2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious cabin with great utility, smooth ride.
  • Aged design, tepid acceleration with the base engine, unimpressive fuel economy, awkward seating position for shorter drivers.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$1,778 - $2,948

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser is a passable choice for those seeking a small wagon, but there are newer competitors that surpass it in virtually all areas.

Vehicle overview

When the Chrysler PT Cruiser was introduced eight years ago, its retro look made it a heartthrob of sorts and inspired the sort of manic adoration not seen since Cabbage Patch Kids sparked soccer mom brawls in toy store aisles. In other words, it had all the earmarks of a fad -- hot today, dead tomorrow. But its sales figures have shown surprising resiliency. Although the PT Cruiser falls well short of being the must-have superstar it was years ago, it continues to be one of the top sellers in the Chrysler stable.

In recent years, Chrysler has streamlined production of the compact hauler, and that trend continues for 2009. The GT model got its pink slip last year; this year, it's the convertible body style that gets the axe. Also, a turbocharged inline-4 is no longer offered as an option on Touring models; it's currently available only on top-of-the-line Limited models. The reduced availability of the turbo engine is unfortunate, since the Cruiser's naturally aspirated engine offers rather lethargic performance.

The PT Cruiser hasn't received any major redesigns in its lifetime and exists pretty much as it did when it was launched. Nine model years is a long time to go without significant upgrades. The wagon's versatility, distinctive styling and comfortable ride are still appealing, but their luster has been dulled by the appearance of newer rivals. Chevy's HHR offers a similar brand of retro style -- and spirited performance when purchased in the SS edition. There's also the Mazda 3 wagon, which takes top marks for being fun to drive. The Scion xB offers voluminous interior room and a peppy engine under the hood. Finally, the freshly redesigned Pontiac Vibe and its corporate twin, the Toyota Matrix, entice with highly adaptable interiors and pleasant ride quality.

The 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser deserves kudos for its longevity, but its moment has clearly passed. We'd recommend avoiding this Chrysler and spending your money on newer competitors -- unless, of course, you've still got a soft spot for Cabbage Patch Kids.

2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser models

The 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser is a compact wagon that seats five and is available in three trim levels: base, Touring and Limited. Standard features on base wagons include 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and a CD player. The Touring version adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a fold-down front-passenger seat, a power driver seat, power mirrors, satellite radio, cruise control and upgraded seat fabric. The Limited has those features plus 17-inch alloy wheels, a touring suspension, heated front seats, leather upholstery and a sunroof.

Those who choose the Limited trim get to enjoy options like an upgraded Boston Acoustics audio system and Bluetooth connectivity. The options list on the two lower trims includes satellite radio for base models and a sunroof for Touring models.

2009 Highlights

The 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser is available only as a wagon -- the convertible body style has been discontinued. Additionally, Touring models are no longer available with a turbocharged engine.

Performance & mpg

Base and Touring models of the 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 150 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. The top-of-the-line Limited trim is powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter that kicks out 180 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. Base Cruisers come standard with a five-speed manual and offer an optional four-speed automatic; the other two trims come only with the automatic transmission.

With the turbocharged engine, the PT Cruiser has fuel economy estimates of 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, below average for the small-wagon segment. Opting for the less powerful, non-turbo 2.4-liter with the automatic nets only 1 mpg better in the city and the same mileage on the highway. When equipped with a manual transmission, the non-turbo engine does slightly better -- 21/26/23 mpg.


Most 2009 Chrysler PT Cruisers start out with front disc and rear drum brakes. Limiteds have four-wheel discs as well as standard ABS, and this upgrade is optional on the other trims. Side airbags are standard on all models.

The most recent government crash test scores for the Chrysler PT Cruiser come in at four out of five stars for all frontal- and side-impact categories, except for rear side-impact protection, in which the Cruiser earned a perfect five.


Acceleration is decent enough in 2009 Chrysler PT Cruisers equipped with the turbo 2.4-liter engine. The base engine is another story. It lacks vigor, leaving base and Touring models feeling somewhat underpowered. PT Cruisers are easy to steer, but they do have a wide turning circle that can make U-turns and parking lot maneuvers a hassle. The ride quality is impressively smooth, thanks to a suspension that eagerly absorbs road irregularities.


Slide into the Cruiser and you'll find a cabin that's both roomy and versatile. The retro theme of the car's sheet metal is reflected in its dash. There's lots of space to accommodate taller drivers, but the wagon's flat seat design and elevated driving position may create a less-than-optimal environment for shorter drivers.

The rear seats are slightly elevated to provide a nice view, and adults will find plenty of head- and legroom. Those rear seats can also be flipped forward to create more cargo space, but in order to get a flat load floor, they must be removed entirely. Removing them opens up an impressive 63 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Nice car, nice price
Mine is an AUTOMATIC, not manual. This site did not have that as a choice for the LX base model. The base model had all the options I needed. I was not expecting to buy a PT, originally I was looking for a small pickup with crew cab. But truck prices were too high so eventually I looked at and drove the PT. I liked it. Good visablity, comfortable seats, roomy interior, lots of cargo space, seems to be well made. Suspension is firm but not harsh, cabin is pretty darn quiet, might even be quieter then my Crown Vic. It has the electronic mileage readout and in town looks to run around 19 mpg and in mixed commuting type driving about 23 mpg. Engine power is adequate.
Ed Glowacki,03/10/2019
Touring 4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
A very well designed interior . Amazing amount of space , more than a CRV by far . Excellent forward visibility as you do ride high like an SUV. Maintain it and it's just as reliable as any other car today .
still nothing like it
4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
take your time, find one that has low miles.i purchased my 2009 pt , in 50,000 miles the only needed repair was fan assembly and cam position sensor ( cheap easy fixes). this car has been magnificent, i am 6'3 250 lbs. easy car to get in and out of and easy to drive. wish it had a little more power ,but besides that i would highly recommend.
Huge carrying capacity for the long haul
Jim Beazley,06/10/2018
4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
You’ll hate the turning radius and gas mileage but will be amazed how much you can haul! She started until her battery failed her, a couple of times over a 9 year ownership. Never, ever understood how a car with such a small engine could get such poor gas mileage. A shame Chrysler did fix obvious flaws instead of abandoning the line. Overall, a great car!

Features & Specs

21 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
150 hp @ 5100 rpm
19 city / 24 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
150 hp @ 5100 rpm
18 city / 24 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser

Used 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser Overview

The Used 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser is offered in the following submodels: PT Cruiser Wagon. Available styles include 4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl 5M), Touring 4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl 4A), and Limited 4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl Turbo 4A).

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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