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Dodge/Plymouth Neon



  • homer61388homer61388 Posts: 54
    My mom is currently looking at these three sub-compact cars. All of which are loaded with every possible option including leather on the focus and neon and side bags for all. She just doesn't know which to pick. Her main needs are comfort meaning how well this car holds four to five people and cargo as well as how much comfort the occupants get. And reliability, how well this car hold up for three to five years. She likes the Neon the best with all that it offers like leather, traction control and so on, but she is still unsure of dependability? She knows that Chrysler has had problems with transmissions and sometimes engines. But it seems that it offers a wide range of comfort and luxury for a sub-compact car. She is still unsure. Any thoughts about which is the best of this American Trio of cars? Any thoughts on these cars will be helpful as well as comments and suggestions. Thank You!
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    Out of those three, I would probably pick the Prizm LSi because of its known reliability. The Focus may need another year or so to prove itself after all the recalls when new. The Neon, I would go for as well. But if you want the most room, check out the Focus. You might also want to check out the Mazda Protege. It's one of the roomier small cars on the market, and there are always incentives available on them. They are also pretty reliable as well, and handle as good as the Neon and Focus do.

    I like the Neon (my roommate has a 2000), but the Protege is alot roomier inside. You can visually see it with the 2 cars side by side, and feel it when sitting inside of them as well. The Focus is pretty roomy too, but some people say the seat comfort sucks. As for the Prizm, it's the smallest of the bunch and very cramped IMO.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    It sounds as if your mom is just looking at American marks. If so, none of those three cars are a bad choice.

    As far as reliability, the nod would go to the Prizm (aka Toyota Corolla). If it's a serious concern, leading her away from the Focus might be a wise idea. It was intoduced globally last year and Ford is still working out teething problems on this puppy.

    As far as Chrysler transmissions are concerned, unless she's considering a used '89 Dodge Dynasty, she shouldn't be too worried. Chrysler had a lot of problems with that PARTICULAR transmission (a completely different unit than the one it installs in the Neon) a decade ago.

    The best thing for her to do is drive all of them and then make a personal decision. On paper, every small car seems about the same, but they do have distinct personalities. After she looks at all three, she'll know what's right for her.

    Personally, I think the new Neon (I never did like the previous version) is the best small car deal out there (which is why I constantly post to this board).

    It has the nicest small car interior (VW's notwithstanding), the roomiest back seat (it's Buick-open back there), the best factory sound system (a Chrysler staple) and the jazziest exterior styling (a personal judgement) all at a very reasonable cost.

    BTW, if she goes the Neon route, don't let the dealer pressure her into making an abrupt decision because "the rebate offer is about to expire." It hasn't been lower than $1000 for the last four years and as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, it will be extended once again.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    You did not say if your mother wanted a manual or automatic.

    If it is the latter, I would wait until Dodge releases the four speed Neon before making the choice. I suspect there will be quite a difference in the driving feel between the three speed automatic Neon and the four speed Neon.

    To compare a three speed Neon with a four speed car of another make would not be oranges to oranges and your mother would be doing herself a disservice, potentially.

    If she wants to know about passenger room, she needs to take the three largest people that are likely to ride with her and go for test drives. I say three and not four because the salesman might go along on some of these test drives. And if the salesman does not go along on the test drive, she should still make her friends ride in the back seat.

