I’m looking for someone else’s HO here. Thanks to buying a home last year, we got a whoppin’ big tax return, and we’re looking for a second car. I found a 2004 PT Cruiser for $7000, with 50,000 miles on it. The mileage is 21 city, 27 hwy, which is better than I thought it would be, so that removes the gas hog stigma attached to SUVs. Is this considered an SUV? It would be nice to have the extra room, and since both Mr. singular and I are frequently crippled up pretty severely with arthritis, this vehicle might be easier to get in and out of than the usual sedan. But I don’t know where to go to look for consumer info on a vehicle, so I thought I’d start here.
Is there something I need to know about the PT Cruiser?
I (inadvertently) rented one for a week in the US last year and I thought it was a pig. Really bad acceleration, and apart from a big butt, nothing to distinguish it from any other compact. Not sure why anyone would think it was anywhere near an SUV though I see from Wikipedia it’s classed as a “light truck”.
Sorry not to be more positive (but then I drive a Ford Focus, which is built around positive driving experience).
My understanding is that they’re more cute than they are useful. I suspect you’ll find that on the inside, there is not much of this “extra room.”
On the mechanical side, the ones I’ve worked on have been a significant pain in the neck. A lot of things are really crammed into the engine compartment, many getting in each other’s way. Some repair and maintenance procedures involve a lot more labor than with most other designs. It is not a car I’d recommend to my customers.
I owned a PT Cruiser GT (the model with a turb engine) for several years.
You will need to get used to the difference in visbility out of the car. You use your mirrors a lot more, because the windows are smaller than in most sedans and SUVs.
It is easier to get into and out of than a sedan or SUV, since it’s almost right at the perfect level. It also makes loading kids in easier as well.
It is not a great handling car. The turn radius is much wider than you would think for a car of its size. It is not considered an SUV or a car, but instead a “wagon”
From what I understnad, the 4-cylinder Naturally Aspirated versions get decent fuel economy, better with a stick than an auto. Your fuel economy goes down dramatically once you go over 60 mph, because you are pushing a brick through the air.
It’s also a narrow car. You will be surprised at how close you are to the pasenger, and shoulder room can be a bit cramped. This is in no way a car with “extra room” other than headroom (there is a lot) and a bit more rear passenger legroom due to the way the seats are laid out. This gives you a bit less room for luggage, etc.
Let me know if you have any more specific questions.
My ex wanted one, so we both ended up test driving it. Horrible, horrible car (thought she ended up with a Scion which is no better IMHO). Later confirmed this when the rental company pulled one of their “I don’t care what you reserved, this is what we have for you to drive.”
The first thing is that the trunk space sucks. It seemed to fit onlya couple of grocery bags. The visibility was horrible, as was the acceleration. A very bad combination where we were living at the time as going anywhere required merging onto about 3 interstates, all with heavy usage by semis.
It struck me as a car designed to look cool, with little to no time spent on the engineering. I would run a mile from one of these.
I currently have a 2003 PT Cruiser GT (the turbo, like he said), automatic (though I wanted a stick). I have a love/hate relationship with the GT. Because of how un-aerodynamic the car is and how heavy (3200 lbs!), the GT is reeeeeeeally useful when you need to get your car moving quickly. However, the tradeoff is decreased fuel economy. In the summer I usually get about 24 mpg combined and in the winter, more like 20-22 mpg combined.
The seating is quite comfortable; you’ll feel like you’re up very high at first (I said it was like sitting on a barstool in a bathtub :)), but it’s really nice when you get used to it. There are more blindspots than my previous cars, but I can easily still use the windows and arrange my side view mirrors so it’s not an issue.
I find the fit and finish of this car to be a lot nicer than most other Chryslers, since that’s usually a weak spot of theirs. The hatch has a nice hand-grip to make it easier to pull back down and shut. One weird thing: the window controls are on the center dash instead of on the doors. This means that when you borrow another car, you’ll look stupid as you slap the dash to roll down the windows.
Turbo has pretty good acceleration.
