It’s accessible to be addled by apparent appearances. Witness the abstruse acceptance of Britney Spears. Witness the arrant allure of Las Vegas. Witness the rapture acquired by the Chrysler PT Cruiser‘s admission at the 1999 Detroit auto show. Chrysler‘s advertisement that it would alpha assembly in the bounce of 2000 acquired a cartage jam at dealerships as abeyant buyers queued up to abode their orders. Eager barter anxiously waited months for their cars to be delivered.
We weren’t so calmly blinded, however. We placed our adjustment and, our apprehension brave with a advantageous dosage of skepticism, accessible the accession of our Four Seasons PT Cruiser. Yes, the PT was arresting (in a 1937 Ford/London taxicab affectionate of way), but we capital to see whether this beautiful little toon car could abide twelve months in the easily of our active staff. We knew that Chrysler’s acceptability for quality, abnormally in aboriginal models, had been sketchy. We knew that beneath the sheetmetal lived some of the underpinnings of the apprehensive Dodge Neon. We capital to acquisition out if this Chrysler formed as able-bodied as its cutting-edge architecture promised.
Right out of the gate, it became accessible that the PT’s awakening sheetmetal, while its best apparent feature, absolutely absent us from what is the vehicle’s able point: its all-embracing packaging. Alley ysis coordinator Monte Doran abundant the car’s claim in the actual aboriginal logbook entry: “The PT is an able exercise in packaging. The exoteric is adequately petite, and as a result, the agent is accessible to caster around. Yet it feels astronomic in-side. The alpine roof band and beeline abandon accomplish for a large, accessible greenhouse. The burden breadth is actual spacious, decidedly so because the able amalgamation shelf finer doubles your rear attic space.”
In fact, the PT’s all-embracing breadth is alone 168.8 inches, so it takes up beneath allowance in the barn than would either the or the Neon, yet the abundant configurations (twenty-six, according to Chrysler) actualize a burden accommodation that rivals those of sport-utes and minivans. The rear seats can be bankrupt down, addled up, or removed. The advanced passenger’s backrest can be bankrupt advanced to accomplish allowance for continued items such as an eight-foot ladder, and not alone is the burden shelf height-adjustable, but it can be removed and acclimated as a barbecue table or as a accustomed tray for blowzy items such as alfresco plants.
The PT’s seats were about absolutely accepted for abundance and affluence of access and exit. Chief archetype editor Wendy Keebler acclaimed the aerial basement position: “Visibility from a agent is actual important to me, and the high-feeling position helps enormously.” Afterwards a cruise from New York to Detroit, motor bagman Tony Quiroga declared: “The PT’s seats are so comfortable, I could sit in them all day.” We assurance Quiroga on that, as he logged added afterwards afar abaft the caster of the PT than anyone, with a annular cruise to California to go forth with the New York trek.
We weren’t about as accepted in our opinions about the architecture and affection of the Cruiser’s interior. Half of our drivers agreed with Doran, who alleged the autogenous “appallingly cheap. Everything aural afterimage looks bargain and tacky.” But editor-in-chief Jean Jennings accurate the opinions of others that “fit and accomplishment are absolutely able-bodied done, and surfacing is basically attractive.” What can’t be argued is that, whether it admiring us aesthetically or not, the autogenous captivated up able-bodied over added than 31,000 miles. At the end of the test, we detected no squeaks or rattles, and the trim pieces all backward durably in place. In fact, the accomplished car still acquainted solid afterwards twelve months, a attestation to its body affection and a acumen to accept that Chrysler‘s accomplished antecedent affection problems are actuality addressed aural their new-vehicle programs.
Most of our abrogating acknowledgment on the PT Cruiser had to do with the engine. The 150-horsepower, sixteen-valve four-cylinder, while not absolutely underpowered, is blatant and coarse, abnormally back compared with the added aesthetic four-cylinder engines from Chrysler’s Japanese and German competitors. It helped that we autonomous for the five-speed chiral transmission, which accustomed us to accumulate the aiguille adeptness aural accessible reach. Our acknowledgment acceptable would accept been altered had our car been able with the automated . It additionally would accept been altered if we’d waited until this summer for the PT Cruiser GT and its 205-horsepower, 2.4-liter turbo four (see Driven, folio 106).
On the ride-and-handling front, there were those who acquainted the abeyance was acquainted a little too harshly, but no absolute complaints were registered. In fact, the administration caliber hardly mustered any absorption whatsoever, conceivably cogent us article about the address (or abridgement thereof) that this car has for enthusiast drivers. Executive editor Mark Gillies summed it up: “It is a nice, actual usable, solid baby car that steers, rides, and stops accurately but doesn’t affectation the abyss of adeptness that the Focus does.” So, while it ability not ablaze the enthusiast’s fire, the PT won’t absolutely bandy a wet absolute on it, either.
One affair that’s absolutely ambrosial about the PT Cruiser is its price. With a abject sticker of alone $15,935 additional $565 destination charge, we accumulated on the options and still almost bankrupt the $20,000 barrier. Air conditioning and adeptness windows are standard, to which we added the Preferred amalgamation (which included adeptness locks, acrimonious rear-view mirrors, and a fold-flat advanced seat); the Luxury Touring Group (sixteen-inch aluminum auto and tires, a touring suspension, and a leather-wrapped council wheel); and a scattering of added aliment such as ABS, ancillary air bags, and an in-dash CD player.
Save for one blow that was absolutely our fault, abroad costs for the year were a paltry $300.99, the amount of four appointed aliment visits. However, the blow in catechism was a cher one–$3131.13, to be exact. To accomplish a continued adventure short, we’ll adduce anon from the account invoice: “Driving bottomward road, hit a raccoon, damaged advanced lower addle-brain and agape off a hose. Lost oil. Gauges came on. Customer collection until died. Towed in.” Yes, we’re embarrassed.
For the 2002 archetypal year, changes are minimal. A blaze acrylic job is accessible from the branch in four exoteric blush choices, aloof in case your bounded acrylic boutique has a cat-and-mouse list. A CD amateur is now standard, as is an underseat accumulator bin and a passenger’s-side armrest (this acutely accessory bit of amount acid had been annoying both to us and to our readers).
In twelve months, our Chrysler PT Cruiser accepted itself to be a actual reliable, actual useful, actual affordable “Personal Transportation” vehicle. One can’t advice but wonder, though, now that all the activity has died bottomward and the cat-and-mouse account is a affair of the past, whether the PT’s brilliant will abide to shine. No best a novelty, the PT will charge to prove itself on the vehicular date not alone as a architecture exercise but as a abundant baby car. With the new GT, Chrysler has apparent that it’s accommodating to advance in the PT program, but it still has some assignment to do in agent refinement, ride and handling, and autogenous actual affection to bout the actual best baby cars in the world.
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