By on May 19, 2014

pt1

$11,800.

That was the asking price for a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser down at my local Chrysler dealer back in June 2008. Throw in a $1500 rebate or the “Refuel America” $2.99 per gallon guarantee into the equation, and you may have ended-up with a pre-tax, tag, title price right around $10,300.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Then again, was it? There are a lot of long-term factors to consider when approaching any of the less popular new cars that are in their last years of production. Not all will be a good deal.  But you may be surprised. Join me now as we journey down the PT-shaped rabbit hole.

pt12

If you’re not an enthusiast, and simply wanted a ‘keeper’ car, that $10k Cruiser may have been a great deal in 08′. Even with the abysmal gas mileage and the pointless towel rack in front of the passenger seat.

pt3

Folks who don’t drive very much… hmmm… Let’s say that folks who frankly don’t give a damn about cars at all were the target du jour for most Cruisers that went out the door. It was a styling statement in a cheap car world that ranged from plasticized SUV wanna-be (Dodge Caliber) to automotive androgyny (Toyota Yaris).

PT Cruisers of the time typically came in two packages. Blah boring basic and turbo/convertible kinda interesting. This is a nuance that shouldn’t be missed. Sometimes you can find a nugget of used car goodness within an ocean of a model generation’s ennui.

pt11

The right engine. The right trim package. The right seats. Pretty soon you are going from a strip model to a street hooner.

So what to buy?

As a long-term dealer and enthusiast let me cut one big choice out of your lineup.

pt6

The entry level model. You like driving? Forget it. Don’t even bother. When you see an old PT Cruiser that has a low number in bold, and think to yourself, “Hey, that looks like a good deal!”, pretend like you just ordered a sundae and all you got was the ice cream.

Look at that sad little melting scoop of ice cream. It’s store brand surplus without the real whipped cream, the sweet maraschino cherry, sprinkles, nuts, caramel and whatever other trimmings you long for.

pt7

Was it worth what you paid? Think about that. Most Sunday advertisements are selling you nothing more than cheap ice cream at a premium. Back in 2008, the real cost for the PT Cruiser came from getting that new car sweet tooth for a car that simply didn’t compare with a nice used Saturn Aura. Today, that same basic late model PT Cruiser car is a poor substitute for a 10 year old Nissan Altima.

Let’s also think about the old value quotient of hitting em’ where they ain’t. A Camry SE, an Accord coupe with a V6 and stick, and even the Malibu SS all have one thing in common.

They are usually too much money in the real world of buying cars. Most folks try to opt for the champagne popular car at the beer budget unpopular car price. In a perverse twist, many of these cars will handily outsell their less enthusiast oriented brothers and sisters.

You want value? Get the cheap wrapper with the nice stuff inside of it. The ‘old’ new car that was well-designed and given the great powertrain of a few years ago. The used car that you buy for the joy of driving instead of the brand or name that came with it.

pt9

If you consider that to be a PT Cruiser, well, all the power to you. They certainly sell cheap.

 

 

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91 Comments on “Hammer Time: PT Cruiser?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    My mom has got a 2001, one of the first ones made. It’s tricked-out got 38k miles on it, it looks and runs like new and she loves it.

    Oh, and she’s 85

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    Was the PT Cruiser a great car in 2008? No.

    Was $10,300 for a brand-new 5-door car with eight airbags, a warranty, cruise, A/C, a stereo, and the ability to seat five adults comfortably an absolute screaming deal in 2008? Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      qest

      There were lots of screaming deals in 2008. They were leasing the VW R32 for $179/mo (or under $300/mo without a cap cost reduction).

      Also, just about *anything* you bought used in 2008 went UP in value, IIRC.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The R32 was one of the best deals ever around that time, if you didn’t have vaporlock. They were showroom poison but had awesome resale value. Because of that they had huge incentives plus 0% for 72 months. My only regret is that I bought one, instead of five. My 2008 R32 was cheaper out the door than my 2009 GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        O god. No. A high content VW is not a deal at any price.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Not to keep, but to drive for a year and sell. I made a few grand on my R32. It paid for a honeymoon. This also worked for 2006 Jetta TDIs and other R models.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            Yep – my brother did the same thing with his 337 GTI. Leased it for super cheap, then bought out the lease and sold it within 3 days for a nice profit. VW doesn’t seem to understand the market for its limited edition rides.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Yup – screaming deals indeed! I bought a brand-new 2008 Saab 9-3 SportCombi for $13,500 off in March of ’09. Deal of the century on a really great car that I enjoyed thoroughly for 2yrs until the impending demise of both Saab and the e91 BMW made me take a deep breath and sign on the dotted line for the BMW. Sold the Saab for only $3K less than I paid for it.

