Compact car; Built in USA, Mexico
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,900*


1995 Plymouth Neon 2-door coupe


1996 Plymouth Neon 4-door sedan


1995 Plymouth Neon 2-door coupe


1997 Plymouth Neon 4-door sedan


1997 Plymouth Neon 4-door sedan

Pros:
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Noise

All told, whether it’s wearing a Plymouth or Dodge badge, Neon ranks as good value–and a sensible choice–among subcompact cars. Watch out for engine overheating or blown head gaskets. Both are expensive to repair.

Overview

Chrysler Corporation’s subcompact front-drive Neon was introduced as a very early 1995 model available in virtually identical form through both Dodge and Plymouth dealers. First offered only as a 4-door sedan, Neon gained a 2-door coupe running mate later in that year. While sedans have been sold in base, Highline, and Sport price levels, until 1996 the coupe came only in Highline and Sport. Early Neons all carried a 132-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard; 3-speed automatic optional. Dual airbags were standard, while antilock brakes were standard on Sport models and optional on others.

Yearly Updates

1996 Neon
Base models now rode 14-inch tires (formerly 13-inch), and body-colored bumpers replaced the prior gray bumpers. A less-expensive base-model coupe joined the lineup, making each body style available in three levels: base, Highline, and Sport. Initially standard on Sport models, antilock brakes and a rear spoiler dropped to the option list on all Neons. The 150-horsepower engine was available on base coupes equipped with a Competition Group, which included 4-wheel disc brakes, aluminum wheels, quicker-ratio power steering, a stiffer suspension, heavy-duty radiator, and a tachometer.
1997 Neon
Neon Sport models disappeared after 1996, but a new Expresso package included fog lights, a rear spoiler, 14-inch wheel covers, and special body graphics.
1998 Neon
The Base model was dropped for ’98, leaving only Highline and Competition trim levels.
1999 Neon
An all-new Neon debuted in early 1999, but some 4-door and 2-door models of the old design remained on sale throughout ’99. DaimlerChrysler expected to drop the Plymouth-badged Neons after the 2001 model year, as part of the phaseout of the Plymouth brand.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Most Neons got a 132-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a single-overhead cam. A dual-overhead-camshaft version of the 2.0-liter four could be installed in the Neon Sport (and later in other models), delivering 150 horsepower but just a bit more torque than the base engine. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard; 3-speed automatic transmission (no overdrive gear ratio) optional.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 129
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
28/38
25/33
31.4

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 131
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
28/38
25/33
26.1

Road Test

Base-engine acceleration has been surprisingly swift: about 8.9 seconds to reach 60 mph. We also averaged more than 31 mpg, driving mainly on expressways. However, it idles noisily and growls loudly during acceleration. The optional dual-cam engine feels only a little livelier than the base engine–not enough to make it a priority. Automatic-transmission shift action is too abrupt with either engine.

Ride quality rivals that of many larger cars–especially with 14-inch tires installed. The Neon’s suspension takes bumps and potholes in stride, soaking up most of them without disturbing the occupants unduly. At the same time, a Neon handles more like a sports car than a small sedan. Body lean in hard cornering is minimal, and the Neon’s tires grip tautly. The car feels solid and well-planted on the road. Firm, responsive steering feels natural and centers quickly.

Four 6-footers fit without squeezing in the spacious interior, which belies the car’s outer dimensions. Visibility is excellent to the front and sides but because the rear parcel shelf is high the view to the rear is somewhat obstructed. The Neon’s trunk opens at bumper level, and the split rear seatback folds down to expand the cargo area.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Neon Sport sedan automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 44

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.0 171.8 67.5 52.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.8 11.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 36.5 42.5 35.1
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.0 171.8 67.5 54.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.8 11.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 36.5 42.5 35.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Neon 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 108
Injury 131
Theft 153

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The A/C evaporator freezes up because the compressor does not cycle off, causing a lack of cooling. (1995)
Blower motor
Description: In cold weather, ice may form in the blower motor housing, which prevents the blower from moving, which blows the fuse. (1995-97)
Brakes
Description: The front brakes wear abnormally fast on cars with four wheel studs, so heavy-duty linings should be used to replace them. (1995-97)
Dashboard lights
Description: If the ABS warning light stays on, the ABS controller may need to be replaced. (1995)
Rough idle
Description: Faulty valve springs on the 2.0-liter DOHC engine cause rough idle, misfires. (1997-99)
Steering noise
Description: Unless the power-steering fluid is replaced with a revised fluid, the steering system makes noise for the first few minutes when started in cold weather. (1995-98)
Battery
Description: Batteries that go dead may be the result of one or more of the following: a glovebox without a raised pad that closes the light switch, misaligned doors, a faulty trunklid switch and lamp assembly, or a missing door-ajar bumper pad. (1995)

Recall History

1995
Description: Corrosion at fuel and rear-brake tubes may lead to brake fluid or fuel leakage.
1995
Description: Steering-column coupler can become disconnected when vehicle sustains underbody impact.
1995-96 including “ACR competition” package
Description: Brake master cylinder can leak.
1996
Description: Wiring harness in Mexican-built cars could short-circuit; can cause various malfunctions, including stalling.
1997
Description: Airbag could deploy inadvertently when ignition is shut off.
1998
Description: Rear-suspension crossmember on some cars may be missing spot welds; can result in structural cracks in body, and reduced rear-impact crash protection.
1999
Description: Front-suspension lower control arms may have been inadequately welded and could separate.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.