This review is really more of an objective look at my brief weekend experience with the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
Advantage Rent-A-Car in Texas had a weekend rate of $19.99/day rental on the PT Cruiser, and I liked the way it looked, so I thought I'd give it a try, since it was an exceptional rate.
1. 1st-off, if you have some people you wish to tote around, and your front passengers are taller than 6', make sure the rear passengers are less than 4'. The rear seat is *extremely* tight, legroom-wise. The front passengers will be relatively comfortable, if your passenger airbag doesn't deploy and crush the front passenger's kneecaps.
2. The 2.4L 4-Cylinder is insufficient for anything more than a two-adult (IF that) payload in the hill country. What good is a cool looking car, if it's engine is screaming and wheezing at you in 2nd or 3rd gear as it tries to pull you uphill b/c there's not enough "oomph" to take a hill? 70-75MPH on cruise control was set, and it's under-powered engine was routinely screaming at me in lower gears b/c there wasn't enough HP/torque. The Cruiser has sweet looks, but is a poser under the hood.
3. The power window control cluster is in the center of the front dash. Whoever came up with this (sarcasm) brilliant (/sarcasm) idea should be drawn and quartered. The power locks are on the door where they belong. Chrysler has the right idea on the power locks, but what were they thinking with the window controls??? It was distracting, looking/fumbling for the window control when I needed to find it.
4. The Gauge Cluster on the PT was efficient and clear to read, but the silver cowling surrounding the cluster put up a distractive glare on the upper portion of the windshield. This is an accident waiting to happen.
5. The turning radius is larger than my Explorer (Which has a pretty-good radius, despite the fact it's a truck). To complete a u-turn in a 4-lane + center turnlane type of road, I had to start from the far right lane, make my "u-ey" only to end up in the far-opposite lane on the other side of the road. This was with the wheel hard-over from the start. (I tried this ~3-4am with the coast clear) I'd heard that the turning radius was horrible for a car this size, but 1st-hand experience proved it to me.
6. Going golfing? Make sure you put the back seat down, or you'll be renting a set of clubs from the Pro Shop. With the backseats up, I could not fit a conventional-sized set of golf clubs in the cargo area (flat). Prior to my renting this Cruiser, I stopped at a local Chrysler dealer to try a Cruiser so I'd know what to expect. The salesperson assured me that my clubs would fit in here. Moving forward, now...
7. Back to the engine: I test drove a GT Turbo version of the '04 Cruiser at said-dealership, and I have to admit that I was floored. AWESOME execution. I'd like to see a V6 version. A standard V6 would do this car justice, IMHO. Add a Turbo to that V6 on the GT, I think Chrysler would have a winner here.
I like the body styling, for the better part, and the handling (Minus the turning radius issue) was good and tight, but Chrysler REALLY needs to focus on the interior functionality, the engine-oomph, and overall quality.
I've written this one off as a basis for the saying: "Never judge a book by it's cover."