By KBB.com Editors
The PT Cruiser continues as one of the most stylish and fun-to-own compact wagons on the market. While some may argue its retro look has grown tiresome, sales remain strong, as does the demand for aftermarket parts and accessories. Beyond its flamboyant "look at me" exterior, the PT Cruiser provides a roomy and highly flexible interior as adept at hauling kids and cargo as it is serving tailgate, or, rather, liftgate-party duty. Unlike most cars in this segment, Chrysler offers PT buyers a choice of three fuel-efficient engines, two of which are turbocharged. Best of all, the PT Cruiser's price tag starts around $15,000, making it a vehicle just about anyone can afford.You'll Like This Car If...
If you love driving something that pays homage to a great era in American cars, the PT Cruiser is your vehicle. You don't have to sacrifice for your kicks either, as the PT has loads of space, a clever adjustable rear shelf and a choice of normally-aspirated or turbocharged engines.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a full-size recreation of a 1940s American sedan, the PT Cruiser will be too small and probably not cushy enough for you. And if you look at it as an alternative small SUV like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, the PT Cruiser does not offer the same ground clearance or optional all-wheel drive.What's Significant About This Car?
For 2007, the base PT Cruiser receives a soft-touch power liftgate release and remote keyless entry. Standard on the Limited, YES Essential odor and stain-resistant seat fabric becomes an option on the Touring model, while a limited-production Pacific Coast Highway Edition becomes available this summer.Driving It Driving Impressions
The GT's rowdy personality can be linked directly to its willing power source: A 2.4-liter turbocharged engine that kicks out a whopping 230 horsepower. The GT's brawny muscle shows up early in the rpm band to rocket the car from zero to 60 miles per hour in a shade over seven seconds. There is no turbo lag here, and you can easily spin the front wheels on a hard standing start.
Once the tires find their grip, the PT Turbo is catapulted forward with such determination that you'll quickly find yourself running out of first gear. There is very little torque steer, a pleasant surprise for such a powerful front-wheel-drive car. There also seems to be a good deal of low-end torque, as we didn't feel the need to downshift when climbing steep grades or attempting leisurely passing maneuvers.
Adjustable Rear Shelf
The PT Cruiser's adjustable rear shelf can be set to various heights.
PT Cruiser Exterior
The PT's marvelous exterior lends itself to multiple personality changes.
The innovative interior includes new satin-finish dash trim, a retro-looking cue ball shift knob and tall, upright seating. The rear storage area features a moveable shelf that can serve as a table for tailgate parties or a privacy cover to hide valuables. Rear-seat passengers will find plenty of head and legroom and a good view of the road ahead, thanks to the raised rear seats.Exterior
Clearly one of the most recognizable shapes on the road, the PT's retro panel van styling is truly classic. Though built on the now-defunct Dodge Neon platform, the PT sits up higher than most cars, more like a small SUV. Its tall doors make accessing the interior a breeze and the big rear hatch makes it easy to load long or bulky items. An ample supply of aftermarket body kits and performance-enhancing add-ons allows for some wild customization at bargain-basement prices.Notable Standard Equipment
As standard equipment the PT has a 150-horsepower 2.4-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, rear defrost, dual side mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD and MP3 input jack, tilt wheel, power windows, keyless entry, full wheel covers and a rear wiper/washer. The Touring trim adds air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, power mirrors and a fold-flat passenger seat. The sporty GT model adds a high-output turbocharged engine, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), fog lights, power glass moonroof, front side-impact airbags, leather seats, sport suspension and 17-inch aluminum wheels.Notable Optional Equipment
Options include a 180-horsepower turbocharged engine, navigation radio, anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, front side-impact airbags, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, suede-trimmed seats, power driver's seat height adjustment, chrome wheels, Auto Stick automatic transmission (available with the GT) and a 368-watt Boston Acoustic stereo with subwoofer and MP3 playback capability.Under the Hood
The standard engine works well in the PT, giving it good acceleration and respectable fuel economy. For those who want the PT's performance to live up to its racy good looks, a move up to the low-pressure, 180-horsepower turbo engine is recommended, though doing so means you cannot have the five-speed manual and it also adds a hefty $1,200 to the bottom line. Leadfoots should opt for the GT, which has the high-output turbo.
2.4-liter in-line 4
150 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
165 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (manual), 21/26 (automatic)
2.4-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
180 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
210 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26
2.4-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged High-Output
230 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
245 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 (manual), 19/26 (automatic)
The base PT Cruiser's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $15,200, while the Touring is $17,545, the Limited is $19,760 and the GT is $24,410. Despite the wide price range, it's safe to say you can buy a nicely equipped PT for under $20,000, and a nicely equipped turbocharged model for less than $25,000. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which lists the typical transaction price paid for a PT Cruiser in your area. Despite its strong appeal, the PT Cruiser is projected to retain less-than-average resale values, with all models keeping a little more than half their values after just 24 months. These figures are well below the standards set by the Toyota Matrix, Scion xB and Mazda Mazda3 five-door.