What's New for 2010
The 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser is now available in only one trim level -- the Classic -- as this is likely the last year of production.
Reports of the PT Cruiser's death have been greatly exaggerated. Well, not greatly -- Chrysler has decided to bring back its retro-styled wagon for one last curtain call. This 2010 PT takes a solo bow onstage in one trim level, with one engine and transmission choice, and fewer options than ever.
Rather than exit with a flourish, the 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser seems to be leaving with a whimper. Instead of giving the outgoing model the capable turbocharged engine found in previous years, Chrysler is sending this compact wagon out to pasture with its wheezy normally aspirated base four-cylinder. The rest of the 2010's specs don't fare any better, as the touring suspension, leather upholstery, upgraded stereo and Bluetooth have also been killed off.
It's a sad ending considering the PT's strong debut back in 2000. A lack of updates and increasing competition over the years have conspired to bring about its demise, and the recent retirement of the convertible and GT models certainly didn't help matters. When pitted against the competition, the 2010 PT Cruiser clings to life with only its unique styling, versatile interior and roomy accommodations as positive attributes.
The PT Cruiser's rivals are numerous and vastly more capable. The Chevy HHR has similar retro styling (no surprise considering the same person designed both vehicles) but happens to offer more feature variety and a higher-performing SS model as well. The Mazda 3 hatchback -- which seems to always top our lists -- offers more smiles per mile with its sharper handling. The Scion xB has plenty of personality, room and a peppier engine to boot, while the Toyota Matrix trumps the PT with its versatile interior and pleasant ride quality. It's been a few years since we would have recommended the Chrysler PT Cruiser as worthy of a look, and this final 2010 model may not even be worth a passing thought.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser is a five-seat compact wagon that is now offered in only one trim level -- the Classic. This new configuration offers an amalgam of features seen in various trim levels from prior years. Included are 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a trip computer, keyless entry and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The optional Convenience Group adds a six-way power driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat and heated front seats. A sunroof is also available, as is satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser is powered by a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. The only available transmission is a four-speed automatic that drives the front wheels. Fuel economy is a middling 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 21 mpg in combined driving.
Antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags and a low-speed traction control system are standard for the 2010 PT Cruiser. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its highest score of "Good" for frontal-offset crash protection but its lowest score of "Poor" for side impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The retro themes evident in the 2010 PT Cruiser's exterior are also reflected in its cabin, most notably in its thin-spoked steering wheel and an old-timey round transmission shifter knob. The interior is quite spacious, with enough room to accommodate taller occupants; however, shorter drivers may find the flat seats and elevated driving position a bit awkward.
Those seated in back are afforded a pleasant view thanks to the Cruiser's slightly elevated rear seats, and head- and legroom are plentiful for adult passengers. The 65/35-split-folding rear seats can be flipped forward, but not flat, for added cargo space. These seats are removable, and in this configuration, allow for 63 cubic feet of storage space.
With the previous turbocharged engine no longer available, the 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser is left with the anemic base power plant and outdated four-speed automatic. Steering effort is light, but the large turning circle will require multiple-point turns to navigate tighter confines. The suspension does a decent job of soaking up ruts and bumps in the road for a smooth and composed ride.