Complete Plymouth Laser lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1990 Plymouth Laser - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1989 - 1994 Plymouth Laser CoupeLaser6 Trims 94 to 195 Hp

The Plymouth Laser was a two-door 2+2 sports coupe produced from 1990 to 1994 model years.

Design and Introduction

In the mid 1980s, the Chrysler Corporation joined forced with Mitsubishi Motors to create the Diamond-Star Motors. The Plymouth Laser and its two siblings, the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon, were the first vehicles produced by the new joint venture. These vehicles were designed to usher in a new era for the brands, returning to the more performance-focused designs as last seen in the 1970s muscle cars. The Laser was introduced as the "first Plymouth of the '90s." The Plymouth Laser was distinct compared to the Mitsubishi and Eagle counterparts thanks to several styling differences. It used a more race-inspired appearance with lace wheels and the front end grille being replaced by a solid plastic piece and an expansive rear light arrangement that stretched from side to side. The hood for the larger 2.0L engine models showcased a large bump, even if the turbocharged was not equipped. 

Engine and Performance 

The base engine used for the Laser was a 1.8L inline-4 with 92 horsepower, which on a vehicle weighing in at a mere 2,531 pounds (1,148 kg) was enough to still provide a sporty vibe and decent punch. But for those who wanted a bit more power, you could opt to equip the RS team level Laser vehicle with a 2.0L inline-4 that improved performance up to 135 horsepower. The highest end RS Turbo variant came with the same 2.0L inline-4 but was turbocharged rather than naturally aspirated, pushing horsepower up to a rather respectable 195 hp. A 5-speed manual transmission was the standard equipment, providing the race-oriented focus that the car was marketed toward. But a 4-speed automatic was also available as an option for those who wanted the extra convenience, except on the turbocharged variant which was exclusively equipped with the manual initially, but then could have the automatic in 1991.

Plymouth Laser Features, Options, and Later Updates

The interior features and options included a CD player, which was the first time the technology was available on any Plymouth model. While the Plymouth Laser was only produced under one generation of design, it did encounter some rather significant changes through the years. In 1992, some of the biggest changes came with some cosmetic differences being applied throughout such as new front and rear end updates and a new hood, plus the addition of an innovative all-wheel drive model. It was available on the RS Turbo and only came with the manual transmission, providing a uniquely capable vehicle that was lightweight, powerful, and could power through slick conditions or fast launches without losing grip. In 1993, the all-wheel drive variant could be equipped with the automatic transmission. The Laser first featured pop-up headlights, but the 1992 changes swapped those out in favor of fixed headlights that provided a more streamlined look. The rear lights were also modified that year, changing the expansive rear light bar for two separate units as commonly found on most vehicles. The Laser RS models could be ordered with a gold package, providing a host of gold-accents to the outside of the vehicle, including the wheels, new pinstripes, and other graphics.

Sales Figures and Marketing Issues

While the Plymouth Laser started off strong with over 42,000 units sold in 1990, the demand quickly tapered off. 1991 dropped to just over 30,000 units, then 24,000 in 1992, and just 14,300 in 1993. By mid-1994, the brand saw an even more significant decline in sales and ceased production on the Laser entirely. One of the main issues is the Plymouth was often marketed as the value-oriented version of the Chrysler lineup. When customers were faced with the decision between the Eagle Talon or Plymouth Laser, it was quite likely that they preferred the Eagle-badged variant due to this understanding and marketing. As such, the Eagle model did better in sales and continued forward with a second generation design, as did the Mitsubishi Eclipse, which continued forward for many years beyond the Laser.