Chrysler PT Cruiser news and rumors

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December 2002

The Chrysler PT Cruiser turbo is finally available with a stick-shift! Maximizing the performance of the already-speedy "GT Cruiser," the PT that's every bit as fast as it looks can now be ordered with a Getrag 288S heavy-duty five-speed manual transmission.

Engineering estimates show Getrag-equipped vehicles are capable of 0-60 mph in an estimated 7.5 seconds, about a half-second improvement compared with automatic transaxle PT Turbo vehicles. Quarter-mile speed estimates also come in faster at 15.8 seconds versus 16.5 seconds.

Besides the added performance under the hood, manual Chrysler PT Turbo customers also will notice improvements at the pump. With an estimated 21mpg city and 27 mpg highway, fuel economy in the manual PT Turbo is 2 mpg better in each respect than a comparable automatic PT Turbo.

The Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price for the manual Chrysler PT Turbo is $22,415, excluding a $590 destination charge. Automatic transaxle Chrysler PT Turbo vehicles with AutoStick are priced at $22,855, excluding destination charges.

From February 2000 through October 2002, 471,899 Chrysler PT Cruiser vehicles have been sold worldwide, making it one of Chrysler's most popular vehicles. Chrysler has used Getrag transmissions for many years in its turbocharged vehicles, including the amazing four-door Dodge Spirit R/T, which squeezed 225 horses out of 2.2 liters and could reach sixty mph in under 6 seconds.

September 2002

August 2002

Chrysler introduced the PT Dream Cruiser Series II on August 13, complete with the turbocharged, 215 horsepower engine and satellite radio. It will have a new tangerine pearl coat paint color, and be available early next year with a production of 7,500 units starting in January 2003. The retail price will be $26,475 with a stick, and just under $27,000 with an automatic.

The PT Dream Cruiser Series 2 will have chrome bodyside moldings, a body-color rear spoiler and 17-inch chrome wheels with tangerine-colored center caps. "Dream Cruiser Series 2" badging with Tangerine accents also is included on the liftgate, while a "Dream Cruiser Series 2" plaque with the vehicle's unique production sequence number appears on the instrument panel center stack. Other interior accents include a combination of tangerine and grey, with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome shift bezel (for automatics), and chrome shaft gear shift lever with a satin silver shift knob and special chrome door lock knobs. Standard equipment includes a power moonroof, heated driver and passenger seats, and the aforementioned satellite radio with a one year subscription for commercial free music.

Underneath the hood, the PT Dream Cruiser Series 2 for North America features a turbocharged engine, with more than 90 percent of peak torque from 2300 to 5000 rpm. A Getrag heavy-duty 5-speed manual transaxle is standard, while an automatic transaxle with AutoStick® is available. Additional features include a performance-tuned suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS with traction control and a large-diameter chrome exhaust tip.

The PT Cruiser is often derided as a "fad car," despite its utility and reasonable price. Thanks to Bill Cawthon, we are able to point out that, in July 2002, more PT Cruisers were sold than Honda Odysseys, Chevrolet Ventures, Kia Sedonas, or for that matter, Dodge Intrepids, Dodge Neons, or BMW 3-Series. Chrysler sold roughly twice as many PT Cruisers as Dodge sold Stratus sedans. Indeed, the PT Cruiser is nearly as popular as the Chrysler Town & Country.

Chrysler has recalled 2001 and 2002 PT Cruisers to install a secondary seal to the top of the fuel pump module. A fuel leak was detected during an inspection following a government crash test. While there are no known incidents or complaints related to this issue, Chrysler is taking this precautionary measure to further reduce the possibility of fuel leakage in a severe collision.

Approximately one-quarter of these vehicles also will be recalled for a separate safety issue involving the underhood fuel supply line. The line may rub against the air conditioning service port, which could result in a fuel leak. While this is unlikely to occur, Chrysler will attach a clip to the fuel line to prevent contact.

Owners will be contacted by mail regarding these recalls. If owners have questions regarding their PT Cruiser they may call the Chrysler Group customer call center at 1-800-853-1403.

July 2002

Chrysler has set the price for the PT Turbo at a relatively reasonable level of $22,290 (list). Arriving this fall, the PT is based on the Touring Edition, with a 215 horsepower (245 lb-ft) engine that has at least 220 lb-ft of torque available from 2,300 to 5,000 rpm. The base PT is currently $16,600, with the most fully loaded model selling for $26,000.

