Designed by AMC, the Premier was also briefly badged as the AMC Premier and Renault Premier in late 1987 and early 1988. It shared several parts with the Renault 25, and spawned a rebadged version named Dodge Monaco (1990–1992).
Eagle Premier was developed by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) and Renault partnership. The model was inherited by Chrysler Corporation when it acquired AMC in 1987. It was sold from the 1988 to 1992 model years.
The Premier was a full-size four-door sedan styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro. It was the first large car fielded by AMC since 1974, a position that was traditionally occupied by the Nash and AMC Ambassador models since the 1930s. It was marketed as a sporty refined sedan in the style of an Acura Legend or Audi 5000. It also featured the spaciousness of American sedans and was the roomiest car in its class. Although it used the drivetrain from the Renault 25 (V6 engine models) and the suspension components from the Renault 21, the body and floorpan structure were unique. It was also sold as the Dodge Monaco from 1990 to 1992. A proposed two-door version, named the Allure (not to be confused with the Buick Allure), was never produced.
The car was to be called the Renault Premier, before Chrysler acquired AMC, and early 1988 production left the factory with that badging. Nevertheless, the AMC logo was continued on many components through 1992. The models also carried a Design Giugiaro badge that was removed after the car’s mid-term freshening. The Premier’s interior was designed by AMC’s in-house staff under the direction of Richard A. Teague.
The Premier was available in LX (equipped with a 2.5 L AMC I4 engine, offered until the end of the 1989 model year), ES, and Limited trims (3.0 L PRV V6). Very few LX models seem to have been built, mostly for fleet use. The heating controls used an unusual up-down button that cycled through the different heating modes indicated by column mounted array of lights.
A new, highly advanced factory was built to manufacture the Premier at Bramalea, Ontario, near AMC’s existing plant at Brampton. The state-of-the-art plant was one of AMC’s assets that interested Chrysler.
The introduction of the Dodge Monaco resulted from a contractual obligation to use 260,000 of the PRV (Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo joint venture) V6 engines over the five years as part of the AMC buyout from Renault. However, the Monaco sold poorly, and both it and the Premier were cancelled in 1992. Chrysler tried to aim the Premier against the Ford Taurus, as well as Acura and Volvo models, but the result was that it competed against corresponding Chrysler and Dodge models. Moreover, there was little marketing support for the Premier by the Jeep-Eagle dealers themselves because they were focused on selling the highly successful and more profitable Jeep models. Furthermore, the decision to eventually dual Jeep-Eagle with Chrysler-Plymouth dealers called for the long-term corporate goal of phasing out the Eagle brand. There were 139,051 Premiers and Monacos built at Bramalea. Reportedly, Chrysler paid a penalty for every V6 engine not purchased (120,949) from Renault.
The Bramalea plant was retooled for the production of the Chrysler LH-cars that debuted in autumn of 1992. Some of the LH platform’s design features were inspired by the Premier. François Castaing, formerly AMC’s Vice President of product engineering and development, became Chrysler’s Vice President of vehicle engineering in 1988, and as a result, the Premier was the starting point for Chrysler’s new LH sedans. For example, the engine was mounted longitudinally, like the Premier, and unlike any other front-wheel drive car built by Chrysler. The LH platform’s dedicated transmission, the A606, was also quite similar in design to the Audi electronically-controlled automatic featured in four-cylinder Premiers. The Premier’s body shell was used for LH prototype ‘mules’, under which the LH drivetrain was tested.