- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

In an age when most cars have look-alike designs, Chrysler has come up with something that is both distinctive and exciting. It's the PT Cruiser.
You'll recognize the 2001 PT Cruiser because it's like something out of the past. It resembles the cars of the 1930s, yet there is something futuristic about it. Whatever, you'll feel an emotional urge to get an up-close look. And once you get a ride in it, you'll wonder why all cars aren't built like this. At least, that was my reaction.
This four-door sedan comfortably seats five persons and has a large rear hatch that opens to a moderate-sized storage area. The seats can be rearranged or removed to make it serviceable for other needs. The PT is sort of a car, station wagon and truck wrapped up into one vehicle with unlimited versatility. It's easy to get in and out of, and everything seems quite accessible.
The seats are somewhat chairlike, which allows for sitting in an upright position. This not only provides better road visibility, but I found it less tiring when driving a long distance. These seats have leather covering with attractive trim. For those who prefer a laid-back seating position, there are controls to make it possible.
The interior is attractive and has numerous thoughtful conveniences with emphasis on the word "thoughtful." There is plenty of headroom in the PT, too. Part of the unique design of this car is its height. It stands 63 inches tall, more than 6 inches higher than most cars.
Chrysler is known for designing vehicles with distinctive style, and with the money Daimler brought to the table, Chrysler expects this vehicle will sell worldwide. That was one of the concerns when the PT was on the drawing board. The architects wanted something that would fit on crowded European streets, so they kept the overall length to a minimum and used height. The result is a very manageable car with a comfortable ride.
Those two factors height and a short wheelbase normally make for a bumpy ride, but the engineers made the MacPherson strut system with responsive steering and a high roll center. The rear suspension uses coil springs and a Watt linkage. What it all amounts to is, I repeat, a very manageable car with a comfortable ride. And with its sturdy structure, the interior noise level is low.
This car has front disc and rear drum brakes, which are quite adequate, but optional four-wheel disc with anti-lock and low-speed traction control are available. There are other options available, too. For example, five-speed transmission vs. four-speed automatic.
Unfortunately, there is only one engine that the designers were able to squeeze into the small compartment. It's a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 150 horsepower. It's a little weak. My test included both transmissions and surprisingly, I got better acceleration out of the automatic. It's usually the other way around. The gas mileage is respectable: 20 city, 25 highway.
The base price is $14,900. One of the cars I drove was loaded and cost $21,220. The load included leather seats, CD player, 16-inch chrome wheels, power moon roof, side air bags, central key, security alarm, power locks, compass, outside temperature, heated mirrors and fog lamps.
Sooner or later you're going to see this car. When you do, you'll feel drawn toward it. If that happens, watch out because you'll want to buy it. The PT is more than just a car; it's an uncontrollable emotion.

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