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.
Edmunds' Expert Review
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.