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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The Neon comes well equipped, with a good-sized boot and distinctive styling

Against There's no hatchback version, security is poor, it won't seat five comfortably and the ride is firm

Verdict Big-booted American saloon stands out, but it's flawed by European standards

Go for… 2.0 LX manual

Avoid… 2.0 SE auto

Chrysler Neon Saloon
  • 1. Cars built during 2000 and 2001 were recalled over a brake vacuum hose concern, so check that work has been carried out
  • 2. Loose interior trim can be a problem with this car
  • 3. Owners have also experienced problems with electrics, such as indicator, ignition switch and immobiliser faults
  • 4. There can also be problems with the gearbox. Listen out for clunking noises and a reluctant, snappy change on the automatic 'box
  • 5. If the engine sounds noisy on start up, it could mean a rebuild's imminent. Walk away
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Chrysler Neon Saloon full review with expert trade views

Although it has a large boot, the lack of a five-door option limits the Neon's practicality.

First introduced to the UK in 1996, this face-lifted version arrived in 1999. Even so, the plastic interior trim is a long way short of a Volkswagen Golf's quality. And, although it's a big car for its class, it seats only four adults in comfort. Likewise, the ride and handling are no match for the Ford Focus, not even if you opt for the sporting RT version. The suspension doesn't cope terribly well with bumpy UK roads, either.

On the other hand, the body doesn't roll around too much in corners unless you are going very quickly, and the steering is reasonably accurate. Its light set-up works well in town, but the lack of weight and feel don't make for enjoyable country driving.

Performance isn't too bad. The standard Neon's 2.0-litre engine produces a healthy 136bhp, while the RT's 2.0-litre delivers 150bhp.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Struggles to be taken seriously; 2.0LX auto is the only retailable model

James Ruppert
Used car guru

If you are buying a car built before 2001, give the automatic a miss. Up until that point, Chrysler fitted a thoroughly unimpressive 'box with just three speeds. The four-speed unit that followed is a much better bet.

If you do want an auto, don't be tempted to pay extra, because they were a no-cost option when new.

It's worth remembering that LX is the higher of the two trim levels. Lower SE-trim cars feel fairly Spartan, but LX models come fully loaded with leather trim, air-con, wood finish, alloy wheels and a six-speaker stereo.

A well-maintained RT model could be worth a look. Along with a more powerful 150bhp engine, it has smarter alloy wheels and a body kit. Performance is reasonable, with 0-60mph time of 10.8sec. The handling is sharper, too.

The private market is the best place to find a well-looked-after car.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability - watch for suspension faults and higher than average bills

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

When it first appeared in relatively small numbers, the Neon's second-hand values held up surprisingly well, but those days are long gone. There's no doubt that if you choose a well-maintained LX, you'll get a lot of car for your money.

That large 2.0-litre engine means you will be paying Group 10, 11 and 12 insurance money, though. The 2.0-litre SE model has an official fuel consumption figure of 35mpg, but choosing the more powerful RT doesn't dent that figure too much - it should still return 33mpg. However, there's no diesel to cut your fuel costs.

Be warned, too, parts such as exhaust systems, alternators, radiators and even door mirrors are not cheap, and servicing comes up all too frequently as well. Officially, the Neon should be dealt with every 7000 miles or every six months. Dealer rates are well above Ford's and Vauxhall's, so seek out an independent garage with good knowledge of the model to keep your running costs down.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Struggles to be taken seriously; 2.0LX auto is the only retailable model

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Although in general the Neon enjoys a fairly robust reputation, in reality it is not without its problems, and as a result has earned no more than two stars in the JD Power reliability survey.

All cars built during 2000 and 2001 were recalled over a brake vacuum hose concern, so check that work has been carried out.

Despite a significant improvement over its predecessor, loose interior trim can still be a problem with this model. Owners have also experienced problems with the electrics, such as indicator, ignition switch and immobiliser faults. There have also been instances of batteries failing to recharge properly.

There can also be problems with the gearbox. Listen out for clunking noises and a reluctant, snappy change on the automatic. And if the engine sounds noisy on start up, it could mean a rebuild's imminent. If you think there's a problem, walk away, and try to find another one.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability - watch for suspension faults and higher than average bills

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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