By on June 24, 2008

cruiser.jpg$11,800. That’s the price for a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser down at my local Chrysler dealer. Throw in the “Refuel America” $2.99 per gallon guarantee into the equation and you end-up with a pre-tax, tag, title price right around $10,200. Not bad. Not bad at all. Then again, is it? There are a lot of factors to consider when approaching any of the bargain basement cars currently on offer during this, Detroit’s [most recent] dark days. Join me as we journey down the PT-shaped rabbit hole…

If you're not an enthusiast, and simply want a 'keeper' car, the $10k Cruiser may be a great deal. What’s that you say? It’s going away? Well exactly. There are a lot of pluses for soon-to-be-defunct, less popular cars like the PT Cruiser that go far beyond the initial purchase price.

A long model run usually translates into a lot of easily obtainable spare parts, from multiple sources. The nearby parts store or junkyard will likely have replacements available for the eight year-old PT in duplicate or even triplicate. The PT Cruiser will also outdo recent entrants like the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Honda Fit when it comes to parts cost. For transplanted customers who have been beholden to the dealer for a $500 repair, that would cost maybe $150 in a mainstream Detroit iron, this is a weighty consideration.

All things being equal, a long model run also has the advantage of offering far fewer defects 'on average' than the latest and greatest models. A car that's been built a million times over has effectively given the supplier and the manufacturer plenty of opportunity to improve the car's design and reduce defects.

[Note: this isn't always the case. Google 'engine sludge' or 'transmission issues' and you'll see a long list of both domestic and transplant products that failed to make the grade, either initially or over time. However a quick visit to an enthusiast's site for your car (Google the model and add 'enthusiast' to the search) or owner's review sites like TrueDelta can tell you all you really need to know about a vehicle's true quality.]

Then there’s the double whammy of depreciation and gas cost.

For a car like the PT Cruiser, depreciation can be an absolute killer. As of writing, a PT Cruiser will lose an estimated 63 percent ($9,644) of it's retail value over five years. That’s far more of a hit than new models like the Yaris ($3,960), or Versa ($5,059), or the Fit ($5,152). For those who keep their rides for five years, the Intellichoice site is a good place to figure out your true costs of ownership, including depreciation. 

If you're one of the wiser souls who decides depreciation should be minimized at all [non] costs, you’ll find that a 10-year ownership period will reduce this difference by at least two-thirds. As common sense suggests, when it comes to depreciation, it's the keeper who usually comes out ahead.

There’s a lot anyone can do to minimize their vehicle’s depreciation. Keep it, clean it, use high quality parts, drive conservatively and know your car by joining an enthusiast's group. But gas cost is a far, far stickier wicket.

The PT Cruiser may be seen as frugal wee beasties, but a 19 city and 24 highway mpg rating puts it far behind on the other three competitors. If you keep a PT for 100k miles and drive evenly between the city and highway, you’ll spend $18,605 on gas (assuming $4/gallon). That is $6,105, $4,320 and $5,490 more than the Yaris, Versa and Fit. Double the duration and your gas costs may outweigh any other single cost. Even depreciation. With gas supply on a perpetual plateau and demand only going up, this is a real deal breaker for those who’ve changed their fuellish ways.

Finally, there’s insurance. An older and more conservative car with a strong safety rating will usually do far better here than a fashionable car that appeals to a riskier audience. In this sense, the PT is good news. A car like the PT Cruiser A) generally appeals to conservative and mature drivers B) offers pretty good safety ratings, and C) and requires cheap replacement parts (as mentioned). Most folks will simply call their insurance company and get a quote. That's fine. But being on the right side of these three rankings can make a big difference on the bottom line. 

So, for a retiree who drives sparingly, a brand new PT Cruiser is an excellent value. For an enthusiast, the Fit and Versa are the more fun vehicles to drive. If you look at cars as an overall economic proposition over a relatively short time period, the Yaris is probably a better bet. Personally I’d pick a VW Rabbit. But that’s an article for another day.

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62 Comments on “PT Cruiser?...”


