Standard remote keyless entry and optional stain-resistant fabric are among the handful of changes for Chrysler's 2007 PT Cruiser, now in its seventh year. Amid fresh competition, the Cruiser has relied on innumerable special editions, turbocharged and convertible variants and a belated nip-and-tuck to stay competitive.
Chrysler says the retro-styled, front-wheel-drive PT Cruiser blends the elements of a sedan, wagon, sport utility vehicle and minivan. Four trims are available: base, Touring, Limited and GT.
Last year's PT Cruiser saw a mid-cycle restyling with moderate exterior revisions, an updated interior and more power for the GT model. Chrysler also claimed reductions in road, wind and engine noise.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard in the base, Touring and Limited. PT Cruiser GT buyers can select one of two turbocharged engines. Competitors include the Chevrolet HHR, Ford Focus ZX5 and Mazda3 hatchback.
A PT Cruiser Convertible is available in base, Touring and GT trims.
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The PT Cruiser vaguely resembles a panel truck of the 1930s, overlaid with street-rod styling from the 1950s. Bulging fenders, fender-mounted headlights and taillights, and a tall, wide eggcrate grille help give the PT Cruiser its unique look. Another distinctive feature is its basic stance, which makes the wagon look like it's leaning forward. Built on a 103-inch wheelbase, the PT Cruiser is 168.9 inches long overall and 63 inches tall.
A liftgate-mounted sport spoiler is standard on the GT and optional on the Limited. The potent PT Cruiser GT has a larger, lower grille opening for its air-to-air intercooler. Additional GT features include a large-diameter chrome exhaust tip and all-season performance tires on 17-inch chrome-clad wheels.
Up to five occupants can fit inside the versatile interior. Two bucket seats are installed up front and a 65/35-split, folding rear bench holds three. Outboard passengers have adequate space, but the center rear position is cramped.
Standard equipment includes remote keyless entry, power windows and a CD stereo. Uplevel models include leather upholstery, a power driver's seat and heated front seats.
Removing the rear seat expands cargo volume from a moderate 21.6 cubic feet to a sizable 62.7 cubic feet. The front-passenger seatback folds flat, leaving enough space to haul an 8-foot ladder. Performance seats, silver cluster gauges and a satin silver gearshift knob are included in the GT.
Under the Hood
The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 150 horsepower. Two turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinders are offered, producing either 180 hp or 230 hp. The 180-hp engine comes only with a four-speed automatic transmission, but the other engines can mate with either the automatic or a five-speed manual. The automatic in the 230-hp PT Cruiser GT incorporates AutoStick manual gear selection.
Antilock brakes are standard on the GT and available on other trim levels. Along with the federally required dual front airbags, a driver's knee airbag is standard. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional, but side curtain airbags are not available.
Imaginative and distinctive styling are the main attractions, but this wagon's roomy and flexible interior keeps buyers interested. Though the base-engine PT Cruiser is far from overpowering, its performance is more satisfying than some critics suggest. Throttle response is rapid, even if the action that follows is a little lackadaisical. As expected, the high-output turbocharged GT delivers responsive performance, even with the automatic.
The PT Cruiser's terrific handling is confident and nimble. This wagon maneuvers with utter crispness and can take corners with impressive speed. Body lean in curves is noticeable, but the otherwise-stable PT Cruiser is exceptionally easy to drive.
PT Cruiser Convertible
Chrysler's PT Cruiser Convertible went into production in early 2004 as a 2005 model. Styling features include a broad sport bar above the passenger area.
Convertibles come in base, Touring and GT trim levels. The split, folding rear seat is the same height in both the convertible and wagon, and provides theater-style seating.
A 150-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and two turbocharged four-cylinders — rated at 180 hp and 230 hp — are offered. A five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic are available. Standard equipment includes a powered fabric roof, a rear window defroster and a security alarm.
The convertible's driving characteristics are nearly identical to the solid-roofed PT Cruiser; the soft-top model yields a supremely sweet experience. The thick roof bar doesn't detract from the pleasures of the sun. A top-down GT with the automatic performs and handles with a light touch, responding friskily to the throttle. Rearward visibility with the top up is somewhat limited, but acceptable, and the roof goes up and down easily. Nearly no wind annoyance is evident, at least at lower speeds. Back to top