2001 Plymouth Prowler
If you're looking for the ultimate male fantasy vehicle, look no further than the 2001 Plymouth Prowler. DaimlerChrysler says Prowler buyers are overwhelmingly male (more than 90 percent) and rich. The median household income of those purchasing the two-seat roadster with the hot-rod looks is $200,000. The weekend of the Woodward Dream Cruise in August seemed like the perfect time to revisit this novelty ride. We tested a limited-edition "Black Tie" Prowler with a two-tone black-and-silver paint job. That optional color treatment raised the price of the Prowler another $2,000 to $46,225. She: I just love it when auto companies let us in on who's buying their products. The Prowler has developed quite a list of macho buyers since it debuted in 1997. There's home-run slugger Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. He bought a purple Prowler a year ago. Gene Simmons from the rock group Kiss bought a black one and plastered it with Kiss logos. He gave that Prowler away at the group's 1999 Detroit concert. All the members of N'Sync have Prowlers. I suppose you'd like to join that storied list of athletes and rockers? He: Only if I get to meet Gloria Estefan. I'm still trying to picture Gene Simmons driving a Prowler with those giant platform shoes. Because driving it is no easy task - especially with the top up. In fact, I give Prowler only one lousy star when it's in top-up mode. The visibility is terrible and the car becomes virtually pointless. But with the lid open, it earns a four-star rating. Then, it's the ultimate cruising machine. That's why I only gave it three stars on average. She: I really liked the Black Tie edition we drove. The top of the car is painted black and the lower portion silver. A bright silver pinstripe around the beltline adds definition. It's very subtle, yet striking. Plus you get silver floor mats and silver touches on the instrument cluster. He: Sorry, kiddo, but I hated the Black Tie edition. If you're going to drop 45 grand on a vehicle like this - an expensive toy, in effect - you should go all out with an in-your-face color like bright yellow. Subdued black and silver contradicts the whole point of Prowler. Besides, that Black Tie option is just a marketing gimmick. To me, the whole appeal of Prowler is in its limited numbers. Chrysler has only sold 6,000 of them. And that's the whole point - exclusivity. It's why people continue to stare at Prowler three years after it hit the market, unlike the Chrysler PT Cruiser, which is beginning to lose some of its novelty after less than a year because now you see them everywhere. She: I guess you'll be a fan of Prowler Orange, which comes out later in the 2001 model year. I hate to break the bad news to you, but red, yellow, black and purple are no longer available. The good news is they haven't messed with Prowler's powertrain. The high-output 3.5-liter V-6 engine makes 253 horsepower and plenty of torque. Last year, Pro wler got a ride improvement package which smoothed out some, but not all, of the bumps. He: The ride is still pretty bone-jarring because suspension travel is limited, and low-speed handling is somewhat of a chore, especially when you're trying to park. Despite some minor improvements, there is still no manual transmission in sight. Prowler's only transmission is the goofy four-speed AutoStick, which allows you to shift manually without a clutch. Boring. She: I think AutoStick and all versions of clutchless fake shifting are the dumbest things I've ever seen. I never get the urge to use something like that. Talk about pointless. The other thing that bugs me about Prowler is the lack of side air bags. But if you're a guy checking out the list of standard features, you ought to be pretty happy, otherwise. Prowler has a leather interior with bucket seats and a seven-speaker Infinity audio system with a six-disc CD changer. He: Leather, sound and power. Wow. doesn't get much better than that, does it, hon? Anita's rating: Above average Paul's rating: Above average Likes: The ultimate cruising machine. "Black tie" paint job is elegant (Anita). Plenty of hot-rod horsepower. Still a head-turner after three years on the street. Fairly decent gas mileage. Dislikes: Poor visibility with the top up. "Black tie" paint job too subtle (Paul). Not a car you'd want to drive in the snow. Cramped, uncomfortable cabin. Teeth-chattering ride. High price puts it out of reach for most car nuts. No side air bags. Lacks a true manual transmission. Type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-passenger coupe. Price: Base, $44,225; as tested; $46,225 (inc. $775 destination charge). Engine: 3.5-liter V-6; 253-hp at 6,400 rpm; 255 lb-ft torque at 3,950 rpm. Fuel economy: 17 city/23 highway. 12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan (Estimate. Rates may be higher or lower depending on coverage and driving record.): $1,520. Where built: Detroit.
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