Inspired by the panel vans of the1930s, the Chrysler PT Cruiser caused quite a buzz when it was first released, for model year 2001. It was one of a few vehicles to herald the new retro trend and became an instant success.
As an entire decade passed, the PT's utility and versatility remained intact, but the hype surrounding it faded. Such was the life of the PT Cruiser: a bright spot for Chrysler that was ultimately left alone while other practical yet smartly styled hatchback/wagons were introduced. From a used car purchase standpoint, however, the PT is still a respectable choice, especially considering that you'll have plenty of examples to choose from given its decade in production.
Most Recent Chrysler PT Cruiser
The Chrysler PT Cruiser was produced from 2001-'10 as a four-door wagon, and from 2005-'08 as a two-door convertible. Despite sharing its platform with the much-maligned Neon, it drove better than its DNA would suggest. It was also versatile, with a maximum cargo space of 76 cubic feet, and there was ample seating space and headroom. The rear seats could fold down or be removed completely, and a two-tiered luggage area further enhanced the PT's usability.
Throughout its run, the standard engine was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produced 150 horsepower. A five-speed manual and four-speed automatic were available. Acceleration was adequate, but fuel economy was poor for a small wagon. For 2003, Chrysler added a turbocharged GT model; it originally produced 215 horses and later 230 for 2006. It was discontinued for '07. Those desiring more power after that time could opt for a 180-hp turbo engine on certain trims from 2004-'09.
Besides a minor interior styling refresh for '06 and the gradual addition of more features such as an auxiliary audio jack or Bluetooth, the PT Cruiser was otherwise unchanged.
In road tests, our editors found the Chrysler PT Cruiser to be an entertaining drive. It handled adequately, and its overall ride quality was smooth. The Cruiser's utility also bettered that of many compact crossovers. The main downsides included the tepid acceleration of the base engine and poor fuel economy. In its later years, the PT's design also became stale compared to newer competing hatchbacks and wagons. As for the convertible, its fixed roll bar made access to the backseat tricky and top-up visibility was a perpetual issue. We weren't enamored with it at the time, but it could be a good pick if you're looking for an affordable and stylish drop top.