Used 1997 Plymouth Neon Sedan

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1997 Plymouth Neon
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1997 Plymouth Neon

Pros

  • Fast, sporty, basic transportation. This good looking car costs less than most of its competitors and is much more fun to drive.

Cons

  • 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.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

The Little Car that Could
owner,01/13/2003
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.
uncle_shaun,04/17/2006
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.
Think Twice before buying a 1997 model!
pittman87,07/15/2002
We bought this car used in Jan. 1999 with only 17,000 miles on it. Thankfully it still had two years of a manufacturers warranty left on it because it has been nothing but a mechanical nightmare for us. We have had constant fuel system problems with the car, having to take it in at least twice a year for something. We had to have the head gasket replaced and was told by a service tech that this is a common thing for a 1997 neon to have done. When it isn't in the shop it is a good little car at a great price, but the problems we have had would make me think very hard before every looking at another one.
Fun and Comfort for a small auto
Mit,09/24/2002
I have had this Neon since 1998. Brought it with 10,000 miles on it. This car has been put to the test and has held up. Of course Head Gasket went at 52,000 miles. So I replaced the timming belt at same time. Has had couple of other small problems but with 88,000 hard miles this car has held up. If you can find a auto with no repairs needed you are just lucky. All will need repairs. As for my Neon 88,000 miles and I am looking for another for my teenage children to have. Used Neons are cheap and a very good auto for the money.
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Features & Specs

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

Safety

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
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    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
    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
    Poor

More about the 1997 Plymouth Neon
Used 1997 Plymouth Neon Sedan Overview

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Find a used Plymouth Neon for sale - 1 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $7,340.

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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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