    Hope these suggestions help.
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    Unless your Mom gets a lemon, possible with any car, I think the Neon is the most enjoyable to own and drive. I looked at Focus, Neon and Protege. The Focus is very equivalent to the Neon and I drove one for a couple of weeks but found the styling objectionable. I just couldn't get used to it. Although I think it looks better from the back than the Neon, but that's the only angle. I stopped considering the Protege after taking a good look at the interior. I thought it looked very cheap. The Prizm didn't even pop up on the radar, way too generic. Probably a great car if you never want to be noticed. As far as 3 vs 4 speed automatics, unless she's going to be doing a lot of long highway driving the 3 speed is probably a better choice anyway. To my knowledge they've proven to be very reliable and with proper maintenance should last a very long time. You probably can't really go wrong with any of them. Tell her to pick the one she likes best and not worry about CR or any other BS.
  • homer61388homer61388 Posts: 54
    I just read all four posts and they really helped my mom and me in trying to decide the perfect car. It sounds like all seem decent. Yesterday, we went to a Ford dealer, we took a drive in a ZTS Focus with leather and side bags. It seemed okay, but she would rather drive something other than a ford, she tells me that Ford stands for "Fix or Repair Daily". So the Ford is out. It looks like it's between the Neon ES, Prizm LSI, or possibly a Mazda Protege. In the end it will probably be the car with the best deal. Oh, she will be getting one of these cars with an automatic transmission. She can't drive manual. Again, thank you for the info, it really helps her out in making a decision.
  • dtdickensdtdickens Posts: 1
    I have a 95 Highline, and have had a few problems with the car. The headgasket blew and was replaced under my extended warranty at 59,000 miles. Other than that, mechanically the car has done well. The real issue at hand now is the paint. It started to pop off about 3 years ago, and I called Chyrsler with no luck. I bought the car with 25,000 on it from a Dodge Dealership and was a program car, with transferrable factory warranty, an extra warrany via my Credit Union till 65,000. After talking to the rep. from Chrysler about the paint popping, he stated that there was nothing he could do for me, since I wasn't the original owner of the vehicle. Now, can someone tell me the deal on the 7 year, 100,000 mile "Rust Warranty" that is part of the basic package.....think I'll give them a call on it. I now have Rust on my roof now...think I can qualify? I always thought that a program car, purchased from a Dodge Dealership would have a warranty that was just as good to the second owner, as the original......Has anyone gotten to them (Repaint) under this "Rust Warranty"?
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    What color? I see quite a few blue minivans running around with the paint coming off in sheets.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    I hate to break this to you, but there is NO way Chrysler is going to offer to repaint your car for you under the provisions of the rust warranty. And if you took them to court, they would win.

    If you read the fine print in any rust warranty you will notice that it only covers you against rust-through corrosion. I.e., surface rust doesn't count - there has to be a hole in the sheet metal. This isn't just a Chrysler policy either.

    I hate to defend auto manufacturers, but this policy is quite reasonable. It's virtually impossible to find a six year old car here in the Minneapolis area that does not have some surface rust (one can usually locate at LEAST a little on the bottom-inside of the door near the drain holes where salt "hangs out" for the winter and proceeds to rot the car from the inside out). Auto manufacturers can make a car more resistant to rust, but they can't make it rust proof. Preventing auto rust is ultimately an owner/maintenance issue.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    Just saw an article yesterday about Chrysler's next generation of cars. They are abandoning the cab forward styling in favor of some undisclosed style.

    I like the cab forward look especially the Neon and I am really saddened by the news.
  • sandjsandj Posts: 1
    Hey dtdickens -- check out this web site:

    There are many, many Dodge owners complaining about paint peeling problems. Some have gotten their car repainted at no cost -- even if their warranty is expired. Seems Dodge used a cheap paint from '95-'98 that has a tendency to peel.

    I'm currently in a battle with Chrysler over the second blown headgasket on my '96 Neon. That Web site has been very helpful. The gasket blew in '98 and was repaired under warranty. It blew again a month ago and I had to pay for it. Lots of people are getting them replaced for free or for $100 deductible. I expect the same treatment.

    If you are thinking of buying a Chrysler product, I highly reccomend that you don't. Their products are poorly manufactured and their customer service is very shabby. I'll never buy a Chrysler product again.

  • I am considering buying a 1995 or 1996 Dodge Neon and I was wondering if they are nice cars. This is going to be my first car and I heard that the Dodge Neons weren't good cars to buy as used. I also heard about the head gasket problems and I really don't have the money to pay for a new one. Should I still go for the Neon, or are there any other cars I should look at??
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    Used Neons are pretty cheap, but the first models (1995-96) had some quality, fit/finish, and head gasket problems with them. If you can find a good one, go for it. Also check out a Honda Civic, Mazda Protege, and Nissan Sentra as well. They might cost a little bit more, but it might be worth it in the long run.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    Isn't that an oxymoron? ; )
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    Buying a 95 or 96 is probably not the best idea. If you going to buy an "old" one (the previous body style), don't go any older than older than a '97 - unless you want to sink some money into the AC as well as the headgasket.

    Perhaps something you might consider if you are only interested in an automatic transmission... factory repurchased (i.e., rental return) 2000 Dodge Neons in my area (Minneapolis, MN) are currently being listed in the paper for $9995 with 15-20k miles on them. I assume they are comparable to other parts of the country in price. This would be a far wiser choice if reliability is a concern to you.

    Likewise, don't automatically assume that all cars wearing a Japanese nameplate are more reliable than other makes. Mitsubishis, Isuzus, Mazdas and Suzukis are not Toyotas or Hondas - which, unfortunately, tend to be a little bland (particularly the Yota). I got a new Isuzu when I went to college and can attest to the surveys. It was a blast to drive but had quite a bit of "down time".

