The first generation Neon was introduced in January 1994 and manufactured until 1999. It was available as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe. It was powered by either a 132hp (98kW) @ 6000rpm and 129ft (39m)·lbf (175N•m) @ 5000rpm SAE 2.0L SOHC or a 150hp (112kW) @ 6500rpm (R/T DOHC model) and 133 ft·lbf (180N•m) @ 5600rpm SAE 2.0L DOHC four-cylinder engine. The first generation Neon was available with a three-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission and was sold as a Dodge and Plymouth in the United States and Canada, and as the Chrysler Neon outside North America.
The Neon had more standard power when compared to competitor cars of similar vintage - the Civic DX at 102 hp (76 kW), the Civic EX at 125 hp (93 kW), the Sentra at 115hp, the Escort ZX2 at 130 hp (97 kW), the Corolla at 115 hp (86 kW), etc.
At the Neon's release, then chairman of Chrysler Corporation Robert Lutz said, "There's an old saying in Detroit: 'Good, fast, or cheap. Pick any two.' We refuse to accept that."
First-generation Neons were competitive in SCCA Solo autocross. Available with both the SOHC (sedan) or DOHC (coupe) the ACR was competitive in its class, and featured four-wheel disc brakes, Arvin non-adjustable struts for 1995–1996 models and Koni adjustable dampers for 1997–1999 models, thicker anti-sway bars, fast-ratio steering, heavy-duty front wheel hubs, and a five-speed manual transmission with a numerically higher .81 fifth gear and final drive ratio of 3.94 for quicker acceleration. 1995 through 1997 models featured adjustable camber. The computer-controlled speed limiter was removed from 1995 ACR models, and raised from the standard 190km/h (118mph) to 210km/h (130mph) for subsequent years. The ACR offers no badging to distinguish it from other Neon models; the only visible differences are a bumper with fog light holes, but no fog lights and a lack of side mouldings. In 1995, the ACR was only offered to SCCA members, but in subsequent years it was available to the general public. The name "ACR" was initially the internal ordering code for the "Competition Package", as it was termed in dealer materials; however, as knowledge of the model spread, the ACR name stuck, and backronyms such as "American Club Racer" were given to it by fans.[who?]