You really can fit a lot in this car when you either: fold the seats flat, fold flat and then push up to be vertical against the front seats or take the back seats out entirely. I was able to bring home a 35" tv in box (not flat panel) no problem.
The seating is comfortable and you have good front visibility.
The seating looks cramped but is actually pretty darn comfortable, even in the back seat (to seat 4 total; 5 would be a bit mushed).
It’s an inherently silly-retro styled car, which means if you want to be goofy or cheesy and have fun customizing it, that’ll fit the car much more nicely than if you had a more bland/normal car. Being in Detroit, tons of people who have PT Cruisers have added faux wood panels, flames, whatever. Mine was pimped out (by the previous owner) with 17" chrome wheels, low profile tires and a chrome grille stick on.
The insurance for it is a really good price (compared to other quotes for other vehicles I had gotten).
Really is a heavy and un-aerodynamic car, leading to mpg that’s much less than I’d want.
The turning radius is probably my biggest pet peeve. It’s a huge radius for the size of the car and you often will have to stop, reverse, and re-try a turn. It’s aggravating.
Sometimes when you go through a large puddle, the water seems to go up onto the power steering belt, making it a bit stiff and squealy for a minute. Once you rotate through it’s fine again, but you’d think they would have noticed this in testing.
If you don’t get the turbo engine, be prepared for it to be a lot more sluggish. With how heavy the car is, it accelerates a lot slower than you’d think.
Overall there are more pros than cons to this car for me, but I’m not in love with it. I’m waiting for the 2011 Ford Fiesta to come out; I’m seriously considering getting one of those.
For what it’s worth, Consumer Reports lists the 2004 PT Cruiser (non-turbo) as one of their “cars to avoid” due to a variety of reliability/maintenance issues. They like the model overall, despite its less-than-stellar reliability rating (average at best) and the lack of visibility from the cabin.
Oh, and don’t ever rent a car to test drive before buying, unless you’re looking at buying a used rental. Most rental fleet cars are the most stripped down POS versions of the models and it’s not an accurate comparison at all. My fiance was given a stripped down Mustang as a rental when his car was being repaired and holy god it sucked. Awful awful awful. Horrible interior, no pep, nothing. My brother’s getting a non-stripped down Mustang (GT) and it’s basically an entirely different car.
There is a middle ground between the GT and the normally aspirated version, and that is the Touring Edition. Early touring editions were still only 4-cylinder non-turbo, but later models had a de-tuned turbo engine available which runs on regular gasoline. It’s an option you should consider.
As for the room, I don’t know how you could only get “a couple of grocery bags” in there. The thing has a lot of different configurations for the rear shelf, etc, that allow for putting a good deal of stuff in the back, though not as much as a normal car trunk.
And with the rear seats folded down, the room increases dramatically. I brought home a dishwasher (in the box) in this car with no problem. The rear seats also come OUT completely, btu they are heavy sumbitches and I woudl not recommend that unless you were going to leave them out.
FYI, the rear window does NOT open, so you can’t haul stuff longer than the car without having the hatch open. To this point, though, the front passenger seat also folds all the way down, so you can fit anything 8 foot long or less and about 3 - 4 feet wide into the car…I have used ti to haul 2x4s and such.
7K for an '04 with 50K miles is a bit overpriced in my opinion, though, unless it has EVERY option.
I didn’t own a PT Cruiser but I did own a Dodge Neon which I bought new and which sucked almost from day one. I understand from various service people that the PT Cruiser is/was basically a stretched Neon and that means I wouldn’t own one on a bet. That Neon was just a rotten car: The paint literally fell off of it and it burned oil in terms of gallons, not quarts.
I just had a PT Cruiser rental and I really, really disliked it. Nothing is where you think it should be. I understand there’s a bit of a learning curve when adjusting to any new car, but the Cruiser just felt “wrong,” ergonomically and otherwise. I didn’t enjoy driving it at all.
You describe very atypical behavior for a Neon. My family has owned 2 with no oil burning problems, and my PT had no oil buring problems either. The Neon was an economy car with good handling and decent fuel economy. It was nothing to rave about, but then it wasn’t designed for raving, it was designed to be basic transportation.