After manufacturing nearly 1.5 million cars, speculation has circulated for some time as to when exactly the PT Cruiser would cease production and what vehicle would replace it as the entry vehicle in the Chrysler stable. Indications are that it will most likely be something based on the Dodge Caliber. Some of the PT’s fate rests on the animosity that it is manufactured in Mexico while a sizable workforce remains untapped here in the States. At any rate, for at least one more year, bargain shoppers and those that appreciate the PT’s retro-style and space will be able to enjoy the subtly revised 2009 version.
Much of the changes to the PT Cruiser line for 2009 are the result of streamlining and simplifying the amount of options offered on different trim levels. A 4-cylinder 150 horsepower and a 180 horsepower turbocharged version constitute the powerplant choices for 2009. While neither is especially thrilling, the 180 horsepower version is a significant upgrade from the base engine for those who have driven both. From a “Fun-to-drive” standpoint, most testers are rather positive about the PT despite its lack of power. Helpful to that end is the car’s solid handling which feels responsive, smooth and stable. A five-speed manual is standard on all models, and a four-speed automatic is optional. The EPA rates the base engine at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with the standard manual transmission.
The “retro” styling that the PT Cruiser was a large part in making popular is unchanged for the new model year. The PT is essentially a stylish wagon, though it has always been situated to straddle between the car and truck segments in order to improve Chrysler’s fuel economy ratings. As such, testers tend to praise it as a zippy in-town driver and not so much as a highway vehicle. From the outside, the car is rather diminutive in size, but occupants will be nicely surprised by the amount of interior space, if not interior quality. While much of the exterior style has remained the same, reviewers have commented that as the vehicle has aged the quality of materials inside has declined over the years. Especially true in that regard are the seats, which epitomize cheapness. Nevertheless, interior cargo space is 76 cubic feet and helped by the rear seats ability fold down or be removed completely. Chrysler says the wagon has up to 160 different seating and cargo space arrangements, and the capability to carry items up to 8 feet in length. While five passengers may be pushing it, four can be seated quite comfortably. The fact that it is a relatively tall car means that bigger occupants have plenty of room as well. In addition to the space advantages of the PT, the price is quite attractive starting at just over $18,000 for the base model and moving up to less than $25,000 for the turbocharged Limited Edition. Especially for small business owners with the need for a delivery vehicle, the PT Cruiser may be just the right size.