Compact car; Built in Mexico
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,400 – $11,500*


2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser


2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser


2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser interior


2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser


2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser

Pros:
  • Entry/exit
  • Handling/roadholding
  • Passenger and cargo room
Cons:
  • Acceleration (w/automatic transmission)

It’s hard to beat this affordable vehicle’s impressive combination of room, comfort, versatility, and driving pleasure. Mediocre acceleration is the only real flaw, though performance is actually on par with other small wagons. High demand has outstripped supply since the Cruiser went on sale, and they’re not cheap secondhand.

Overview

Even before the PT Cruiser went on sale in spring of 2000, it had become a big hit in the marketplace. Customers eagerly forked over well above sticker price to get one of the early examples of the retro-styled front-drive compact wagon, which looked like nothing else at any dealership.

PT stood for Personal Transportation, and the four-door Cruiser provided precisely that–plus a lot of enthusiastic responses from other motorists on the road. Minor changes took place in fall 2000, including availability of heated front seats and yellow pearl paint.

Classified as a truck under federal fuel-economy regulations, the five-passenger PT Cruiser was designed to blend carlike comfort and roadability with practical features borrowed from minivans and SUVs. In size, it compared to the Honda CR-V, with a similar wheelbase and only 2 cubic feet less cargo volume–despite standing some 2 inches lower and measuring nearly 9 inches shorter overall.

An all-new unibody platform was used, but some mechanical components were similar to those in the subcompact Neon sedan. Sole engine was a 150-horsepower version of the familiar 2.4-liter four-cylinder, linked to a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission.

Standard equipment included a removable 65/35 split folding rear seat, multi-position rear parcel shelf, air conditioning, tilt wheel, floor-shift console, and rear wiper/washer on a one-piece liftgate. An optional Touring Group included a firmer suspension and 16-inch tires, rather than the usual 15-inchers. With optional antilock braking (bundled with traction control), four-wheel discs supplanted the standard rear drums. Side-impact airbags were an option.

Limited Edition models included the Touring Group, leather upholstery, a power moonroof, and fold-flat front passenger seat. Front and rear power windows were standard. In early models, rear windows were controlled by console switches. Later examples got dashboard controls. Rivals include the Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback, and Volkswagen Passat wagon.

Yearly Updates

2002 PT Cruiser
Still a hot seller in its second season, the PT Cruiser got newly optional flame accent decals for the hood and front fenders. Base, Touring and Limited Editions were offered. Base models added some previously optional items as standard equipment, including a CD player and underseat storage bin. Adjustable driver’s lumbar support went on the Limited. Side-impact airbags were standard on the Limited and optional on others. Antilock braking remained an option.
2003 PT Cruiser
A new turbocharged GT had 215 horsepower and 17-inch wheels. Chrysler markets it as the “PT Turbo.” Manual transmission is standard, automatic optional on. Flame decals, a chrome-trim package, or a woodgrain-body-applique “woodie” look were optional.
2004 PT Cruiser
New for ’04 was a 180-hp 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylider engine, optional on Touring and Limited models.
2005 PT Cruiser
The PT Cruiser is unchanged for 2005.
2006 PT Cruiser
All ’06 PTs got revised front fascias and dashboards.
2007 PT Cruiser
PT Cruiser carried over unchanged.
2008 PT Cruiser
The 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser dropped the high-performance GT models from its roster. Available on base wagons was a new Street Cruiser Sunset Boulevard Edition package that included a sunroof and unique interior and exterior trim.
2009 PT Cruiser
The PT lost its convertible body style for 2009 but was otherwise little changed.
2010 PT Cruiser
The 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser lineup shrank to a single base model and lost its available turbocharged engine.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Base engine in the PT Cruiser was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that developed 150 horsepower. In 2003, Chrysler added a turbocharged version that had 215 horsepower, but it only lasted through ’07, by which time it developed 230 horsepower. Both engines could have either a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic. Optional for Touring and Limited models in 2004 was a 180-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder mated only to the automatic; that engine was dropped for 2010.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
20/26
20/25
21.7
23
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 180
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 210
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/25

Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 215-230
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 245
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
21/27
19/25
19.0

Road Test

Not only does the PT Cruiser look great, it feels solid and stable, with no top-heavy tippiness. Pleasant and fairly refined, with predictable front-drive handling, it’s adaptable and fun to drive. Steering is responsive, with just the right amount of power assistance. The firmer Touring/Limited suspension delivers surprisingly flat cornering and a comfortably controlled ride–except on washboard surfaces, where it tends to jiggle. Turbo models have slightly better road holding, but offer a stiffer ride. Noise levels are generally low, but coarse pavement induces some road roar from the Touring/Limited tires. Wind noise starts to intrude at 65 mph or so, and the engine note rises above 4000 rpm.