  • avatar
    nudave

    Steve, when you’re a retiree it will be a great time to buy a Rabbit. You’ll have all the time in the world to sit in the waiting room at your VW dealer while repairs are being conducted.

    Those of us with a Honda will be out enjoying ourselves.

  • avatar
    Steve_K

    The PT Cruiser is an excellent deal if your hobby is replacing brake and steering components. Maybe the smooth talkers out there could get a few brake rotors, calipers and tie rods thrown in. If you need better highway mileage, get just about any V6 GM sedan from the last two decades.

  • avatar
    JT

    Plus, you still have to be seen in it.

    A year or so ago, my adult daughter’s 2000 Prelude was hit in traffic. After she dropped it off at the body shop, the ins. co. provided at PT
    Cruiser. Later that morning she wrote to me:

    ” I dropped my lovely black Prelude off this morning and drove away with a Neon in a tutu. How do people drive these things? “

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    nudave, when we retire we hopefully won’t have to worry about the internal combustion engine as it stands today.

    Steve K, very good point. I have a 1994 Buick Century with 31,000 miles on my driveway right now that gets 5 miles more per gallon on the highway than the PT Cruiser…. and that’s the point.

    Sometimes cheap… isn’t.

  • avatar
    brettc

    My idiot neigbour that lives across the street had a beige PT Cruiser, and then he replaced it with a gray PT Cruiser last year. I don’t know what the point of doing it was, but I assume he must have managed a decent deal. Still, it’s hard to comprehend only 19/24 in a car like that. The car might be cheap to acquire, but it would be expensive to keep it fed with $4.10 gas.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Depreciation didn’t rank high in consumer worries according to a recent poll. But it is there and any American brand has to face the music when the owner wants to trade it in. there is no slam dunk that a new American car (read big three) will fare any better than their older counterparts. This is even assuming less of them will be on the used car lot because of lower sales including the fleets. The domestic dealer has a horrendous time coming up with the out money that the customer can feel comfortable with. The Foreign dealer slams the American brand even worse. Most, after being burned many times before take their American iron to the foreign dealer and do the trade. They never go back domestic again. This poor resale value was somewhat made up in the olden days with the domestic dealers having thousands of dollars of incentives to close the gap on the trade. These incentives helped put Detroit where they are now and arguably were part of the reason that Detroit iron is so soft on resale. Now, with the domestic mfg. no longer able to keep the incentive train coming (except for the rest of the trucks and suv’s rusting on dealer lots). the resale value of their products will stand alone and make or break the domestic mfgs.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Holy crap I thought the dealer who told me those mileage numbers for a PT Cruiser was lieing out of his teeth, that thing really gets worse mileage than my AWD turbo Subaru. That sucks too because for the price they are practically giving them away I was starting to think about it. But I want something at least a little fun to drive that’s not going ot cost me a fortune in repairs & fuel and it looks like that’s not it.

    Steve K is right any GM V6 will get you more space, better mileage and better quality compared to Chrysler.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Excellant article Steve. It just goes to show you that it’s not all about sticker or even resale value when it comes to buying a car, there a re a multitude of factors to consider. As for the PT Cruiser if you can find a manual the mpg is 21/26 for the base LX (that might make driving more fun too). Under the old EPS ratings it was probably 27 or 28. That’s not Versa, Fit, Yaris country, but it’s not bad either. And the PT was not meant to compete with those cars. If you were to keep it and drive the wheels off you will have a lifetime powertrain warranty.

    The PT is:
    * Inexpensive to buy, own, insure
    * Versatile with multiple configurations for carrying things
    * Has many enthusiast/owners and forums where you will find just about any info you need, including how to save money for repairs, common problems and how to avoid/rectify them, and places to buy parts/add ons.
    * Stylish (if you like retro).

