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To compile this detailed assessment of the 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser, TheCarConnection.com's car experts read a wide variety of road tests and professional opinions. Then, to give you a definitive opinion on this wagon where professional reviews might differ, the experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven the Chrysler PT Cruiser and help by contributing their own observations and by comparing it to other rival vehicles.
Little of substance has changed since the Chrysler PT Cruiser debuted as a 2001 model, although a moderate update in 2006 brought a refreshed interior design. While the 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser introduced a few new features, like standard side airbags, 2009 brings about some deletions: Convertible and turbocharged GT models have been wiped from the lineup.
The retro-styled Chrysler PT Cruiser, which offers seating for five, is available in Base, Touring, and Limited trim levels. The PT Cruiser convertible, which TheCarConnection.com's editors found to be a styling disaster, disappears for the 2009 model year.
The 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser offers a 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine, which makes 150 horsepower, as standard fare. However, those looking for more oomph from their PT Cruiser can opt for the turbocharged version, which puts out 180 hp. Most PT Cruisers come with the standard five-speed manual transmission, though Touring models get a four-speed automatic, which is optional on the Base. While the styling on the PT Cruiser is retro in a good way, the chassis is simply old. It's a far cry from anything sophisticated or refined, and some editors at TheCarConnection.com describe the PT Cruiser's driving character as "rental car like"—with a smooth, composed ride, but prominent engine noise and handling that’s set up for suburban parkways, not mountain roads.
Special edition PT Cruisers have been a marketing ploy Chrysler used to maintain interest in the PT with each new model year. Remember, this car debuted as a 2001 model and hasn’t changed much since. Continuing with this tradition, a special Dream Cruiser Series 5 is available in 2009 and gets its own unique two-tone paint and rear spoiler, along with some unique interior and exterior trim. Inside, the Dream Cruiser Series 5 gets heated front seats and some leather appointments.
Continuing with last year's welcome safety improvements, side airbags are standard on all models for 2009, along with tire-pressure monitors. Anti-lock brakes are optional on Base and Touring versions. A 368-watt Boston Acoustics premium sound system with MP3 capability is available, as are Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, and 17-inch wheels.