Used 1998 Dodge Neon Review

Edmunds expert review




What's new for 1998

An R/T appearance package debuts. Improved option packages, LEV emissions and next-generation airbags round out the changes to the 1998 Dodge Neon.

Vehicle overview

Neon has virtually redefined what it takes to compete in the small car market since it debuted in 1994 as an early 1995 model. Featuring likable styling, a zoomy go-fast engine and plenty of room for four, the Neon has become the benchmark for manufacturers looking to build inexpensive small cars.

The new Ford Escort and Mercury Tracer are more refined than this Dodge, but still can't match the Neon for sheer driving fun. The Toyota Tercel is 40 horsepower and a personality off the mark. Nissan's Sentra is bland in comparison. Chevy's Cavalier feels heavy and ponderous; ditto the Pontiac Sunfire. The Toyota Corolla is a fine car, but can't compete with the sheer value offered by the Neon. Neither can the Chevrolet Prizm. Mazda Protege and Honda Civic suffer the same problem.

What about reliability, though? Well, 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.

The Neon combines practicality, performance and personality into one very affordable package. For 1998, the Neon gains depowered airbags that are certified to the new federal standards. Evaporative emissions have been reduced, making the Neon classify as a Low Emission Vehicle in California.

Order the R/T Group, and you'll receive a new sport fascia with fog lamps, racing stripes, sport suspension, sport-tuned engine controller, 14-inch wheel covers, four-wheel disc brakes and Tango interior fabric. Your choice of colors is limited to Flame Red, Intense Blue or Bright White, and remember: the stripes can be deleted. Sounds like a recipe for fun, considering the 2.0-liter DOHC and sport suspension. The Neon Competition and R/T are the most fun you can have for $15,000, aside from a used Mazda Miata.

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 Dodge dealer and drive off in one of the best small cars available today.






Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.