Buy/Drive/Burn: Upmarket Brand American Midsize Sedans in 1997

We’re back with more 1997 midsize sedan action in today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn. They’re all on the smaller end of the midsize sedan scale, all American, and crucially, all wearing semi-upmarket branding.

Chrysler Cirrus

For 1997, the Chrysler Cirrus is in its third model year, a part of the Cloud Cars that finally put an end to the K-based nonsense that went on at Chrysler for forever. The Cirrus employs either a 2.4-liter inline-four or 2.5-liter V6 (161 HP), the latter a Mitsubishi engine shared with the Galant. Available in LX and LXi trim, the V6 is an option at both trim levels. Regardless of trim, all Cirrus’ are fitted with a four-speed automatic straight from the 1989 Dodge Spirit. An LXi with leather and V6 asks about $21,700.

Mercury Mystique

Mystique is in year three of its run for 1997, a “world car” Mondeo rebadge project Ford might end up regretting in the future – we’ll see. In 1997 there are three Mystique trim levels: base, GS, and LS. Two engines are on offer, a 2.0-liter inline-four from the Zetec engine family, and a 2.5-liter Duratec V6 (170 HP). Mystique is available with a five-speed manual, but the vast majority of customers choose our pick, a four-speed automatic. Air conditioning is an optional extra on the LS, and is included in an equipment package with the 2.5 V6. The V6 Mystique stays cool inside for $19,070.

Oldsmobile Cutlass

A Malibu by any other name, the upmarket Cutlass is new for 1997 as a replacement for the ancient A-body Cutlass Ciera. Oldsmobile buyers receive the warhorse 3.1-liter V6 as standard (155 HP). All Malibus and Cutlasses use a four-speed auto from the Cavalier. Two trims satisfy the Cutlass customer, GL and GLS. Today’s GLS has all the equipment from the GL as standard and includes an optional sunroof. Yours at $19,225, and it may just be the last time you can buy a car from Oldsmobile that wears a Cutlass badge.

Three alternatively, upmarket branded sedans in 1997, all V6-equipped and around $20,000. Which gets your money?

[Images: Chrysler, Ford, GM]

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