  • avatar

    Jack can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that most of the go fast parts for the Neon will bolt up to the PT Cruiser, it’s the same platform. FWIW, their owners love them. I just embroidered a patch with a red PT Cruiser for a customer.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Ronnie, I think the top end of the 2.4L Turbo was different on the PT than the Neon due to the shape of the bonnet, though other parts interchange.

      “The SRT-4 and PT Cruiser Turbo use the same engine block and heads The intake manifold, turbo plumbing, and intercooler are all different. The cast-aluminum 8-row Valeo intercooler is mounted in the front, and the reverse-rotation Mitsubishi TD04LR-16Gk turbocharger has a 6 cm2 (1 sq in) turbine inlet. The turbocharger compressor housing features a built-in bypass valve, and the turbo housing is cast into the exhaust manifold with a loop-around flow pattern. The stock SRT-4 has a maximum boost level of 15 psi (100 kPa)”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Neon_engine#2.4_and_2.4_Turbo

      • 0 avatar

        I was thinking more about the suspension parts.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Gotcha

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          IIRC the PT Cruiser has a beam axle in the back, and the Neon had IRS.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Yes the rear suspension is completely different. Interestingly the SRT-4 wouldn’t have existed without the PT Cruiser which donated the beefier 2.4 front cross-member so the front suspension is similar but not the same.

            Oddly enough as mentioned you’d think the turbo drivetrain is the same but the manifolds, turbo, manual trans all different between SRT-4 and Turbo PT. They did make a Mopar “Stage 1″ computer for the HO Turbo PT cruiser to bring it up to 240hp. The best part is if you have the low output 180hp turbo you can put this computer in to pick up 60 HP there are no mechnical differences between the output levels.

            There isn’t much redeeming the ‘cruiser as far as shared parts really. The second gen Neon itself doesn’t have that much good available bolt-on anyways. That concludes my knowledge on the subject.

        • 0 avatar
          LectroByte

          I think the suspensions are quite different, the PT Cruiser has a surprisingly larger turning circle than a Neon.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Trans clearance is the issue I believe…certainly was for the SRT-4, bigger turning circle than the Caravan! Price to pay for a strong transaxle. Could never make a u-turn in that car, 3 point turn *every* time.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          Some front suspension parts, yes, but not as much as you’d think. The rear was completely different.

  • avatar
    turbosaab

    Rented one back when they were new, circa 2008, a lavender convertible non-turbo. Expected to hate it, ended up surprised at just what a pleasant car it was, to the point where I’d consider owning one.

  • avatar

    It’s absolutely amazing how Chrysler basically started trends with the PT Cruiser, Magnum and Pacifica…

    …only to abandon them…

    …and abandon them at a point when their technology packages and engines were at their best.

    Coupling the 8-speed/9-speed to a Pentastar V6/HEMI V8 and including Uconnect Touch and the panoramic moonroof is enough to make just about anything Chrysler puts them in a “great car”. For the low, prices Chrysler offers there cars, most people can overlook interiors that feel plasticy.

    • 0 avatar
      gtrslngr

      Holy freaking cr*p BT ! We agree again !!!

      OK … the V8 Mercedes pretending to be a Dodge/Chrysler Hemi wanna be [ you do realize that is a Benz V8 having about as much to do with the iconic Hemi as a BMW V8 does ] is more than a bit ludicrous as well as over the top . But yeah … like so many other American cars the PT was just begging to be evolved rather than canned .

      Fact is .. had Chrysler evolved the damn thing they’d probably be going head to head against MINI with the PT instead of that manure pile FIAT 500

      Sigh …..

