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Zippy performance with 5-speed and DOHC engine. Handles the twisties with aplomb. Great value.
Loud interior. High-silled greenhouse results in that "sitting in a bathtub" feeling. Sketchy reliability history.
Available Neon Models
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Nothing changes for '99.
Into its fifth model year, some of the Neon's light is beginning to wane. Initially considered one of the best new compact cars on the market, the Neon's sales are suffering from poor reliability scores, excessive wind noise and the increasingly good cars being offered by the competition.
Despite this, we still like the Neon. It is undeniably cute and it bests all of its competitors in the fun-to-drive category. It offers more interior room than most of the cars in the compact class, and has nice interiorergonomics. Front seats are comfortable and the rear seats can actually be occupied by adults. Highline sedan models can also be fitted with an integrated child seat, a definite bonus for young families or grandparents who often cart their grandkids around.
Our favorite Neon is the coupe fitted with the 2.0-liter DOHC engine that makes 150 horsepower. Add quick-ratio steering, aluminum wheels, performance tires, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and get ready for some serious canyon running.
Unfortunately, the reliability bugaboo haunts the Neon at almost every turn. If the surveys conducted by several independent firms around the country are any indication, the Neon suffers from hit-and-miss quality. Edmund's has received mail from folks who think it's the greatest car they've ever owned, and from others who wanted to know if their problems qualified for any lemon law protection. Overall, the impression we've gained is a favorable one, though we are hesitant to recommend this scrappy compact to those who've traditionally driven Japanese imports.
For 1999, Plymouth has revised the equipment availability on some of its packages, but has changed little else. The Neon Style sedan comes standard with power sunroof, power doors, power locks, power mirrors, a leather shift knob, and brightly colored exterior graphics. Too bad it also comes with the lower-output engine.
If Chrysler Corporation can quell consumer fears about the reliability of this little car and keep prices in line, there really won't be any point in shopping around. Just drop in to any Plymouth dealer and drive off in one of the best small cars available today.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.