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Expert Reviews 1 of 5
By Rick Popely
December 1, 1999
Vehicle Overview Neon has a new design for 2000 with larger dimensions inside and outside, fresh styling and more standard equipment. The redesigned Neon went on sale in spring 1999 as an early 2000 model available in identical form and prices at Plymouth and Dodge dealers. The 2000 Neon comes only as a four-door sedan, the two-door version of the previous generation having faded away. Overall length has increased nearly 3 inches to 174.4, and Plymouth says the five-passenger Neon has more space for people and cargo. Among new standard features are a cassette player, rear defogger and floormats. Low-speed traction control is a new option, available in a package with anti-lock brakes.
Under the DaimlerChrysler plan to phase out Plymouth, the Plymouth Neon will be dropped at the end of the 2001 model year (when the brand name disappears). The Neon will continue as a Dodge.
Interior Passengers have more room in the new Neon, with Dodge claiming increases in all interior measurements. Neon has a pair of front buckets and a three-place rear seat. Cargo volume increases from 11.8 cubic feet to 13.1, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat is a new standard feature. A cassette player, rear defogger, four cupholders and floormats are other new items on the standard equipment list. A dashboard-mounted, four-disc CD changer is a new option.
Exterior The original Neon came in two- and four-door styling, but the 2000 model comes only as a four-door. The wheelbase (distance between the front and rear wheels) increases an inch to 105 and overall length grows nearly 3 inches to 174.4. Styling evokes a kinship to the original Neon, but DaimlerChrysler designers say they tried to give the new model a more substantial appearance.
Under the Hood A 132-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder is the only engine (until the R/T model arrives), and it comes with a choice of five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmissions.
Performance The new Neon is more substantial than the original, feeling impressively solid over bumpy pavement. It is slightly roomier and just as fun to drive as the original. Unfortunately, it is just as loud, too, and the engine makes quite a ruckus in hard acceleration.