    The PT is NOT:
    * A great car to have when you want to trade up
    * A great gas miser (but not a guzzler either)
    * A rare car that stands out in a crowd or a “Hey look at me!” fashion statement.
    * Sytlish (if you don’t like retro)

  • avatar
    windswords

    Steven Lang,

    Your Buick is under the old EPA rating system, so the real advantage is what, 2 or 3 mpg? And the Buick has no front multistage, side curtain, and front side, airbags. I would also think it scores higher in any NHSTA and IIHS crash tests.

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    The decision to let the PT Cruiser die on the vine was yet another stupid decision made by the Germans during the DCX debacle.

    The PT was the original “Scion Xb” old school van-car and was a huge success. Right now Chrysler should have a new PT out with refreshed styling, 2.4L 4 banger mated to 4 and 6 speed trannies, with a new interior.

    They could sell another billion of these if the thing was competitive as far as styling and interior and got over 30 MPG.

    They were once the market leader in this niche and let it go for really no good reason.

  • avatar
    windswords

    I would also think it scores higher in any NHSTA and IIHS crash tests” should read “I would also think the PT scores higher in any NHSTA and IIHS crash tests than your old car”.

    What happened to the edit feature?

    addendum: Geez, now it’s back (when I don’t need it anymore).

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    * Inexpensive to buy, own, insure

    Two out of three. It is expensive to own for the class that it’s in. Depreciation and gas costs are among the worst.

    * Versatile with multiple configurations for carrying things

    True, but that also goes for most of the competition.

    * Has many enthusiast/owners and forums where you will find just about any info you need, including how to save money for repairs, common problems and how to avoid/rectify them, and places to buy parts/add ons.

    This may in fact be the PT Cruiser’s greatest strength. You can customize the heck out of them and unlike most vehicles favored by the aftermarket, many of the PT Cruisers mods have real world applicability.

    * Stylish

    The current one’s front is not as good as the prior gen. But I do believe it’s still far better looking than the Yaris or Versa. The Fit is far nicer all the way around.

    “As for the PT Cruiser if you can find a manual the mpg is 21/26 for the base LX (that might make driving more fun too).”

    To put this in perspective, a 10 year old Dodge Caravan that seats 7 has gas mileage of 20/26… in an automatic.

  • avatar
    ffdr4

    Its a good car to have if your paying cash, want a domestic with pretty good reliability (see Consumer Reports), want low maintenence costs, seek utility and intend to keep it for awhile. I drove one for a full week last year from an airport rental agency and found it pretty good. The interior is suprisingly quiet and fuel economy is not bad. The AC chills the interior quickly and the front seats where comfortable too!

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I drive a 2002 PT with 80K. It gets 25+ MPG regularly. With the 5 spd it is fun to drive.
    I have done the brakes once and yes, the tie rod ends as well. but that is all in 6 yrs. I’m happy with it and will keep it for at least another 4 yrs, so depreciation is not an issue with me. I can also load it with 8 ft lumber hatch closed and have numerous times. It has much more utility than a fit or yaris. I would recomend one if you like the looks. I do.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Steven Lang: Personally I’d pick a VW Rabbit.

    So you are fond of electronic gremlins, then?

  • avatar
    windswords

    ffdr4:

    “…The interior is suprisingly quiet and fuel economy is not bad. The AC chills the interior quickly and the front seats where comfortable too!”

    This is from Allpar.com’s review of the first year PT in 2001:

    The car is remarkably quiet, even when approaching redline. We hope critics put on their “Toyota driving hat” when they test it, because we were very impressed by the lack of interior noise. But because it is a Chrysler, we suspect many will seize on any noise that makes it through…

    “The Neon-style air conditioning controls lead customers to drive around with the a/c on all the time. On the other hand, with the outside air over 90 degrees, the air conditioner proved itself to be much better than many cars costing a great deal more.”

    “The interior is spacious, though the PT Cruiser is actually shorter than the Neon. The roof is high, (I’m six feet tall, and I could have worn a hat without touching the roof), the seats are comfortable and the rear seats can be removed or folded forward (a foldable front passenger seat is also an option). Removing the rear seat took about one minute, with no instructions and little effort. The rear doors open wide, allowing large objects (or people) inside.”

