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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser Overview

Chrysler's Retro Favorite

If you're shopping for your next car and prefer driving something that doesn't look like every other car on the road but is still functional, fun and affordable, then Chrysler's PT Cruiser may be just what you need. 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. The seating position places the driver and passengers—even those in the rear seats—up high, so everyone onboard gets a commanding view of the road. Of course, the best reason to buy a PT Cruiser is the design; it's funky and retro and loved by just about everyone who sees it. These lovable attributes also bring up the one drawback to owning a PT Cruiser; everyone in your household old enough to drive is going to want to borrow your car.

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 current engine, a 2.4-liter four cylinder, does an adequate job of moving the PT Cruiser, but its 150 horses cannot keep up with the promises whispered by the car's racy exterior. If you like driving a 5-speed manual, you should opt for this transmission over the automatic; you'll get better acceleration, better fuel economy and a smaller pool of family members who can steal your car keys when your back is turned. If you really like the PT, but demand a more performance-oriented vehicle, you need only wait a few more months because Chrysler will be introducing a 215-horsepower turbo-cruiser in the 2003 model year. The PT Turbo is expected to arrive in dealerships this fall. The good news about the current 2.4-liter engine is that Chrysler has made significant improvements in the levels of noise, vibration and harshness it emits. When driving at speeds below 35 mph, the PT Cruiser's engine operates at a near hushed volume, becoming more vocal only when traveling at highway speeds.

One thing that won't change between the 2002 and 2003 PT Cruiser is its versatile and handsome interior. The PT Cruiser's retro styling carries over into the interior, with a dashboard that displays brushed aluminum panels painted to match the exterior of the car and a white "cue ball" shift knob. The 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 theatre-style seating arrangement. 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 their rearward-most positions. Storage space is ample and the rear seat folds down to form a large flat floor. When occupied, there is still enough space behind the tall rear seat to store luggage or a full load of groceries; the entire area is covered by a cool, removable deck lid that can slide out and double as a sturdy table.

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. There are two upgrade trim levels, the Touring Edition and Limited, which make available even more equipment such as alloy wheels, leather seats, power sunroof, illuminated entry, remote keyless entry, front side-impact airbags (standard on the Limited) and much more.

Of course, the really cool thing about owning a PT Cruiser is all the modifications you can make to it after you get it home. The aftermarket parts for this car are numerous and include items like a 30' s-style radiator grille, wood grain appliqus, surfboard racks, stylized headlight and tail lamp treatments and a variety of wheel and tire packages. There are so many different ways to mix and match accessories that the PT can easily become the automotive equivalent of a Mr. Potato Head, so be careful.

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