The Chrysler PT Cruiser is a compact MPV or small family car produced by Chrysler as a 5-door hatchback from 2000 to 2010 and a 2-door convertible from 2005 to 2008. It has a front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout and styling reminiscent of the thirties.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles originally designed the PT Cruiser as a part of its Plymouth truck lineup, but due to the Plymouth brand collapse, FCA released it under the Chrysler range. The reasoning behind the push for a light truck was to reduce the overall emissions and fuel consumption of the Chrysler truck fleet and get it within the CAFE standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ultimately labelled it as such, despite its classification as a car by most of the metrics.
The automaker produced the PT Cruiser at the Toluca Car Assembly in Toluca, Mexico, up to a total of over one million units. The Eurostar Automobilwerk facility in Graz, Austria took care of production for the non-US marketplace in 2002.
The trim levels for the five-door hatchback include:
- The Base trim level came with a 5-speed manual gearbox, stereo with cassette player, six speakers, manually-operated windows, manual door locks, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, cloth material for the seats, and folding rear seats. Later Base models came with CD and AUX input, power windows as standard, and power door locks.
- Touring trim level added on top of Base trim a stereo system with a CD player, power door locks and windows, and keyless entry.
- Limited trim level added on top of the Touring trim a stereo system with a CD player (later six-disc changer for CD or MP3), improved speakers with an external amplifier, chromed alloy wheels, leather-and-suede-covered seats, and heated front seats.
- The Touring Signature Series trim level added on top of the Touring trim the following: Boston Acoustics premium speakers with an external amplifier, exterior colour-keyed details, and alloy wheels.
- Street Cruiser trim level added a body kit, special alloy wheels, and colour-keyed exterior details.
- GT trim level added on top of Limited a 2.4L turbocharged inline-four engine and special alloy wheels.
Other trim levels include Walter P. Chrysler Signature Series, Limited Edition Platinum Series, Dream Cruiser Series, Sport, Classic, and Couture.
The two-door convertible received Base, GT, Touring, and Limited (in Australia only) with features being the same as for the five-door hatchback.
The US model came standard with a 2.4L inline-four engine and a 5-speed manual gearbox. Outside of the US, a 2.0L version was also available, with a power output of 104kW (140hp) at 6500rpm and 176Nm of torque at 4800rpm. In Australia, both versions, as well as the GT engine were available, paired with a five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic transmission.
The 2006 Facelift featured scalloped headlights, a grille that did not extend below the bumper, and a new lower front fascia. The interior featured an updated dashboard (features an analog clock in the centre console), MP3 and AUX input added to the stereo system, optional satellite radio, Boston Acoustics sound system, and U-Connect hands-free Bluetooth system.
From 2007, ‘Mopar’ cruise control was available as an aftermarket feature, while the dealerships were allowed to make custom orders on vehicles, which is why there are now models with trim levels different from specified. Some of the optional features were anti-lock brakes, side-impact airbags, and Sirius satellite radio.
PT Cruiser Classic
Towards the end of its lifespan, there was only one PT Cruiser trim level offered, the PT Cruiser Classic. It ran on a 2.4L engine producing 150 horsepower and four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. It also featured a stereo system with CD, AUX input and six speakers, spoiler, air conditioning, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring system, SRS airbags, keyless entry, ABS, 16-inch wheels, and more. Optional equipment included leather seats, power front bucket seats, engine block heater, sunroof, and heated seats.
The Euro NCAP gave PT Cruiser a three-star rating in 2002, with low scores in the frontal impact test, attributed partly to the safety compromises made to protect both belted and unbelted occupants. Due to height, seating and side airbags, it achieved the maximum score in the side impact test. In 2008, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the highest rating of Good for overall occupant protection in frontal crashes, and Marginal, or the second-lowest score, for the side and rear crashes.
The PT Cruiser GT (aka GT Cruiser) was the hot hatch variant with a stronger crankcase webbing, thicker deck, oil drain back for the turbo, cast aluminium structural oil pan, higher capacity oil pump, stronger crankshaft, oil squirters, aluminium pistons, and forged connecting rods with cracked caps and 9mm bolts.
Standard equipment includes AutoStick or 5-speed manual gearbox, 4-wheel disc brakes with traction control and ABS, 17-inch chromed wheels, special body kit, tuned suspension, and performance-tuned exhaust system.
The first model (2003-2005) produced 160kW (215hp) at 5000rpm and 332Nm of torque at 3600rpm.
The second model (from 2006) produced 172kW (230hp) at 5100rpm and 332Nm of torque at 2400rpm.
The top speed was limited to 125mph or 201km/h.
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Author: Luka Kusic