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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser Overview

The "T" Now Stands For TURBO

When the PT Cruiser first hit the road, people were lining up, cash in hand, to buy one; with the changes to this years model, history may well repeat itself. When those same people find that lurking under the hood of the new PT Cruiser GT is a turbo-charged engine that transforms the PT from cruiser to cruise missile, Chrysler dealers may have to start taking names all over again.

The PT Cruiser GT gets a few obvious changes to make it stand out from the standard PT. A new, larger front grille is set off by a monochromatic paint scheme that continues along the side moldings and on towards the rear of the car. 5-spoke, 17-inch performance alloy wheels are standard and are supported by a revised suspension that is tuned to closely hug the road. The PT Cruiser GT also gets a performance exhaust, upgraded interior with new sport seats, silver-faced instrumentation with a 140 mph speedometer, a standard power moonroof and a high-end audio system. But the biggest news is the sweet new 2.4-liter turbo charged engine that cranks out 215 horsepower. The new engine delivers the bulk of its power well down in the rpm range, meaning unlike the older turbos, this one doesn't have to wind up before delivering its rush of power.

The PT Cruiser GT comes standard with a Getrag 5-speed manual transmission. Getrag is the undisputed leader in manual transmission design and their mechanical masterpiece fits the new PT to a tee. For those of you that need the convenience of an automatic but still want to get in on the fun, Chrysler will offer it's Autostick automatic transmission which allows drivers to manually shift gears without the use of a clutch pedal.

As for the rest of the PT Cruiser line, Chrysler clearly knows a good thing when they invent it, so very little of the PT's exterior has changed, save for some new paint colors, wheel options and a few add-on decals. The look of the PT Cruiser still turns heads wherever it goes and the functionality and versatility of this hot little machine never ceases to amaze us. How could it be that something so much fun can be so functional as well? The answer lies in the roots of the PT Cruiser itself.

Though it looks like a miniature delivery van, the PT Cruiser is actually based on the Dodge Neon platform and as such, inherits many of the Neon's favorable driving dynamics. The suspension delivers a relatively smooth ride and the PT Cruiser is able to negotiate tight turns and fast twists with little fuss. You will feel the body lean if you turn the wheel too aggressively, but the PT Cruiser never feels as though it's top heavy or on the verge of becoming a two-wheeler.

The PT's compact size makes it much easier to park and maneuver than a big SUV and its interior is so well organized that you'll be amazed at how much stuff you can stuff into it. With its seat folded flat, the PT offers up to 64 cubic feet of cargo space and over 30 variations of seating/cargo configurations. Your PT can be the family shuttle, a gear-hauling weekend warrior or the best little food cart at the beach (that last one refers to the convertible table and storage area behind the rear seats.) The tall rear doors allow easy entry and exit of the rear seat, which can actually fit two full-sized adults in relative comfort, providing the front seats are not in the rearward-most position.

The PT's front bucket seats have individually folding side armrests and provide excellent back and lower seat support. Rear passengers get an equally comfortable split-rear bench that is elevated slightly higher than the front seats creating a theater-style seating arrangement. This favorable seating position places everyone up high, affording all inside a great view of what's outside. On the GT model, the driver's seat gets manual lumbar support and a power height adjuster. If you like the PT's exterior, you'll love the dash; it displays brushed aluminum panels painted to match the exterior of the car and a white "cue ball" shift knob adorns the shift lever.

Though there are three trim levels below the new GT (Base PT, Touring and Limited) they all use the same 2.4-liter normally-aspirated engine. Rated at 150 horsepower, this engine is far from slow, but its performance is nowhere near as exciting as the PT's appearance. You'll find acceleration to be on par with cars like the Civic and Vibe, with an estimated EPA city/highway fuel economy rating of 21 and 29 respectively.

The PT Cruiser comes well equipped, especially considering its $17K base price. Standard equipment includes power windows, air conditioning, a 5-speed manual transmission, tilt steering wheel, tachometer, cloth bucket seats, AM/FM stereo with CD and a rear-window defroster. Touring and Limited models include even more standard equipment including 16-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, power sunroof, illuminated entry, remote keyless entry, front side-impact airbags (standard on the Limited) and much more.

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