Sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $8,300 – $15,000*


1999 Plymouth Prowler


1999 Plymouth Prowler


1999 Plymouth Prowler interior


1997 Plymouth Prowler Roadster


1999 Plymouth Prowler

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Antilock brakes not available
  • Cargo room
  • Entry/exit
  • Visibility

Simply put, Prowler is a sunny-day lifestyle statement, not a mere means of transportation. Once well-heeled buyers paying over list were sated, prices stabilized closer to sticker. Lack of cargo room excepted, Prowler is as practical as most any 2-seat roadster in its price class–which is to say, not very. Still, few cars generate more smiles per mile, and you don’t even have to drive it to enjoy it.

Overview

Styled like a roadster of the 1930s, but redone in the mode of the ’50s, the Prowler looked like no other modern car on the road. Motorcycle-type front fenders, for instance, moved along with the front wheels. Like the Viper before it, Prowler had been a show car–but one later made ready for the street. Appearances aside, the Prowler’s technology was strictly up-to-date. About 900 pounds of aluminum were used–in the hood, front side panels, doors, rear deck, frame, bumpers, front-suspension wishbones, and seat frames. Plastic was used for rear body panels, rocker panels, and front fenders. Borrowed from Chrysler’s LH sedans, the 3.5-liter V6 engine produced 214 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive helped impart a more traditional hot rod feel. Prowler’s sole transmission was a rear-mounted automatic unit with Chrysler’s Autostick manual-shift feature, which permitted manual gear selection when desired. Antilock brakes and traction control were not available, though brakes were all-disc. Front tires were 225/45VR17 size, while the back end held massive 295/40VR20 rubber. Both tires had run-flat capability–essential because there was no room for a spare tire. The retro theme continued into the interior, which featured a full complement of gauges at the center of the dashboard, in an elliptical pod. That pod matched the body color–which was purple-only in the Prowler’s first season. A tachometer was mounted atop the steering column, simulating the look of aftermarket speed equipment. Standard equipment included air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, 6-disc CD changer, and a defroster for the convertible top’s glass rear window. Power windows, locks, and mirrors also were standard.

Yearly Updates

1998 Prowler
No ’98 models were issued, but Prowler would be back for 1999.
1999 Prowler
Reintroduced in spring of 1998 as a ’99 model, Prowler had a new V6 engine that produced 253 horsepower–39 more than in 1997. That engine came from the Chrysler 300M and LHS. As before, the sole transmission was a rear-mounted automatic unit with Chrysler’s Autostick manual-shift feature. Antilock brakes and traction control remained unavailable. In addition to the original purple body color, the revived Prowler came in yellow, black, or red. Chrome wheels were newly optional, too.
2000 Prowler
Suspension revisions were the major changes this year, along with new body colors. Springs were softened and shock absorbers recalibrated, in an attempt to improve ride and handling. Silver joined the body-color list, replacing yellow and purple. A new chrome bezel and leather boot went on the gearshift, and an automatic-dimming mirror contained an integral compass and trip computer.
2001 Prowler
Adjustable shock absorbers and new colors are the only changes for this limited production model. Production ceased at the end of the year.
2002 Prowler
Inca Gold replaced Mulholland Blue midyear as an option to orange or silver. The last Prowler was put together on February 15, 2002.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

A 214-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine propelled the original Prowler. When it returned for 1999 after a year’s absence, a stronger (253-horsepower) version of the 3.5-liter V6 went beneath the hood. All Prowlers have a rear-mounted 4-speed automatic transmission with Chrysler’s Autostick manual-shift provision.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/215
Engine HP 214
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 221
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

22/32

17.2

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/215
Engine HP 253
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 255
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/30

22.1

Road Test

What can you call the Prowler? It’s not just an automobile. No, this roadster is an unabashed tribute to form over function–an exuberant celebration of the car as art form–much like the vintage street rods and custom cars of the past that it seeks to imitate.

Style and spirit it has in abundance, but the driver has to dispense with a few commonplace amenities–most notably luggage space, which is virtually nonexistent. At first, it looks like little more than the thinnest briefcase will squeeze below the lid of what would otherwise be a trunk. By planning carefully, two or three small, soft bags can pancake into that cargo space, enveloped between the rear bulkhead and the decklid. Dealers actually offered a small, matching trailer to augment the minimal storage space.

