2003 Dodge Neon Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Dodge Neon

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Dodge Neon Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 132 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 25/32 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Dodge Neon

  • Those looking for a polished economy car would be better served elsewhere, but if high performance on a budget is the goal, then the 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4 makes a strong case for itself.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Fun in the curves, strong brakes, decent ride, rockin' sound system.

  • Cons

    Lacks refinement, some low-grade interior components.

  • What's New for 2003

    The fire-breathing 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4 debuts, sporting a 215-horsepower turbocharged engine, a tweaked suspension and Viper-inspired sport seats. Zero to 60 is said to take about 6 seconds. All Neons receive a facelift in the form of new front and rear ends as well as interior changes that include a new steering wheel.

Full 2003 Dodge Neon Review

What's New for 2003

The fire-breathing 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4 debuts, sporting a 215-horsepower turbocharged engine, a tweaked suspension and Viper-inspired sport seats. Zero to 60 is said to take about 6 seconds. All Neons receive a facelift in the form of new front and rear ends as well as interior changes that include a new steering wheel.

Introduction

Since the Neon's introduction in 1995, Dodge has struggled to address the small car's chief criticism -- a lack of refinement. A raucous engine and generous levels of cabin noise were the car's major weaknesses, while sprightly performance (with a manual gearbox) and a spacious cabin were its strengths. Subsequent years saw the introduction of a high-performance R/T model and a complete redesign in 2000 that updated the car's looks, reduced the engine's noise and vibration levels and improved the ride and handling. Some old-tech hardware, such as a three-speed (instead of four) automatic gearbox remained, however, and powertrain refinement still lagged behind perennial class leaders, Honda's Civic and Toyota's Corolla, as well as most every other compact wearing a Japanese label. Last year saw (finally) the introduction of a four-speed automatic tranny as well as a new trim level, the value-packaged SXT.

For 2003, Dodge has updated the Neon with new front and rear fascias, light clusters and interior bits, including a new steering wheel to replace the strange-looking "upside-down" wheel previously used. In the constant fight to smooth out the Neon's 2.0-liter inline four, revised engine mounts were installed as was a taller fifth gear in manual-transmission SE and SXT models. And squaring off against challengers such as Nissan's Sentra SE-R, Mazda's Mazdaspeed Protege and Ford's SVT Focus is the new 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4, packing a class-leading 215 horsepower that makes it the fastest car available for under $20,000. In addition to being able to run to 60 mph in just 6 seconds, the SRT-4 is fortified with a sport suspension, four-wheel disc/ABS brakes and 17-inch alloys fitted with high-performance Michelin Pilot tires.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

Four four-door sedans comprise the 2003 Dodge Neon lineup. Base SE models come with a cassette player, a split-fold rear seat and a tilt steering wheel. Air conditioning and a CD player are optional. Moving up to the SXT adds an air conditioner; power front windows, mirrors and locks; a CD player (replacing the cassette deck); and 15-inch alloy wheels. Sporty R/T models come with more horsepower (150 versus 132), four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, dual-outlet exhaust, a rear spoiler, foglamps, a sport suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels. The SRT-4 adds serious thrust in the form of a turbocharged, 215-horsepower engine along with 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 205/50R17 performance tires. Key options include a power sunroof (SXT and R/T) and leather seating (R/T and SRT-4).

Powertrains and Performance

A 2.0-liter, 132-horsepower inline four powers SE and SXT models, while the R/T gets a high-output version of that engine worth 150 horsepower. The SRT-4 is fitted with a turbocharged, 215-horsepower 2.4-liter I4 that boasts a 0-to-60-mph time of around 6 seconds and a top speed north of 140 mph. Transmission choices include a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual.

Safety

Antilock brakes are optional on base and SXT models, standard on the R/T and SRT-4. Side airbags are optional across the line. In frontal impact testing, the Neon scored four out of five stars; in side-impact tests, it got three stars. In frontal offset crash tests, the Neon scored just a "Marginal" rating, which can be thought of as two out of four stars.

