by Dan Carney
The Chrysler Prowler (sounds funny without Plymouth, doesn’t it?) represents a bizarre dichotomy: it is simultaneously one of the best and worst new cars on the road.
The Prowler is an all-time champion for attracting positive attention, from men and women alike. The car has been out long enough that most people have an idea what it is (though some think it may be a Viper), but it remains a rare commodity. Women in other cars at traffic lights and walking down the sidewalk yell, “nice car,” and ask for rides.
I wish I could say this was the case in all of the other test cars I drive — or with me — but sadly, the phenomenon seems restricted to the Prowler and a very few other cars. Chrysler could make a fortune renting these things by the hour to singles looking to meet people. The Prowler is more effective at attracting women than a black lab with the requisite bandana around its neck retrieving Frisbees at the park.
Men gather ‘round at the gas station and ask about the engine, and how much the car costs. The delivery service driver who brought the car to me for review said driving it made her feel “like a movie star.”
The Prowler’s rakish, chopped-and-channeled styling evokes a fedora tilted low over the wearer’s eyes. Some think it looks like a gangster’s car, others think it is a sports car. Everyone thinks it looks great.
Simply the best?
Surely, a car that can put a smile on so many people’s faces must be the best new car on the road.
If only it was true. In fact, there are two reasons why the Prowler is such a rare bird. The first is its limited production alongside the Viper at DaimlerChrysler’s Connor Avenue plant. If pressed, they could probably crank the cars out a bit faster. But the factory isn’t pressed, because the Prowler isn’t a very good car by any functional measure.