Chrysler wooed the staff three model years ago with the PT Cruiser's retro-inspired styling and affordable, compact package, earning it the coveted Car of the Year title. From the get-go, the PT boasted more than looks; it touted a versatile interior that could accommodate diverse stuff-toting needs and it portended of the crossover invasion to follow. But the PT Cruiser needed something more: power.
Chrysler has rolled out numerous special editions with ghost flames and faux wood paneling recalling fond memories of classic wagons to draw consumers once the novelty bubble burst, but enthusiasts longed for a more powerful model capable of the performance the SEMA-ized PT Cruisers promised at car shows. At last, the everyman's family-friendly hot rod has arrived.
At a glance, the smile-inducing PT Turbo stands out from its naturally aspirated stablemates due to a monochrome treatment that reaffirms the junior street rod persona. The clean exterior is accented with 17-inch aluminum wheels, a larger, lower grille, and bigger exhaust outlet.
The special treatment continues to the interior, with leather sport seats and trim, silver-faced gauges, bright accents, and "Shadow Dot" carbon-fiber-look trim panels that replace the solid color pieces found on Cruiser models. The interior transformation pushes the Cruiser from old school to nouveau-retro chic, while retaining all the versatility (fold-flat seats) and quirky charm (central window controls). The affordable changes are convincing and appropriate, but we wish the Shadow Dot pieces better resembled the weave in carbon fiber and would prefer seats that felt less like minivan buckets.
There's no debating the feature content: the PT Turbo is loaded. Full power amenities, air conditioning, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, keyless entry, six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, digital compass, rear wiper/defrost, cruise control, and sport-tuned suspension are all standard at $22,415. Numerous options are available, such as moonroof, side airbags, upgraded seating surface, uplevel audio system, and premium paints. The PT Turbo is a rock-solid value even before factoring in the force-fed engine and guilty pleasures.