      PT Cruiser
      Pontiac Fiero
      The 2004 Chevy Nomad concept that never was and damn well should of been
      Original Ford Bronco

      and on and on and …

      … etc … the list of American cars that should of been evolved rather than dumped is all but endless .

      • 0 avatar
        BigDuke6

        LoL….there you go again. How can expect anyone to take you seriously when you type “should OF been…”.
        I get it. Spelling/grammar isn’t your forte. Try using this:
        http://www.grammarly.com/?q=grammar&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search&utm_content=29036513046&utm_term=grammar%20check&matchtype=e&placement=&network=g&gclid=CODxnMy9ub4CFeY-MgodKmMAvw

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          @BigDuke6 — Your goal of looking smugly superior would be better served if you knew how to post URLs that fit on the screen and didn’t have an avatar prone to inducing seizures.

          Alternately, you could stop policing people’s writing and actually say something interesting about cars. You know, like gtrslngr did.

      • 0 avatar
        Drewlssix

        Please provide some sort of evidence of your claim. Besides the fact Daimler was in bed with Chrysler at the time. I doubt Benz has produced a pushrod v8 of any automotive type for a long while now and certainly not one with the distinct hemi valve train layout.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Yes, Mercedes is very well known for their modern push-rod engines.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Abandon? More like, they tried it, it didn’t sell, so they’re gone. The public’s taste was for taller more SUV-like vehicles, and Chrysler seems to be meeting that need.

      • 0 avatar

        Lectrobyte

        I REJECT YOUR ARGUMENT.

        All of Chrysler’s cars declined in sale before these models were axed – mostly due to the financial crisis, which hurt everyone’s sales since the discount credit windows closed.

        GM and Chrysler had to cut many products out of their portfolio.

        The problem is, they cut them RIGHT BEFORE their technology/engines/transmissions were upgraded.

        Take the Nav, transmission and engine out of a current Charger and drop them in the Pacifica and all the sudden the Pacifica would be a GREAT CUV.

        The Pentastar/ 8-speed combination is a stand out powertrain.
        The ONLY problem I see at Chrysler right now is that they don’t have a stand out turbo-4 cylinder.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          TSS,
          “The ONLY problem I see at Chrysler right now is that they don’t have a stand out turbo-4 cylinder”

          You don’t see cheap interiors as an issue?

          You don’t find their unsophisticated brand images to be in the least bit problematic?

          The long history of mediocre quality of Chrysler products — sitting just above the Brits – this is not a problem?

          The fact that the vast majority of models can’t sell without $3K on the hood, not an issue.

          The lack of powertrain innovation – no alternative fuels, no hybrids, no prob.

          Lacking in the technology roadmap to meet CAFE requirements, still no problem at all?

          The fact that the American operations are weighed down by unprofitable FIAT, and lack the resources to invest properly in the business. Again not a problem, huh?

          You really should invest in FCA, then.

        • 0 avatar
          LectroByte

          Exactly, the weak non-sellers were axed. Sorry.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Abandon? More like, they tried it, it didn’t sell, so they’re gone.”

        No, the PT sold 100-140K per year consistently from 2002 to 2007. They never significantly updated or redesigned it, so it grew stale & sales plummeted in 2008. Anyone who bought one in 2002 had no reason to buy the 2008. By 2009,everyone had been staring at these things for 8 years; no one was going to go plunk MSRP down on such an old design.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      It’s not a trend if it fails in the marketplace and no one follows.

      Where are the Pacifica, Magnum and PT now?

  • avatar
    Blue-S

    The best and highest use for a PT Cruiser is to swipe the engine and front brakes for use on one’s LeMons/Chump neon racecar.

  • avatar

    I retail and wholesale the hell out of these things because they really are a lot of car for the money. A decently-equipped ’07+ Touring has wheels, cruise, a nice audio system, Pwr W/L/M, gets reasonable economy and has around 60k miles on it and can be retailed (at a profit) for $5-7k.

