The Plymouth Breeze went on sale in 1996 in order to modernize the company’s mid-size car lineup. The Breeze displayed a much more contemporary exterior design than the departed Acclaim sedan, and it also improved on the vehicle it was replacing in terms of interior space and power. The Breeze was mechanically identical to the Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Cirrus, but priced lower in order to appeal to first-time car buyers. Called the ‘cloud cars’, this trio of sedans would form the backbone of the Chrysler corporation’s mid-size strategy throughout the remainder of the decade.
The 2000 Plymouth Breeze offers two separate 4-cylinder engine options. The first is a 2.0 liter that generates 132 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque. Shared with the Plymouth Neon, this motor displays a certain reluctance to deal with the extra bulk of the larger Breeze, especially at highway speeds. A better choice is the 2.4 liter, which makes 150 horsepower and in the neighborhood of 160 lb-ft of torque. The extra torque is what really helps change the acceleration characteristics of the Breeze, and the fuel economy is still acceptable: 21 miles per gallon in the city, and 30 on the highway. The smaller 4-cylinder can be equipped with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic, while the 2.4 liter is only available with the latter.
The Breeze definitely makes the most of Plymouth’s vaunted ‘cab forward’ design which is intended to increase internal space through the careful layout of drivetrain components. Front cloth bucket seats are comfortable, and rear passengers will be able to partake in longer road trips without feeling cramped or squeezed. The quality of interior materials is generally good, and air conditioning and dual air bags are standard equipment. The trunk is large and easy to access, not so deep that precarious leaning is required to retrieve luggage.
Like a number of other Plymouths in this model year, the Breeze feels much more solid and quiet when underway than it has in the past. This is partly attributable to a more concentrated effort to seal the passenger compartment and provide better body panel fit, and it is also tied in with the quality of the vehicle’s suspension. The front-wheel drive Breeze does not trade ride comfort for detached piloting, and the vehicle provides an engaging driving experience that is certainly not sporty, but is still very capable and predictable at the limit. Given that the majority of Plymouth Breeze buyers are intending to use the vehicle as daily or family transportation, the lack of drama makes for a relaxing driving experience that will be appreciated.
The Plymouth Breeze may be positioned as the most affordable, least feature-filled version of the three different cars built on its platform, but it still manages to provide a good overall package for those interested in purchasing a new mid-size car but who don’t want to overpay for luxury items or technological innovation. The Plymouth Breeze was discontinued at the end of 2000 and replaced with the Chrysler Sebring.