  • avatar
    Bancho

    I’m not a huge fan of it *but* it was a great seller for Chrysler and it was really stupid of them not to work on a decent successor.

  • avatar
    blautens

    My coworker hearts loss leaders (two $9999 Cobalts and a $10,999 PT Cruiser for he and his family members). What’s funny is, he truly understands that TCO is rarely related to IPP when it comes to engineering enterprise class computing systems, but can’t stay away from these cars. Go figure.

    And what gives with the crappy mileage on these? Is it aerodynamics? Gearing? Engine? All three?

  • avatar
    windswords

    “And what gives with the crappy mileage on these? Is it aerodynamics? Gearing? Engine? All three?”

    I suspect it is the weight. AOL Autos lists the 2008 PT curb weight as 3,147 lbs, 3,165 lbs, and 3,263 lbs, for the LX, Touring, and Limited, respectively (the convertible is 3,303 lbs). The 2005 was listed at 3101 lbs on autoweb. that’s why a 1993 Metro gets 45+ mpg and a Yaris gets 34ish or something. All the safety features add weight.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Back in 2006 I had the opportunity to keep a two year old base model that I bought for $7000. It had only 199 miles on it.

    Instead I sold it for $9200. In the meantime I bought a five year old Prius that had every maintenance record done at the dealership along with a brand new battery. I bought that at $6500 with 120k miles, and sold it for $8800.

    The later one I do regret selling because my wife does an awful lot of town driving and the savings would have exceeded the profit. There was also a 98 Jetta TDI 5-speed with 109k that I bought earlier this year for $2900. That one I sold for $7000, and can’t say that I regret it.

    For now I’m puttering around in an old Protege 5-speed that somehow manages 35+ mpg in town thanks to plenty of coasting in neutral. If it came to owning a vehicle as an economic proposition, I would probably drive it another 100k and enjoy the CD changer and other convenient add-on’s. But like most forms of post-adolescence, it’s simply just a phase.

    IMHO, an older compact that’s well engineered will truly be the best of all worlds for the typical commuter. At least until hybrid technologies become substantially more advanced, the cost factor favors an older gas sipper with no depreciation, low insurance, cheap and plentiful parts, and inexpensive maintenance costs. For the family though, I prefer a late model vehicle with side airbags. That’s why the wife now drives an S500.

  • avatar
    vento97

    nudave:
    Those of us with a Honda will be out enjoying ourselves.

    Yeah, those Honda drivers have submitted their forms, checked in their identities, and became one of the masses of me-too clones:

    “I own a Honda.”
    “Me too…”

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    windswords, while weight tells some of the story, 3200 lbs doesn’t make it a pig. 19/24 is really appalling. The 3300lb full-size Accord yields 22/31.

    Also, highway mileage has little to do with weight, so the PT’s brick-ish aerodynamics are to blame there. But it seems the engine is just inefficient all-around.

  • avatar

    GM proved Chrysler should have invested in completely redesigning this car. The HHR has virtually stolen and dominated it’s entire niche while it dies away. HHRs are everywhere here in Phoenix while the Panel and SS variants only keep the fire burning.

    Although, the same can be said for GM giving up on American fullsize RWD cars which they let Ford and later Chrysler have with their cars. They also let Ford own the entire market for muscle coupes.

    When the PT debuted it was stylish, versatile, affordable, relatively frugal and a bonafide hit. Any car will lose it’s luster (and sales) after a full model cycle. The PT has managed to live through as-is two or three now.

    What a shame.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I didn’t think much of the PT Cruiser until I had the misfortune to rent a Dodge Caliber. Compared to the Caliber, the PT Cruiser is a great set of wheels. If Chrysler needs to discontinue a tired old slow-selling compact, they should discontinue the Caliber and keep building the PT Cruiser until they can do something better.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I rented one of these out in LA and thought the mediocre fuel mileage that I got was because of me. The Cobalt on the other hand was one rental that I expected mediocre mileage due to its engine size, but it delivered an impressive 30 to 31 mpg even with my not so miserly right foot.

