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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For This very distinctive MPV drives like a hatchback. The diesel version is particularly strong

Against It's expensive to service and the rear seats are awkward to move. Depreciation is bad, too.

Verdict It's fun to look at and fun to drive, but lacks the practicality of most of its rivals

Go for… 2.2 CRD Touring

Avoid… 2.0 Touring automatic

Chrysler PT Cruiser MPV
  • 1. Electrical glitches and loose, flimsy plastic trim can plague the interior
  • 2. It can easily cope with five adults and their luggage thanks to a large boot
  • 3. Owners have reported suspension problems, so give any car a good test drive to check all's well
  • 4. Gearboxes are known to give trouble, and repairs can be dear. Again, check it carefully on a test drive
  • 5. 2.2-litre diesel is the best option every time
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Chrysler PT Cruiser MPV full review with expert trade views

The idea of a small MPV that looks different and is fun to drive seems a good one. That was the PT Cruiser’s brief when it appeared in 2000, but it doesn't quite fulfil this.

For a start, it can only cope with five people, although, to be fair, it can easily cope with those five adults and their luggage thanks to a large boot. The biggest problem is that, instead of three individual rear seats, it has a 60/40 split folding rear bench, which takes two people to lift out. No fold-in-the-floor seats here...

Despite its hot rod-inspired looks, the PT Cruiser has more in common with a Chrysler Neon on the road. The drive is tidy and accurate, although the ride is firm and the steering light. Performance, even from the early 2.0-litre engine, is good, but suffers if you opt for the four-speed auto instead of the five-speed manual 'box.

Trade view

John Owen

Diesel is the hottest property

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Spec-wise, go for a Touring model, which will come with all the kit you’ll need fitted as standard.

Likewise, there's really only one engine choice - diesel. The first one, a Mercedes-Benz unit, was introduced into the PT Cruiser line-up in 2002, and is a far better bet than the early 2.0-litre, 140bhp petrol that was phased out in October 2004. True, the petrol may be swifter in a straight line, but the more economical diesel pulls much more strongly from low revs. However, by modern standards, refinement isn’t great.

But, if your budget stretches, go for the common-rail 2.2 diesel unit that was introduced when the PT Cruiser was given a face-lift in 2005. It produces more power - up from 119bhp to 150bhp - and refinement is also significantly improved.

Private sales are a good place to look for a bargain, but don't forget Chrysler dealers: many also keep a wide range of used stock.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Petrol models not so popular has to be diesel and Touring spec at least

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Taking the diesel option will obviously save you cash on fuel. The 2.2-litre diesel easily betters the 2.0-litre petrol, with 40mpg versus 31mpg. The 2.4-litre petrol manages 31.7mpg, which is no match for the common-rail 2.2-diesel’s 40.9mpg. Even then, the equivalent Renault Scenic is good for an official 47.1mpg.

To rub salt in the wounds, not only is the Renault much more practical, it also has much longer service intervals. Whereas the Renault can run to two years or 18,000 miles, the PT Cruiser needs a service every six months or 7500 miles. Official Chrysler dealers’ hourly rates are way above what you’ll pay at a Ford, Renault or even Volkswagen dealers, as well, so find yourself a good specialist who knows the make well if you want to save cash.

It may not prove so easy to reduce insurance costs, though; the PT Cruiser sits in groups 12 and 13.

Trade view

John Owen

Diesel is the hottest property

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Owners have highlighted suspension and gearbox problems. You should be able to spot any obvious gearbox faults on a test drive, but it may well be worth paying someone who knows what they are looking for to crawl underneath the car and check out the suspension for wear and tear.

Like Chrysler's Neon saloon, electrical glitches and loose, flimsy plastic trim can plague the interior. Air bag faults can prove tricky to rectify, but overall the PT Cruiser has a reasonable reliability record.

There have been two recalls on the PT Cruiser range. Cars built between the start of 2000 and the end of 2001 needed to be brought in to have their fuel line modified, while all cars built up until 2003 had to have a secondary seal installed over the fuel pump, because there was a possible risk of leakage in the event of a roll-over accident.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Petrol models not so popular has to be diesel and Touring spec at least

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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