    I also just wholesaled an ’07 Limited with everything BUT leather (had UConnect even) and 84k miles to Carmax for $5500 who I’m sure is going to VALUEMAX it for $9588, so I’m not the only one to think they’re a deal.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    I have the dubious privilege of driving one of these whoever I visit the in-laws. I actually like a lot about the PT– its stocky-but-compact shape, the big windows and excellent visibility. But that’s just the body; the greasy bits down below that make it move proved lacking. “Reasonable mileage?” On a long country drive with light traffic, 40-60 mph, it returned just 22 mpg. My father-in-law was impressed: “I only get 20.” Now I regard it like our late Subaru Forester- a perfectly fine car to drive downtown, but outclassed on the open road. It’s a shame ‘ol Pete never got a substantial makeover.

    The real point of this article, I believe was that options and upgrades can give a major boost to the value of an aging car. If so, that’s the best news I’ve had all day. At least they set the car apart from so many of its lesser siblings, when it comes time to sell. The buyer is aware that he’s compromising on price. Now he wants a little visible quality to sugar-coat the bitter pill of a five-year loan on a five-year-old car.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I remember when these first came out. They looked so cool, in my mind they were Shelby GT500s. Then I had one as a rental. The interior was surprisingly cramped for the vehicles spacious appearance, luggage space was very limited and the engine was underpowered.

    Not to mention, for 2008 it looks REALLY dated.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Ha Ha! Really looks dated, for a car modeled after a ’38 Ford. People were just sick of them. Chrysler sold a million copies of it, everybody that wanted one had one and since they really couldn’t “update” it, it ended

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Bingo. They didn’t know where to go from there. VW did a good job updating their retro-ish Beetle. It would have been nice to see Chrysler at least try.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Shopped these around 2002 because, having been born with the preferences of a stodgy old man, I adored their looks. But, damn, the crampiness of the driver’s space was astonishing.

      Oh, what a difference inflating the dimensions by 25% would have made. The platform simply couldn’t deliver on the aesthetics’ promise.

      So, to salve my disappointment, I just started wearing my pants hiked up to around mid-ribcage.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    The number of people expressing like, love, and/or adoration of the PT Cruiser proves one thing– There’s an ass for every seat!

    The car is the automotive equivalent of birth control glasses. I can’t believe it was in demand to a point where dealers actually slapped ADM stickers on them.

    Damn!

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      When it first came out, it was considered ‘retro’and was viewed similarly along the lines of the ‘new’ Beetle as well. Of course though, it’s Neon sourced underpinnings were rarely brought up.

      Seems incredible now though. If memory serves, didn’t Murilee say that wrecking yards are flooded with these, so much so that he ignores them?

  • avatar
    319583076

    The PT Cruiser is a much better car than the Chevrolet HHR. A nice day and a pair of good walking shoes are generally superior to the experience of driving either one of these cars.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      PT vs HHR via Motor Trend:

      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/wagons/112_0509_2006_chevrolet_hhr_chrysler_pt/viewall.html

      Caliber GT vs HHR SS, interesting comments;

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/11/comparo-chevrolet-hhr-ss-vs-dodge-srt-4/

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    About 11,000$ too much for that pile

  • avatar
    Thatkat09

    My sisters got an 08 with 50,000 or so miles that looks exactly like the picture. It may be crud to drive but its been reliable as hell, minus a temperamental tire gauge. Lot of hate on this car even though with a stick, it really isn’t that bad. The auto does suck alot of power out of the 150 horsepower. If you need cheap and reliable transportation that you can finance for nothing, then it really is a decent option.

  • avatar
    dash riprock

    Steve…..what is the wholesale today on that $10,000 PT? $3-4,000? So, losing so little in depreciation for a buyer that is not an enthusiast, maybe a good buy? Always thought you were a guy that would appreciate the economics of a deal such as that

    Have a question concerning last year models. How have the last year Rangers and the last year blazer/jimmy’s(2 doors were retailing for $16,000 in Canada) held up depreciation wise?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      It depends on the model, condition, miles, and for some strange reason, there is a wide variance with the impact the color can have on this model’s price.

      Also, the creme version is hideous and blissfully rare.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I bought a 2002 Limited new with a stick. Still have it, few problems and fun enough. A hatch with a roof rack is very versitile. What other small car can you put a few 8′ 2x4s in and close the hatch. When I was driving it to work 50 miles a day mixed surface/ highway got 25 mpg every week. Great car for the money glad I bought it. Although not for everyone the people that own them love them. That’s enough for me. Yes I too wish they had kept at it and updated it.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The PT Cruiser and Neon, also the XJ Cherokee and the earlier Grand Cherokees and Voyager have given Chrysler a bad name in Australia.