  • avatar
    ThisWas

    Steve, I’m having a little trouble with your arithmetic. You wrote: “depreciation can be an absolute killer. As of writing, a PT Cruiser will lose an estimated 63 percent ($9,644) of it’s retail value over five years.” Now, $9,644 is 63% of $15,308 which agrees with Edmund’s list price for a 2008 base model PT Cruiser.

    But you began your article with this observation: “$11,800. That’s the price for a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser down at my local Chrysler dealer.” If I buy that PT, my estimated depreciation over five years might be $3,500 less than your number because (unlike a Honda Fit) I can buy a PT for much less than list price. (I think it’s the readily available discount that makes the depreciation look so high.)

    If I buy a PT for $12K compared to a Fit at $15K, that’s quite a delta in car payments or time value of money or whatever you want to calculate.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    I liked it, but I never considered it because of its ludicrous mpg numbers for such a small car. How Chrysler managed to accomplish it is beyond me.

  • avatar

    I got stiffed with one of these PT Cruisers as a rental once.

    It was the absolute crappiest car I have ever driven, and I’ve had some craptastic experiences. The mid-80s Ford Escort I rented once that spontaneously combusted (in the middle of a Colorado Blizzard!!) was better than this steaming turd of a car.

    Its only saving grace was a convertible top. With the big hoop/handle in the middle I told everyone it was “the handbasket I was going to Hell in.”

    –chuck

  • avatar
    seanx37

    That 19/24 mpg is crap. My mother has had two of these things(no I dont know why either). Hers , at best got 16 around town. The one long distance trip I drove her car, it got 23 mpg. And the car is so poorly constructed, and uncomfortable $10000 is actually not a good deal. The ride…well terrible. Even slight crosswinds can be frightening. Do not buy one. Do not let anyone you know buy one.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    PT Loser, maybe.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    While the PT cruiser is a crap car the worse part of them is the rancid auto gearboxes with not quite right gear ratios, that are dumped into a cheap car that did nothing to the focus is quite bad the PT was much worse and the cobalt got ‘mystery’ cogs.

  • avatar
    Rix

    I rented one of these once. Handling was so bad it was frightening to take a cloverleaf at normal speed. The only decent things: The front passenger seat has a hardback so you can use it as a desk. And it’s very spacious for the size.

  • avatar
    wlsellwood

    Chrysler decides to do a minivan version of their compact, and winds up with a pig that’s underpowered with 2.4 liters. Result: 21/26 mpg with manual, no turbo.
    Toyota does the same, and winds up with a decent, if underpowered, mini-minivan. Result: 26/33 mpg, manual, no turbo. About a 24% mileage advantage.
    So it goes.

  • avatar
    windswords

    seoultrain,

    Your right that weight is not the only consideration, but I don’t think it’s aerodynamics. The Dodge Caliber doesn’t look very aero (although looks can be deceiving, there is more to making a car less wind resistant than a pointy nose) yet according to Dodge’s website the base Caliber weighs in at 2966 lbs and is rated at 24/29 with the 1.8L engine, and the SRT4 is rated at 19/27 mpg with the 2.4 Turbo and a curb weight of 3198 lbs. The difference here I believe is the engine. The 2.4 in the Caliber is part of the new 1.8/2.0/2.4 family. The 2.4 in the PT is from the old 2.0/2.4 design that was introduced with the Neon (remember the Cruiser is based off the Neon). New engine design should mean better efficiency. (Daimler)Chrylser could have updated the PT to use the new engine but as others have pointed out they let the car wither on the vine.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    I agree with Rix, no car can be a good deal if it threatens to kill you. I had a rental PT cruiser last year when I was waiting on the dealership to finish the paperwork/financing on the car I was buying. It was unequivocally the worst car I have ever driven (and I’ve driven some terrible cars). The turning circle was enormous. The interior was grotesque, and this is coming from a person that doesn’t care much about interiors.