As might be expected of a professionally engineered car, Prowler accelerates more smoothly, rides softer, and takes corners with more control–devoid of body lean–than any home-built hot rod. Altogether, the feeling from behind the wheel is still unique among production automobiles. Prowler might look like a dragster hot rod, but its handling is quite sports carlike. It’s nearly flat in turns, with unexpected balance and grip, and firm, no-surprises steering.

Though the V6 does not pin you to your seat, it offers plenty of power and the exhaust note is a hearty rumbling roar. Tire and wind noise are prominent at highway speeds, but only seem to add to the excitement.

Gas mileage has varied. We averaged 17.2 mpg with an early Prowler, in a mix of city, suburban, and highway driving. A ’99 model got a more reasonable 22.1 mpg.

Brakes are strong and easily modulated, and the 4-wheel independent suspension steps deftly over small bumps. Bigger bumps pitch occupants around in their seats–and produce body rattles, too.

Getting inside is a chore, and exiting is no easier. Doors are long, but do not open particularly wide. You sit close to the floor, in supportive buckets, with the pointed prow visible through the narrow windshield. But front fenders are invisible as they turn with the wheels and bob with the suspension.

Slitlike side windows and the low, “chopped” baby-bonnet convertible top kill any useful views with the top up. You have to be outside the car to fold the fabric roof, but it hides neatly beneath the hard rear deck, which is tall enough to quell much of the wind buffeting that affects other convertibles.

The retro instrumentation straps a small tachometer to the steering column and strings other gauges across the center of the dashboard. Reading those requires a conscious look away from the road. Controls are standard Chrysler fare, and easy to use. Interior storage consists of a console box, a small glovebox, a single cupholder, and a map pocket behind the driver’s seat.

Prowlers we’ve tested exhibited cowl shake, but no more than, say, a Mustang convertible. Fit and finish have been very good, inside and out. Cabin materials are high grade, and the paint has looked exceptionally deep and glossy.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Plymouth Prowler

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 - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 2
20%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 1
10%

Other

Value - 2
20%

Total: 34

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.3 165.3 76.5 50.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1.8 12.0 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.4 42.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

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 N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: A growling noise from the A/C is probably due to the A/C line rubbing on the air-filter housing. A revised line must be installed. (1997-99)
Dashboard lights
Description: The low-tire-pressure warning may blink intermittently. If the pressure is not actually low, the pressure sensor(s) will be replaced. (1997-99)
Dashboard lights
Description: Low tire-pressure warning light might indicate a faulty sensor/transmitter. (1997-99)
Fuel gauge
Description: If fuel tank does not fill completely or is slow to fill, and updated filler neck and hose are available. (1997-01)
Fuel pump
Description: When refueling, the pump nozzle may keep clicking off and/or the tank may stop accepting fuel when it is only half-full due to a problem with the filler neck. A revised neck is available. (1997-99)
Hard starting
Description: Reprogramming the powertrain control module could aid cold start idle quality. (1997)
Oil leak
Description: In colder weather, oil may be forced out of the differential case vent. (1997-00)
Vehicle noise
Description: A fluttering or vibrating noise from the center dash vents means the HVAC mode door needs to be recalibrated which is done by removing the battery cable, turning the blower switch to high, and reconnecting the battery cable. (1999-2000)

Recall History

1997
Description: Some welds that affect vehicle control and crashworthiness may have been omitted in six areas of the frame; loss of control can occur.
1997-02
Description: Some vehicles may have defective lower control arm ball joints, resulting in possible loss of steering control. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
1999
Description: Brake-indicator-lamp circuit does not contain the required ground circuit to illuminate the lamp in the event of a brake system hydraulic malfunction.
1999
Description: Some aluminum castings used in manufacture of frame may have missed the required heat treatment; some of these frames could fracture under vehicle operating conditions.
2000-01
Description: Some of the owner’s manuals for these vehicles are missing instructions for properly attaching a child restraint system’s tether strap to the tether anchorage.

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.