Both 2-door and 4-door models were built using a variant of the K-car platform, known as the P-body, which was based on a combination of the Dodge Daytona's suspension with a shortened version of the Dodge Lancer's body.
While they looked like regular sedans and coupes, they were actually hatchbacks. Chrysler considered this a special feature and advertising literature referred to it as "hidden hatchback versatility". The relatively large storage capacity of these vehicles was a major selling point for the company.
Carroll Shelby Enterprises modified Shadows into several performance-oriented vehicles such as the Shelby CSX, which was equipped with a turbocharged 2.2 L engine producing 174hp (130kW). Because of the car's light weight, it was capable of acceleration equal or greater than that of many contemporary muscle and sports cars of the time. A version without the intercooler, rated at 150hp (112kW), was sold to Thrifty as the CSX-T.
A convertible version of the Shadow debuted in 1991, the same year Chrysler introduced stripped-down, budget-priced "America" models of the coupe and sedan models. At the time, the Shadow and Sundance were the lowest-priced cars on the market with a standard driver's side airbag, which had been made standard on all US-market domestic Chrysler cars in 1990. While the Shadow and Sundance were popular until they were discontinued, like the Ford Escort and the Chevrolet Cavalier, they failed to make a profit. The Shadow received cosmetic updates for 1989: the inset sealed-beam headlamps were discarded in favor of aerodynamic composite units. A new body-color grille and new taillights were among other minor changes. A motorized passenger's side seat belt was added to US-market Shadows in 1994, to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208's requirement for passive restraints. These motorized belts do not comply with Canada's safety standards; Canadian-market Sundances continued to use a manual passenger seatbelt, and 1994 Shadows cannot legally be imported across the US-Canada border in either direction.