Interior Design and Special Features

A few minor changes in the cabin bear mentioning; a new steering wheel with aluminum accent and a six-disc in-dash CD changer that is standard on the R/T and optional on the SXT. Audiophiles will be pleased to know that the R/T's sound system was rated highly by our stereo expert as it packs plenty of power and delivers it in a clean manner.

Driving Impressions

Previous Neons we drove were not as smooth and quiet as other cars in this class. Hopefully, the new engine mounts will smooth out the Neon's inline four. Handling for the R/T and SRT-4 is about as good as it gets in a small front-driver, with the Neon demonstrating an eagerness for the twisties through its well-weighted steering, balanced chassis and flat cornering attitude. In a 2002 Econosport sedans comparison test we conducted, a Neon R/T came in last place out of six cars. With the SRT-4, a reversal of fortune may be in the Neon's future.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



I love this car.....!

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Neon SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I have a 2003 SE with the 4 speed automatic even though I couldn't choose auto in the model type so I put manual and I love it. I bought it with 44,200 and It has 47,655 miles on it without any problems except oil change. The car is structurally and mechanically sound. No problems at all.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

So far so good :d

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Neon SXT 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

The reviews I've read were either amazing or money pit. I got lucky and so far nothing is wrong with it and its at 100,000 on engine. I did buy this from a mechanic though so I could trust that it wouldn't break down. This was my first car too.




Dont ever buy a doge

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Neon SXT 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

i bought my 2003 doge neon with 98k miles on it. i thought this would be a perfect car if i took care of it, and always did the normal maintenance. i was VERY WRONG! this car is nothing but a money pit. and you will put every cent you have into garage bills. i only owned this car for one year. and i probably spent $15 thousand dollars in repairs. it was breaking down at least once a month. when it hit 120k miles the tranny went. when the mechanic told me it will cost $2000 to fix it. i decided to sell it. TRUST ME WHATEVER YOU DO DO NOT BUY THIS CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great reliable car at 200k

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Neon SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Iv'e had my 2003 dodge neon SE for 4 years and put 200,000 miles on it. Oter than replacing the tranny at 100k miles (under warranty) ive had nothing but great gas mileage, luxary, compfort, and everything.




Great car!

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Neon SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Bought this car for $3000 for my wife, second hand with 95k miles on it. We've been driving it for 6k miles, without a single major problem (some minor mechanical issues, but nothing worth mentioning). The car was banged up in the back, and declared a total loss, but some mechanic patched her up, and she drove like a queen! I have the automatic, not the manual.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Takes a licking

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Neon SXT 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I bought my 03 brand new in January 04 with 300 miles on it. I was 22 and drove it hard...and drove it everywhere. This car has been on many road trips all over the US, I did not keep up with the scheduled maintenance, aside from oil changes, I've been in a couple accidents, and I still have had no major problems that I didn't cause myself. It has almost 200,000 miles on it now. After 7 years, I've only had to replace tie rods and the struts, and I am now having some suspension issues, which I need to get checked out..... but like I said, I was not careful with it at all for a couple years. If you need a reliable car that gets good mpg, then I would suggest a neon!



Talk About The 2003 Neon

2003 Dodge Neon Discussions See all Started By

tom71
tom71
12-21-2005
I'm considering buying a new Neon 5 speed manual SXT...


notgettinit
notgettinit
02-25-2009
2003 NEON SXT 81,000 MILES... I HAVE OIL ON CYL. #3 PLUG TOP AND BOTTOM. TINY BIT OF SMOKE ON START UP WITH A TAP FOR ABOUT A SECOND. I CAN'T SEEM TO KEEP OIL IN THIS THING ITS GOING THROUGH 1 QUART P...


micweb
micweb
04-25-2006
2002 Neon stick shift;...



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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 25
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  • 32
  • highway
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