From February, 2000 through May, 2002, more than 395,000 Chrysler PT Cruiser vehicles have been sold worldwide.

The turbo model, which Chrysler has refused to call the GT Cruiser (it's the "Chrysler PT Turbo"), features a Getrag heavy-duty five-speed manual (AutoStick automatic available), a tuned suspension with four-wheel disc ABS brakes and traction control, 17" silver painted 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels, and P205/50HR17 all-season performance tires. Cosmetic features include:
* Body-color monotone front fascia with larger, lower openings
* Body-color monotone rear fascia with larger exhaust opening
* Large diameter chrome exhaust tip
* Body-color bodyside moldings
* "GT" badge on left liftgate, "2.4L TURBO" badge on right liftgate
* Performance front seats with unique cloth interior
* Driver seat manual lumbar adjuster
* Unique silver-faced cluster gauges with 140 mph speedometer
* Tachometer with "2.4L Turbo" badging
* Unique instrument panel accents
* "GT" embroidered front floor mats
* Silver painted shift ball
* Silver shifter bezel (automatic transaxle vehicles with AutoStick)

June 2002 has a review of the 2002 PT Cruiser "Woodie" with automatic.

Motor Trend's one-year PT Cruiser road test update expresses general satisfaction with the PT, noting that it still turns heads, has had no breakdowns, and seems to be losing less oil now that it's broken in (they are giving it the recommended 7,500 mile oil changes - most owners won't see oil consumption). They recorded 0-60 acceleration as 8.6 seconds, better than the five-speed Honda Civic EX (9.0 seconds) - so much for "poor acceleration." 10, 2002.

Mr. Source tells us that the turbocharged PT Cruiser will be built starting July 7, 2002, with automatic transmissions only. The manual-transmission version, which will most likely have faster acceleration and better gas mileage, will be produced starting October

/rant mode on/ This decision will no doubt hurt the publicity for the turbo PT, since acceleration times will be hindered by the slushbox. Producing the manual first would make for more favorable coverage by the automotive press, even though most buyers will probably opt for the automatic. Most people do not consider the transmission when comparing 0-60 times...but we're glad it's going into production soon. /rant mode off/

This is roughly's two-year anniversary.

May 2002

Early reports indicate that the turbo PT will be sold not as the GT Cruiser - which is catchy and sensible - but as the PT Cruiser GT, which, um, makes no sense. It will, according to rumors, come with 17" wheels, four wheel antilock brakes, a manual lumbar adjustment, and an optional AutoStick "manumatic." About 25% of the GTs sold are expected to have a five-speed. The only other change for 2003 would be painted bumpers on the Touring and Limited editions, but not on the base models. The two-door ragtop is expected to be produced during calendar year 2004 but may arrive earlier. (We don't really expect that, Chrysler's cycle times seem to have doubled since the takeover.)

April 2002

The PT Cruiser turbo was announced, and we have full details.

March 2002

New page! PT Cruisers of Europe

The Street Cruiser Series 1 was announced at the Geneva Auto Show for European sale. It's similar to the American Series 1 in every way except engine and title. Visit the bottom of the PT Cruisers of Europe page for details.

A two-door convertible version of the PT Cruiser has been approved for 2004 production - no word on price yet.

The Chrysler PT Cruiser did very well in Consumer Reports' latest tests, as the #2 "small car" (after the Echo and Corolla/Prizm). It easily beat the Honda Civic, as well as the Neon on which it is loosely based. The Ford Focus, by the way, came in last in that category.

According to Pete Johnstone, the PT Cruiser was the equal of the Toyota Camry and Avalon and better than the Honda Accord. The Chrysler 300M was the best domestic car of any make, presumably beating the PT by a narrow margin.

We noticed that Chrysler quality seemed higher than Mercedes quality. Shame Chrysler didn't buy Mercedes instead of the other way around...