    The Protege ES is "the other fun to drive compact", but it's relatively expensive for the class, and the highway mileage is worse than a Chevy Impala (the LX gets better mileage, but is less enjoyable to drive). Unless you're of a shorter stature, you might find the Protege a tight fit for leg room too.

    Finally, if you're in the market for a small used car at a firesale price, whatever you do, don't fall for a Kia - even if the dealer is selling them for half-off and throwing in free mudflaps. God has a way of punishing the naive ones, if you know what I mean...
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    You say you might have leg room issues in a Protege if you are taller. I find that hard to believe. I have a 2001 ES and I am 6'3, and have no comfort problems at all. Longest I have been in the car was 3 hours, and no cramps or problems.

    While I am here, I will be honest. I have been having my fair share of trouble with my 2001. I had a 1999 before, and it was great. Not sure what the problem is, but a couple people in Edmund's Town Hall Protege sedan forum have been having some problems. You might wanna wait until the 2002 models come out before considering the Protege again.
  • I've recently become increasingly annoyed by the amount of wind noise screaming through the passenger window. my car is a 95 used neon and i believe the door is out of alignment due to an accident prior to my purchase. I have tried insulating the area between the window and where the window seals, and i have put on wind guards but it still sounds as if the window were open whenever i go more than 40 mph. Is there anything i can do to reduce the noise?
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Have the door adjustment checked, and if it's OK, then have the rubber seals replaced.
  • officerozofficeroz Posts: 25
    Wow, I have seen a lot of negative Neon comments, and very few positive ones. As the owner of two of these cars, an early edition ACR sedan built in 94, and a 95 ACR coupe, I simply have a problem identifying with all the problems you folks seem to have. The ACR models are factory built race cars (American Club Racing) and both of mine have been autocrossed in SCCA competition since new. Actually, I leased the 95 coupe, and turned it in back in 98 in like new condition. It NEVER had any of the problems some of you have had, and it had been run hard and put away wet! I mean it had been flogged on an almost daily regiment. Still had original brake pads, original head gasket, no vibrations, no nothing...I had even replaced the factory wheels and tires with aftermaket stuff for racing, and reinstalled the originals before turning it in. I tried to buy it from Gold Key Leasing, but the residual was too high, even for a car that had been excellent. I still have my original ACR sedan, with more than 70,000 miles, and probably half that on an autocross course. Still has the original brake pads! However, as hard I as I drive my Neon, I also take exceptional care of it, and don't do anything stupid that may create problems down the road. I just returned from a 2200 mile trip from Dallas to LExington, KY, autocrossed it there, and drove it back to Dallas. No problems, and the car is a blast to drive on the highway. I have a new Suburban and my spouse has a 2000 Regal GS, but I prefer to drive the Neon...It's a fun car! It's a reliable car! And it kicks the competiton's butt, even in competition! And I'm no spring chicken at 58 years old...
    All this said, I don't expect everyone to have the same pleasant experiences I have had with my Neons. But go to any of these forums, and you will read the same complaints from owners about their Fords, Chevys, Toyotas, Mazdas, and VWs.
    And whoever suggested going to a few posts back gave all of you good advice. You will find everything you need/want to know about these cars. That site will even tell you how to get on the Neon owners list at [email protected] where you can learn and discuss even more.
    Sorry for what seems to be a rant and long post...

  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    I'm commenting on the leg room in the back seat of both the Neon and the Protege when the front seats are set in a comfortable position. When I adjusted the front seat in the Protege I was looking at and immediately got in the seat behind it I found it to be substantially tighter than that of the Neon. As far as I can tell that's about half due to the "cab-forward" design, half due to the back seat in the Neon being lower. It's definitely noticeable to me, however. If you own a 99 or 2000 Protege, sit in the back without moving the front forward (if you can get in!) and I think you'll probably agree.

    Of course, for a single driver or a small family, it's a non-issue.

    I'm not "knocking" the Protege - I do think it's a very nice little car. My 4 fave small cars are (in this order): the VW Golf, the Neon, the Protege and the Sentra. And although some might find it shocking (it certainly doesn't correlate with the stereotypes of some in here), the 2000 Dodge Neon was rated the highest among these four for problems encountered during the first 90 days of ownership (a study designed to measure the number of factory defects) by JD Power.

