Day 5-7

Anyone can rifle off a list of reasons why not to buy the new PT Cruiser convertible. It's impractical, poor visibility with top up, lots of road noise and retro looks. The list of likes isn't much different and includes a terrific 220 horsepower turbo engine with no turbo lag, roadster looks with top up and its affordability.

I did find a number of other small annoyances in our tester. The seats were very nice but were too close to the door to fit your hand around seat adjusting controls. On the other side of the seat it was hard to squeeze the seatbelt into the buckle with the armrest down. As we've shown before the gauges are hard to read and the autostick is mushy.

Those detractions could really annoy owners over the long haul. But for those looking for an affordable convertible there's not much competition that can top the PT Cruiser. It's bigger than the Mini or Beetle even if it doesn't handle as well. That means older drivers will like it. The high seating position means more female drivers will like it. And the optional GT Turbo engine will make male drivers like it. The Detroit News even had a roundtable comparison on the PT Cruiser and Beetle convertibles that found normal folks preferred the Chrysler product.

Our fully loaded version tipped the scales a tad over $28,000. And at that price anyone would think twice about a purchase. But the Cruiser convertible starts under $20,000 and that will draw people into the showroom. If it wasn't summer I'd have a hard time recommending the car to anyone. Open air, warm weather driving is what the car is all about and unless you live somewhere that's warm a majority of the time, a convertible is never a practical decision. Of course even then convertibles aren't that practical. One look at the PT Cruiser tells drivers there is little practical about it but it's still a fun ride.





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