2005 Neon New Car Test Drive
Dodge Neon is a practical, inexpensive car with a roomy interior. It's also fun to drive. It's quicker than most compacts and feels sporty on winding roads. Neon's suspension nicely balances ride quality and handling agility. Its relatively long suspension travel and high ground clearance help it avoid bottoming out on bad roads.
The 2005 Dodge Neon SXT comes loaded with popular features and a retail price of just $15,925 (plus big cash incentives that can lower the final price). And it gets good fuel economy. The SXT is available with a sporty front fascia, rear spoiler, fancy wheels and other exterior features.
Car enthusiasts gravitate to the Neon SRT-4, which boasts a 230-horsepower turbocharged engine, sports suspension, heavy-duty gearbox, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and 17-inch performance tires. It's fast. Only a Viper is quicker in the Dodge lineup.
The 2005 Dodge Neon lineup has been streamlined. Three models are available: the basic SE, the sensibly equipped SXT, and the high-performance SRT-4. (Gone is the R/T.) All Neons are four-door sedans with four-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive.
SE ($13,615) is the base Neon, and it is basic, with wind-up windows, manual door locks, and 14-inch steel wheels. Air conditioning costs extra ($1,000). Mirrors and body-side moldings are black. However, SE does come with tilt steering, cloth front bucket seats, a 60/40 split folding back seat, AM/FM/cassette stereo with four speakers, and vanity mirrors. Options: AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers ($175), cruise control ($250).
SXT ($15,925) adds air conditioning, AM/FM/CD with six speakers, power front windows, power door locks (with speed-sensitive automatic locking), keyless remote, power mirrors, power trunk lid release, tachometer, map lights, 15-inch aluminum wheels, and body-color door handles and bodyside molding.
SXT options: power sunroof ($695), six-disc in-dash CD changer ($350), trunk-lid spoiler ($100), and a Sport Appearance group ($150) that includes the spoiler, fog lamps, body-color or satin-silver bezels for the instrument panel, center stack, and shifter, and differently styled 15-inch aluminum wheels. 2005 SXT models are also available with the SRT Design Package, which includes most of the Sport Appearance items and adds a power bulge on the hood, unique front fascia, and dual exhaust tips. Colors are limited to Blast Orange, Bright Silver, Flame Red, and Black.
SXT and SE come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 132 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional on the SE ($825); SXT buyers actually get a credit for the automatic (less $115). Power rack-and-pinion steering is standard on both models. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes (ABS) are optional $695) and come with electronic brake proportioning (EBD). We highly recommend opting for ABS as it allows the driver to maintain steering control in a panic-braking situation.
SRT-4 ($20,650) comes with a turbocharged 2.4-liter dual-overhead cam inline-4 rated at 230 horsepower. SRT-4 also features a heavy-duty five-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, 17-inch aluminum wheels with 50-series ultra-high performance three-season tires, high-performance suspension, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Viper-inspired sport seats, plus special trim inside and out, including bright pedal pads. A sunroof is optional ($695). SRT-4 is available only with manual transmission.
The Kicker audio package ($795) for SXT and SRT-4 consists of a 208-watt Kicker amplifier, eight speakers, sub-woofer, and six-disc CD changer.
Safety features: Seat-mounted side-impact air bags are optional ($390) on all Neons; we strongly recommend them. Three-point seat belts are provided for all three rear-seat positions. Always wear your seatbelts as they are your first line of defense in an accident. The LATCH child safety-seat anchor system, an emergency inside release for the trunk lid, and child-protection door locks are standard on all 2005 Dodge Neons.