Compact car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,300*


1990 Dodge Colt GT 2-door hatchback


1990 Dodge Colt GT 2-door hatchback


1990 Dodge Colt DL 4-door wagon


1991 Dodge Colt GL 2-door hatchback


1991 Dodge Colt Vista 4-door wagon

Pros:
  • Acceleration (dual-cam engine)
  • Fuel economy
  • 4WD traction (wagon)
  • Maneuverability
Cons:
  • Acceleration (w/automatic transmission)
  • Cargo room (hatchback)
  • Rear-seat room (hatchback)

Economical and easy to maneuver, Colts are worth a try. These early ’90s Colts ranked as “sleepers” in their class–especially the 4WD wagon.

Overview

The 4-door body style had disappeared in 1989, as the Dodge/Plymouth Colt duo took on a new Mitsubishi-built 2-door hatchback form: rounder, longer, wider, and taller. Rear leg room and cargo space grew, and three trim levels were available: base, mid-level GL, and GT. Colts were sold in identical form under the Dodge and Plymouth badges. The closely-related Eagle Summit came only in a 4-door body style, while the Mitsubishi Mirage came as both a 2-door and 4-door. Standard engine on base 2-doors was a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, making 81 horsepower, with a 4-speed manual gearbox. Colt Gts got a 113-horsepower, 1.6-liter four with a standard 5-speed. All but the base Colt might have an automatic transmission, either 3- or 4-speed, depending on engine. Carried over largely unchanged from the prior generation, the 4-door Colt DL station wagon could have full-time 4-wheel drive. 4WD wagons carried a bigger, 87-horsepower engine (manual shift only), while 2WD wagons had the same 1.5-liter four as the hatchback–but producing 75 horsepower instead of 81. The permanently engaged 4WD system used a center differential with a viscous coupling to split power between front and rear axles as needed to maintain traction. 4WD wagon bodies were raised about two inches to provide additional ground clearance.

Yearly Updates

1991 Colt
For 1991, Colt dropped to a 2-door hatchback only, abandoning the station wagon body and also the GT edition. The basic 1.5-liter 4-cylinder got a horsepower boost to 92 horsepower by virtue of a new 3-valve-per-cylinder design.
1992 Colt
Except for fewer options, Colts changed little this year.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or 4-wheel drive

Three different engines were available in 1990: a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that made 81 horsepower; a dual-cam 1.6-liter rated at 113 horsepower; and for the 4WD wagon, a 1.8-liter four that developed a modest 87 horsepower. The 2WD wagon’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine made just 75 horsepower. A year later, all three engines were gone, supplanted by a single 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that put out 92 horsepower.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 113
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 99
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/28
23/28
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.5/90
Engine HP 75-81
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 87-91
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
32/38
27/29
25.7
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 87
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 102
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

23/28

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.5/90
Engine HP 92
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 93
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
31/36
29/35
28/31

23.8

Road Test

The base model with a 4-speed gearbox and manual steering has a pleasing, no-nonsense manner, though it comes across as strictly a bare-bones stripper. The 1990 GT with its dual-cam engine is slick and quick, with fluid clutch and gearshift action, direct steering, a rev-happy engine, and stick-to-the-road handling. All-disc brakes are another “plus” for that GT’s performance package.

Power is adequate on the 1990 station wagon, through liberal use of the 5-speed gearshift. Acceleration and gas mileage of any Colt model suffer with automatic, but economy is a major plus in any configuration. Stick with manual shift to get the most performance at the least cost for daily driving. As for economy, a 2-wheel-drive 1990 DL station wagon with automatic and the 75-horsepower engine averaged 25.7 miles per gallon.

Visibility and controls are great, and the driving position is comfortable. All gauges and controls are within sight and reach. Interiors are on the plasticky side, and some body panels have a tinny feel. Front shoulder belts are anchored to the doors, and are a hassle when getting in or out. Getting into the hatchback’s rear seat also can be a chore.

Four adults can ride in fair comfort, limited only by tight head and leg room in the back of a hatchback. Space is decent up front for grownups, without feeling cramped, but the back seat is really best for youngsters. Those 1990 wagons have more space all around, and the 4WD version offers traction on loose gravel or wet pavement.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1990 Dodge Colt wagon 1.5-liter auto

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 - 2
20%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 38

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
93.9 158.7 65.7 51.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
34.7 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 36.9 41.9 32.5
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
93.9 169.3 64.4 56.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
60.4 12.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.7 38.0 40.6 34.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Colt 2-door hatchback

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 97
Injury 104
Theft 31

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Hard shifting and gear clash may be eliminated by installing revised synchronizer components. (1991)
Automatic transmission
Description: No second gear and/or a loud tapping noise when shifted into or out of any forward range. (1991-92)
Engine misfire
Description: Surging between 45 and 55 mph on cars with 1.5-liter engine, may be a result of the wrong transmission fluid. (1990)
Engine misfire
Description: Oil and carbon build up in the air cleaner and airflow sensor causes hesitation and stalling when cold and surging when warm on 1.5-liter engines. A revised valve cover corrects the problem. (1990)
Engine noise
Description: Carbon build-up on the pistons causing light tapping to heavy knock on 1.5-liter engines and can be blamed on the gasoline. Regular use of fuel injector cleaner may reduce the buildup. (1990-92)

Recall History

1990-91
Description: Front seatbelt release button can break and pieces can fall inside, causing improper operation.
1992
Description: Excess lubrication can cause rubber door latch switch cover to deform and switch to malfunction; shoulder-belt anchorage may remain at A-pillar when car door is closed.
1992
Description: Over time, abrading force on the lower edges of the chamber for the moving cable that controls driver’s shoulder belt may be sufficient to allow cable to drop; could cause shoulder-belt anchorage to become stuck.

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.