2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser – Click above for high-res image gallery It wasn't so many years ago that Chrysler's design department was considered among the best in the industry. Attractive, innovative shapes came one after another, then they took a sharp detour into the crash test building and the rest is Sebring/Compass/Caliber history. In the late Nineties when Chrysler design was still on a roll, one of the highlights was the debut of the PT Cruiser. As insolvency fast approached, CEO Bob Nardelli and his staff were scrambling to find cars to kill and, unsurprisingly, the nearly decade-old PT wound up on that list. Surprisingly, after exiting bankruptcy court in July, Chrysler decided to keep the PT alive through the end of 2010 when new models start arriving. After perusing our review list and realizing that, like the S2000, we've never tested the PT, we called Chrysler to get one last go-'round in the retro-hatch. %Gallery-71514% Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc. Chrysler's PT Cruiser first debuted in 2000 as an evolution from a pair of earlier concept cars, the 1997 Plymouth Pronto and 1999 Pronto Cruizer. As is often the way with hardcore retromobiles, the PT's design has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. When it was minted, the Cruiser was instantly recognizable and couldn't be confused with anything else on the street – and things stayed that way until the Chevrolet HHR made a belated arrival to the party in 2005. Unfortunately, the Bryan Nesbitt-penned paddywagon's heavy reliance on historical pastiche has made it difficult to update – perhaps not as much as a more literal exhumation like the Volkswagen New Beetle, but it remains tough to re-recreate an already familiar form. For the most part, Chrysler was stumped about how to evolve the PT, and as a result, today's edition doesn't look much different than the very first example that rolled off the line nearly a decade ago. Over the intervening years, Chrysler created a gaggle of limited-edition PT variants – notably the Dream Cruiser series created in conjunction with Detroit's annual Woodward Dream Cruise. In fact, the tester you see here is a Series 5 Dream Cruiser – a trim job that doesn't feature any notable mechanical upgrades. Aside from the addition of an optional turbocharged engine and a very mild facelift in 2006, almost nothing of significance has changed about the Cruiser since its debut. From a packaging and functionality standpoint, though, that's not an entirely bad thing. The PT was one of the original tall wagons, a genre recently popularized in the form of space-minded economy cars like the Scion xB, Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. Like other econoboxes, our Cruiser has a more upright stance than most traditional hatchbacks and sedans of similar size. That verticality extends to the PT's driving position as well – it has the sort of formal, tall hip-point seating that crossover drivers celebrate. As it happens, the PT was also something of …
Hide Full Review
Smart Buy Price
|MPG||18 City / 24 Hwy|
|Transmission||4-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||180 @ 5200 rpm|
Get a surprisingly great rate
It's like a new car for the price of a clunker. Switch & save an average of $587* on car insurance.