Chrysler puts more economy in all-new New Yorker

A 12-year-old, hurrying up the street to the school bus, swung around and went back home. ''I know what I don't like about thatm car, Dad,'' she explained; ''it's too . . . . . . snobby.''

What the young lady was talking about is the 19831/2 Chrysler New Yorker: not the New Yorker of the past - big, luxurious, and heavy - but the New Yorker in modern dress, and specifically front-wheel-drive dress.

Of course, the ''old'' rear-drive New Yorker is still around, too - big, luxurious, and heavy - but Chrysler calls that New Yorker the New Yorker Fifth Avenue.


With the price of gasoline down significantly from a year or two ago, and with the demand for the big New Yorker still high, there is no way the car manufacturer wants to drop it from its inventory. Thus, it will probably be around for at least another year or two.

Like its predecessor New Yorkers, it has a 112.7-inch wheelbase, stretches for 205.7 inches from front to back, and has a choice of a 3.7-liter slant ''6'' engine or a 5.2-liter V-8.

The new New Yorker, by contrast, is powered by a 4-cylinder engine, either a 2.2-liter ''4'' built by Chrysler itself or a 2.6-liter ''4'' built by its Japanese affiliate, Mitsubishi, and rides on a wheelbase of 103.3 inches, more than 9 inches shorter than the ''big car.''

What it shows is that Chrysler Corporation has got another car off the K-car platform - a smart move in these days of astronomical development costs for all-new automobiles.

The K-derived New Yorker is base-priced at $11,200 and includes the 2.2-liter Chrysler-built 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission, plus electric outside mirrors, power steering and brakes, vinyl roof, interval wipers, and more.

The car I've been driving, however, is price-listed at more than $15,000, and includes leather upholstery, the larger Mitsubishi-built engine, power windows and door locks, sport suspension (a $55 option) . . . and the list goes on.

The ''road feel'' is adequate but not as crisp as in more sporty-type vehicles. In fact, the new front-drive New Yorker felt, in many ways, like the old-style New Yorker. Both cars soak up the bumps in the road. Thus, I really couldn't identify the advantage of the ''sport suspension'' in the K-derived version of the New Yorker.

As one would expect, the feeling of the car is a long way from, say, a BMW, but they don't compete in the same market.

The travel computer was fun to check out, pushing the buttons to get readings on fuel consumption, average speed, trip distance, and the like. It told me, for example, that I was averaging about 23.6 miles a gallon after more than 500 miles of commuter-type use.

On the Interstate, with the car on cruise control, the m.p.g. figure should go up a lot - maybe into the 30s. And that's not bad for a car such as this.

While not endemic with the vehicle, the car I drove had a habit of ''engine surge,'' in which the engine would rev up and down from time to time - all on its own. A little adjustment should take care of it. Also, the speed control didn't function as precisely as it should, ranging up to several miles an hour, depending on the terrain.

In total, however, the new front-drive New Yorker shows off Chrysler's ability to extract maximum mileage from its K-platform. And it's not a bad job at all.

The fact that the young lady found the car ''snobby'' is a compliment to the carmaker as well.

The newm New Yorker still has a certain ''feel'' about it. It projects an ''image,'' even with a Reliant platform beneath.

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