The Chrysler PT Cruiser undergoes minor changes for 2007. Remote keyless entry becomes standard equipment; YES Essentials stain-resistant fabric is optional on Touring and standard on Limited trim; Touring models get heated cloth seats; and on the exterior, Electric Blue, Linen Gold and Magnesium are out, while Pastel Yellow, Tangerine and Opal are in.

The PT Cruiser is available as a sedan or convertible, and with a choice of three engines: while all are a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, there’s a naturally-aspirated version making 150 hp, a turbocharged version making 180 hp, and a high-output turbo that makes 230 hp. All come with a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic that includes manual mode with the high-output turbo.

Fixed-roof models start with the PT Cruiser, which uses the 150-hp engine, and includes 15-inch steel wheels, tilt wheel, manual mirrors, power locks, power windows, cloth seats, 65/35 fold-and-tumble removable rear seats, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack and six speakers, variable intermittent wipers, rear washer/wiper and engine immobilizer.

The PT Cruiser Classic adds power mirrors, body side mouldings, assist handles, vehicle information centre, rear multi-position cargo shelf, and fold-flat front passenger seat.

The Touring can be optioned with the turbocharged engine, and adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, touring suspension, deep tinted rear windows, fog lamps, garage door opener, leather-wrapped wheel, YES Essentials fabric, security alarm, six-way power driver’s seat, side airbags, and security alarm.

The GT uses the high-performance turbo engine, and adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, sport suspension, spoiler, power sunroof, floor mats, carbon-pattern instrument panel trim, and perforated heated leather seats.

The convertible starts in the Touring, which comes with the naturally-aspirated engine or optional turbocharged version, and includes 16-inch aluminum wheels, cruise control, touring suspension, fog lamps, power mirrors, sport bar, variable intermittent wipers, air conditioning, power locks, locking glovebox, rearview mirror with reading lamps, power windows with automatic top-activated drop and raise feature, cloth seats, easy-entry system, 50/50 split fold-and-tumble rear seats, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input jack, security alarm and engine immobilizer.

The GT Convertible uses the high-output turbocharged engine and adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, sport suspension, floor mats, garage door opener, carbon-pattern instrument panel trim, leather-wrapped wheel, six-way power driver’s seat, heated leather seats and side airbags.

Although it’s a little long in the tooth, the PT Cruiser is a useful hauler, configured almost like a mini-minivan. The sedan offers upright seating for five, while the convertible seats four; visibility is excellent, and it has considerable cargo space considering its size, especially if the sedan’s rear seats are removed. The rear cargo area contains a clever table that can be adjusted to several positions, flipped over to form a waterproof plastic covering, or pulled forward and turned into a table for campsite dining. When equipped with the fold-flat passenger seat, the sedan can carry a load of eight-foot boards with the rear hatch closed.

The convertible offers open-roof motoring for relatively low dollars; the sport bar isn’t a roll bar, but it reduces buffeting, and hides under the roof when it’s upright. The top lifts and lowers electrically, although attaching the boot is a fiddly, annoying task, and the lowered roof takes away from rearward visibility. The roofline isn’t very attractive when raised, either. The trunk is huge by ragtop standards, and can be enlarged by tumbling the seats forward, although the lid opens upward and makes loading a bit more difficult than it need be.

Pretty much alone in its segment when it was introduced, the PT Cruiser faces stiff competition from numerous tall wagons, including the Chevrolet HHR, Mazda5, Suzuki SX4, Ford Focus, Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe. The addition of several convenience accessories to the base PT model sweetens its appeal, although the base HHR’s MSRP still undercuts it by $620 and throws in air conditioning that’s optional on the Chrysler model.

Connect with