February 2002

Chrysler is pushing for PT Cruiser sales, with new $1,000 rebates in the Northeast and Midwest, ads emphasizing the low price (and, we hope, the quiet, comfortable,usable interior and excellent handling), and a push to fleet buyers. Dan Minick sent us an article sent by Chrysler to fleet buyers, reprinted from Automotive Fleet, on Loctite's use of PT Cruisers as a fleet car. 14 of Loctite's 52 entry-level fleet purchases last year were Cruisers. Chrysler overcame initial resistance to the PT by having senior management test drive it, and discover for themselves the room and storage space of the small vehicle. As Chrysler wrote, "It offers functional versatility, comfort, safety, an attractive price point, and low maintenance costs." Buyers also get the 7 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

We hope their price-based push doesn't hurt the PT's image. More than anything, Chrysler needs to get more people in a Cruiser - both journalists and ordinary folk - to fight the widespread belief that it's "just a Neon" (as though that's something bad! They need to get more people into Neons too!).

January 2002

In March, the PT Cruiser will be available with a 2.2 litre OM664 common rail diesel engine. The diesel, jointly engineered by Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz, is for Europe only.

Limited edition, true, but still impressive - an under $20,000 turboNeon with incredible acceleration and braking (see below) using the existing Neon. Viper-powered 500 hp Ram with 5-second 0-60 times. "We may build it" Dodge Razor with $14,500 price for 0-60 of 6 seconds and rear wheel drive (presumably based on the Lancer). And the four cylinder engines to replace the current 2.0 and 2.4 (in 2006 or so)...well, they're going to be designed jointly by Hyundai, Chrysler, and Mitsubishi. The future is suddenly brighter! What's more, the Intrepid squads are starting to roll off the line, and a new Intrepid variant is due very soon.

The GT Cruiser's 2.4 liter turbo engine is detailed along with lots of other information and pictures of the new turbocharged 148-mph Dodge Neon SRT-4. In short, the engine produces 205 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque, with a relatively flat torque curve (so it doesn't wait until you're at 6000 rpm to get moving). Seems like they're doing it right - upgrading brakes and suspension at the same time. (Neon SRT does 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, stops from 60-0 in 120 feet).

The GT Cruiser is almost certainly a "go" for 2003 production (possibly as a 2003 model), with a turbocharged 2.4 liter engine.

December 2001

Daimler-Benz is in the process of selling the Austrian factory where European Chrysler Voyagers and Grand Cherokees are made. The buyer, parts maker Magna, will reportedly phase out PT Cruiser production. Various Chrysler parts plants are also being put up for sale as Daimler squeezes the assets out of Chrysler.

2002 PT Cruisers have been recalled for a computer software upgrade which will prevent the instrument panel from suddenly being darkened. No accidents have been reported. The upgrade should take a few minutes.

November 2001

We've updated our accessories page again, and neatened up our style sheet again. Forum software is faster and popup ad problems should be gone now.

Bob Lutz is now chairman of General Motors - North America!

Chrysler is reportedly testing a turbocharged four-cylinder - we understand the 2.4 liter - for EPA approval, presumably to finally produce the long-awaited GT Cruiser. While rumors have pegged the new engine at about 220 horsepower, we'd expect a more modest increase, figure 180 hp the first year, possibly rising to 200. The engine may also be used in the Neon SRT. It's also possible that the company is testing a Mitsubishi turbo since Chrysler will stop making four cylinder engines in the next five years.

Chrysler has extended its powertrain warranties on all vehicles to 7 years or 100,000 miles - through the end of the year only. 0% financing is not available on the PT Cruiser, whose sales rose in October anyway.

We've tried to trim our popup ads, and have changed providers to make ads less intrusive across the board.

October 2001

Chrysler has made 0% financing available on most of its vehicles - but not the PT Cruiser.

Though Chrysler sales have generally been plummeting over the past months, the PT Cruiser has been holding steady - no small feat. Chrysler has aired some ads, developed long ago but placed on hold for some time, including one which emphasizes the interior space - though most concentrate on its looks, which are well known and presumably do not need to be advertised.

Bill Cawthon wrote: "In the Q1/2001 volume of TransGlobal, their quarterly publication dedicated to commercial vehicle users, DaimlerChrysler claims they offer a version of the PT Cruiser for German fire brigades. Sadly, they did not include a picture."

Motor Trend posted some interesting photos of PT Cruiser variants under consideration - they look like real photos but may be doctored-up "what-ifs," there's no indication either way. Included are a remarkably attractive pickup and coupe, as well as an extended van and the now-familiar Panel Van and Convertible.

