2003 PT Cruiser New Car Test Drive
Last year the flames were on the outside of the PT Cruiser. For 2003, there's more fire under the hood. The Chrysler PT Cruiser gets its first power upgrade since it was introduced early in 2000.
Instead of just bolting on a turbocharger, however, Chrysler engineers thoroughly redesigned the 2.4-liter four cylinder, boosting the output to 215 horsepower, a 65-hp gain. The 2003 PT Turbo gets significant handling upgrades to go with its more powerful engine. The end result is the hot rod many wanted when the Cruiser was first introduced.
Though it has become a familiar sight, the Cruiser still attracts attention. We don't recommend you buy a PT Cruiser if you like anonymity. People from all walks and stations want a better look, intrigued by the Cruiser's difficult-to-define character. It is, as Chrysler says, too cool to categorize.
The two strongest virtues of the Cruiser are its practicality and its affordable price. These two virtues make the PT Cruiser suitable for everyday use. It offers the interior volume of a sport-utility vehicle, yet it's shorter than many compact cars. Now with the optional turbocharged engine, it's as much fun to drive as a sport sedan.
For 2003, four models are available: base ($16,275); Touring ($17,990); Limited Edition ($20,340); and PT Turbo (estimated at $22,500). (Prices are estimates based on MY2002 pricing.)
All are powered by a 2.4-liter twin-cam engine. They come with the standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transaxle ($825).
The PT Cruiser comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, rear defroster and wiper, six-speaker AM/FM/CD and 15-inch wheels. An optional Power Convenience Group ($570) adds remote keyless entry, automatic power central locking, and dual power heated foldaway mirrors.
The Touring model gets everything in the convenience package plus a touring suspension, wider tires on 16-inch silver aluminum wheels, fog lights, a fold-flat front passenger seat, security alarm, and other features.
The Limited Edition comes equipped with just about everything: leather upholstery, side-impact airbags, cruise control, glass sunroof and chromed 16-inch alloy wheels.
The PT Turbo adds the stronger engine and larger diameter wheels and tires, anti-lock brakes, and a performance tuned suspension. All of the Limited Edition's luxury goodies are available as options.
Options on the other models include antilock disc brakes with traction control ($595), engine block heater ($35), and a roof rack ($175).