    I don’t think there are too many left on the roads.

    They were cheap and nasty. They also performed as a cheap and nasty vehicle would.

    Granted Chrysler is now making inroads in our market, but they are starting similar to how the Koreans did, cheap, highly blinged Korean alternatives as opposed to cheap Japanese alternatives like the Koreans.

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      Funny you mention the XJ Cherokee. True, you are in Australia and I’m here in America. It seems the exact opposite here as XJ’s are still very heavy here and are still very sought after by either off roaders or people looking for a simple and durable SUV. While not the word in luxury or refinement, the 4.0L keeps going and going, parts are easy to find and cheap and wrecking yards yield even more parts since they built a crap ton of them. They even offered a “special service” variant for police usage and the like. Wouldn’t mind having one myself.

      The only one that didn’t catch on was the early AMC build XJ’s that used the God awful GM 2.8 V6 and the Commanche pickup, though that one is sought after. Things got better when AMC shoved the 4.0 in it.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I wanted a Comanche when I was younger, especially when they brought out the inline six. If I remember correctly the 4 litre had 160hp, which in it’s day was quite good from a small pickup.

        We had a few XJs on the road for a while, now you’re lucky to see one.

        They just didn’t have the durability.

        • 0 avatar
          carve

          Interesting- XJ’s are known for being simple and reliable in the states when equipped with the 4.0 I-6. Sparten with crappy brakes and cooling system, but otherwise very solid. Mine has 211k and still pulls down 22 mpg.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    My two PT Cruiser drives left the same impression. I thought it was quite comfortable and had much better ergonomics than it’s competitor compact sedans. It had much to recommend it until you started to drive.

    The last one I drove (service loaner) fell victim to an unintentional “dukes of hazard” jump in a brand new Ikea parking lot. The concrete slab was new and had been laid with improper tolerances for 120+ degree weather. The sun’s glare from the pale grey surface made invisible the 20″ rise where the slabs pushed each other up like the ridge of a roof.

    Oops

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    There’s a lot to commend buying “Brand -X” for a used car, to be sure. I always liked the look of the PT Cruiser. But isn’t there a limit to this strategy? I was given to understand that the Cruiser had all kinds of gimcrack decontenting type issues.

    I don’t know why people complain about cheap interiors in new Chryslers. The ones I see are pretty nice. Just because you expect a Chrysler to have a cheap exterior doesn’t mean it really is. Decontenting was the bane of Chrysler’s existence. When the Neon first came out, it was a real solid, nice handling little car. They took more and more out of it like it was a house of cards.

  • avatar
    williambwarren

    My buddy has one of these, base model, too – manual mirrors and everything.

    He traded with his dad – they both have PTs. His dad liked it so much when he got one for a rental, he bought one. And then, bought a newer one to give the older one to my friend.

    I give him so much grief, since these (with a multitude of other Chrysler products during the time) were quite horrendous in terms of build quality and such (I have the ability to speak – dad has a Pacifica, mom has a first gen Liberty) – but to give credit where it’s due, it’s roomy as all get out for me to ride in (6’2, and I can sit easily in the back seat – try that in a Civic), and the removable rear seats have come in handy (most notably when he helped me move my small fridge (double the size of a standard mini fridge) from my college dorm.

    But…doesn’t save the fact it’s a rather mediocre vehicle.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I don’t understand why you are being so critical of this particular car?
    Chrysler sold a lot of them..and the owners I talked to had no major problems…
    Is it because its a Chrysler product?
    Since you weren’t specific about how you got burned on one or more??
    I cant assume anything..
    A lotta shitty used cars out there even Altimas or the WV Beetle!
    Why single out a car that does most things right???

  • avatar
    iNeon

    That isn’t a 2008 PT Cruiser.

    In 2008, they deleted the side mouldings/badging, the chrome grille, and changed the HVAC control knobs to a black version. Is it an early build?

    My 2008 was dirt cheap in 2009($8k, 24k mi. 5-speed) has never been mechanically repaired– haven’t even done brake pads yet, at 90k! Its Novocain to drive, but it looks, runs and rides as new. Had a door lock actuator replaced under warranty. 30mpg highway, about 10 in town. These things are stump pullers in first through third gears.

