- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

MODEL: Chrysler Prowler
VEHICLE TYPE: Two-door roadster
PRICE-AS-TESTED: $45,000
MILEAGE: 17 city, 23 highway
As an echo reminds us of a shout in a rock-walled canyon, the Prowler keeps the Plymouth nameplate alive in our collective consciousness. Prowler is the last real vestige of a brand dating back more than seven decades. A version of the Neon also still sports the Plymouth badge, but Prowler is unique to Plymouth.
Perhaps it is fitting that this retro-looking hot rod keeps the Plymouth memory alive. It is the car the Chrysler Corporation hoped would do for Plymouth what the Viper did for Dodge. Unfortunately even the shot of adrenaline the Prowler infused into Plymouth's ailing system wasn't sufficient to stay the bell from tolling.
Thankfully, though, the decision was made to sustain the Prowler for Plymouth's final year. It's a fun car that still causes a commotion wherever it goes because it looks so cool.
My latest Prowler was painted in Prowler midnight blue. Toss in the bright chrome wheels what an eye-catcher. It looks so cool.
Prowler is about as practical as a glass-bottom aircraft carrier. It isn't meant to haul the car pool to school or transport home the week's worth of groceries. Despite a trunk area that looks as though it would swallow a chest-type freezer, Prowler has, for all intents and purposes, no cargo space. But it looks so cool.
The trunk will hold an attache case, but little more. That large-appearing trunk area is filled with the fuel tank and rear-wheel-drive mechanicals. But it looks so cool.
Prowler seats two, albeit comfortably, but just two. Best enjoyed in dry, warm weather, it is designed to be driven without the top. It has a soft top that when raised reduces rearward visibility to almost none. No, Prowler is a warm-weather weekend warrior; however, in that context, it's more fun than anyone has the right to expect behind the wheel. It looks so cool.
Under the hood beats the same 253-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 powering Chrysler's 300M. In the Prowler it has about 700 fewer pounds to pull around.
Acceleration is exhilarating. Going from rest to 60 mph takes about seven seconds. Translating engine output to wheel spin is a four-speed AutoStick transmission that allows for manual input as well as normal automatic operation. Fuel economy is about normal for a large V-6.
As owners of many of today's convertibles know, attempting to listen to the audio system when cruising the highway at speed with the top lowered is a frustrating exercise. At 70 mph you can tell something is playing, but it's usually just more noise added to the already deafening blast of wind around you.
Not so in the Prowler.
The Infinity AM/FM cassette/ six-disc CD player does an admirable job of maintaining sound quality regardless of the position of the top or the speed of the vehicle. It has a three-position loudness switch that can be set to advance the volume in relation to the vehicle's speed. As the Prowler travels faster and noise levels increase, so does the audio system's volume.
This is not a revolutionary feature. Several of GM's vehicles have had a similar adjustment for years, but the quality and position of the speakers in the Prowler provide sound quality that is nearly as flawless under the noisiest of conditions as it is when idling in the driveway with the top raised.
The most attention-getting interior geegaw is the steering-column-mounted tachometer. It looks so cool.
Otherwise the Prowler's interior is unremarkable. It's comfortable with logically arranged gauges and switches. A tire-pressure monitor keeps track of the 17-inch tires up front and 20-inch tires in the rear. They look so cool.
Among the several manual adjustments for the driver's seat is a height adjustment. Cruise control, leather seating, air conditioning, trip computer and power windows/ door locks complete the interior package.
Having driven a Prowler on Chrysler's Arizona proving grounds a few years ago, I can attest to its surprisingly solid handling and jack rabbit agility. The steering response is excellent and the four-wheel disc brakes do a superb job of halting forward progress.
Prowler is a hoot to drive and scores high on the "look-at-me" scale. Few vehicles age without wearing out the interest of passers-by. This doesn't hold true with the Prowler. There are so few of them (less than 6,000) on the road, people still love to look at and gab about them. They look so cool.
Base price of the Prowler is $44,225. This includes all the features already mentioned as well as keyless entry, dual front air bags, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, auto-dim rearview mirror with electronic compass and real rear glass with electronic defroster. The delivery charge is a whopping $775. It looks so cool.

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