Junkyard Classic: 1997 Eagle Vision TSi – One Of The Last To Be Shoved Out Of The Nest

It may sometimes seem as if this series is predominantly focusing on defunct brands but they do tend to be interesting and sometimes produce oddballs that seem like they should have achieved more success than they did.  The Eagle Vision was one such car; while at its most fundamental level a rebadge of a more mainstream sedan, it really would have been the connoisseur’s choice, however, being branded with a badge that had little history and even less promotional backing, it itself had little long-term chance to soar. 

Of course the Vision is a derivative of Chysler’s hugely popular LH-series cars such as the Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde which however were developed based on the even less well-known Eagle Premier, itself essentially a mixture of the Renault 25 and 21.  So the Eagle Vision basically completed the great circle of developmental musical chairs.

While obviously very similar in size and amenities to the Intrepid, the Vision was considered the sporty choice by those in the know, only available with a 3.3l V6 in ESi trim and 3.5l V-6 in TSi trim.  Automobile Magazine named it their Automobile of the Year in 1993 and it made Car & Driver’s 10 Best List in 1994.  Our example is a TSi version which was the higher level of the two.

First launched in 1992 for the 1993 model year, the Vision sold just over 105,000 examples until the end of production in September 1997.  Pricing started around $20,000 for the ESi and just over $24,000 for the TSi.  My impression is that the ESi was the volume seller and that there were comparatively few TSi examples sold.

Despite being mainly a “bottom-breather”, this Eagle logo with the perforated grille recessed into the front end was a nice touch.  In fact the front does have sort of a beak-like look to it, but in a good way.

The Vision was the only one of the LH cars sold with a stiffer “Touring” suspension and was also sold in Europe, as the Chrysler Vision.  While not exactly popular over there either, it was probably the most mission-appropriate vehicle to make the journey across the ocean.  It also had the amber turn signals its whole run, to give it more Euro cred over here as well as a wide opening to accept any format license plate without needing modification.

As mentioned above, the engine is the 3.5l 24V SOHC V6, producing 214hp and 221lb-ft of torque, mated to a 4-speed automatic.  While there was no manual transmission option, starting in 1996 an “auto-stick” feature did become available.  The engine was certainly capable enough, at the time my brother had a company Dodge Intrepid with the same 3.5l V6 and it was no slouch, accelerating briskly and smoothly to easily exceed any speed limit and time has shown that this ended up being a very good engine design.

Inside is where the age is starting to show a bit, in 1992 that was a fairly good interior for an American car, if a bit plasticky, but by 1997 it was simply outdated.  While the leather was durable, it was also far too plastic in feel and look, and the fit and finish as well as the textures chosen were all not really up to par anymore.  Of course the second generation would have been ready soon had Eagle been continued as a brand past 1998, but it was not to be.

The cab-forward architecture did make for a spacious cabin, with a roomy back seat, of course the car was also on the wide side which helped to create space.  TSi versions got leather seats, rear HVAC vents, and a center rear armrest.

Back in front, in the TSi both seats were power-operated, the shift knob was leather covered, as was the steering wheel.  In addition ABS was standard as well as speed sensitive power steering and automatic climate control.  At first glance the dashboard looks the same as the Intrepid but it isn’t, although surely a lot of the components are shared (In fact it is the same dash as the Concorde instead, thank you, readers!) The cupholders, just visible, were a fold-out design which was fairly novel at the time and adjusted for different sized drinks.

This view is a little better, one of the things that always bothered me was the shift indicator, the PRNDL had these little raised areas with the lettering stamped on top of them.  It seemed okay for something like an economy car, but not something like this, especially for someone used to import car interiors.  There’s also an overwhelming sense of grayness here, sometimes making every little part match colorwise just ends up looking cheap while costing more.

199,875 miles, missed it by THAT much!  Wow.  Those gauges look quite nice though, that was something Chrysler did pretty well in the LH series across the lineup. It’s interesting how everything is lined up to the left, often you’d see the temp gauge sweep reversed but this is nice and obviously done due to the fully horizontal nature of all of the needles.

This example was produced in June of 1997 at the Brampton, Ontario, Canada plant, and production of the 1997s was extended all the way into September of that year in order to supply Eagle dealers with enough inventory to hold them over into 1998. The Vision along with the Talon ended up being the only cars left into 1998 before the marque was binned entirely.

Perhaps it’s because there never was a second generation, but these don’t look as dated as the first Intrepids due to those having a newer version.  The car that was slated to be the second generation Vision ended up becoming the Chrysler 300M (also with amber turn signals).  But as a result this has stood the test of time quite well.

Allpar lists this 1997 model as one of 8,742 produced and that was in a very extended production year so obviously buyers weren’t lining up for these, if they ever did. The best year was its second (1994) with over 31,000 sold, about the same as the first and third but then it dropped in half for 1996 and again in half at the end.

The tagline at the end of the video is: “Eagle Vision – Not Intended For The General Public”.  Sometimes I think one needs to be careful what one says, lest it come true…Eagle never really got much promotion or a cohesive line-up besides being sort of vaguely Euro-flavored odds and ends but considering that the name came from the AMC Eagle which is about as far from Euro as possible, the whole thing was sort of an oddity.  Or someone had a serious vision problem.

Related Reading:

Brendan Saur’s excellent CC on the 1997 Vision

JP Cavanaugh’s just as excellent CC on the 1993 Vision

RLPlaut’s COAL on his 1995 Vision TSi

David Saunders reviews a Junkyard Eagle Premier