    170 ft/lbs?

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    iNeon….10 MPG City? Seriously?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      You’d have to really be trying to get figures that low from a 2.4L non-turbo version.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        I’ve seen the EVIC fall from approximately 30mpg to 21 after getting stuck in rush hour. A well-entrenched EVIC– not one that was just reset. I drive it so gingerly, it’s become a joke amongst my friends.

        These cars are guzzlers. If you drive 80, you’re getting the fuel mileage of a Grand Cherokee. They needed a second overdrive. Badly.

        • 0 avatar
          IHateCars

          Jesus….that’s insane. My Raptor gets 10 MPG City with a 6.2L V8 and 37″ tires!

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            As I said above– the Chrysler N/A 2.4 with the standard t350 manual– is a stump puller. They’re capable of producing tire smoke into second.

            It is a powerful beast which is nearly incapable of sprinting.

            The 2.4/5-speed combination was never officially offered in an American Chrysler product until 2001– despite having been around since 1994. The reason? It’s nearly undriveable, there’s too much torque. If you give the car anything more than 10%– it loses traction in first.

            I’ve had to relearn to drive because of the cars power. The double-cam neon I had before was a sprinter– this one is a tugboat.

            I understand these things are relative, so please don’t think I’m overselling the cars virtues. I’ve driven a lot of cars, and I sell them for a living– if you want to experience the rawest form of modern driving– try burying the pedal of a 2.4/5mt PT Cruiser with no ABS and no traction control in the rain. I

            t’ll make you clench so hard you’ll wrinkle the upholstery beneath you.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            As I said above– the Chrysler N/A 2.4 with the standard t350 manual– is a stump puller. They’re capable of producing tire smoke into second.

            It is a powerful beast which is nearly incapable of sprinting.

            The 2.4/5-speed combination was never officially offered in an American Chrysler product until 2001– despite having been around since 1994. The reason? It’s nearly undriveable, there’s too much torque. If you give the car anything more than 10%– it loses traction in first.

            I’ve had to relearn to drive because of the cars power. The double-cam neon I had before was a sprinter– this one is a tugboat.

            I understand these things are relative, so please don’t think I’m overselling the cars virtues. I’ve driven a lot of cars, and I sell them for a living– if you want to experience the rawest form of modern driving– try burying the pedal of a 2.4/5mt PT Cruiser with no ABS and no traction control in the rain.

            It’ll make you clench so hard you’ll wrinkle the upholstery beneath you.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            You’re giving me hope for the future of my Voyager 2.4-swapped Neon in NASA this year.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This is what happens when you take a successful car that received a lot of attention and praise at its introduction, and then completely ignore the thing during a 9 year lifespan so it withers & dies on the vine and becomes a laughingstock by the end of its product life.

    This car was well received in 2001 and deserved it. Functional, unique, decent performance for the time. Then Chrysler gave up. They “updated” the exterior to look more geriatric. Cheapened the interior. Didn’t update the underperforming base engine. Sold them for pennies on the dollar by the end. Just pathetic.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Always liked the external look of the PT Cruise (what can I say, I like boxes), but IIRC I was put off by the MPG given its size.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    A lot of my bear-type pals enjoy the PT Cruiser for its roominess for the tall and portly. But they also don’t care about cars. They were cute, but overproduction in the later years has killed their resale value. Plus all of the trades of these that I have appraised here in Quebec have been rough, rough, rough. Not caring about your car means not fixing any dents / scrapes / cracked bumpers, so finding a low-mileage one in good shape is pretty rare.

    Up here at least.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The sad thing about the PT is that it was a good enough car that needed a little refinement. What it _got_ was a savage decontenting courtest the Daimler half of DaimlerChrysler.

    The original car had a more cohesive design (especially the front end; the facelift did it no favours) and a nice, if Chrysler-parts-bin interior. The facelifted one just looks awful, in and out.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnnyFirebird

      You’re totally correct on that one. Sometimes facelifts help the car, but definitely not in this case.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        The deco designs of 2006-2010 aren’t all bad if you can ignore the obvious lack of pigments in the white-grey plastics, the bean-counter cutlines or the synthetic sailcloth upholstering.

