Chrysler Neon Saloon 1999-2003

Chrysler Neon Saloon 1999-2003

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Big-sized boot
  • Good equipment levels

Cons:

  • Firm ride
  • Only seats four comfortably
  • Poor ride quality

Overview

The Neon is a restyled version of the 1996-1999 version that provides improved equipment levels, more spacious interior and improved looks. The interior still doesn't match up to rivals such as the VW Golf as it is comprised of cheap plastics, but it does feel large and airy with a good sized boot. There is only one engine available which is noisy and unrefined, but a slightly more powerful model released in 2001, named the RT, is slightly better with improved handling

Exterior and Interior

The Neon has to have the most uninspiring and forgettable looks of any car produced by Chrysler and the interior not proving much better. The plastic trim is a far cry from the quality of its main rival, the VW Golf, however it does feel roomy and airy inside. The front seats come with plenty of space, but the back row is designed more for two people as a third will leave the back passengers feeling cramped due to a lack of shoulder room. Despite this there is ample head and leg room. The boot is a good size and is able to fit four good sized suitcases in or a weeks shopping. There are only two trims available; the SE and LX trims. The LX trim is the one to go for as the SE is practically void of any equipment. The LX comes with air-con, leather trim, alloy wheels, a wood finish and a six speed stereo. The RT model with the more powerful engine comes with better alloys and a different body kit.

Performance and Economy

The 2.0-litre engine with 131bhp offers good acceleration and cruising going from 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds. The fuel economy isn't too bad either managing 35mpg. The 150bhp engine brought out in 2001 is only available in the RT model and is slightly faster going from 0-60mph in 9.3 seconds and is a little less economical with 33mpg. They are both unrefined and noisy units though. Choosing between the manual and automatic gearboxes is easy as the automatic prior to 2001 was unimpressive and seriously reduced performance only having three gears making the manual the obvious choice. The automatic introduced after 2001 is a better unit with four gears which improved things bringing the automatic gearbox closer to the performance of the manual.

Like to Drive

The power assisted steering is surprisingly well weighted and accurate although the steering wheel is poorly designed. It is good for driving around town and is a doddle to park thanks to the power steering. The suspension is stiff making the ride around country lanes bumpy and uncomfortable, but this does help to keep the body roll to a minimum as the Neon stays firmly planted to the road. The RT model with the more powerful engine comes with sharper and improved handling.

Faults and Repairs

The Neon is fairly robust but isn't without its problems with cars being produced between 2000 and 2001 being recalled because of fears over a break in the vacuum hose. The interior also causes a few problems with some bits falling off and others rattling. Other niggles that have been reported have concerned the electrics, the batteries failing to charge properly and the gearboxes. If the engine is noisy when started you should simply walk away from the vehicle. It will more than likely need to be rebuilt some time in the near future. The repair and service costs prove to be fairly expensive compared to most rivals and with the car needing to be serviced every 7000 miles, or 6 months, it may prove to be a costly investment in the long run.