    Most importantly, the handling was downright scary. I remember hitting a fairly large (permanent and unavoidable) bump in the highway (that I have hit in everything from a Chevy Aveo to an Impala to a Corvette) at about 65mph, with the steering wheel pointed completely straight. I was sent flying off course, and almost ended up on the shoulder of the highway due to the impact. I had never experienced anything like that before, and I’m the kind of person that habitually flogs rental cars to within an inch of their lives. I wouldn’t recommend a PT Cruiser to my worst enemy

  • avatar
    windswords

    Sounds like there was something wrong with your rental (surprise). I have never heard of anyone complaining about the handling. Not that it’s a corner carver.

    Allpar’s review in 2001 said “Steering is precise and easy to control. The turning radius is fairly tight.” and “Acceleration is sprightly with the five-speed, and handling is quite good. The Cruiser stays composed and steady on sharp turns.”

    Edmunds said of the 2008 model, “It handles well, with superlative steering feel and smooth overall ride quality.”

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    4I had a rental PT last year – without ABS, no less (they still make those?) – and the thing is so rear-heavy that during every deceleration my passengers would take bets on which direction we’d end up facing. I jammed on the brakes once in a very light snow, and suddenly I was flashing back to my last ride on a Tilt-a-Whirl.

    Going from a Scion xB to a PT Cruiser kind of felt like I had accidentally left my car in the dryer too long. It was more cramped in every capacity, but boy, did it go like hell! …comparatively. And I found out why the first time I stopped for gas.

    These days used first-gen xB’s with 20K go for considerably more than new PT Cruisers…I can’t say I’m surprise that Chrysler’s pulling the plug.

    Doing so without a viable replacement was just insane, however.

  • avatar
    windswords

    topdog,

    There must have been something wrong with your rental (surprise). I have never heard of owners complaining about poor (or even dangerous) handling, not that it’s a corner carver.

    Allpar’s review in 2001 said, “Steering is precise and easy to control. The turning radius is fairly tight.”, and “The Cruiser stays composed and steady on sharp turns”.

    Edmunds review of the 2008 says “It handles well, with superlative steering feel and smooth overall ride quality”.

  • avatar

    The Rabbit?

    C’mon.

    I test drove one of those – what a dud. The Fit blows it away.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Wait they still make the Rabbit?

    My mom has been cursing the Rabbit for 30 years.

    Still the worst car she ever had.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    The PT is one of the saddest examples of Chrysler pissing away its potential as a brand over the past decade.

    Yes, the ride and handling are coarse in today’s competitive set, but the thing’s rolling on a ten-year-old platform, with an even older drivetrain. Given that Chrysler hasn’t so much as checked its pulse in years, it’s amazing that it’s held up as well as it has.

    Perhaps even more amazing is that it’s still a better car than the Caliber.

  • avatar
    menno

    Nooooooo! Don’t do iiiiiit!

    Buying a PT Cruiser means you actually would be buying a car from a company which is about nanoseconds from self-destruct.

    So kiss your warrantee goodbye, and your $2.99 gas promise, and parts availablility (which you’ll need LOTS of since I speak from experience, having had a Dodge Neon).

    The ONLY way I’d buy a PT would be if gas was actually at $1 a gallon again, likely to stay that for at least a decade, and I could get the car for 1/3 retail. I’d consider paying $4500 for a brand new car. Maybe. After a few stiff drinks of stuff I don’t drink any more.

    You get the picture.

  • avatar
    menno

    Lookie here – my local Chrysler dealer has one left. It’s Kermit the Frog Green! Check out the price!

    2008 CHRYSLER

    PT Cruiser Touring
    MSRP: $19,870.00
    Bill Marsh Price: $19,870.00
    Ext. Color: PPL_Melbourne Green Pearl Coat

    I think they made a typo on “their” price and left the”1″ on there, eh?

    Somebody’d have to be totally nuts to buy one of these.

