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2003 CHRYSLER PT Cruiser 148 SMP EFI MPG=19 Hwy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 16:01

2003 CHRYSLER PT Cruiser 148 SMP EFI MPG=19 Hwy


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

Metric= 2.4 L engine- 12.4 L/100km Hwy

Originally intended to be a Plymouth, like the Plymouth Prowler hot rod car the PT Cruiser nameplate was switched to Chrysler when it became known that Plymouth was soon to be killed off. The PT Cruiser was one of the many retro cars coming out after Ford scored a hit with 1964 styling applied to the 1994 Mustang. The PT part stands for 'Personal Transport'. Many of the limited production factory specials were clearly retro themed such as the Route 66 and Sunset Blvd editions.

When the PT came out for the 2000 model year the floodgates were open for retro styled/ themed cars. The Miata mimicked the MG, VW redid the Beetle, and the Mini returned, Jaguar revisited the XKE with the XK8. Domestic classics like the Thunderbird returned with 1950s styling cues, the Super Bee graphics came out on a truck and soon after that the Charger, Magnum, R/T and Challenger concepts were reborn. GM had low sales when reviving the GTO minus stylistic connection to the original. The new GTO was faster and better handling than the original. It had high build quality and was affordable but lacked the imagery. GM learned from this and incorporated 1969 Camaro details into the thoroughly modern new Camaro.

The PT Cruiser was unique in this flood of nostalgia because it wasn't revisiting a 1960s nameplate. Instead, Chrysler was tapping into hot rods as well as reviving the visuals used on the early Chrysler Airflow cars. In USA it squeaked into the truck market thus alleviating the CAFE standards pressures created by the rest of the truck line. The rest of the world wasn't fooled and classified the PT as a car.


EPA MPG when new 20 MPG City and 25 MPG Hwy with a combined of 21 MPG (12 L/100 Km, 9 L/100, 11 L/100) according to the EPA. The EPA changed the measuring system to more accurately reflect real world driving and this revised EPA system produces figures of 17 City MPG, 23 Hwy MPG and a combined total of 20 MPG.


The OOCC 2003 PT Cruiser is basically a gangster getaway car shell dropped onto a Neon platform and engine. The shrill four cylinder FWD engine struggles to push the billboard sized body through the air at highway speeds and up hills. This is reflected in the MPG figures. Granted the MPG figures were accrued on a winter road trip where temperatures hovered just below freezing (around 25- 30 degrees F, or a few degrees below 0 C) which hurts MPG. The PT was cruised at steady speeds between 65 and 80 MPH and barely broke the 20 MPG barrier. If you discard the third entry (possibly incorrect if there is a missing fill entry at 2,000 KM) the average is actually 19 MPG using national brands of 87 octane gasoline.

The fuel system is fairly sophisticated with Sequential Multi-Port Electronic Ignition which pulls 150 HP out of a little four cylinder. The OOCC P/T was equipped with the base P195/65R15 Goodyear Eagles. The fourth gear in the automatic transaxle is a 0.69 overdrive which brings the theoretically quick off the line axle ratio of 3.91 all the way down to a highway friendly 2.69. Despite the numbers, the PT has no oomph off the line and dismal highway MPG. The curb weight of 3,182 Lbs is a pretty low weight for a modern car. On the trip the OOCC PT Cruiser was carrying three adults and a small amount of luggage for a total load of approximately 600-700 pounds, putting actual weight only up to about 3,700 pounds.


The low efficiency may trace back to the high roofline of the car and lack of modern aerodynamics (i.e. large frontal area). If this is the cause, it's very ironic because the PT style emulates the original Airflow Chrysler which was the first attempt to create an aerodynamic car.


Kilometers Gallons   MPG (uncorrected)
1,291                   N.A.
1,442    5.2           18 MPG
1,785   10.6          20 MPG
2,000   ?               N.A.
2,159    9.9           23.4 MPG? (this figure will be lower if there was a fill at 2,000. 


Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 October 2016 15:44 )