2003 Neon New Car Test Drive
Dodge Neon is practical and fun to drive. Neon features a roomy interior and is available at an affordable price. The new Neon SXT model retails for $15,410 (including destination charge) and comes loaded with the features most buyers want in a compact car.
All Neons get a fresh look for 2003 with new front and rear fascias, headlamps and taillamps, and a new line of wheels.
The new Dodge SRT-4 boasts an all-new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine rated 215 horsepower. Dodge claims it's the quickest production vehicle sold in America for less than $20,000. The 2003 Dodge SRT-4 comes with a high-performance suspension, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, a heavy-duty gearbox, and 17-inch performance tires.
The 2003 Dodge Neon lineup consists of the base SE, the sensibly equipped SXT, the sporty R/T, and the new high-performance SRT-4. All are four-door sedans.
SE ($12,585) is the base Neon for 2003 and it is basic. SE does not come standard with air conditioning ($1000), side-impact airbags ($390), or four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes ($695). It comes with new Millennium cloth seats for 2003, folding back seats that are split 60/40, AM/FM/cassette with four speakers, and vanity mirrors. It has wind-up windows, manual door locks, and 14-inch tires on steel wheels. There's no tachometer, no keyless remote. Floor mats ($50) are optional. Mirrors and bodyside moldings are black. AM/FM/CD ($125) is available. Power features are available as optional equipment.
SXT ($14,895) adds air conditioning, AM/FM/CD with six speakers, power windows, power door locks (with speed-sensitive automatic locking), keyless remote, power mirrors, power trunk lid release, full instrumentation, map lights, 15-inch aluminum wheels, bodyside molding, body-color door handles. A trunk lid spoiler is a no-cost option. A power sunroof ($695) is optional. A six-disc in-dash CD changer ($300) is optional. An SXT sport appearance group ($150) includes fog lamps, a body-colored center stack, and Euro-style 15-inch aluminum wheels.
SE and SXT come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated 132 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; a four-speed automatic transmission ($825) is optional. Power rack-and-pinion steering is standard. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes (ABS) are optional ($695) and come with electronic brake proportioning. We highly recommend opting for ABS as it allows the driver to maintain steering control in a panic-braking situation. Cruise control ($235) is optional.
R/T ($16,735) is designed to be fun to drive. It comes with a 150-horsepower High-Output Magnum version of the 2.0-liter engine, plus a sport suspension, P195/50R16 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels, firm-feel power steering, four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and traction control, performance-tuned exhaust with bright dual tips, unique front and rear fascia, fog lights, rear spoiler, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The six-disc in-dash CD is standard, interior lighting is upgraded and there's a trunk light. A leather interior ($715) is optional and comes with compass and outside temperature readouts on the rearview mirror. The power sunroof is also available.
SRT-4 ($19,995) features the turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, heavy-duty five-speed manual, 17-inch alloy wheels with 50-series tires, high-performance suspension, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, sport seats, special interior and exterior trim. (The ACR Neon has been discontinued.)
LATCH child safety-seat anchor system, an emergency inside release for the trunk lid, and child-protection door locks are standard on all 2003 Neons. Seat-mounted supplemental side air bags ($390) are optional (a smart option, but they don't provide the head protection of a curtain system). Three-point seat belts are provided for all three rear-seat positions.