    I try not to offend others whose tastes may differ from my own. Unless, of course, they own Toyota Echoes. Although I used to think the unique tastes of others were something to be respected and embraced, these people really need to be hauled in by the fashion police. These cars are so indescribably ugly, I find their presence on the road both distracting and dangerous to surrounding traffic.

    Considering how many Neons were sold in 1995, the number of vocal disgruntled owners in here doesn't seem too extraordinary to me. These cars have now been on the road for more than 6 years. The people complaining about these vehicles and seeking blood from Chrysler either got the real lemons (Chrysler does make them on occasion) or are just difficult people to satisfy (nature makes plenty of these).

    Some people just aren't happy unless they can find something to complain about.

    If you REALLY want to see some nasty posts, go to one of the Kia boards a few years from now.

    Honestly, I am surprised I don't see more complaints about Neons in here. There are a ton of the old ones on the road in my area.

    On a different note, I would like to say that I can't figure out why so many people doing the one-person commute are buying the big 4x4 passenger busses today. There are a ton of little nice cars out there - literally something for everyone! For those without brand loyalty, the options are mind-boggling.

    Oh, and has anyone else here seen the 2002 Mini Cooper? This has to been the best looking small car ever produced. It is GORGEOUS!!! Too bad it's going to be a low volume toy for rich old bald guys trying to pick up collegiate women. Oh well...perhaps I should shut up now...
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    Thanks for the chuckle. Yes, we Echo owners are different.

    I really took a hard look at the Neon, but safety and reliabiliyt are big issues with me so I went with the Echo.
  • officerozofficeroz Posts: 25
    Apologies for the previous long rant, nothing personal intended toward other Neon owners. And I also don't like to put down other folks preference for cars. God knows I've had a variety of them over the years, some good, some bad. In fact, before buying the Suburban, I had not owned a GM product for 23 years due to a couple of bad experiences, one in 1969, and one in 1976, an Impala and 1/2 ton pickup truck respectively. But after driving a Suburban a few times during Vehicle Evaluation classes I help teach for SCCA Corporate, I found it to be an excellent vehicle, as well as several of the GM brand cars, like the Regal and Intrigue.
    I pull an enclosed trailer to competiton events, (not for the Neon, but for my C Prepared 65 GT 350 look-a-like Mustang)and found the 'burban great for towing compared to the Grand Cherokee I had owned previously. So, I have changed my mind regarding quality on (some) GM offerings. My spouses' previous car was a Toyota Camry, an excellent car, but boring...The Regal GS with it's stiffer suspension and supercharged 3.8 V6 is a much livlier car, has lots of torque and HP, and even though it's mundane styling turns a lot of folks off, it's a blast to drive in "spirited driving" mode.
    As for the Echo, it's kinda grown on me as small cars go, but the gawd-awful looks of the Aztec, and overdone Isuzu SUV that Joe Isuzu is hawking, will never grow on me! Sorry if I offended anyone who owns either of these...

  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    Sorry for getting off track here folks, but I have to voice my strong agreement on the looks of the Aztek.

    I went along with my parents when they picked up their 2001 Olds Intrigue from the local GM dealer this past February and I started talking to one of the guys I knew there about the Aztek (they had three on the lot). He told me they only time they'd been moved in the past two months was for plowing. Well, I stopped through again last week and the SAME three Azteks were still there! My God, at this rate they'll still be "closing-out" the '01 Azteks in '05.

    I've always had a love for Oldsmobiles (when I was a kid, the cool-person's car was a Cutlass Supreme). I have serious reservations of purchasing a GM car in the near future though.

    What kind of company cancels the devision "most likely to succeed" in the future (Oldsmobile) and then pours millions into marketing what is obviously the most undesirable vehicle on the planet (the Aztek) during the most popular show in States (Survivor)?

    The management at GM is so ignorant, so oblivious, they honesty thought the reason this vehicle wasn't selling was because no one had seen it. These people couldn't BUY a clue if Kmart had 'em on blue light special!

    GM is in serious trouble, IMO. The current management has only been trained in methods of losing market share and it seems to be self-perpetuating.
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    2000 Neon ES now at 20,000 trouble free miles. Even the Goodyears are holding up well. Just trying to bring this board back on topic. You really don't want to get me started on what a piece of crap my Camaro was or what a rust bucket a certain Mitsubishi we had was. I think Mopar really missed the boat on their advertising campaign for the redesigned Neon. They should have gone for the more rock n roll Mitsubishi/Nissan or something showing how much fun they are to drive such as the Mazda "zoom, zoom, zoom" thing. They make a small sedan that historically has been a better performance car than a Miata. Then they picture it stationary, collapsing a bridge under the weight of its features in its advertising. Of course, Chrysler has had (in my opinion) pretty crappy advertising for many years. How about those terrible Joe Garigiola (sp?) ads from the 70s.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    How soon you forget the groovy "Hi!" ads of the mid 90's!

