The Plymouth Sundance is a compact car model manufactured and marketed for model years 1987 to 1994, competing with compacts such as the Geo Prizm, Ford Escort and the Honda Civic, superseding the Plymouth Horizon. In Mexico, the car was sold as the Chrysler Shadow.
The Plymouth Sundance and its badge engineered variant Dodge Shadow were available as a 2-door coupe and a 4-door hatchbacks. Unlike the Dodge Shadow, a convertible model was not offered for the Sundance. The models employed a variant of the K-car platform, the P-body.
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 tail lights were among other changes. A motorized passenger's side seat belt was added to U.S.-market Sundances in 1994, to comply with U.S. 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 and options
For the Sundance's first three years, it was available in a single base model. For 1988, 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 that was made standard on all domestic Chrysler cars in 1990 (excluding trucks and imported cars).
For 1992, the RS model was dropped, in favor of the revival of the Duster name for a performance version of the Sundance. The Duster featured a 3.0 L 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 - 1988-1991
- Highline - 1991-1992
- America - 1991-1992
- Duster - 1992-1994
The Sundance offered a variety of four-cylinder engines, all either of 2.2 or 2.5 L, some turbocharged. Naturally aspirated versions were fuel injected, except those sold in Mexico. 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 (69 kW; 94 PS) and 112 pound-feet (152 N·m) of torque from the base 2.2 L engine. A Mitsubishi-built 3.0 L V6 was added later, replacing the turbocharger engines. All engines 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.
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 112 pound-feet (152 N·m) of torque
- 2.2 L turbocharged I4 - 146 hp (109 kW) and 170 pound-feet (230 N·m) of torque
- 2.5 L I4 - 100 hp (75 kW) and 135 pound-feet (183 N·m) of torque
- 2.5 L turbocharged I4 - 152 hp (113 kW) and 185 pound-feet (251 N·m) of torque
- 3.0 L V6 - 141 hp (105 kW) and 171 pound-feet (232 N·m) of torque
The Sundance included a standard driver's side air bag. In 1993, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test results were 4 out of 5 stars for the front-impact, driver and 5 out of 5 stars for the front-impact, passenger tests.