Review: 2002 CHRYSLER PROWLER
SEE ALSO: Chrysler Buyer's Guide
By Matt/Bob Hagin SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 44,625 Price As Tested $ 45,400 Engine Type 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 215 cid/3518 cc Horsepower 256 @ 6400 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 255 @ 3950 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 113.3"/76.5"/165.3" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 2879 Pounds Fuel Capacity 12 gallons Tires (F/R) P225/45HR17 - P295/40HR20 Brakes (F/R) Disc/disc Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Two-passenger/two-door Domestic Content 90 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.49 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 17/23/19 0-60 MPH 7.5 seconds 1/4 Mile (E.T.) 16 seconds @ 86.5 mph Top speed 115 mph * Sequential multi-point fuel injection (Bob Hagin grew up in the California street-rod scene of the '50s and says that the Chrysler Prowler is close to the concept. Matt Hagin thinks its a great car for "mature" drivers who want to relive their youth.) MATT - The last time we reviewed the Prowler, we had to give it the Plymouth prefix. When this "retrorod" first hit the market in '97 it was assigned to the Plymouth marketers but even then the handwriting was on the wall for that venerable old marque. I guess Chrysler wanted to give the Plymouth logo a good send-off by naming the Prowler a Plymouth. BOB - Either that or some executive near the top had a thing about alliteration. The Prowler hasn't seen many changes during its five years of production. So far 11,000 enthusiasts have taken delivery of the car. Not a big number, but over the years, it's garnered much more than its numerical share of publicity and it's still a head-turner when it appears on city streets. MATT - It's a hard car to ignore, Dad. Its colors of choice are either candy-apple red or metallic gold or bright yellow. All of the no-nonsense auto reviews state that its impractical and expensive but that's true of most exciting cars that are, in reality, drivable toys. The power train of the Prowler is off the Chrysler shelf, which includes a 3.5-liter all-aluminum V6 that's more often found powering a Chrysler front-wheel drive sedan of some sort. It's a single-overhead-cam design with 24 valves and it puts out 256 horses which is more than enough to get this 2900-pound roadster rolling along pretty well. It backs up to a four-speed automatic transaxle that has a stick-shift system that lets it either be shifted up and down manually or left to shift for itself. The suspension front and rear is independent, and if anyone has any doubts about this, the suspension units are pretty much out in the open for close inspection. BOB - The two-seater body has the looks of a custom, non-homemade street-rod show car of the '70s, with a high-waisted body, a high, rounded tail section and a sloping, tapered nose that almost comes to a point up front. The grill has a slight '37 Ford look to it but since there aren't many of these on the street, you'll have to take my word. The slit-like headlights are faired into the hood and the front fenders are cycle-type that turn with the wheels. The only thing that spoils the front end is the oversized front bumper that sticks out like a sore thumb and it must have filled the Prowler designers with disgust to have to put it up there. They had no choice, of course, since the government says cars must have bumpers. Those agencies have no sense of style. MATT - As I recall from seeing photos of early '50s street rods, their interiors were pretty stark but the Prowler interior is very plush. It has the typical modern "tombstone" control panel in front of the floor-mounted gear selector and the other control switches for the windows and such are in the door panels. But the wide-oval dash panel is strictly '50s, with a big speedometer in the middle and two small gauges on either side. Also in vintage style is the steering column-mounted tach. There are small roll bars behind the two seats and a compartment back there to hold the top. BOB - In typical street-rod fashion, the front and rear tires and wheels are different sizes. The front are 17-by-7.5 inches while the backs are 20-by-10 inches. Needless to say, the Prowler doesn't carry a spare for either end so they're run-flats. Although it wasn't designed to morph into a true race car like the Viper, the Prowler handling is outstanding. And in a car that is so "open-air" and with its exposed front wheels and suspension, it seems to be going twice as fast as is indicated by the speedometer. MATT - When it was first introduced, Chrysler executives said that the life-expectancy of the Prowler would only be five years and its time is now up. It will be dropped after this year and the last 300 will be painted in its now-famous Inca Gold. BOB - They say what goes around, comes around so I guess I'll have to wait another fifty years for the California Street-Rod look to come back in style again.