I feel cheated.
The head gasket has blown twice, once at 60k, once at 100k.
The paint is peeling off the car in sheets.
The steering wheel shimmies badly.
The engine stumbles often at cruise.
The exhaust donut has failed several times.
The oxygen sensor has failed twice.
The Neon was an experiment in automobile design. Chrysler's plan was to use some of the same techniques used for rapid application development in computer software to create a car in half the usual three-year cycle. The result was a car with some excellent individual parts and attributes, but with far, far too many design and manufacturing flaws to make the car worth even the budget price you'd pay for one.
Every Neon blows its head gasket, and will blow the replacement unless it is a revised, metal head gasket. And I wouldn't even trust those.
In order to boost performance the cam was made too aggressive, resulting in rough idle - at the last minute, this problem was mitigated through the use of loose motor mounts. Unfortunately, the loose mounting of the engine will cause the exhaust donut to break repeatedly. Squeak, squeak, squeak, plus sloppy shifting.
The wheels cannot be kept in balance. Maybe if you park it on a running dynamometer...
The car is quick, when the engine is running correctly. However, the absence of any sort of air flow metering device on the engine means that the engine is very sensitive to oxygen sensor error, and so the car will often be running incorrectly.
There is nothing positive to be said about the ride or the interior.
If you are sixteen and acceleration thrills you, and if you have low standards, you might enjoy this car. Learn auto repair before you buy one, though.
Neons are junk. I tried to love mine...
Addendum: There is a fairly large group of Neon enthusiasts who race their Neons. If you are mechanically inclined and enjoy working on your car, and like a good challenge, the Neon might be worthwhile: despite everything I've said about them, when you pay enough attention to them and spend enough money on them, they do win plenty of SCCA events. But if you do that kind of thing, you're used to burning money...
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 7th August, 2003