Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited Road Test

Call it a retro wagon, a tall-bodied hatchback or even a ‘30s style “sedan” as Chrysler

It's now a classic (sort of). (Photo: Justin Couture, American Auto Press)
does, no matter what descriptor it goes by, the PT Cruiser is nothing less than distinct. The pointed nose, prominent fenders and sloping backside helped to make it one of this decade's most iconic designs, not to mention a polarizing one. People either love the PT Cruiser, or they hate it - there's no middle ground.

I certainly can't call it nostalgia (I'm not old enough), but seeing a PT Cruiser like this one, painted in glittering bright Surf Blue Pearlcoat, with its shiny chromed 17-inch wheels, I feel kind of warm inside. It somehow manages to convey a sense of California; it would look perfectly at home on a beach with a pair of surfboards on top. From some angles, particularly from the front, it also harks back to Plymouth's Prowler roadster, a modern-day retro hot-rod. Squint and you can see it in the grille, and the headlamps.

Perhaps I'm the only one that thinks of the PT in this light. The arrival of the Chevrolet's PT-lookalike has certainly taken away some of Chrysler's exclusivity in the compact retro car segment,
Limited trim level means leather and plenty of toys. (Photo: Justin Couture, American Auto Press)
though the passing of eight years since its arrival have no doubt dull some peoples' reactions to it. Still, there's one aspect to the design that customers haven't grown tired of - its practicality.

Open up the PT's tailgate and you'll find a rather tall cargo bay with a fairly deep well, allowing tall, bulky and otherwise awkward objects to be carried with ease. A removable, adjustable plastic parcel shelf doubles as a tonneau cover, keeping objects out of site, as well as a second loading floor for stowing more stuff or just keeping things separated. Cargo capacity behind the rear seats totals 21.6 cubic feet, which is a little bit less than the 23.7 cu ft offered in the HHR. Keep in mind that the PT Cruiser is over seven inches shorter than an HHR, which should give you an idea of how well Chrysler's designers optimized the body for practicality.

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