Plymouth Sundance

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Plymouth Sundance
1987-1990 Plymouth Sundance 3-door
ManufacturerChrysler Corporation
Also calledChrysler Shadow
AssemblySterling Heights, Michigan
Toluca, Mexico
PredecessorPlymouth Turismo
Plymouth Horizon
SuccessorPlymouth Neon
Body style(s)3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
LayoutFF layout
Engine(s)2.2 L K I4
2.2 L Turbo I I4
2.5 L K I4
2.5 L Turbo I4
3.0 L Mitsubishi 6G72 V6
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
3-speed A413 automatic
4-speed A604 automatic
Wheelbase1987-89: 97.0 in (2464 mm)
1990-94: 97.2 in (2469 mm)
Length1987-1992: 171.7 in (4361 mm)
1993-94: 97.0 in (2464 mm)
Width67.3 in (1709 mm)
Height1987-89: 52.7 in (1339 mm)
1990-92: 53.0 in (1346 mm)
1993-94: 53.1 in (1349 mm)
Curb weight2,608 lb (3-door)
2,643 lb (5-door)
RelatedDodge Shadow
Plymouth Duster
Shelby CSX
ManualsService Manual
1991-1994 Plymouth Sundance 5-door

The Plymouth Sundance is a compact car produced from 1986 (as a 1987 model) to 1994. It was designed to compete with upmarket compacts such as the Geo Prizm, Ford Escort and the Honda Civic after the life of the Horizon was to be extended. In Mexico, the car was sold as the Chrysler Shadow.

It and the similar Dodge Shadow came in two body styles, a 3-door hatchback and a 5-door hatchback. Unlike the Dodge Shadow, a convertible model was not offered for the Sundance. The reason for this is because all Plymouths were sold with Chryslers, and Chrysler already sold the LeBaron convertible; although it was based on a different platform. Dodges, on the other hand, were sold by themselves, and Dodge had no other convertible. They were both built using a variant of the venerable K-car platform, known as the P-body, which was based on a combination of the Dodge Daytona's suspension with a .1 in shorter wheelbase, and a shortened version of the Dodge Lancer's body which had not gained wide acceptance over the sedan body as a mid-size. While the Sundance looked like a regular sedan or coupe, it was actually a hatchback. Chrysler considered this a special feature: "Hidden hatchback versatility." The relatively large storage capacity of the Sundance was one major selling point. While based on a platform which dated all the way back to 1981, its styling, utility, reliable powertrains, and trim levels (most notably the Duster) made the Sundance popular until it was discontinued.

Because the Sundance was based on a mid-size car with a sporty car's suspension, it offered a combination of comfortable and traditional seating with credible cornering. The Sundance was more tuned for comfort while the Shadow was more tuned for performance, however the difference was not drastic. The Sundance could easily be distinguished by its chrome (body colored for Duster) eggcrate grille which was common on Plymouths of that era. For 1989, the Sundance received a facelift, with the inset sealed-beam headlamps discarded in favor of aerodynamic composite units. A new all-chrome grille and new taillights were among other changes. A motorized passenger's side seat belt was added to US-market Sundances in 1994, to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208's requirement for passive restraints. These motorized belts do not comply with Canada's safety standards; Canadian-market Sundances continued to use a manual passenger seatbelt, and 1994 Sundances cannot legally be imported across the US-Canada border in either direction.

Sundances were built in Sterling Heights, Michigan and Toluca, Mexico. The first car rolled off the assembly line on August 25, 1986 and the last on March 9, 1994. It was replaced by the Plymouth Neon for 1995.

Trim levels & options

For the Sundance's first three years, it was available in a single base model. For 1990, a higher-end RS model was available. The RS model, which stood for Rally Sport, came with standard features that included two-tone paint, fog lights, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It was also available with a turbocharged 2.5L I4 engine, and other amenities like an Infinity sound system, tinted window glass, and dual power mirrors. For 1991, the base split into two distinct models: entry-level America and mid-level Highline, in addition to the high-end RS. The stripped-down America, had previously been offered for the Plymouth Horizon's final year in 1990. At the time, the Sundance and Shadow were the least-expensive cars on the market with a standard driver's side airbag, which had been made standard on all domestic Chrysler cars in 1990 (excluding trucks and imported cars).

1993 Plymouth Sundance Duster

For 1992, the RS model was dropped, in favor of the revival of the Duster name for a V6 performance version of the Sundance. The Duster featured a 3.0L V6, special alloy wheels, "Duster" graphics, a body-colored grille & trim, as well as other equipment. Although the Sundance was criticized by some as being a poor choice to bear the "Duster" name, the car offered very good performance and decent handling at a low cost (only about $2,000 more than a base Sundance), which was said to be part of the reason why Chrysler used the "Duster" name, as those were the qualities the original car offered.

For the 1993 model year the America model was replaced by a better-equipped base model, the Highline would also be dropped for 1993. Many options were offered on the Sundance, including: power windows, power locks, power adjustable mirrors, power adjustable seats, cruise control, antilock brakes, a cassette player, a sunroof, a tilt wheel, rear window defroster, and fog lamps.

Years for trim levels

  • base - 1987-1990; 1993-1994
  • RS - 1990-1991
  • Highline - 1991-1992
  • America - 1991-1992
  • Duster - 1992-1994

Prices (MSRP)

The original base prices from 1988-1994. The prices below are rounded to the nearest 25 dollars. Other, more expensive trim levels were offered, and the prices below apply only to the lowest models offered at the time.

  • 1988 - $8,000 (2 door); $8,250 (4-door) USD
  • 1989 - $8,400; $8,600 USD
  • 1990 - $8,850; $9,050 USD
  • 1991 - $7,700; $8,000 USD
  • 1992 - $8,000; $8,400 USD
  • 1993 - $8,450; $8,850 USD
  • 1994 - $8,800; $9,200 USD


The Sundance offered a variety of four-cylinder engines, all either of 2.2 or 2.5 L, some turbocharged. Naturally aspirated versions were, except in Mexico, fuel injected. The engines were tuned for torque rather than horsepower, resulting in numbers that appear to be reversed from the Honda Civic - for example, 93 hp and 122 ft·lbf of torque from the base 2.2 L engine. A Mitsubishi-built 3.0 L V6 was added later, which led to the demise of the turbo option. All were available with a five-speed manual transmission (sourced from Getrag on turbocharged and V6 models) and a three-speed automatic based on the venerable TorqueFlite. In 1993, the manual transmission was modified to make shifting into reverse easier; a number of other incremental improvements were also made. In 1994, a motorized seat belt was added to the passenger's side.

Engines offered

Sundances came with the following engines over the years, although not all engines were available each year:

  • 2.2 L I4 - 93 hp (69 kW) and 122 lbf·ft of torque (69 kW, 165 N·m)
  • 2.2 L turbocharged I4 - 146 hp (109 kW) and 170 lbf·ft of torque (109 kW, 230 N·m)
  • 2.5 L I4 - 100 hp (75 kW) and 135 lbf·ft of torque (75 kW, 183 N·m)
  • 2.5 L turbocharged I4 - 152 hp (113 kW) and 185 lbf·ft of torque (113 kW, 251 N·m)
  • 3.0 L V6 - 130−140 hp (25.6 kW) and 171 lbf·ft of torque (105 kW, 232 N·m)


The Sundance was a safe car, especially with the standard driver's side air bag. 1993 NHTSA crash test results gave the Sundance 4 out of 5 stars for the front-impact, driver and 5 out of 5 stars for the front-impact, passenger tests.

External links