Though smooth, the base engine is not very muscular, especially when trudging up a long grade or passing with more than two aboard. Performance is fine in around-town cruising. Turbo models move out with much more authority, but suffer slightly from “turbo lag.” The automatic transmission is responsive, though it sometimes shifts with a lurch. Chrysler’s manual gearbox has a light but positive shift action. Braking feels strong with good pedal modulation, especially with the available ABS.

Chrysler claimed 26 seating/cargo configurations with the available fold-flat front passenger seat, but the rear bench must be folded or removed to get much cargo space. Tall and fairly wide back doors ease access. Interior storage is plentiful. The load floor is low and flat, and rear wheel arches don’t steal much space. The cabin is roomy enough for four adults on chair-height seats. A high body gives all riders abundant head clearance. Even 6-footers have good leg space. Rear head restraints are a minor obstruction.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited

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 - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 7
70%

Other

Value - 8
80%

Total: 58

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.0 168.8 67.1 63.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
64.2 15.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.4 39.6 40.6 40.8
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

Cruise control
Description: An annoying surge at cruising speeds between 45-60 mph during warm weather can only be corrected by reprogramming the powertrain control module; look for modification decal under the hood. (2001-02)
Fuel gauge
Description: The fuel gauge may not read full despite the tank being full on early production models and a countermeasure fuel pump module is available to correct this. (2001)
Hard starting
Description: Difficulty starting may also require replacement of the fuel pump module with one that has a screen to prevent contamination of the integral pressure regulator. (2001)
Seat
Description: The rear seats may not unlatch due to a problem with the cable and its attachments. (2001)
Steering noise
Description: There may be a whistling noise when the steering wheel is turned unless the power steering hoses have been replaced. (2003-04)
Sunroof/moonroof
Description: If the sunroof deflector vibrates (usually above 40 mph), there is a deflector mounting kit that relocates the mounting attachments. (2001)
Transmission noise
Description: A rattling noise may come from the manual transmission when it is in neutral with the engine running, requiring replacement of the clutch module. (2001-05)
Electrical problem
Description: The engine may not crank or start due to an electronic failure of the wireless control module and electric steering column lock. (2006-08)
None
Description: The engine may not start, or may start and stop, when using the remote start feature due to a bad hood switch. (2004-05)

Recall History

2001
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.
2001
Description: Fuel supply line could contact the air-conditioning tube service port, causing a fuel leak which would increase the risk of fire.
2001
Description: The right rear seat center lower anchor was manufactured with a wire diameter greater than the maximum specified. If child-seat connectors are not properly secured, the occupant will not be fully restrained.
2001-02
Description: The fuel-pump-module mounting flange could leak fuel in a rollover crash, increasing the risk of vehicle fire.
2001-05 w/2.4-liter non-turbo engine
Description: Power steering hose may contact automatic-transmission differential cover, potentially damaging the hose and causing fluid leakage that could result in underhood fire.
2002
Description: A software error in the instrument-cluster microprocessor may render gauges, illumination, and warning lights inoperative.
2003 manual transmission
Description: Faulty flywheel and clutch assemblies were installed in some vehicles with manual transmissions, possibly leading to a disengaged clutch. Dealer will inspect and replace affected part.
2005 w/ABS, high-output turbo engine and manual gearbox
Description: Contact between brake tube and transaxle housing over extended time period may eventually lead to perforation of brake tube, which could result in loss of braking force in left front/right rear circuit.
2005-06
Description: The rear quarter glass attaching fasteners may pull through their mounts and allow the glass to separate from the vehicle. Dealers will replace the rear quarter glass.

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.