New Car/Review


Plymouth Prowler (2000)

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 42,700
     Price As Tested                                    $ 43,400
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 215 cid/3518 cc
     Horsepower                                   253 @ 6400 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               255 @ 3950 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  113.3"/76.5"/165.3"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     2872 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  12.2 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                  (f) P225/45R17 (r) P295/40R20
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                         Two-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 90 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/23/19
     0-60 MPH                                        7.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          15.5 seconds @ 88.5 mph
     Top speed                                           125 mph
                * Sequential multi-point fuel injection

The Plymouth Prowler was first introduced at the 1993 Detroit Auto Show and began production in 1997. It is one of many daring production cars produced by DaimlerChrylser, a company well-known for innovative designs. Using up to 40 percent of its parts from existing DC vehicles, Prowler is guaranteed to spark conversation everywhere it's driven.

OUTSIDE - The massive, 20-inch rear tires give it the perfect "street-rod rake" and its pointed nose protrudes from beneath a pair of exposed front bumpers and A-arms. The windshield is low and steeply sloped, and the hood, doors, trunk lid and side panels are made of aluminum. Dropping the all-weather top requires releasing two latches on the top of the windshield header, pulling a rear lever and slipping the top beneath the rear-hinged trunk lid. This easily fills the trunk, so luggage space immediately disappears during top-down motoring. For that, an small optional trailer, painted to match the car, is available. The original Prowler came only in Prowler Purple but the next version came in Yellow, then Black and then Red. Now, Purple is gone, replaced this year by Prowler Silver. To save space, there is no spare tire. Instead, a set of special run-flat tires are used. Five-spoke alloy wheels are standard, while polished alloys are optional.

INSIDE - Prowler's bucket-shaped interior is a sweet blend of retro styling and modern convenience. Because of its high door sills and narrow door openings, climbing in is only easy when the top is down. The materials used, the plastics, fabrics and fasteners, are clearly borrowed from contemporary Chrysler vehicles. The wide, oval dashboard cluster is center-set, with the white-faced speedometer flanked by a pair of ancillary gauges left and right. A very "retro" clamp-on tachometer is connected to the steering column, while the simple rotary knobs of the ventilation controls are set below a 370-watt stereo, which now features AutoVolume. This system automatically adjusts the stereo volume based on the vehicle's speed or whether the top is up or down. The steering wheel is thick and meaty and has radio controls on the back and cruise controls on the front. The six-way manually adjustable bucket seats are scooped-out and very comfortable, with arched headrests that look like mini roll bars.

ON THE ROAD - The first Prowler used Chrysler's iron-block 3.5 liter V6, the same powertrain used in many of the company's passenger cars. Its 214 horsepower was arguably the weakest statistic, though the car was never marketed as competition to the classic V8 found in authentic street rods. Last year an all-aluminum 3.5 liter V6 was added, the same engine used under the hood of the new Chrysler 300M. The new engine produces 253 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque, which gives it much better off-the-line launch and plenty of power reserves for passing. It has a throaty exhaust note, though it just doesn't have that aggressive rumble of a classic "high-boy." Mated to this is a four-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick controls, a system that allows selectable gear changes somewhat like a manual gearbox. It's nice, but a five-speed stick-shift would be more "classic."

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Prowler rides on a sophisticated aluminum alloy frame. The alloy body is not joined together by rivets but uses special bonding processes. It's stiff and rigid, but without a solid top, it rattles somewhat over larger bumps. This year the four-wheel independent suspension has been improved by using cross-axis ball joints in the rear lateral links in place of rubber bushings. The aim was to reduce friction to permit a 10 percent reduction in the front spring rates and 20 percent softer rear springs. This softened the ride a bit without sacrificing handling. It uses a rack-and-pinion steering system that is precise and razor-sharp, with crisp turn-in and perfect balance. Braking is handled by 11-inch front disc brakes and huge 13-inch rear aluminum discs. An anti-lock braking system is not offered.

SAFETY - Dual, next-generation airbags and side-impact door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - There were no options on our subject vehicle.


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