Plymouth Reliant

From Dodge Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Plymouth Reliant
1988 Plymouth Reliant station wagon
ManufacturerChrysler Corporation
AssemblyNewark, Delaware, United States
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Toluca, Mexico
PredecessorPlymouth Volaré
Plymouth Road Runner
SuccessorPlymouth Acclaim
Body style(s)4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
LayoutFF layout
Engine(s)2.2 L K I4
2.5 L K I4
2.6 L Mitsubishi G54B I4
Transmission(s)4-speed A460 manual
5-speed A465 manual
5-speed A520 manual
5-speed A525 manual
3-speed A413 automatic
3-speed A470 automatic
Wheelbase100.3 in (2548 mm)
Wagon: 100.4 in (2550 mm)
Length178.6 in (4536 mm)
Wagon: 178.5 in (4534 mm)
Width68.0 in (1727 mm)
HeightSedan: 52.9 in (1344 mm)
Coupe: 52.5 in (1334 mm)
Wagon: 53.2 in (1351 mm)
Curb weight2,300 lb (1,043 kg)
RelatedChrysler LeBaron
Chrysler Town and Country
Dodge 400
Dodge Aries
ManualsService Manual
1985-89 Plymouth Reliant sedan
1985-89 Plymouth Reliant coupe

The Plymouth Reliant (or Reliant K, as it was sometimes called) was one of the first two so-called "K-cars" (the others being the Dodge Aries. the second generation Chrysler LeBaron, and the Dodge 400) the Chrysler Corporation, introduced for the 1981 model year. The Reliant replaced the Plymouth Volaré/Road Runner, which was the short-lived successor automobile to the highly regarded Plymouth Valiant. Though technically a compact car, the Reliant's spacious interior and six-passenger seating gave it a mid-size status from the United States Environmental Protection Agency‎.


The Reliant and Aries are largely credited for helping Chrysler recover from bankruptcy. They also raised the standard for quality for American automakers in general. Sometimes in marketing, the Reliant was advertised as the "Reliant K", to emphasize the importance of the K-platform. A small "K" badge was also added after the word "Reliant" to the rear of the car. The Reliant was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1981. It was built in Newark, Delaware, Detroit, Michigan, and Toluca, Mexico.

After being launched in 1981, sales of the Reliant and Aries got off to a bad start; this can be attributed to Chrysler's inadequate preparation. Early advertisements for the K-cars promoted the low $5,880 base price. Rather than honoring that by producing a sufficient amount of base models, Chrysler was producing a larger number of SE and Custom models. When consumers arrived at Plymouth (and Dodge) dealers, they were shocked to find that the Reliant they were planning on purchasing would end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars more. As a result of this, Chrysler corrected their mistake and began building more base models. After this, sales of the Reliant skyrocketed.

The Reliant was available in standard "base", mid-level SE, and high-end Custom (later renamed LE) trim levels. Unlike the coupe and sedan, the station wagon was not available in base trim. "Custom/LE" Reliant wagons came standard with exterior woodtone siding, although it could be deleted if the buyer wanted it to be. All models except base, also had the option of replaceing the front bench seat with bucket seats.

Changes through the years

No major changes occurred on the Reliant in its first few years. For 1985, the Reliant received a major restyle, with new, rounder front and rear fascias. This included new head & tail lights and a new grille that was the same height as the headlights (rather than going all the way up to the hood as with previous model years). The base engine was a transverse mounted Chrysler designed 2.2 L (135 cid)in-line four-cylinder with an electronic 2 barrel carburetor (later replaced by a fuel injection system in 1986), rated at 82 hp (61 kW). Transaxles were a 4-speed floor shift manual or a 3-speed automatic with either a floor or column shift. A Mitsubishi motor was optional, and cars bearing this motor for 1981 were badged as 2.6 HEMI With this engine, The car accelerated 0-60 mph in the 13 second range. The Mitsubishi 2.6 L G54B engine was a popular option, but driveability problems led the Mitsubishi engine to be replaced by a fuel-injected Chrysler 2.5 L I4 for 1986. For 1987, the coupe's fixed rear windows got a small pivoting vent at the trailing edge of the rear doors. Also for 1987, the base model was renamed America in the U.S (this was later done to the base models of the Horizon and Sundance). Only minimal changes occurred after that.

The last Reliant rolled off the assembly line on December 9, 1988. The 1989 Reliant was a carryover from 1988. Only the America trim was available on these models. No station wagon models were sold for 1989. The Reliant was replaced by the Acclaim for 1989.

Production Figures 1981-1989
Year Units
1981 approx. 150,000
1982 approx. 140,000
1983 approx. 150,000
1984 approx. 155,000
1985 136,738
1986 123,007
1987 103,949
1988 125,307
1989 36,012

Trim levels

  • base - 1981-1986
  • Custom - 1981-1984
  • SE - 1981-1988
  • LE - 1985-1988 (replaced Custom)
  • America - 1987-1989 (replaced base)

In pop culture

  • The Christian pop punk band Relient K was named after this car, but deliberately misspelled the name to avoid copyright infringement.
  • In the Barenaked Ladies' song, If I Had $1,000,000, the narrator indicates that he would " you a K-Car, a nice Reliant automobile."
  • Ed Rooney drives a Reliant in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Stephen Ferro of RJR Nabisco fame drove a 1985 Plymouth Reliant Wagon from 1992 to 2001.

External links

  • [1] - Links for Plymouth Reliant on
  • Using stock components, Gary S. Donovan modified a 1985 Plymouth Reliant to run the quarter mile in 10.41 seconds at 132 mph (212 km/h).