2005 PT Cruiser New Car Test Drive
Chrysler PT cruiser combines the retro look of a late-'30s American sedan with modern performance, efficiency and features. The PT Cruiser is based on the Dodge Neon, a compact car noted for its sprightly performance. The Cruiser's taller body adds not only a unique look, but also extra room for people and cargo.
Its interior volume and versatility compares well to a small SUV. Fold the seats down and you can carry an eight-foot ladder. Pull the rear seats out and you can haul a load of building materials or a big-screen TV. Yet the PT Cruiser is shorter in length than a Neon, making it easy to park. And it's easy on gas.
Now in its fifth year, with annual sales of more than 100,000, the Cruiser is a familiar sight, but people are still intrigued by it. For starters, it's difficult to define within existing automotive marketing segments, leading Chrysler to call the PT Cruiser too cool to categorize. It's the only car we can think of that offers flames as an option.
Turbochargers are available to add fire under the hood. That fire comes in the form of 220 horsepower in the GT; a more affordable 180-horsepower turbo is also available.
If there's anything cooler than the standard PT Cruiser, it's the PT Cruiser convertible. The base model may be the least expensive convertible you can buy, though options quickly drive the price up. It looks like a chopped-top gangster-mobile with the top up and puts the wind in your hair with the top down. Roomy seats make it great for four passengers, but an awkward trunk makes it terrible for cargo.
Chrysler has lowered the base price of the 2005 PT Cruiser by almost $4,000, pitting this unique and stylish vehicle against some of the lowest-priced compact sedans on the market. However, the lower price means that base and Touring models are not as well equipped as they were last year; air conditioning, for example, is a now an extra-cost option on base models.
The 2005 PT Cruiser is built in two body styles: the original five-door hatchback/wagon, which Chrysler now calls the sedan; and the two-door convertible.
The sedan is available in four trim levels: base, Touring, Limited, and GT. The convertible comes in base, Touring and GT trim only.
All PT Cruisers are powered by a 2.4-liter, twin-cam four-cylinder engine. In base, Touring, and Limited versions, this engine is tuned to deliver 150 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic is optional ($825).
A 180-horsepower turbocharged version of this same engine is optional on Limited sedans ($2,000) and Touring convertibles ($2,105). The price of this engine includes the four-speed automatic transmission, plus a body-color front fascia with chrome accents, a big chrome exhaust tip, and special badging.
A 220-horsepower High Output turbocharged version of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder is standard on the GT. This engine comes with a heavy-duty five-speed manual transaxle made by Getrag; a four-speed automatic is optional ($440).
The base sedan ($13,405) comes with six-speaker AM/FM/cassette stereo; bucket seats and floor console; tilt steering; power windows; tinted glass; rear window defroster, wiper, and washer; 65/35 split folding rear seat; and 15-inch steel wheels. The base convertible ($19,405) is similarly equipped. Its black cloth powered top features a glass rear window with electric defroster.
The Touring sedan ($15,405) adds air conditioning, CD player, power central locking with remote keyless entry, power mirrors, a fold-flat front passenger seat with storage drawer, and other interior features. To that list the Touring Convertible ($23,075) adds a soft boot cover for the top and 16-inch painted aluminum wheels. Leather seats are optional on the convertible.
Limited ($17,315), offered only as a sedan, comes with side-impact airbags, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/cassette audio, upgraded cloth upholstery, lumbar support and power height adjustment for the driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, security alarm, HomeLink universal garage-door opener, and unique Touring suspension on 16-inch painted aluminum wheels. Fog lamps and a chromed exhaust tip add to the Limited's identity.
The GT sedan ($22,905) adds four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, a performance-tuned suspension, traction control, and all-season performance tires on 17-inch chromed aluminum wheels. The GT also comes with side-impact airbags and most of the Limited's luxury goodies. Leather sport seats and a power moonroof are also standard. The GT convertible ($27,830) comes with all the Limited and GT sedan goodies, except that its 17-inch wheels are painted rather than plated. The GT gets its chrome on its grille (optional on GT and Limited sedans).
Optional on both convertible models is an Infinity premium sound system with an eight-channel amplifier and 368 watts peak power. Other stand-alone options include a glass sunroof for Limited ($750) and Touring ($1,100) sedans, heated front seats for Limited and GT ($250), and side-impact airbags for base and Touring ($390). Sirius Satellite Radio is optional ($195, including a one-year subscribtion) on all but base models. GPS navigation ($1100) is available on Limited and GT; so is UConnect hands-free, in-vehicle communications ($360), which uses Bluetooth technology to link the user's cellular phone with the Cruiser's stereo speakers. Limited sedans can be ordered with plastic woodgrain exterior accents ($895) for the vintage Town & Country look. Many of the standard features on higher-line models are also available as options on the less expensive models.
The truly limited edition (with production capped at 1,700 units) PT Dream Cruiser Series 4 Convertible ($30,085) features Deep Lava Red paint, a maroon cloth convertible top, chrome grille accents and Light Pearl Beige leather-upholstered performance seats. Seventeen-inch wheels.