Inspired by the panel vans of the1930s, the Chrysler PT Cruiser caused quite a buzz when it was first released in 2001. It was one of a few vehicles to herald the new retro trend and became an instant success. Eight years later, the hype surrounding the vehicle has faded, but its utility and versatility are still intact. The PT Cruiser isn't especially competitive compared to other compact wagons and convertibles, but consumers looking for a roomy vehicle with distinctive styling will find the PT an affordable choice that stands out in a crowd.
Current Chrysler PT Cruiser
The Chrysler PT Cruiser is offered as a four-door wagon in three trims with two engine options. The base and Touring levels come standard with a 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, while the Limited comes with a 180-hp turbocharged four-cylinder. A five-speed manual is standard on base Cruisers and a four-speed automatic is optional, while Touring and Limited models are automatic-only.
The PT Cruiser wagon shares some components with the now-defunct Neon platform, but it's better than its DNA would suggest. It is versatile, with a maximum cargo space of 76 cubic feet, and there is ample seating space and headroom. The rear seats can fold down or be removed completely, providing the wagon with up to 26 different seating and cargo space arrangements, and the capability to carry items up to 8 feet in length.
In road tests, our editors have found the Chrysler PT Cruiser to be an entertaining drive, especially when compared to Dodge's similarly sized Caliber. It handles adequately, and its overall ride quality is smooth. Performance from the base 150-hp engine is sluggish, but the turbocharged engine provides enough power and torque to pick up the slack. There are better choices, to be sure, but if you're sold on the Cruiser's styling, you won't be too disappointed with the way it drives.
Used Chrysler PT Cruiser Models
The PT Cruiser debuted way back in the 2001 model y...