When the Chrysler Crossfire concept was first introduced at the 2001 North American International Auto Show, there was genuine interest and excitement from both the motoring press and the public. Here was the first tantalizing fruit of the DaimlerChrysler merger that would combine German engineering and American style. A production model was announced, and the first Crossfires started to appear a few years later.
Available as a two-seat coupe or roadster, the Chrysler Crossfire was largely based on the first-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK. Its exterior design always turned heads, but the aged platform and unimpressive driving dynamics were major drawbacks. The Crossfire's steering response in particular was lackluster due to the use of the previous SLK's old-school recirculating-ball steering. Additionally, the vehicle's ride quality often seemed harsh, particularly on the high-performance SRT-6 version.
The Crossfire's slow sales could also be attributed to an interior that didn't look as rich as the car's exterior styling would suggest. There was also the cramped Crossfire's utter lack of utility. It's still an attractive vehicle to behold, but the Crossfire was simply outclassed by other vehicles in terms of luxury, brand cachet and performance.
Most Recent Chrysler Crossfire
The Chrysler Crossfire was available only in coupe form when it debuted in 2004, with a convertible model arriving the next year. The standard engine throughout the model cycle was a Mercedes-sourced 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine that produced 215 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. The transmission choice was between a standard six-speed manual and an optional five-speed automatic. The short-lived 2005-'06 Crossfire SRT-6 model boasted a sport-tuned suspension and a fire-breathing, supercharged 330-hp engine that came only with a five-speed automatic.
Leather upholstery was standard in 2004, when only one well-equipped trim level was offered, but starting in 2005 the Crossfire was offered in base and Limited trims, and the base car came with cloth upholstery and a limited roster of standard equipment. The Limited livened things up with power leather seats, an Infinity stereo and more sound insulation. In addition to its engine and suspension upgrades, the SRT-6 models added 18-inch wheels up front and 19-inchers out back and Napa Pearl leather seats with Alcantara suede inserts with enhanced bolstering. Unique to the base Roadster was an optional Special Edition package (2006 and '07 model years) that included Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat exterior paint, Dark Slate Gray cloth seats, SRT-6Â–style cast-aluminum wheels, a black windshield surround and satin silver door handles and side louvers. Otherwise, nothing much changed until 2008, when the base trim was dropped.
In reviews, our editors praised the Chrysler Crossfire's daringly distinctive looks, and the SRT-6 was loved for its blistering straight-line performance. However, the outdated steering system was unpleasant and the ride was stiff — unacceptably so in the SRT-6. Acceleration from the base 215-hp V6 was adequate but uninspiring. Overall, the Crossfire was an interesting styling exercise, but its driving character left much to be desired.