  • avatar
    Ronin317

    vento97: Yeah, those Honda drivers have submitted their forms, checked in their identities, and became one of the masses of me-too clones:
    “I own a Honda.”
    “Me too…”

    Unless you don’t really care what other people drive…I certainly didn’t buy my car based on what other people, whom I don’t know or care to, have…

    I just never understood that type of thought. It’s like the fanboyism that goes on in the Video Game market – why do you care what system someone you don’t know buys?

  • avatar
    windswords

    “nano seconds from self destruct”

    http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080625/AUTO01/806250361/1148/AUTO01

  • avatar
    menno

    (Heavy sarcasm on)

    Well, windswords, that’s when I go out and borrow money – when I don’t need it, what about you?!

    (Sarcasm off)

    Man, did you notice that the 19.1% owner (Daimler) backed 75% of the $2 billion loan?!

    I wonder how you say “WTF, this POS millstone is killing our credit rating even though we dumped 4/5ths of it!” in German?

    Which Chrysler exec slipped the truth out and retracted it a few months ago when he said the company was functionally bankrupt?

    What the heck does that mean if not “we’re dead, but there are still some twitches in the body so nobody’s noticed yet.”

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Given Chrysler’s fondness for badge engineering (at least until recently) I was shocked that Chrysler never put the PT Cruiser’s bodywork on the Caliber’s chassis. Maybe they thought the Neon was a better foundation? Incredible.

    I guess the issue for me is that even if I really did like the PT(and I don’t), why on earth would I buy a new one if I could get a nicely optioned 3 year old for $5K?

    I guess if I were truly desperate to drop $10K, I could buy a 3 year old Mazda3, no?

  • avatar
    davey49

    I think the PT Cruiser is on the old Caravan platform.
    I suspect some of the poor fuel mileage is due to drive train inefficiency as opposed to weight and aerodynamics. The Chevy HHR is essentially the same size weight and shape and it’s EPA rated at 21/30

  • avatar
    davey49

    Interesting that everyone who claims the PT is a horrible car has only had one as a rental.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    PT, for those of you that don’t know– comes from the chassis designation.

    neon sedan/coupe were PL; wagon variant– PT.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I don’t understand the PT hate. The only downside to it was the gasmileage. Mom got one, a 2001 back in 2002 that was “used” but only had 1200 miles on it. Limited model with sunroof, leather/suede seats, seat heaters, cruise, automatic, etc etc. Sure, it was awful to drive. It had no power and not enough gears, and not enough brains in the transmission to power a lightbulb. But it was useful, comfortable, and relatively reliable. Yes it went through brakes and tierods. Cheap, cheap to buy and cheap to fix. And the amount of stuff you can cram in a PT Cruiser is amazing.

    It really needed a 5-speed automatic though… cruise control got REALLY annoying on the hills on some of the highways in Virginia, where it couldn’t make up its mind on a gear and would just keep shifting between 3rd and OD. retarded.

    Still, great car

    but yeah residuals were ridiculously awful.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    windswords, you need to leave allpar.com alone for 15 minutes and go to ptcruiserproblems.com. Not that I dont like allpar, I go there for old info as I am a roadrunner,-gtx guy from the 70′s. It IS a chrysler site after all, so cheerleading is gonna happen.I found the latter site 2 years ago when my rental broke a tierod on a ramp (no hooning, normal speed) and I nearly flipped. Now I dont know what allpar.com would say about this unique handling trick, but with 11,000 miles on it the front suspension should be breaking in not breaking! Never drove another PT cruiser after that.

  • avatar
    AlphaWolf

    Just drove a new 2008 and they really are not that bad at all. Roomy and the PT handles well. Gas mileage is where they dropped the ball.

    I am not sure the imminent demise of Chrysler is a given, even though it makes for good articles on here. So the warranty should be there 3 years from now. On the other hand parts are cheap.

    Looking around for a replacement car the choices seem to be a high mileage used Honda or Toyotas vs a brand new PT Cruiser with automatic, Sirius satellite and side airbags for under $13k.

