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The Early Chrysler LX Cars Aren’t Aging Well

In the mid-2000s, the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler partnership came up with the LX platform. It’s a platform for full-size, rear-wheel-drive cars to replace some vehicles that badly needed replacing like the Dodge Intrepid. The LX platform borrowed various Mercedes-Benz parts to keep costs down, and the result was pretty good for Chrysler. It was deemed a worthy platform for resurrecting the iconic nameplates of the Dodge Charger and the Chrysler 300, along with a wagon called the Dodge Magnum.

But now those big Chryslers and Dodges of the mid-2000s are aging and getting into the hands of their third or fourth owners. Have you seen any of these cars on the road lately? It seems like whenever I see one, there’s a part of the body that’s falling off, there’s tape somewhere on the car, it has really cheesy and cheap modifications, it’s making an unsettling noise, or all of the above.

Why aren’t people taking better care of these things? I’m not saying they’re collector items that need to be preserved, but it sure seems like they’re in particularly rough shape for cars that are old — but not that old.

I have a theory about why these early LX cars aren’t in better condition. The people driving these cars now are people who really wanted them back when they were new, but couldn’t afford them. Now the cars have pretty much bottomed out on depreciation, and they’re getting scooped up on the cheap and they’re being treated like cheap cars. A few years ago, this role was played by the Dodge Neon. If you needed a cheap, fairly reliable car, the Neon was a top choice. Now that these bigger, cooler cars are abundant on the used market at low prices, the people buying them are would-be Neon drivers — and the cars are being treated as such.

I could see the Charger being a popular first car for high school kids. It’s something mom will be okay with because it’s a big sedan, as moms love big cars because of the assumption of safety. However, it’s also something you can modify to make it as fast, loud and brash as it looks, especially if it has a Hemi V8. It’s really not a bad way to go if you only have the money and space for one car, and you want it to be both practical and fun without breaking the bank.

If you are one of the people enjoying a second- (or third- or fourth-) hand LX car, please take care of it and keep the mods tasteful. The 300 is just as guilty as the Charger, here. We need to take it down a notch on the grilles and the rims on this Chrysler sedan. We get it, it’s like a budget Bentley — but when you tack on a bunch of lame aftermarket parts, you aren’t making it look classier or more expensive.

With that said, it isn’t just the commonly bad condition of these cars that’s making them age poorly — I think the designs themselves have something to do with it, too. You know how when you see a car like a Ford Pinto, you think “Wow, that looks really ’70s“? When you see a Chevy Lumina, how can you not think of the ’90s? I think these LX cars will be that car for the 2000s. Decades into the future, people will see a 2006 Dodge Charger and think, “That’s what the 2000s looked like …” — and they won’t be wrong. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad looking car, it means that it’s just a dated design that’s already showing its age.

If you can find a clean example of one of these early LX cars, they’re not bad if you want a big, RWD sedan. The trouble is finding one that doesn’t have red duct tape on the tail lights. Find a Chrysler 300 for sale or Find a Dodge Charger for sale or Find a Dodge Magnum for sale

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  1. “A few years ago, this role was played by the Dodge Neon. If you needed a cheap, fairly reliable car, the Neon was a top choice.”

    Reliable?  Reliable??  The integrated leaking feature (aka interior pool maker) known as a Neon sunroof option would argue otherwise.  
  2. These cars have become quite reasonable lately. I’m considering a Hemi powered Charger in the near future, though I may go with a 2011 or newer, I like that cars styling better. The versions of these cars to avoid, and the version that I suspect you hear making horrible engine noises are the fleet cars that had the 2.7 V-6. Crappy motor that was susceptible to engine sludge. Most of the ones at the junkyards in my area have this motor, oh and the buy here pay here lots too.

    • The truth is that actually 2.7 was designed as a solid, powerful and fuel efficient engine. But someone during the design process has not verified the sealant between coolant pump and engine block. In result, the coolant is being injected by the pump into the oil, making it the horrendous sludge and killing it instantly. It’s funny, because a one better seal and it would be a great engine.

  3. In europe we have a totally different perception of these cars. Well not so much of the 300, those are pretty common here, too, but Chargers are a very, very rare sight. Whenever you see one, maybe once or twice a year, it’s preserved like a rare collectors item. (But they usually still have big chrome wheels and absurdely loud exhaust, but that goes for 90% of american cars in europe…)

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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