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STYLING | 7 out of 10
the retro look of late-'30s American iron
The PT's look mimics that of old-school hot rods
Car and Driver
The instrument panel carries on the exterior's retro theme
The retro-styled, five-passenger 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser is available in LX, Touring, and Limited trim levels. In addition to the standard wagon body style (one that TheCarConnection.com editors still mostly like), there is also the awkwardly misshapen PT Cruiser Convertible.
If you want retro style without the headaches and mechanical maintenance problems of an actual classic car, TheCarConnection.com's team of experts suggests that, based on what reviewers are saying, you might be quite pleased with the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Automotive.com notes that the Chrysler PT Cruiser 2008 "combines the retro look of late-'30s American iron with modern performance, efficiency and features," also mentioning that the convertible may be "not-so-versatile" (see below). Cars.com describes the Chrysler PT Cruiser as "retro-styled...blends the elements of a sedan, wagon, SUV and minivan... vaguely resembles a panel truck of the 1930s, overlaid with street-rod styling from the 1950s." This last point is also noted at Car and Driver: "the PT's look mimics that of old-school hot rods." Automobile says “you either like the Cruiser’s mini-gangster styling or you don’t.”
The convertible version shares the overall theme, but in place of its four doors and solid roof is a two-door side view connected by a thick roll hoop that maintains the Cruiser’s body rigidity. Automobile says the “huge 'sport bar' (so named by lawyers to minimize its responsibilities in a rollover) helps tie the body together,” but alludes to its intrusive look outside and feel inside the retro PT.
The retro look is not confined to the exterior. Kelley Blue Book points out that "Interior touches such as the stylish, retro-look cue-ball shift knob conspire to keep occupants in a good-ol'-days state of mind," while ConsumerGuide adds that 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser's "instrument panel carries on the exterior's retro theme." Automotive.com notes that the Chrysler PT Cruiser 2008's "retro theme is tempered by a modern-looking center stack that visually splits the vintage-styled dashboard."
The 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser is a nostalgia buff's dream, though the Convertible model’s roll hoop is an oddity.