Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible -- 2005 First Drive: Many pages have turned since the Chrysler PT Cruiser was cool. And in that time, many people have passed it by, perhaps wondering why and how the company that surprised everyone with the original PT of 2001 could not see the poetry that would run through the veins of a PT Cruiser Convertible.
Turns out Chrysler knew. It just took a while to make it happen. And while the company lost the potential marketing buzz an earlier launch would have produced, the new 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible makes up for it as a well-built, romantic revision of the original. Funny thing about that, too – the PT Cruiser doesn't take naturally to having its top chopped off. With the roof raised, the Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible is not as visually appealing because the original’s yesteryear roofline is critical to the car’s character. But power the top down and the Cruiser Convertible’s appearance elicits a hint of romance, making it a retro-cool throwback that gets people thinking about how good it can feel to do perhaps one of the most simple and mundane things in the world: Step inside a car and drive down the road.
Room with a View
Chrysler’s new PT Cruiser Convertible tugs at you to find a nice sunny highway and go for a drive. It's hard to resist, because there are few trade-offs with top up or down. Twist your wrist, push a button, and the top quickly stacks neatly behind the rear seats in about ten seconds. This is a roomy ragtop, featuring 84.3 cu.-ft. of passenger space and 13.3 cu.-ft. of pass-through luggage volume. According to Chrysler, the 2005 PT Cruiser Convertible offers more interior cargo room than its competitors, vehicles such as the Ford Mustang and the Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible. Like the original PT Cruiser, the Convertible’s seats can be configured in nine different ways, including a position that creates a pass-through trunk opening. Among veteran convertible buyers, the space inside may well be the most attractive attribute of the Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible: adding the soft top doesn't compromise the PT's renowned interior versatility. Those who are new to open-air motoring will appreciate the way you sit tall in the vehicle, and how the PT Cruiser Convertible effectively manages wind and noise.
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Stiff Structure Thanks to Roll Bar
Fans of the Chrysler PT Cruiser will appreciate that the Convertible retains the flavor of the original, even though much has changed between the A-pillars and the taillights. The new look is fitting for a convertible member of the family; the most significant design cue is the sport bar, which replaces the B-pillar and stays in place whether the top is up or down.
The sport bar is there for reasons beyond design. It reduces wind noise and improves vehicle stiffness. That stiffness is one of the 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible’s high marks. Few competitors can match the PT in terms of reducing cowl shake – a common convertible malady – and this rigidity translates into a pleasing driving experience, from the PT’s quiet on-road manner to its commendable balance between ride and handling.
Available in Standard, Touring and GT trim, the 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible is well equipped and priced to appeal with stickers in the low-to-mid 20s. All come with solar-tinted glass, a glass rear window with electric defroster, cloth seats with adjustable driver lumbar, rear 50/50 split-fold and tumble seats, a pass-through from the trunk, power exterior mirrors, touring-tuned suspension, body-color fascias and body-side moldings. Standard and Touring versions feature a rather anemic 150-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine equipped with a standard manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic driving the front wheels. Optional on these models is a 180-horsepower turbocharged version of the standard motor connected to the automatic transmission. Additional standard features include a boot to cover the top when it’s folded, 16-inch painted cast aluminum wheels, cruise control, a security alarm, fog lights, floor mats and an AM/FM stereo with CD player.
If performance is what you seek, the 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT Convertible is the one you want. The GT has an impressive 220-horsepower high-output of the Touring’s turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with a five-speed manual transmission or an available four-speed manually interactive AutoStick automatic. GT models also have a performance-tuned suspension with four-wheel disc ABS, low-speed traction control, chrome-accented grille and fascia, 17-inch wheels, all-season performance tires, a wider chrome-plated exhaust tip, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather seats.