The Chrysler PT Cruiser
is a typically American "retro
"-styled station wagon
built by Chrysler
, launched in 2000 as an entry-level Chrysler.
The PT Cruiser was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 2001 and won the North American Car of the Year award that year.
Officially, the "PT" stands for "Personal Transportation," but the initials also designate the car's platform. It has also claimed the Neon was based on the Chrysler PL platform, or "Platform Low," while the Cruiser was based on the Chrysler PT platform, for "Platform Tall." "PT" was also the production code for the PT Cruiser. Unofficially, the name may stand for "Plymouth Truck", as it harks back to the 1930s line of Plymouth Trucks (known by the "PT" moniker). The original concept car was a Plymouth; the Chrysler brand adopted the production car when the Plymouth brand was discontinued. The PT also stood for "panel truck".
In a November 2007 strategy move to help return the automaker to profitability, Chrysler first announced plans to discontinue the convertible version of the now slow selling vehicle. This announcement was followed later in the month by an official announcement that the company would cease production of the remaining versions of the vehicle after the 2009 model year.
It is a front-wheel drive
5-passenger vehicle, classified as a truck by the NHTSA
for CAFE fuel economy
calculations but as a car by most other metrics. Indeed, Chrysler specifically designed the PT Cruiser to fit the NHTSA criteria for a light truck in order to bring the average fuel efficiency of the company's light truck fleet into compliance with CAFE standards. A turbocharged
GT model was introduced for the 2003 model year. A convertible
was introduced for the 2005 model year.
The PT Cruiser is manufactured at Toluca Car Assembly in Toluca, Mexico. On March 8, 2006, DaimlerChrysler announced that it had built 1,000,000 PT Cruisers at the Toluca plant since February 14, 2000 The PT Cruiser was also assembled in Graz, Austria, for global markets (outside North America) in 2002, using the production code PG. European PT Cruisers built in 2001 or from 2003 onwards are built in Mexico under the PT production code. The American version features a 2.4 L four-cylinder gasoline engine. In addition to this standard model, a 2.2 L four-cylinder diesel engine built by Mercedes Benz is also available in Europe, Asia, and South Africa. A 2 liter engine (D4RE) was available outside the U.S. It produces SAE at 6500 rpm with of torque at 4800 rpm.
When initially introduced, demand for the car was, in many cases, higher than dealer supply, seeing customers put on waiting lists. Anticipation of the car was high, making for a debut that was among most successful in company history.
While the body style remains remarkably consistent from year to year, there are actually multiple models of the PT Cruiser, designated by unique badges in the lower left hand corner of the rear lift-gate. Models include the Classic Edition, Limited Edition, Touring Edition, "Dream Cruiser", "Street Cruiser", "Pacific Coast Highway Edition" and PT Cruiser GT. Turbo edition models are identified by a "2.4L Turbo" badge on the lower right hand corner of the rear lift-gate. The GT model has a badge on the right hand corner of the lift-gate says "2.4L Turbo High Output" (indicating it is the 220/230 hp engine version).
A four-seat convertible model was added for 2005. It is a two-door car with an integrated "sport bar" for added rigidity and rollover protection. It was discovered that the sport bar also caused air to flow over the rear passengers, resulting in a less drafty ride for those in the rear seats.
The PT Cruiser was updated for 2006. Notable exterior features include scalloped headlights, a new 'chrome' grille, new lower front fascia, round fog lamps (on equipped models) and redesigned taillights. Inside, an updated dashboard and more upscale materials are used, including the addition of an analog clock to the center stack (a design marking the "face" of Chrysler). The audio system now features a line-in jack for MP3 players and is integrated into the dashboard, making it more difficult to replace with an aftermarket unit. The turbocharged 2.4 L engine is now available in 180 hp (134 kW) or "High-Output" 230 hp (172 kW) versions. A "Mopar" cruise control unit became available as an after market unit on 2007 models. Also in 2007, Chrysler dealers were permitted to order vehicles with separate options (un-bundled options from option packages) such as anti-lock brakes and Side Impact Airbags. Sirius Satellite Radio radio also became an option which could be installed as a Dealer option with a factory appearance (i.e. roof mount satellite antenna).
The Chrysler PT Cruiser also featured in the Gran Turismo series, the Xbox game Forza Motorsport and Xbox 360 game Forza Motorsport 2.