The PT Cruiser will not be converted to a Mitsubishi platform in the foreseeable future. However, around 2006, we speculate that it may be moved to the next-generation Lancer/Neon or Stratus/Galant platform - unless pickup, panel van, and coupe variants are made and sold. For the moment, it stands alone.

September 2001

PT Cruiser production in Austria has reportedly been cut by 22%. However, the same factory makes Chrysler minivans, and an upsurge in minivan sales would presumably yield a greater profit than PT sales. In Europe, Cruiser is handicapped by relatively poor gas mileage, especially with no diesel options.

As PT Cruiser mania fades here in the United States, we wonder why Chrysler does not start to advertise its many high points - aside from style, which we don't need commercials to see. For the price, the Cruiser is hard to beat, with its combination of handling, space, comfort, and style - and, with the five speed, it isn't a slowpoke, either.

We received the following message: "I own a Cruiser. I am also a Chrysler Tech. I have seen several Cruisers including my own with mileage between 6k-8k showing signs of the lower control arms on bothe sides blowing out. Have you noticed any?" -- please respond on the tech board. Thanks.

Mopar Muscle's most recent cover story was a Hemi PT Cruiser. To fit the legendary, over-400 horsepower elephant engine in, Automotive Innovations had to lengthen the engine bay. Upgrading the vehicle to deal with sudden torque was handled by using a Viper rear and A618 transmission.

August 2001

Remember PT dealer price-gouging? You ain't seen nothing yet. Read this article over at Detroit News (link broken) to see what Ford dealers are doing to their may seem too familiar.

Two new PT Cruiser models were just announced by Chrysler. The first, a Woodie, is no surprise - but the price may be, at a steep $895 list. Chrysler wrote: "A simple, flowing wood-grained graphic appears on all four doors, the quarter panels and liftgate. The graphic is a linear Medium Oak woodgrain framed with Light Ash surround moldings. Unlike aftermarket wood accent applications, this vehicle will have a full factory warranty." Not real wood!

The second new model is the Woodward Dream Cruiser Series 1. Starting on January 7, 2002, 7,500 of these will be made at $23,170 (5-speed) or $24,000 (automatic), including destination charge. They will be Inca Gold, include a chrome badge and numbered plaque (similar to the Shelby Dodges), and have 16-inch chrome wheels with gold center caps and bright PT Cruiser graphics. "Dream Cruiser" will be threaded into the floor mats. Gold color accents will appear throughou;t the interior. Matrix leather, which is textured, will be used in the seats, steering wheel, and (on automatics) shift knob.

Various sources have posited that the first "real" PT variant will be either the convertible or the GT Cruiser. We're hoping for the GT. Given its extra weight, we suspect the convertible will need the turbo engine as well.

A USA Today article covers the production story of the PT Cruiser. When the vehicle was first put into production, it took about a day to make each one, because getting the engine in was too difficult - there was only a .6 inch tolerance, one third of previous vehicles. However, by practicing and drilling, the workers - without outside help - got that time down, within a month, to about two minutes.

More importantly, the article notes that J.D. Power's review of six Mexican plants ranks Toluca as best in quality, beating plants owned by Nissan, Volkswagen, Ford, GM, and DCX itself. The Toluca factory was rated the second best plant, worldwide, for DaimlerChrysler, including Mercedes plants. The PT Cruiser is one of the five highest quality "premium compact" cars, though it is a new model.

On 2002 models, a new, corporate almond color and a steel blue replace aqua and shale green. The underseat storage drawer is now standard. A passenger seat armrest has been added. As reported earlier, a flame kit (made of vinyl and applied by the dealer) is optional for about $500 on black, cranberry, red, and silver models. We still believe the rumors of a factory "Woody" package.

July 2001

Almond is apparently the dealers' favorite color.

We may have information on specific changes on September 1.

The latest rumors have a factory "Woody" package being produced for 2002 models.

The 2002 models are being produced as we speak. We don't have any more information on changes, but suspect they are minor individually, and add up to a more refined and reliable vehicle collectively.

Even as the Cruiser went into production in Austria, demand seems to have softened somewhat. Gas mileage may be a factor; fortunately, a Detroit Diesel engine will probably be added as an option within one year. Austrian Cruisers can have right or left hand drive, and are built on the same line as Voyagers. Quality is reportedly very high since the flexible factory design allowed many "production style" prototypes to be tested. The diesel will probably not make it to the US, but would be welcomed by those who are disappointed by Cruiser gas mileage.

