2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT from North America
I love this car. FAST, COMFORTABLE & FUN
Nothing yet. I bought it used and had to do a bunch of repairs to get it certified and ready to licence, but more because the previous owner had let it sit far too long, and things had seized. Now, everything works as it should. No surprises in my first two months of driving. I am happy to update this post in a year's time.
Only thing I didn't fix: Struts on the hatchback. Functional, but will need to be replaced.
I love this car. I have a 1976 BMW 2002 I drive in the summer, and having this car for winter use is like getting to drive my 2002 all year long.
Note this is the GT. It is fast. Not 80's Mustang 5.0 fast, but still pretty damn quick. I've read the base cars are underpowered; I can believe it - this car would not be nearly as enjoyable if it weren't a) quick and b) a fun manual. The manual GTs were very rare when shopping for non-convertibles, at least they were in my area. What's great is, as you now shop for these 'older' cars, (at time of writing some 11 years old) - the GT and base cars are now nearly the same cost. Get the GT. Find one rust free, like I did.
There are many things I love about this car. The leather seats are very comfortable and strongly heated. The gearshift knob is a ball that fits right in my hand, and the radio controls are directly ahead so I can change them with my fingers while shifting. Each radio preset has two options, doubling your presets. The radio is decent with good bass. 3 sets of cup holders, little places here and there to store items, which is useful. A little computer tells me the outside temp, which is nice. The steering wheel feels really sturdy in my hands, nice padding. It shifts smoothly and brakes strongly. Heater heats the cabin quickly. I'm 6'1" and 280lbs, I am comfortable in the driver's seat. I sit nice and high, for a car - easier to get in and out of. I recall thinking once, maybe if the windscreen were 1" higher it would be nice, but that has passed; I haven't really noticed it after the first week of ownership. The window up/down controls are in the middle of the dashboard, which I've seen before, but might confuse some people initially. Does have 1-touch down driver's window, which I love. Sunroof is nice too.
The shifter beeps when going into reverse, which is helpful; my wife appreciates it. The layout of the dashboard is intuitive and the design is great mix of new and old styles - I love the vertically flat area in front of the passenger - gives more room!
For such a small car, it is amazing how much stuff you can fit in there, even before putting the seats down. We have a 1 year old, and our stroller won't fit in (the trunk of) a lot of larger cars, but it will fit nicely even with the pack 'n play into the hatch of this car. And it is 4 door - easy to get a kid into a rear car-seat. We fit the car-seat in the middle, and still have room on either side for 2 adults. We looked at the Mini, but after watching a friend struggle day after day trying to get her kid into the back (of the 2 door Mini), nope - we appreciate the 4 doors. Also, the rear doors open nearly 90 degrees to the car - makes access very easy. Many cars don't do this.
Move the seats down - boom, you've got a station wagon. Before I bought, a guy picked up a used washing machine from me, and he showed up in a PT Cruiser. I watched with disbelief as he loaded it in the back and took off. How many cars can take a dishwasher??
The style of the car has proven a bit polarizing over the years, so some people hate it, call it ugly - but I LOVE IT. I love the throwback to the Al Capone style cars, and how the angled body gives a giant back seat. The chrome is perfectly placed - I think it is a sharp, sharp car. Love the front nose / grille. Also love the deep black tinted rear glass for privacy & security.
I love the suspension, too. We have a Cadillac SRX, which is wonderful in many ways, but I find it pounds over road bumps, jarring the occupants. The PT Cruiser, bounces over everything. I love hitting a bump and having the ass subtly bounce a few times like a dune buggy. I have a bad back, and this car is very comfortable and forgiving.
Cons - sure, everything has cons. Here's my list I've thought of, over my first few months of ownership:
- The turning radius is ridiculous. I can't believe it was allowed out of design like this. Miss a parking spot by a tiny bit, you're doing an Austin Powers in the parking lot while people stare.
- The windshield squirters - I could pee harder. I don't know if this is just my car, if the motor is worn out, or if it affects all Cruisers. This was made in 2003... haven't we figured out windshield squirters yet?
- The heated seats are great, but the placement of the controls is ridiculous - you practically have to exit the vehicle to operate them (they're on the outside edge of each front seat, usually buried under my coat).
- If you turn on the headlights in daytime, the gauges turn light green and are nearly impossible to read. I suppose I could turn down the dashboard lighting, or not turn my headlights on in the daytime.
- Fuel range. As has been documented many times, yes, it doesn't have the greatest range for such a small car/engine. But it really isn't that bad, and of course improves greatly on the highway. And you get some power in return.
- This probably applies to all cars with this feature, but drives me nuts. If you start moving, all the door-locks LOCK. Great, fine. But then I forget, exit the car and go to the rear door to help with baby, and the door is locked. That drives me nuts, but as I said, I think it's on all cars like that.
That's it. I'm sure if parts start flying off it in a few months, my tune will change. But now, I love it. Also, when I was shopping, I saw many many of these for sale in the 250,000 km and up range. So people are driving them for a long time. If I get 5 years / 100,000 out of it, I'll be happy. Keep you posted.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 6th February, 2014
4th Jan 2018, 01:13
I am the original poster. I thought I'd give you an update.
It is now Jan 2018, and sadly, the PT Cruiser is being put out to pasture, @ 192,000 km. I was hoping to make it to 200,000, but 'twas not to be.
It still drives nicely and accelerates strong. On ramps are my favourite thing - it has a ton of power, and loves to accelerate up and up and up, roaring towards that red line... it is awesome. But I've moved to New Hampshire, where they require an inspection yearly - which is a real shock coming from Ontario, where cars are inspected once - the day you buy them. So, while back home in Canada I could continue driving it around town and probably hit 200,000, maybe 225,000, I now have a quote for $2200 to safety it, and that's all, folks. Half is to replace a rusted out subframe. I've seen it - it would be fine for 10's of thousands of km more, but not in the eyes of the government. The other $1100 is for a new emergency brake (which I must admit is shot), broken sway bar, new shocks (that fun bounce is long gone), and leaking power steering. For what it's worth - 365 days ago, this car passed inspection, and none of these issues were present. It's really nosedived this year. Or, I got the finicky guy to inspect it. But prior - from 2013 until now - it need barely anything, next to nothing repair wise. So I consider it a fantastic investment overall, considering I paid $2000 for it.
Reading my old review, the only things that really annoyed me over the years were a) the windscreen. I said I got used to it - I didn't. It's too annoying to look out the front window if you're over 6'. You have to crouch, or slump. And b) the fact the rear doors are locked when you get out of the car drove me and my wife freakin' nuts. Every time we got out and moved to the backseat to retrieve our children, the door was locked, which made me scream.
Overall - again, get the manual GT. It is so much fun to drive. The heated seats will bake you out - I couldn't stand HI, the LO is more than enough. And these cars don't cost that much used. They are a great deal and seem to be very reliable. Goodnight, sweet '03 PT Cruiser. It was a good run.