Compact car; Built in USA, Mexico
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $2,100*


1995 Dodge Neon 2-door coupe


1996 Dodge Neon Sport 2-door sedan


1996 Dodge Neon Sport 2-door coupe


1997 Dodge Neon 4-door sedan


1997 Dodge Neon Highline 4-door sedan

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes (optional)
  • Fuel economy
  • Instruments/controls
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Engine noise

In all, Neon offers a solid domestic alternative to the imports. Whether to pick a Dodge or Plymouth is a matter of individual choice; except for the insignia on the body, they’re exactly the same car. Watch out for engine overheating or blown head gaskets. Both problems are expensive to repair.

Overview

The subcompact front-drive Neon was introduced as a very early 1995 model, available in identical form through both Dodge and Plymouth dealers. Neons replaced the Dodge/Plymouth Shadow hatchbacks. First offered only as a notchback 4-door sedan, Neon gained a 2-door coupe companion in fall of 1994, as the full ’95 model year began. While sedans were sold in base, Highline, and Sport price levels, the coupe came only in Highline and Sport trim this year. Early Neons all carried a 132-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a single overhead camshaft. Sport models (and later Highlines) could have a dual-cam version that produces 150 horsepower. The 2-door Sport also got a domed hood, rear spoiler, stiffer suspension, and distinct 14-inch cast-aluminum wheels. On all Neons, a 5-speed manual transmission was standard, and 3-speed automatic optional. Dual airbags are standard, with antilock brakes standard on Sport models.

Yearly Updates

1996 Neon
Neons saw a number of changes in their second full season. Base models got standard 14-inch wheels (replacing 13-inchers) and body-colored bumpers to replace the prior grey units. A lower-priced base coupe joined the lineup. Antilock braking now was optional on all Neons. The 150-horsepower dual-cam engine was included on base coupes with the optional Competition Package.
1997 Neon
Changes were few for Neon’s third year on the market.
1998 Neon
For ’98 Dodge dropped the base model, replacing it with the Highline. In the spring, Dodge introduced the sporty Neon R/T. It draws equipment from the Competition Package and adds racy graphics.
1999 Neon
Dodge replaced the Neon with an all-new 2000 model of the same name in early 1999. However, they continued to sell some 4-door and 2-door models of the old design throughout ’99. Changes to the old model were minimal and included a new Sport package for the 4-door.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Neon’s basic overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine made 132 horsepower. The optional dual-overhead-cam four, with the same 2.0-liter displacement, produced 150 horsepower. Both engines drove either a 5-speed manual gearbox or optional 3-speed automatic transmission.

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
31.0
23.6
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130-133
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
28/38
25/33
25.4

Road Test

The base engine is quick off the line with either transmission, but it growls loudly under hard throttle. Even so, it transmits little vibration to the car’s interior and cruises quietly. The automatic transmission shifts abruptly during brisk acceleration, and tends to be oversensitive to the throttle. It also downshifts unexpectedly. Although the available dual-cam four is livelier than the base engine, the difference isn’t big enough to make it a priority, and it’s no quieter, either.

Fuel economy is commendable. We averaged 31 mpg with a 5-speed base engine model in a mix of city and highway driving. A Sport Neon with the base engine and automatic averaged 24.2 mpg, with most driving in and around urban areas.

Neons feel solid and well-planted on the road. The firm suspension soaks up bumps with little harshness, and neither floats nor bottoms out, though bad pavement can deliver a few jolts. Handling is sporty, even with the base model. Steering is firm, feels natural, and centers quickly, producing agile response on winding roads. Brakes have strong stopping power, too.

Passenger space is impressive for such a small vehicle. There’s enough head and leg room to seat four 6-footers without squeezing, though rear doors are too small to allow easy entry and exit. The modern dashboard layout offers simple, convenient controls. The Neon’s trunk opens at bumper level to a wide, flat cargo floor that reaches well forward to yield good luggage space.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Dodge Neon Sport sedan w/ohc engine/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 53.0
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 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
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 116
Injury 144
Theft 107

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: A lack of cooling caused by the A/C evaporator freezing up because the compressor does not cycle off. (1995)
Brakes
Description: If the ABS warning light stays on, which disables the ABS, the ABS controller needs to be replaced. (1995)
Brakes
Description: The front brakes wear abnormally fast on cars with four wheel studs, so heavy-duty linings should be used to replace them. (All)
Climate control
Description: In cold weather, ice may form in the blower motor housing, which prevents the blower from moving and blows the fuse. The drain tube must be rerouted, the blower motor replaced, and a new fuse installed. (1995-97)
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 glove box 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: Fuel and rear-brake tubes can experience accelerated corrosion between metallic tubes and rubber isolator; may lead to brake fluid or fuel leakage.
1995
Description: Steering-column coupler can become disconnected when vehicle sustains underbody impact.
1995-96 w/ACR competition package
Description: Brake master cylinder can leak fluid due to damaged seal; warning light will signal impairment prior to partial brake-system loss.
1996 built in Mexico
Description: Wiring harness could short circuit, causing 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: Inadequate welding on some cars could allow pivot tube to separate from lower control arm in front suspension.

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.