Pros: Handling, engine, style, roominess, price, service
Cons: No sun visor extension, useless dash compartment, tight trunk opening
2001 Dodge Neon Review
I have owned and operated a 2001 Dodge Neon since new in February, 2002. I like it. Affordable, reliable, comfortable, excellent handling, and nice style to boot. Why go for a very nice VW Jetta (comparable car) when you have to pay about $3000 more? And, should service be needed, there are more Dodge dealers around in rural America than foreign car dealers.
Very flowing, aerodynamic design, pleasing to the eye. Looks a lot like its older sibling, the Dodge Stratusexcept for less money and smidge less room inside. But, small outside for getting into and out of tight spaces.
Compared to some intermediate cars like the Chevy Malibu, it is roomier. The pass-through trunk is large, but sometimes the opening is too small.
It has excellent horsepower for a compact car. 2.0 litre with 132 bhp. Jetta has 115 or 130 at most. It is given low marks for noise, but it does not bother me. It has a sound not unlike the Jettas. At idle it is very smooth, quiet. Acceleration for this class engine is excellenteven with an automatic--unless you like to race from the stoplight. I have had no trouble in freeway traffic when I needed the extra oomph. Mileage has been very good--up to 36 mpg. It has climbed to the tops of the Rockies (12,000 Ft.) twice (I live in flat-land Minnesota)with no grudging. Previous generation Neons had trouble with the head gasket. It appears that is solved. No problems there in the 2001.
Mine has the old-fashioned (so the critics like to bill it) 3-speed automatic. It works very nicely with the engine, shifting from gear to gear smoothly. Chrysler engineers know that, but for sales it has chosen to put a 4-speed into the 2002s and 2003s. I drove a 2002 before I bought the 2001. I noted that at 65 mph the odometer read the same rpms as the 2002 with the 4-speed. My guess is that the extra gear only means that the transmission shifts more on the highway when slightly accelerating--irritating. It is a transmission that has been proven in use for years.
Super! Hugs the road. Maneuvers through parking lots with a light touch. Tires are smooth, low-profile Goodyear Eagle LS.
Very good seating position for me. I am 5'8". The seat is the best I have had. The heating is powerful and very directable. The air conditioning does well. The front seats are roomy. The back seats are quite comfortable for two and can hold three. Headroom goodof course, I am not tall. But taller people are amazed at the head room. There is not too much plastic for a small, compact car. The controls are logical. White faces on the dials give excellent readability. Some like the air/heater controls below the radio/CD/cassette dials. That may be a criticism if playing them is crucial. But, I live in Minnesota with changeable temps and humidity, so I like the controls with the air/heater higher. But, either way, fine. The sound is marvelous, having 6 speakers with treble/bass control and speaker control. There is a nice stow bin between the front seats. Doubles as a good armrest. In the dash there is slot for somethingI havent figured out what yet. Maybe to place cassettes ready to use? I tried that. They slide out on acceleration. So, I never use it. A minus on that onebut pretty minor! And, I miss having an extension on my driver-side sun visorwhich was on the first generation Neon. The Neon is a higher seating car than previouslyeasy in and out. The door pull handle sometimes is a little far for the short-armed.
An excellent deal for a car other brands would price much higher in the same category. Mine was priced at $16,645 on the sticker. With incentives like $2000 rebate and a dealer discount and good trade my cost came to $9750 for the 2001 Dodge Neon ESwell equipped--including theft package and remote keys. I got an online bank loan for 6.3% for five years--which I will payoff sooner. The ES is not offered for 2003. But, the SXL is like it.
You can tell I would buy a Neon again. I have had a first generation Neon with its flaws. I think this second generation is a distinct upgrade over the older. Approaches pretty close the Dodge Stratus 4-door. Drivers and reviewers ought to take a look at and a ride in the Neon. Not all excellent compact sedans are German or Japanese. This is a made in America car and stands up well with those well-made foreign modelswhich are now mostly made in America. After checking out the Ford Focus, get into a Neon!