1997 Plymouth Neon Review


Pros & Cons

  • Fast, sporty, basic transportation. This good looking car costs less than most of its competitors and is much more fun to drive.
  • We get more than the normal amount of mail complaining about minor problems in this car. Chief among them a gripes about wind noise, vibration, and rattles.
Other years
Plymouth Neon for Sale
List Price Estimate
$862 - $2,036

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Vehicle overview

Into its fourth model year, some of the Neon's light is beginning to wane. Initially considered to be one of the best new compact cars on the market, the Neon's sales are beginning to suffer 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 interior ergonomics. 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 cart their grandkids around often.

Our favorite Neon is the Base model equipped with the Competition Package. This is basically the same car that is used in Neon Challenge races sponsored by Chrysler Corporation. By choosing it, you'll get the 2.0-liter DOHC engine that makes 150-horsepower, a power bulge hood, quick-ratio steering, aluminum wheels, performance tires, four-wheel disc brakes and some cool graphics. Throw on a set of antilock 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 imports with Japanese badging.

For 1997 Plymouth address the Neon's most nagging complaint; noise. By installing a structural oil pan, Plymouth hopes that the added rigidity will quiet the Neon's rattly chassis. Other changes for the 1997 Neon are cosmetic; new wheels, new paint and new interior fabrics for the most part.

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.

1997 Highlights

The 1997 Neons are made quieter with the addition of a structural oil pan. Other changes include new optional radios, a new seat fabric, new wheels and wheel covers and a few new paint colors.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Plymouth Neon.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

The Little Car that Could
This car has done it all for me. I have driven it from NJ to CA, from CA to AZ, CO, Mexico and back. The mileage and comfort is amazing. And the handling is awesome. I have taken it offroad in the desert. The fold down seats allow me to haul 8ft boards of lumber home without a problem. Some jerks at the lumberyard dind't want to beleive that it would fit. What would be the point of their SUVs in that case? I caught someone trying to break into my car by throwing a large rock at the glass. It bounced off with a small scratch! I not had to do more than routine maintanence. (Oil, Filter, Tire Rotation, etc.)
Its CHEAP for a reason.
I purchased my '97 Neon with 78k mi on it. It ran fine at first, but slowly started to get a plethora of little problems (brakes, rattling, CV boot, etc), until last week the timing belt broke, causing the engine to commit suicide on the freeway. Black smoke shot out from under the hood, the passengers were screaming, and I plowed into the shoulder, and that was the end of the Hated Neon. My advice, you would be better off spending a little extra and getting a Honda. Personally, I'm glad my Neon is dead; good riddance to bad rubbish.
Good Car!
One of my favorite cars, (I have 7) Never lets me down. Bought used at 43,000 miles. In 35,000 miles I have fixed..... NOTHING! I do my own maintenence, oil plugs, etc. It's faster and handles better then my antique Italian sports car! (No, it's not a Fiat!) My only complaint is wind noise, so far I've been too lazy to adjust the window angle so it's my own fault.
Great Little Car
Montana Driver,05/28/2002
I bought this car as a student in 1998 when I needed something affordable with fairly low payments and have had few complaints. The car has 64,000 miles on it and I have never had to do any major work. The most money I put into it was when I had to change the timing belt at 60,000 miles - which is a standard repair at some point in most cars. The car got me from Montana to Florida and back with no problems and I get at least 30 miles to the gallon on the highway. I think it's a great, affordable car for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of money on a vehicle.

Features & Specs

25 city / 35 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
25 city / 35 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
25 city / 35 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 1997 Plymouth Neon features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Plymouth Neon

Used 1997 Plymouth Neon Overview

The Used 1997 Plymouth Neon is offered in the following submodels: Neon Sedan, Neon Coupe. Available styles include Highline 4dr Sedan, Expresso 2dr Coupe, Expresso 4dr Sedan, 4dr Sedan, Highline 2dr Coupe, and 2dr Coupe.

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Which used 1997 Plymouth Neons are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Plymouth Neon?

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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