Why The Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible Is The Worst Car I've Ever Driven

I recently spent 30 minutes behind the wheel of a PT Cruiser convertible. And it was shit.
Why The Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible Is The Worst Car I've Ever Driven

If you watched Episode 2 of our £5000 Sports Car Challenge mini-series, you’ll remember that I swapped cars with Ethan to sample PT (or Plymouth Truck) Cruiser life. In that scene, I did nothing but complain, and while it might have seemed like I was stretching the truth, the fact of the matter is, I wasn’t. The PT Cruiser convertible is - by a country mile - the worst car I’ve ever driven, and that’s impressive when you remember all the sub-£200 shitboxes I’ve driven over the years.

So here are a few reasons why that car sucks so incredibly badly:

1. The seating position is a joke

Why The Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible Is The Worst Car I've Ever Driven

The PT Cruiser isn’t a car you nestle yourself in, it’s a shitbox you clamber into, and shortly after shutting the misaligned door, your immediate instinct is to reach for the seat lever to lower your body. Except when you do this, you realise that that seat is already all the way down and that the only way is up.

Raise the seat any higher, however, and you’ll quickly make eye contact with the top of the windscreen. Any higher thereafter, and people over six foot will be looking over the windscreen frame. It’s like this car was made by people who don’t understand the structure of the average human.

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Lacklustre is an ugly, awkward word, which is why it sums up the PT Cruiser convertible perfectly. This is a car so boring to look at it makes a Fiat Multipla look sexy, and as for the interior, I never knew that car designers could be so vapid. There are no redeeming lines, the seats are as flat as the 2.4 inline-four’s performance, and the dashboard is a sea of dull, grey plastic with Fisher-Price build quality.

3. It's like driving a yoghurt pot

Here's the PT Cruiser Convertible's, erm, interesting boot arrangement...
Here's the PT Cruiser Convertible's, erm, interesting boot arrangement...

Chopping the roof off a car usually results in car makers adding strengthening beams to counteract any losses in structural rigidity. Chrysler clearly didn’t get the memo, because driving the PT Cruiser convertible is what I imagine it would be like to drive a yoghurt pot.

It’s an awkward, jiggly and high-sided mess of a vehicle with zero poise, and as for the steering, that’s completely devoid of any feel so you never really know what’s going on underneath you. I suppose that explains why it’s classified as a truck, though (yes, seriously!)

4. The manual gearbox is the only redeeming feature

Why The Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible Is The Worst Car I've Ever Driven

…And this is for two reasons. One - because it means that you can leave the car in gear and bounce the engine off the limiter until the engine blows and two - because the clutch in Ethan’s car was toast, meaning that it won’t be long before it completely fails and we can just be done with it and scrap the car.

In summary, then, the PT Cruiser convertible simply needs to get in the bin. It’s ugly, feels unsafe, is fantastically uninspiring to drive and does nothing to excite. Which is also the reason it’s the perfect car for Ethan.


peter 15

I knew they were bad, didnt know they were that bad

06/25/2021 - 18:08 |
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Honestly, they really aren’t bad cars… they’re just bad convertibles (my mom had one, and I drove it quite a bit). The roof/trunk situation needed to be re-thought, and the seats are a bit too high for taller folks. As for the handling feel, most of that is down to the ridiculously oversized steering wheel.
If the roof were removed (making it a permanent roadster), that would actually fix the biggest issue with it (lack of rear visibility). With a lower seat and smaller steering wheel, it would make for a pretty fun daily commuter.

06/25/2021 - 20:10 |
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My mom had a PT Cruiser Touring (convertible). While it was actually decent fun to drive (it was turbocharged, so it got up and went under throttle, and the handling was decent), pretty much every ergonomic of it was terrible. The main issue was the top itself. When the top was up, the mirror was so high up that you couldn’t see out the back window (you could only really see out the bottom of it). When the top was down, you couldn’t see behind you at all (except for tall trucks or SUVs). The massive steering wheel also made the steering feel more boat-like than it needed to. The too-high-up seat didn’t help, either.
That said… if I could find one cheap, I would happily modify one to make it into a sleeper beast. The engines are extremely tunable (same as the SRT4), so it would have plenty of power. I’d lower the driver’s seat (or change it) and fitting a smaller steering wheel would do wonders for the steering feel/input. I’d fit some stiffer suspension, some stickier tires, and have a little mini-retro-roadster-monster-thingy that would surprise people. Yes… it’d still be shit. But it would be FUN shit.
Oh, one last thing… I’d relocate the ECU/TCM. They put it on the firewall RIGHT NEXT to the hot exhaust, so the computers (mainly part of the TCM that controls transmission shifting) are notorious for burning themselves out. We had to replace the ECU on my mom’s PT TWICE… and it went out again just before we sold it.

06/25/2021 - 20:06 |
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