 10.82-in. front discand 10.0-in. rear drum brakes are augmented by a single vacuum booster. The fairly soft pedal is well modulated for normal use, although stopping distances were on the long side: 60-0 mph required 186 ft. Simulated panic stops were accompanied by early rear lock and some minor slewing, but fade was minimal.
Chrysler's latest New Yorker will not find favor with those who thrive on intentional ostentation. Its boxy exterior lines are admittedly dated, and there's a definite dearth of high-tech touches found on many of the better-known prestige pieces. But as a legitimate luxury alternative for the cost-conscious middle American, the New Yorker stands alone in its field. Even optioned to the hilt, the car is still thousands less than many of its contemporaries. With many Americans once again voicing a preference for larger automobiles, Chrysler's New Yorker and its upscale Fifth Avenue cousin are destined to achieve even greater sales success in the months ahead.