Dodge Aries

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Dodge Aries

1980 - 1989
2212/2555 cc
85 bhp/63.38 kW (base)
4 spd. man / 3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
not much
Number Built:
1 star
Dodge Aries
Dodge Aries
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1


The Chrysler Corporation, deep in financial trouble by 1980, announced its front-drive 'K Cars', seemingly late in the day for the small US car race, but there was little doubt the corporation was depending very much on the new downsized models to get back in the black.

America's No. 3 manufacturer had opted for a compromise wheelbase, aimed between the Ford E and the General Motors' X, the actual length being 8.30 ft (2.531 metres). Chassis layout was conventional by 1980 standards - MacPherson struts at the front, and a tubular dead axle at the rear on coil springs.

Rack and pinion steering (with power on option) was adopted, and braking was by discs and drums. For their first front-drive car Chrysler followed fashion, mounting the engine transversely with gearbox mounted at the end of the crankshaft, but their four-cylinder motor was entirely new.

With cast iron block and light alloy head the engine had an overhead camshaft driven by a flexible cog-belt, and the parallel valves had hydraulic tappets for minimum attention. With 'under square' bore/stroke dimensions of 87.5x92 mm, the 2213 cc engine was obviously designed to have good combustion characteristics, and with a modest compression ratio of 8.8: 1 developed 85 bhp SAE (about 63.38 kW).

For the buyer who fancied more power, Chrysler also offered an optional 93 bhp (69.35 kW) Mitsubishi four-cylinder motor of 2555 cc (Aries equipped with it featured "HEMI" badges on the front fenders), availlable with four-speed manual gearbox or three-speed automatic. The 1980 K cars were marketed in the USA through the Dodge and Plymouth dealer network, and initially were offered as four-door 'notchback' saloon (sedan), two-door coupe, and five-door station wagon.

Both the Aries and the Reliant were 14.66 ft (4.47 metres) long, weighed from 2231 Ib (1012 kg) to 2390 Ib (1084 kg), replacing the Volare/Aspen models. Chrysler's claimed city fuel consumption figures of 30.05 mpg Imp (9.4 lit/1 00 km) and highway consumption 3t 48.87 mpg Imp (5.78 lit/100 km) helped give impetus to sales, and over 150,000 vehicles were sold in 1981 alone. The Aries was available as a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, or as a 4-door station wagon, in three different trim lines: base, Custom and SE ("Special Edition"). Station wagons came only in Custom or SE trim.

In typical 1970s and 1980s fashion a vinyl roof was offered as an option on 2-door Custom and Special Edition models for 1982. Only 86 cars featured this roof, making it the rarest option ever offered on the Aries during its entire production run. A stand-up hood ornament was also added in 1982. The Aries underwent only minor changes in its first few production years (the Custom trim line was dropped from the 2-door and 4-door sedan models in 1983). The first major changes occured in 1985, when the Aries received new front fascia featuring a new "crosshair" grille and a new rear fascia featuring five-section tailights. Also a new trim line, the top-tier LE ("Luxury Edition"), was added (it also replaced the Custom trim level on wagon models).

Significant powertrain changes were made for 1986. The 2.2 L engine's carburettor was replaced by a new throttle-body electronic fuel injection system, while a new 2.5 L four-cylinder engine was added to the option list, replacing the Mitsubishi 2.6 L. The four-speed manual transmission, previously offered as standard equipment, was dropped.

The Aries underwent only minor changes throughout the rest of its production run. The SE trim line was dropped after 1986, while the LE was dropped after 1987. The base trim line was renamed America in 1988, offered as relatively inexpensive, basic transportation. The wagon bodystyle was dropped from the range for the Aries' final year, 1989. After nine years and nearly a million units sold the Aries was replaced by the Dodge Shadow.

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