By: Kristi Bannen
The movie title, ďBack to the Future,Ē could serve as a good sub-name for the Chrysler PT Cruiser.† For a moment I felt like I had stepped back into time yet with the benefits and comforts of today.††
The PT Cruiser was† introduced in 2001 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and I have to say that I have been intrigued by it every time Iíve seen one on the road. Why?† Mostly because it created a curiosity in me of what it must have been like to drive a car reminiscent of decades ago.†† It was fun to imagine.
The Inferno Red 2002 PT Cruiser we evaluated was a very attractive color with a hint of a tinted pearl coating.† The inside was uniquely decorated with the same exterior color on the interior accents.†† It created a fun, artsy flow by bringing the shiny exterior within.† The five-speed gearshift was topped with a round ball; while it was functional, it was also a bit whimsical.
Our PT Cruiser was the basic (no frills) model with just a couple of extras.††† It was equipped with all the essential instruments with a traditional look.† However, depending on the selected position of the steering wheel, sometimes it was hard to see those instruments.†
While it is built to accommodate five passengers, four people fit more comfortably.† The back seat isnít quite wide enough for three average sized adults.† The gray fabric seats were also a bit firm for my liking.† I did like the moveable armrests on the two front seats; particularly during longer drives.† However, the driverís armrest did cause some awkwardness when shifting.
As for performance, the Chrysler PT Cruiser is powered by a 2.4 liter, four- cylinder engine and it handled smoothly and was comfortable to drive.† For the most part it had a quiet ride,† yet on rougher roads, the noise level increased accordingly.††
I liked how economical the PT Cruiser was on gas.† It was almost easy to forget to fill up because a gallon of gas seemed to go a lot farther than most cars today.†† The PT Cruiser is expected to get 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 29 miles per gallon on the highway.
One feature I found unnecessary was a five-coin coin holder.††† I particularly didnít like that it was between the seats and not in a covered compartment or space.† Personally, I think that can look messy.††† Actually, I always wonder how many people even use the coin holders.
The PT Cruiser does provide room for storing and hauling items.†† Open the back hatch and five bags of groceries can easily fit behind the back seats.† And with† the rear seat backs folded down, a large television or a couple large suitcases and some travel gear can easily be transported.† The back seat can also be completely removed or the seatbacks also split (65/35) and fold forward.† One neat feature is a rear shelf panel that can be moved into multiple positions.† For instance, it can be adjusted to use as a mini-picnic or tailgate table in the back while storing a cooler underneath.
Other standard features include: front airbags; child seat anchor system, latch ready; power driver and front passenger one-touch windows; AM/FM, compact disc stereo system; sun visors that slide with covered mirrors; air conditioning; rear window defroster and wiper/washer.
The extras our test vehicle came with included the Power Convenience Group that added keyless entry with a panic alarm; power locks; and power, heated and foldaway mirrors all for an additional $570 and I felt worth it.† The Inferno Red paint was a $200 option too.†
Overall, out of a four tire rating, with four being the very best, I give the 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser a 3-tire rating for being above average.† If youíre looking for a fun, different car, that can transport you back into time a bit, thatís economical and comfortable to drive, I think this is a good value for a $17,000 investment.
Kristiís Fun Fact:
I wanted to find out what the "PT" of PT Cruiser stands for and it looks like Chrysler named it for "Personal Transportation". Also, if you ever wondered about the origin of the Chrysler Wings emblem, its first form was introduced at the 1924 New York Auto Show on the Chrysler Six. The silver wings were on top of the Six's radiator cap along with a gold Chrysler seal on the radiator shell. It also became a popular hood ornament on Chrysler cars until about 1957 when Chrysler eliminated the hood ornaments as the fad faded. In 1995 both the silver wings and the gold seal appeared separately on Chrysler grilles. And in 1997, they were incorporated into one and appear as the Chrysler emblem we see on all their cars today. †
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