    What else can you get at $13k, a Kia or something? Then I would not even fit into the car, I am a tall guy.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Alpha, I’ve seen the Versa for sale with an automatic at 12k, and the Yaris at $11,500. The Fit seems to be the only one at the moment that seems immune to the pricing pressures.

    On the second tier level, the Cobalt can be had for $9995, the Focus for around $12k, and the Lancer for $12k as well.

    If Chrysler had decided to revise the chassis for better structural rigidity, offered a far more fuel efficient engine, and took care of some of their susbstandard components (long list), the PT Cruiser would most likely become a popular vehicle. It’s far better looking than anything except the Fit, and it has brand equity that’s ‘hip’ and yet attractive to mature consumers.

    To put it another way, if this were the mid-90′s Chrysler the PT Cruiser would be a world class product.

    The fact that they’ve neglected it and cheaped it out is proof positive of the challenges Chrysler will continue to face. Cheap is no longer a profitable option for an American manufacturer.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    JT,

    I just want to congratulate you on raising a daughter of obvious intellect and good taste. Well done, sir.

  • avatar
    AlphaWolf

    Alpha, I’ve seen the Versa for sale with an automatic at 12k, and the Yaris at $11,500. The Fit seems to be the only one at the moment that seems immune to the pricing pressures.

    I do not disagree with your observations at all. Still I think the PT has some value left at the right price. The Versa is a good option, especially for the gas mileage, although Nissan has had some hit or miss reliability just like Chrysler.

    Both the Lancer and the Focus with automatic are at about 14k minimum, at least in my area. I cannot fit in the the Yaris, too small. The Fit is probably worth the price premium in the end.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Yep, I also think the Versa is the most direct competitor to the PT Cruiser. Although Nissan does not have the reliability record of Honda and Toyota, I have found that their vehicles tend to be better than the Chrysler models… especially as it pertains to durability.

    You also have the Scion Xd which has a design that can kindly be described as unique. If Chrysler saw fit to do the modifications I mentioned earlier, they would have a vehicle capable of providing them in excess of 200,000 units given the demand for that type of design. Unfortunately the die was cast when gas was still cheap, and the resources to make those changes happen are no longer there.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Versa? Only on price, the PT is about 50% larger.

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    davey49 : Interesting that everyone who claims the PT is a horrible car has only had one as a rental.

    My rental PT had only 2000 miles on it, and I had it for two weeks while my xB was being bent back into a square. Believe me, two weeks is MORE than enough time to notice that a car is actively trying to kill you.

    If that time period wasn’t enough, the second I got back into my xB would have told me all I needed to know. Not as much power, but a hell of a lot more room, and not nearly as much tendency to end up facing random, non-standard directions in traffic after simple steering maneuvers.

    I would have drawn a different conclusion from the fact that a lot of people stopped at a rental: some of us are more perceptive than others.

  • avatar
    CTFrank

    It’s amazing how so many ignorant people jump in to badmouth the PT Cruiser when most of them have obviously never driven one much less owned one. Our current PT (’07 Touring w/ auto) gives us 22 to 25 MPG around town and close to 30 on the highway. Last summer on a round trip from Connecticut to western Pennsylvania we averaged 32MPG on the highway with the cruise set at 75 and the AC on full. With it’s interior room and ergonomics it is the most comfortable small car I have ever driven. You can have your cookie cutter fugly Toyondas.

  • avatar
    aggie

    I have a 2008 pt cruiser touring model with automatic transmission. I’ve only had it for two weeks at first I loved it. It’s a comfortable ride and you can do so many things with it. Then one evening I noticed my headlights were flickering. The dash board too. They even went totally out at one point and then came back on. I never know when this is going to happen. It’s very scarey driving at night and the lights go out, but a girls gotta work right. I’ve taken it to the dealer who cannot find the problem so I’m stuck driving it this way. So much for having a factory warranty. If I had any money I’d get rid of it immediatly and never own another.

  • avatar
    Grant I

    Very sorry all in the US the best model’s only available here in Europe http://www.edmunds.com/news/column/carmudgeon/72740/article.html. 40+ MPG, great performance and a Mercedes engine


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