The PT Cruiser was originally meant to be a Plymouth
, before Chrysler's merger with Daimler-Benz
. The concept car was originally targeted at young male audiences, but the large increase by female consumers have caused the target audiences to switch to young females. At the time, Chrysler had planned a new look for Plymouth, previewed by the Plymouth Prowler
". Styling cues from the Prowler, particularly the grille, were used to create the Plymouth Pronto concept car
in 1997. The look was refined, and in 1998, another Plymouth concept called the Chrysler Pronto Cruiser
directly previewed the styling of the PT Cruiser. The Pronto Cruiser was designed as a modern interpretation of the Chrysler Airflow
with Dodge Neon
components, but the final design used a separate platform. The new DaimlerChrysler firm did not have much faith in Plymouth as a separate entity, and began steps to rationalize and cancel the marque. Consequently, the PT Cruiser appeared in public only as a Chrysler.
The PT Cruiser also bears a resemblance in size and shape to the 1997 Chrysler CCV prototype. The styling of the latter elicited a better response from the auto show circuit, and would evolve into the styling of the PT Cruiser.
- Touring Signature Series
- Street Cruiser
- Walter P. Edition 2006 Only
- Limited Edition Platinum Series 2004 Only
- Dream Cruiser Series 2002-2004 Only
As of August 12, 2008, there have been 14 customized versions of the PT Cruiser.
- PT Dream Cruiser Series 1
- PT Dream Cruiser Series 2
- PT Dream Cruiser Series 3
- PT Dream Cruiser Series 4
- PT Turbo
- Chrome Accents
- PT Cruiser Convertible
- refreshed 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser (2006)
- PT Street Cruiser Route 66 (2006)
- Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition (2007)
- Street Cruiser Sunset Boulevard Edition (2008) - 500 vehicles
- PT Dream Cruiser Series 5 (2009) - 1750 vehicles
Street Cruiser Route 66 Edition (2006)
This version features Solar Yellow brake calipers, body-color grille, solar-tinted sunscreen glass, liftgate mounted spoiler, 17-inch all-season performance tires, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with low-speed traction control, speed control and a sport suspension. Brightwork accents include chrome body-side moldings, a chrome exhaust tip and 17-inch, chrome-plated, five-spoke Empire aluminum wheels. A unique 'Street Cruiser' badge, complete with Solar Yellow accents, is featured on the liftgate and complemented by 'Route 66' Edition badges on the front doors. It was sold for $19,185 for the manual
transaxle version and $20,020 for the automatic
transaxle model.Only one color would be available, Burnt Topaz
Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition (2007)
Based on the 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser Touring model, this version includes 4-Wheel disc anti-lock brakes, bright front door sill scuff pads, front bright accent ring cupholders, silver shift knob, chrome lock knobs, chrome bodyside molding, "Street Cruiser" badge, Pacific Coast Highway Edition badge, rear body-color spoiler, bright exhaust tip, leather steering wheel with bright spokes, sport suspension, supplemental side air bags, 6-way power driver's seat, Sirius satellite radio, 17" x 6.0" aluminum platinum clad wheels with 205/50R17XL 93H BSW all-season performance tires, cloth seats with blue insert. It was sold for $20,735 for the manual transaxle version and $21,570 for the automatic transaxle model.It would be only available in Pacific blue pearl.
Street Cruiser Sunset Boulevard Edition (2008)
This version is based on PT Cruiser LX, but comes with a special "Sunset Crystal" paint-job which is accented with various chrome body-trim pieces, deep-tint glass, a powered moonroof, 16-inch chrome wheels with all-season touring tires. 500 cars are to be made, at a list of US$16,650-17,475.
Dream Cruiser Series 5 (2009)
The Dream Cruiser Series 5 was announced in conjunction with the 2008 Woodward Dream Cruise
. It will only come in a single exterior color--pearl white with a black roof and spoiler. The interior will be gray with leather and chrome trim. Distinctive exterior features will include seventeen-inch wheels, aluminium grilles, and molding and door badges in chrome. The engine is either the 150-horsepower four cylinder or the 180-horsepower turbocharged four cylinder; both will have a four-speed automatic transmission. The Dream Cruiser Series 5 will be a limited production run with only 1,750 vehicles and have a list price of US$22,700.
- Dream Cruiser Series 4
The PT Cruiser Convertible was later discontinued on December 21, 2007 as part of Chrysler's owner, Cerberus Capital Management' plan to cut costs by discontinuing several Dodge and Chrysler models.