The Truth About Cars » PT Cruiser The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » PT Cruiser Hammer Time: PT Cruiser? Mon, 19 May 2014 21:45:06 +0000 pt1


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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Piston Slap: The Two-Sided Ethical Dilemma Mon, 17 Oct 2011 15:10:53 +0000

Bill writes:

Hello TTAC crew!

My Mom is in need of a new car. The problem is her trade in: It is a 2002 PT Cruiser with a serious overheating problem ($1700+ quote at two reputable repair places) Now here is the problem. Do I keep my dang mouth shut when we go to the dealership and do the deal? I have a spare car that she is driving until it cools off and the overheating problem will not be noticeable at trade in.

I would never sell the car to a guy off the street without disclosing a major problem. Even to a car dealership I think I feel guilty in not disclosing it. We are not going to be financing, and will be paying cash for the car. So it is not like they can unwind the deal if they discover the problem.
Having ethical dilemma about screwing over a car dealership who exist solely to try and take as much money as they can from you in every conceivable way is weird.

Bonus question. These are the three cars we are considering Hyundai Elantra Touring, VW Jetta Wagon and Ford Focus Wagon. Any recommendations of the three or reasons to avoid them?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Sajeev Answers:

Fair disclosure: my full-time job is in the automotive retail business, so I have my own ethical dilemma. And don’t ask what an autojourno makes, it’s precisely why I work there. With the Jeff Glucker incident fresh on my mind, I’ve decided to publish this query and throw myself at the mercy of the B&B.

I hope I made the right choice. Well…here goes:

Ahem, not all car dealerships are alike. Sure, they all wanna make a buck, but if the mainline dealers inspect a vehicle and deem it not worthy to sell, it heads straight to the auction…so some other chump can deal with the problems. This is one reason why the Buy-Here-Pay-Here lots have the reputation that they often (not always) deserve. You could easily trade in your ride to the big name dealerships, they will see the problem and dump it.

What I’m trying to say is, the dealer may be a little pissed that you traded in a lemon, but they won’t pass their karma on to their used car customers. That’s just bad business, in the long-term. Odds are their trade-in value is about what they’ll get at the auctions anyway, so even if your PT isn’t as promised, the loss will be minimal. Maybe even in the hundreds, as a PT Cruiser isn’t a late-model AMG Benz that’s been abused and almost ready for a $20,000 repair bill once the “extra life” additives wear out and its new owner gets a shocking surprise.

Then again, the converse is that you should be ashamed for not disclosing a problem you know. That’s just basic karma, and it’s something I usually believe in.

Honestly, I’ve stressed over your question for weeks, and I still don’t know what the heck to tell you. I’m sorry.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Farewell, PT Cruiser Tue, 13 Jul 2010 15:07:05 +0000

The last-ever PT Cruiser rolled off the line last week, decked out in the “Couture Edition” trim shown above. After 11 years on the market, familiarity has bred its fair share of contempt for the old PT, but the old Neon-based hatch certainly had its uses. For one thing, by classifying the compact-based Cruiser as a truck, Chrysler was able to keep the CAFE wolves at bay. It also gave rise to at least 15 different “Special Editions,” from the Dream Cruiser series to the Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition (not to mention the $38k “Brazilian Edition“. The PT Cruiser Convertible in “amble mode” was, according to one Robert Farago, “Hakuna Matata in-car-nate.” Hell, in merry old England, the PT Cruiser is nothing short of a cultural exchange icon. In short, it may not be the greatest car any longer, and it probably should have died with some dignity a while ago, but the PT Cruiser was undeniably one of the more influential cars of the 2000s. Having shuffled off this mortal coil, it certainly deserves a moment of remembrance.

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PT Cruiser Special Brazil Edition: Yours For $38K Only! Sat, 15 May 2010 12:11:36 +0000

Brazil’s Chrysler is launching a special edition called the Decade Edition. Love the little retro wagon? Well come on down to Brazil, where for the cool little sum of $69,990 Brazilian reais (at 1.8 reais to the dollar, around USD$38,000) you can get your fix!

According to Brazil’s best known car rag, Quatro Rodas, for that tiny wee of money you’ll get a special logo glued on to the back lift gate with the saying, “Decade Edition 2000-2010”, not to mention a certificate of authenticity. Wait, there’s more!

You’ll also get specially designed 16 inch alloy wheels. Plus, the super well known (for its thirst) 2.4 engine good for 143hp that’ll get you from naught to 100km/h in a hair over 10 seconds. Give it a little time (and pray for favorable winds) and the thing will take you to a top speed of 171 km/h. Imagine, many puny 1.0L cars will be 5 km/h slower! The mighty mill comes mated to the super exclusive 4 speed auto transmission with sequential gear changes.

Not convinced yet? Chrysler do Brasil will throw in A/C, leather covered seats, power sun roof, radio with CD player and USB port, ABS, double airbags, and a driver’s seat that’s adjustable for height.

What are you waiting for? Haven’t you always dreamed of buying a PT Cruiser for a mere 38K?

Come on down! I’ll write you a note to prove to your wife that your trip was strictly for the car.

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A Note From The Editor On Our Most Recent Review Wed, 03 Feb 2010 14:28:38 +0000

Today’s review of the Fiat Bravo is more than just a unique look at a European-market vehicle that will never be sold in the United States: it’s an(other) early look at the future of Chrysler. Sergio Marchionne has called the C and D segments “critical” for US-market success, and the C-Evo platform that lies beneath the Fiat Bravo tested today, will form the basis for planned 2012 replacements to the Caliber and PT Cruiser and possibly the re-launched Sebring and Avenger (reportedly in stretched form). Indeed, the Lancia-trimmed version, known as the Delta, was shown at the Detroit Auto Show in Chrysler-brand drag, apparently to prove how easy these rebadges will be. As cynical as this might seem, Mr Bronfer’s relatively positive review leaves little doubt that Fiat’s got more to offer the C and D segments than the aging, neglected Mitsubishi platform that currently underpins Chrysler’s offerings in these classes. In that sense, this is some of the most positive news we’ve heard about Chrysler’s future in a while.

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The UK’s Answer To JDM Tuners Celebrate The Season Mon, 30 Nov 2009 20:08:05 +0000

Are you a lonely American, stuck in Merry Old England for the holidays and looking for a slice of Wal-Mart shopping lot nostalgia amid the plum pudding and “Fathers Christmas”? Look no further than the UK Cruisers’ Charity Christmas Party. Who knew there were enough “owners and admirers of PT Cruisers” in Old Blighty to start a club?

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