        There was a beautiful design in the Sebring as well.

        Design has never been Chrysler’s problem. Translating those designs to be both buildable and saleable was the issue. That, indeed, came from Germany. Daimler are not fans of whimsy, and the PT is a wholly whimsical product. It’s not surprising the Germans forced Chrysler to ignore PT.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    An engineer friend of mine has one of these. Bought it from is aging parents for $500. 5sp crapcan with no options. I believe it is one of the earliest variants. He is so blessed to have the privilege of the fabulous ‘Barney’ purple as he calls it. He has a love hate relationship with this car, he hates the way it looks, drives, feels etc. It has been 7 years since he parted with the nickle entry fee to his folks and the crapcan starts every day and he merrily commutes to work in the Barney wagon. His rig has outlasted a Subaru wagon and a sienna minivan,both his wife’s. Goes to show the less you care about a car the longer it will last. He is fairly certain his children will drive this car to high school in 6 years.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    Just remember how popular PT Cruisers were when they first came out. The Chrysler-Plymouth agency in my hometown had a LONG waiting list for them. I heartily endorse this article. Buy a PT, a Neon or Avenger and get all things Japanese/Korean out of your life for good.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    My 11 year old daughter thinks PT Cruisers are great and one as her first car, although my suggestion of Daihatsu Midget, just big enough for her and one friend went over well on Sunday so there is hope. Interestingly my wife described the PT Cruiser as a shrunken minivan the first time she saw one and has never changed her opinion.
    I suppose I should take comfort in the the consensus view that PTs are bland but reliable and functional, and should be fairly cheap in 2019.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    Rented one in Quebec City in January and immediately discovered a fatal flaw for winter driving. Salty spray was flung up on the windshield, turned the washers on and it moved the grime to the side windows, couldn’t see out of either side so I took the car back and got a Focus. It is amazing how badly designed domestic cars are for winters, I once had a Lumina that the winshield washer nozzle was on the wiper arm. At 10 below or less it simply froze…horrible!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I love how all PT’s say “Limited Edition” on the back. And how so many plastic parts are available to glue on from AutoZone, or Wal-Mart.

    The worst PT I ever did see? A mid-run version, light gold metallic with full wagon paneling all around, and a faux continental kit molded into the rear door.

    Luckily, I had not yet eaten lunch.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    We never discuss Plymouth! The PT was to be the centerpiece of a new Plymouth. It was to be offered in a full range– coupés, sedans, convertibles, pick-ups, and as a minivan.

    The reason Chrysler isn’t where she deserves to be is precisely because the Germans knew a resurrected Plymouth would have put her in direct competition with Mercedes-Benz. They were too histrionic to realize that a worldwide network of luxury manufacturers would have been good for everyone, so they saved the good for Mercedes-Benz, and cut Chrysler off at-the-knee.

    The PT’s form is strong– they do not fall apart. They were to be the base vehicle Chrysler(the corporation, not the brand) offered. The 2001 PT Cruiser was one hell of a bottom-feeder penalty box.

    One can only imagine the plans for Chrysler, then– if this were to be their mainstream Plymouth b-car.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “The reason Chrysler isn’t where she deserves to be is precisely because the Germans knew a resurrected Plymouth would have put her in direct competition with Mercedes-Benz”

      How so?

      • 0 avatar
        JohnnyFirebird

        Prowler = SLK, Cirrus = S500, Breeze =… okay, I can’t even pretend.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          Are you being obtuse intentionally, or do I need to go back to school?

          PT Cruiser was to be the entry-point of the Plymouth vehicle line. The Plymouth vehicle line slotted below Chrysler.

          Were the PT Cruiser to have been a Plymouth, rather than a Chrysler, then it takes very little creativity to imagine the vehicles Chrysler were planning for their luxury division.

          The 2001 PT Cruiser was one hell of an economy car.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I am not being obtuse. Since Plymouth had been badge engineered for decades I fail to see how one unique volume model, assuming success, allows its parent brand to all of the sudden become a Mercedes competitor. I think you missed a few steps in your thought process.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Fiat has the successful 500, and they’re now on par with Audi.

