Weekend Athlete: Chrysler PT Cruiser Redux

2008ptcruiser

Awhile back, I tested the Chrysler PT Cruiser and folded the rear seats only partially before I put all my toys in. This creates a load floor that's not level, which I didn't like. Readers correctly pinged me about not folding the rear seats all the way, which does create a flat floor, so last weekend when I had a rental PT Cruiser to take to my cyclocross races, I thought, "Gosh, I should try folding the seats the way the others suggested."

You know what? It still stunk.

I should point out that the PT Cruiser is not alone in its seat arrangement. Other cars I've driven have the same setup, where you first fold the seatback down then bring the now-folded seat forward, leaving a flat floor behind it. A similar design on the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and others has you fold the seat bottoms up then flop the rear seatbacks down. In either case, folding the seats in such a manner generally cuts into your cargo area.

It wasn't so bad in the Range Rover Sport because it's a big SUV, but on a smaller car like the PT Cruiser you really miss that bit of cargo space you lose when the seat is standing up back there.

I should also point out that it took longer than I would have liked to get the bike in there with the seats folded bolt upright, and even then I had to ever-so-gently latch the rear hatch closed so I didn't jam my bike's handlebars. But, hey, I hadn't raced yet; I'd had some coffee and a nice breakfast — what could be more fun than loading a car, right?

After the race, though, I was tired, cold and wet. Rather than fiddle with the stupid thing, I flopped the seats halfway down, like when I first tested it, and it was awesome. I tossed the bike back there and was done and out of the rain in seconds. That convenience, my friends, is what you want at the end of a hard race day. You can see from the pictures from my original test that all my gear plus a bike fit with the seat folded halfway.

What’s that you say? Don't own a bike? Can't see the relevance? That's a fair point. If all you do is haul boxes of diapers, a pet carrier or other blocky things, yeah, do whatever you want with the seats. Ditto if you're a runner: You don't need to worry about gear, and you're very smart for picking a sport without bulky equipment.

But let's say you have to move something for a friend. Let's say you have to move … “The Banks of the Marne in Winter" by Camille Pissarro for your friend at the Art Institute of Chicago. I can tell you right now that folding the seats for a flat load floor is not going to work.

You'll be much happier folding the seats down in such a way that you have all the length you can in the cargo area to accommodate that painting's size. And you'll want to be driving something longer than a PT Cruiser.

Of course, why anybody would want to take such a pretty painting to a cyclocross race is beyond me, but, hey, different strokes ….

By William Jackson | October 9, 2008 | Comments (14)

Comments 

JM

the PT cruiser is such an archaic design.

personally i am glad it is the last year for it.

ziggy

I was thinking the same thing today when I saw one over lunch. I always liked the PT but I could never figure out why some manufacturers never do redesigns on models that were once big producers for them. They let a model live for about 10 years with periodic minor refreshening and then it gets the axe. Whereas Honda, for example redesigns every model every five years.

Chad Pellan

Interesting that you are now writing reviews about rental cars. Why not just have a separate review section called, "GM, Ford, Chrysler, VW car reviews". Those four dump such a large percentage of vehicles on rental lots it's sickening.

Steve P

I used to work for AHFC and can tell you first hand that Honda has a significant refresh or redesign of every model every three years. Rarely will they let it go beyond three years, but never five. You're thinking of General Motors as they refresh there vehicle's every 4-8 years. For the record I drive a Sierra, the greatest truck in the world.

Ken L.

You had to rent a car for the weekend? I thought you guys would have a fleet of testers in your garage?

Hiro T.

What about Honda Element? It needs a refresh/redesign after the first introduction in 2003, doesn't it?

GR

Steve P, Honda does not do a significant refresh or redesign of every model every three years. Take a look at the Civic and the Accord. Back from the current generation, they have all been four to five year spans and the updates within those generations were nothing more than headlight, grille, and taillight updates ... hardly significant. Even the now dead Prelude had four and five year generation spans. Looks like you must have been asleep at work.

FordRacingRules

GR,
I am far from a Honda fan but they clearly develop a new generation on average every 3 years. The last two generations are listed as 4 years but as we all know a 2006 model will be sold as a 2007, etc. Consider the dope-slap free.
Honda
Seventh generation (2003–2007)
Sixth generation (1998–2002)
Fifth generation (1994–1997)
Fourth generation (1990–1993)
Third generation (1986–1989)
Second generation (1982–1985)

GR

Fordracingrules, you do a recount.

Honda Accord generations

1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 = four years
1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 = four years
1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 = four years
1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 = four years
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 = five years
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 = five years

Honda Civic

1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 = four years
1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 = four years
1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 = five years
2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 = five years

Honda CR-V

1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 = five years
2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 = six years

Honda Prelude

1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 = four years
1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 = five years
1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 = five years

Honda Odyssey

1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 = four years
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 = six years
2005, 2006, 2007 = Whoa ... three years.

Honda Pilot

2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 = six years

Honda Element

2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 = six years


So, when we review the information, there seems to be a pattern of four, five, and six year generations, not three as you have stated.

Keep your dope slap, you deserve it much more than I!

PA

Why not just take the seats OUT? That's what's great about the PT. The rear seats can be taken completely out of the car.

JT

I've also just moved the shelf so it's even with the seat back when folded down and you get an even floor with a narrow space under the shelf for small stuff. Carried a bike as well as furniture this way.

Wow, well, I'll skip the whole redesign/generation thread and go with the ones that would help me with my toys :)

PA: As for taking the seats out, yeah, the problem with that would be I'd need to find a place to stow them, and I live in a rather small apartment, so I don't see that as an option. But if I lived in a house, with a garage, I'd be all over that. I might actually never have the seats IN the car, actually.

JT: I don't remember there being a shelf back there, so maybe since it was a rental, it was taken out by someone else or just not there. Which brings us to ...

Ken L.: Yep, we have a fleet of cars and the full-time reviewers have access to them all the time. While I do review cars, I have other things that I'm responsible for. So, I'm kind of a "part-time" reviewer. That just means sometimes, yep, I have to walk over to the rental counter. It's cool, though, because I get in more cars that way and often find myself surprised by cars that do a better-than-expected job.

Another Bike Racer

JT hit it on the head. The PT cruiser's innovative 5 position rear load bearing shelf is the key to bike transportation. With the seats folded forward and the rear shelf in it's middle position, the deck is flat front to back. The bike fits in easily, with both wheels installed, as the front tire can drop down into the space between the rear seats and the front seat backs. There's enough room under the shelf for a floor pump, shoes, helmet etc. Far from sucking, it's one of the best vehicles )of it's size)for internal bike transportation.

KAR

JT is right about the bike fitting with the shelf in the middle slot. In the same position with the front passenger seat folded flat, you can fit a couple of snowboards there and have your buddy sit in the backseat behing the driver. I've been to bike races that were out of town (with seats left at home and also with seats folded up)and have even slept in the back with my bike standing upright in a bike bag (stored in the bag with both wheels off. I'm only 5'8" and have a 55cm bike.

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