Long overdue, the second-generation PT Cruiser is Pretty Terrific.
Last week I got a chance to drive the new, completely redesigned Chrysler PT Cruiser, and I’ve gotta say they did a great job with the update. The PT has become something of an iconic shape, and the new car updates the basic retro-breadvan lines while retaining its unmistakable identity. Just a glance at the silhouette will tell you that this could be nothing except a PT Cruiser. A woman smoking a butt in the Blockbuster parking lot told me, “That’s a cute car!” which is definitely something that would’ve happened back when the original PT hit the streets. Apparently, the original designer, Bryan Nesbitt, also did the second-generation car, so I suppose the continuity should come as no surprise.
The new PT is an evolutionary design that adeptly addresses the flaws of the old car. The interior quality is much better, and even the door lock plungers are surrounded by nary a millimeter of clearance. The two-tone dash is handsome, as are the contrasting black and grey leather seats. The handling is crisper, but the nice ride is retained. As in the original, the high roof provides an inordinate amount of cargo space, given the wieldy overall length. Power-wise, this one was down on the last turbocharged PT I drove, but I expect they’ll introduce forced induction of some sort further down the road.
There were a couple elements of the new car that made me scratch my head. First of all, the interior design, nice as it is, blatantly rips off the Chevy Cobalt. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Also, my test car had OnStar, which must be a first for a Chrysler product. Finally, the satellite radio carrier was XM, which you normally see on GM products, instead of Sirius, which is what’s in most Chryslers I’ve driven. Maybe they give you a choice now? I’ll have to look into that.
About two years ago I’d have guessed that the PT phenomenon had run its course, but I think this new version is enough of an improvement to at least lure existing PT owners who now need a new car—and, given how long the PT’s been around, there are doubtless plenty of those.