    I used to clip them out of magazines for my Ad and Promotions class in college. Everybody loved the concept: a human metaphor for the car with a smiley face. It wasn't just a car, it was your happy, scrappy little friend!

    I haven't seen a Neon TV ad here for nearly a year! Apparently, Chrysler figures the new ones sell themselves...

    Does anyone know what changes Chrysler is making for the 2002 model year other than the 4-spd auto yet? I have this awful feeling they're going to swap the standard ES 5-spoke wheelcovers with an uglier design to provide an incentive for purchasing the alloys. On that note, does anyone else here find the standard ES wheelcovers better LOOKING than the upgraded ones (I realize the alloys are larger and provide slightly better grip)?

    Also, does anyone know yet if the cinnamon color is going to hang on for the 2002 year? I fear the introduction of the new almond color means the cinnamon goes down in the history books.

  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    On the ES model, the wheels are not any differently sized whether they are alloy or wheel covers.

    My ex-roommate (he moved out Saturday, so no more Neon) has a 2000 Neon with the alloy wheels. I told him he should have gotten the car with the 4-disc in-dash CD changer rather than the wheels, because the money would have been better spent. :)
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    While I was sitting in the Neon bored out of my skull today waiting for a tow truck to come fetch my wife's Jeep which had died on an interstate off ramp I started actually looking at the paperwork in the glovebox. I've only had the car a year and a half, don't want to rush into reading the owners manual. I couldn't believe I'd bought a $375 CD player. What was I on? The wheels, at $355, were a bargain by comparison. Especially since they're about $1200 a set over the parts counter. I'm sure you could find a quality CD for a whole lot less but your not going to find a better bargain on some really sharp alloy wheels. Especially when you consider that you're getting them mounted and balanced. Now if they'd only teach the guys at the factory what the little dot on the side of the tire is for, maybe they'd get it in the right place once.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    I think the in-dash 4 disc player is money well spent too. The single slot CD players are a pain in the butt unless you like listening to one CD over and over again (otherwise it seems like you're constantly loading the thing). Plus, if you order the single slot on the Neon, you forgo the cassette player. And that makes it impossible to listen to movies in the car during long trips. Surely I can't be the only one who dubs videos onto cassette tapes and "watches" them while driving...

    You might - MIGHT - be able to get a better deal on an aftermarket changer, but it isn't going to fit in that little hole in the dash like the factory unit does. And the only thing more annoying than constantly changing CD's into and out of the head unit is popping the trunk and shuffling handfuls of jewel cases while standing behind the car.

    The factory disc changer and the power funroof are must-have options IMO. I don't see the need for aluminum wheels unless you find them more attractive than the wheelcovers on the steel wheels. The other option that doesn't turn my crank is the leather seating.

    It amazes me how many people order leather for car interiors nowadays (they aren't living rooms you know). I do think it looks better than cloth when the vehicle is NEW, but it invariably cracks and gets that shiny look after it soaks up enough UV radiation and butt sweat. And few things in life are more unpleasant than sitting on ice-cold leather on a dark winter mornings. Give me velour any day of the week.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    Hasn't anyone's 95 Neon exploded lately?

    This board is so silent it's eerie.

    Anyone see a 2002 Neon in the flesh yet? I want to know what's changing.
  • Scrolling through your posts has been very helpful, but I have a couple of questions to bother you all with, if you'll allow. I'm looking to buy a smaller used car in the $4,000 to $5,000 range for basic short commuting and weekend trips up and down the east coast. Reliability is obviously a primary factor in the decision. I would love to get a Honda Civic (who wouldn't) but those things hold their value like gold bars. So, I've been looking closely at Neons and Saturns mostly, leaning heavily toward the Neon. I've noticed in many peoples' ads that they have replaced the head gasket on their 95s and 96s and new car reviews complain about wind noise. The noise isn't a major concern, but obviously I'd like to avoid sinking a large sum of money into major repairs. So would I be better off buying a 97 Neon with higher miles (120,000+) or a 95 or 96 with, say, 60,000 to 75,000 and pray the head gasket doesn't blow? Also, are their any other major problems that seem to be chronic and should I take a closer look at other makes and models (outside of Kia)? I'm sorry if this is redundnant. Thanks a lot for listening.
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