The Plymouth Sundance, along with its twin the Dodge Shadow, is a compact hatchback available in 3-door and 5-door variants. It was in 1985 when Chrysler first launched these 1987 P-bodies, which would replace the Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Aries. Compared to their predecessors, the Sundance and Shadow were heavier, not to mention more expensive. The change in design, however, brought in more storage space through the hidden hatchback and other standard features.
1980s-1990s: Changes on the Plymouth Sundance
The Shadow and Sundance were based on the P-body, a variant of the K-car platform. The P-body was designed after Dodge Daytona's suspension and Doge Lancer's body, although shorter. The Sundance and Shadow had a hatchback, which could be mistaken for a trunk. This hatchback was considered by Chrsyler to be a special feature that was even used in its marketing and advertising campaign. The twin cars offered a larger storage space, which became one of their main selling points. They were powered by 4-cylinder engines in 2.2L and 2.5L variants. Some of these engines were even turbocharged.
The Plymouth Sundance was available only as a single base model during its first year until a higher-end RS model was launched for 1988. The RS model, short for Rally Sport, had a two-tone paint and leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also came complete with fog lights. It was powered by a 2.2L I4 engine, and its many features included the Infinity sound system, dual power mirrors, and tinted window glass.
In 1991, two separate models came out of the base trim: the entry-level America and mid-level Highline. This was in addition to the RS model, which was discontinued for 1992. The Duster name was used for the Sundance's performance version. It came with a 3L V6 engine and was equipped with special alloy wheels. Some of the styling cues on this performance model included the Duster graphics and body-colored grille and trim. Chrysler particularly chose the Sundance to bear the Duster name because the Plymouth vehicle was known to have good performance and decent handling. This vehicle was also priced at a lower cost, providing greater value to car owners. For 1993, a new base model replaced the America model. This was better equipped than the America trim. That same year, the Highline was discontinued.
In 1994, the Dodge Shadow and Pontiac Sundance were equipped with a motorized passenger's side seat belt, a part of the requirement by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208. During that time, the twin cars became the least expensive vehicles in the market with a standard airbag on the driver's side. This later on became a standard for domestic Chrysler vehicles in the US. Because of these standard safety features, the Shadow and Sundance were given a good crash test rating for a vehicle of their size.
Eventually, production ceased in 1994. The twin cars were replaced by the Dodge Neon and Plymouth Neon.