Based on changes in demand within the US, we'd expect special edition PT Cruisers to be built within a year - though what form they would take is up for grabs. We're hoping for diesel and turbocharged versions, to handle both common issues. A more efficient transmission wouldn't hurt, either.

The Crossfire has reportedly been approved and will be produced in 2002. However, no details on the platform have arrived. Rumors of a Mercedes C-class under the sheet metal have appeared.

June 2001

We were able to speak with Ann Smith, communications manager for the small car platforms. She answered a number of our questions, including why the PT Cruiser is heftier than the smaller Neon: First, it is taller. Second, structural rigidity was increased to bring handling up to its currently, surprisingly good levels. Third, as a truck, it needed to meet Dodge's truck endurance standards, which are tougher, it seems, than those for cars (though we've found Dodge cars to be pretty tough as well) - which meant a heavier duty suspension and chassis. Thus, more weight, with the resulting impact on gas mileage and acceleration.

She also confirmed that the company was planning to build variants of the Cruiser in time. Ann said she would get back to us regarding details on the allocation formula, but that it was mainly based on factors such as dealership sales and comparisons of vehicle on-lot time to the national average - and is the same for all vehicles.

Finally, she said that the decision to source more production from Toluca was the result of a long and intensive analysis, and that many different alternatives were considered.

Update. Ann said that the allocation of all Chrysler vehicles is based on factors such as sales volume and vehicle on-lot time. Five-star dealerships do not get a better allocation. For more on our conversation, click here.

The rumor mill has the introduction of the GT Cruiser moved forward a little, bucking the Daimler-Benz trend of pushing back or cancelling new product introductions. While we expect a 180 horsepower version, rumors abound of 200-225 horsepower Cruisers on the way. Certainly, Chrysler is capable of getting that much power - in 1991, they produced a 2.2 liter engine with 225 horsepower - but they've been playing the horsepower wars down lately.

The Daimler-Benz policy of shared engineering may result in Mitsubishi transmissions coming to the Cruiser, but probably not until 2006. Chrysler's automatic transmission is reputed to have a fairly high amount of power loss; replacing it could improve the automatic Cruiser's power and gas mileage.

The Chevrolet SSR, which uses the Trailblazer platform to deliver a hot rod-style rear wheel drive V8 sportster, has generated a great deal of enthusiasm, but is expected to retail for about $30,000 - competing more with the Prowler than the PT Cruiser.

Good and bad news for the PT: Chrysler will delay redesigning the PT Cruiser until 2006, to save money and stagger new product introductions a bit. The good news is they won't mess with the winning design and look - many Neon enthusiasts are still hurting from that car's redesign, which, incidentally, sealed its fate (it will be gone in 2005). The bad news is that they may not invest any engineering dollars in engine and transmission upgrades (or in body lightening) which would increase power and economy.

The PT engine will be used in the Jeep Liberty, but will be called "PowerTech" there.

G. Widner wrote: "I would like to ask all the other lucky Cruiser owners to start a tradition of waving to fellow Cruiser owners. Once upon a time, I owned a 'Vette, and every time I saw another vette, each of us drivers would wave - it was like belonging to an exclusive and friendly club, and each owner, stranger or friend, was a member. For some reason, I seldom get waves back from Cruiser owners, and I would like to see this tradition catch on."

May 2001

Chrysler will expand the Toluca, Mexico plant which currently builds PT Cruisers, to increase production by about one third within two years. At that time, the company is also likely to make limited-production variants such as the convertible and GT. We don't know why Chrysler is investing millions of dollars in expanding Toluca when it is closing other plants across North America, and when the Brazil plant will soon be idle.

Mitsubishi direct-injection technology will eventually be given to Chrysler, if recent announcements are true. This could provide a substantial power or economy boost to the PT Cruiser. (DCX may choose instead to use the Mitsubishi 2.4 in place of the Chrysler engine.)

April 2001

Mercedes tuning unit AMG may build a high-performance version of the PT Cruiser. Rumor veracity - unknown but we don't believe it will happen now.

We have lots of Chrysler PT Cruiser car information. Site directory. PT Cruiser Forums. Repairs.

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