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Chrysler PT Cruiser to keep on cruising

Consumer Reports News: July 31, 2009 11:28 AM

As anticipated, Chrysler formally announced today that the PT Cruiser will continue production despite previously being scheduled to be cut from the automaker’s lineup this summer. The convertible model, which was discontinued last year will not return.

It’s been nearly 10 years since the PT Cruiser hit the market. The initial popularity driven by its retro style and versatile packaging has waned over time. As of July 1st, the PT Cruiser had experienced a 74 percent sales decline comparing calendar-year-to-date for 2009 against 2008, notably more than all other Chrysler brand models except for the Sebring. However, the affordable hatchback provides the automaker with a relatively efficient model (compared to other Chrysler products) that aids its corporate fuel economy average.

In Consumer Reports tests, we found the PT to have a versatile interior, with a flat-folding front passenger seat and rear seats that can be removed to create a large open cargo area. Cabin access is easy. The Limited’s 2.4-liter turbo improves both on acceleration and fuel economy over the base non-turbo engine. However, poor visibility, a wide turning circle, and poor IIHS side crash tests even with standard side airbags are detractions. The PT also lacks modern safety equipment like stability control and curtain air bags; even anti-lock brakes are optional on lower trim levels. In the early years of the model, the PT Cruiser was a Consumer Reports’ recommended model, however poor reliability has changed its status.

The PT Cruiser will continue to be built in its Mexico plant, where keeping the line rolling may help in transitioning to building a future car there through cooperation with Fiat. No details have been announced yet on the 2010 PT Cruiser and pricing, however major changes are not likely.

Liza Barth

   

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