            /s

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            When did I say one successful Plymouth would have put Chrysler right?

            I’d said: When your basest vehicle is as nice as the first-generation PT Cruiser was– you’ve got other successes in the pipeline. The second-generation Eagle Vision is another nice car that ruined Chrysler.

            It was not designed to be a Chrysler. Neither was the PT Cruiser.

            I may not be able to tell you what Chrysler’s plans were for Chrysler– as I suspect few people actually know– but that lack of knowledge of Chrysler-specific plans does not negate the fact that the two most successful Chrysler cars released after the Daimler-Chrysler merger– were not Chryslers.

            They were an Eagle and a Plymouth.

            Chrysler, no doubt, had very ambitious plans for their flagship vehicle line. It’s evidenced in the PT Cruiser and 300m. Both very plush, high-content, well-received vehicles.

            The rear-drive LH was well underway when the Germans stepped-in and edited it into oblivion.

            Get it right.

            /fu

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I don’t hate the PT at all. It may not have been the most reliable or best driving car availabe at the time. But it nailed the ‘practical retro looking car’ very well. The interior space is decent for it’s foot print, because of the upright seats etc. And (I admit subjective) it looked a he** of a lot better than the ‘New Beetle’. When it was available with the same BMW 1.6 as in the Mini, it would be better at most things than the Mini too, except for fashionability and road agility. As far as I can recall, it was one of few cars in it’s segment that I kinda liked.
    It’s worth mentioning that it probably sticks out a lot more here in Europe than in the US, but on the other hand, but it did cost a bit more than many other comparable (in size) cars here too.
    For the record, I actually like the looks of both the Caliber and Avenger too (not the interior though), so I guess my opinion isn’t worth much :P

  • avatar
    rampriscort

    In 2001 the wife bought one customized, had a build sheet with her name on it. Nothing extravagant on the list, but it had to be purple and the dealer was a friend of the family. 130,000 miles, two front ends due to damage, a new transmission and everything the kids spilled from ages 0-7 went into that car before we traded for a minivan.

    My only complaints were that the visibility was good except for the HUGE C-pillar when merging, and I always felt that it needed more motor. Given it’s size, the mileage wasn’t great and I think that was because the go pedal spent too much time on the floor. It rode well enough and had enough room, but the Grand Caravan beats it in pretty much every category and gets the same mileage.

    But she loves that look and now a retro-modded 40′s/early 50′s car is out there somewhere with her name on it.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I was sitting behind a woman in a new BMW 320i and I was having a similar conversation in my head. Why would one buy the cheapest 3-series? The depreciation on one has to be pretty big. It starts at $32k, 180hp, with no options (no leather, probably without gas) and you have your choice of black or white before the register starts chinging.
    Granted, this site is probably full of people who would prefer the 320 to it’s more complicated and powerful siblings, I have to imagine the majority of the customer base consists mainly of non-car people asking, “how cheaply can I get into a new BMW?”
    And you know what? They probably have non-car friends who will oo and ah over it and think the owner has made it. I guess that’s where the value is for some folks. Plus, I doubt a 320 will have the service needs of some of the pricier models. Maybe not.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The difference between a 320i and a 328i is the software and the price. You can option them pretty much the same, with a few things being reserved for the 328i. Had a less powerful engine been an option in ’11 when I bought mine, I certainly would have taken that option. I don’t need the 230hp that my 328i has. I would have been perfectly happy with 180hp and a little better gas mileage. I bought the car for how it rides and handles, not how fast it is in a straight line, and the top speed is limited to 130mph artificially either way.

      Some people actually put rational thought into their car purchases, and don’t buy more than they really need. Even when buying BMWs. Afterall, I could have bought an M3.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    I actually owned one bought slightly used and drove it 100k miles. I liked the way it looked in red with a grey leather interior. It was very utilitarian and made a nice little trucklet once I removed the rear seats.

    But it had several problems:
    1. the ergonomics of the driver’s seat were faulty and caused me a sore back
    2. the non-turbo version was a little underpowered
    3. the basic Dodge Neon platform was only good for about 120k miles.

    Point of fact is that Chrysler sold almost twice as many PT Cruisers as Neons. Too bad Chrysler ran into financial problems and was unable to update the thing.


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