Complete Plymouth Neon lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1994 Plymouth Neon Coupe - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1994 - 1999 Plymouth Neon CoupeNeon Coupe1 Trim 147 Hp 1994 Plymouth Neon - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1994 - 1999 Plymouth Neon SedanNeon2 Trims 132 Hp

The Plymouth Neon was a compact car produced from 1995 to 2001.

Introduction and Design

The first sign of the Plymouth Neon came in 1991 with the release of a Neon concept car, a futuristic vehicle with sliding suicide doors and an incredibly unique design. While the production vehicle didn't take on many of these more innovative and experimental aspects, it did share some basic features and design points. The production version of the Plymouth Neon, also sold as a Chrysler Neon and Dodge Neon, was released in early 1994. It came in two compact body styles, a sporty two-door coupe and a more family-friendly four-door sedan. Chrysler Corporation's then President, Bob Lutz, said that the Neon was a refusal to accept the old saying of you must pick two out of good, fast, or cheap. In other words, the company was focused on creating a car that was cheap, reliable, and fun to drive. It also received Japanese press coverage as a serious competitor that could be detrimental to Japanese auto sales, especially considering the country's 1990s economic crisis. These concerns were overblown, however, because even though it was the first small Chrysler sold in the Japanese domestic market, it failed to adhere to the strict size and displacement conditions and received detrimental tax treatment as a consequence, resulting in extremely few sales. The exterior design used many rounded, curved body panels and lines, including distinctive round headlights. The passenger compartment protruded in a semi-spherical shape, while each side was also dramatically curved. The bumpers were color-matched, but used infused molding to do so, rather than exterior paint. While superior in some ways, it also led to UV damage issues as the plastic began to fade in color.

Plymouth Neon Engine and Performance

The first generation Plymouth Neon featured three engine options, all inline-4 designs. The smaller was a 1.8L that produced 131 horsepower and used in the European market. Other markets had two different 2.0L inline-4 engines available, with either 132 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque or 150 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque. The engines were paired to a 5-speed manual transmission or a 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic. The trim levels depending on the market where it was sold, but in the US, the available trims included a Base, Highline, and Sport originally, but an extensive array of available trims was added throughout the years, including the top-level performance R/T. Available features and options were also full of variety. Some could be quite well equipped with power windows/locks, air conditioning, and more, while the base models lacked common features found on most cars, such as rear power windows, in order to provide a more affordable price tag. The R/T trim level featured enhanced, lowered suspension, leather upholstery, dual stainless steel exhaust, a six-disc CD player, and more premium features that allowed the Plymouth Neon to compete with some upmarket models.

Second Generation Updates

In 2000, the second generation Plymouth Neon was released. The two-door model was dropped from the lineup, so it was now exclusively available as a four-door sedan. Much of the exterior shape and design elements were carried forward, but it was greatly improved in many aspects, increasing general drivability, comfort, and reliability. One major update was the switch from a frameless windows to full-frame doors. The distinctive round headlights remained in the front of the vehicle, giving an easy way to identify the Neon model. A smaller 1.6L engine was available in select markets were it was desirable and helped achieve better tax consequences and fuel efficiency. But in the US, a 2.0L inline-4 engines remained the main option, providing still 132 to 150 horsepower. Once again, the R/T trim remained the top-level, and still included many enhancements over the base to provide a sporty drive and look. These included dual exhaust tips, a rear spoiler, 16-inch wheels, and performance-focused suspension and steering box that allowed for a more responsive feel. Some of the features were available on lower-level trims as options. 

The End of the Line for Plymouth

In 2001, the Neon continued forward marketed under specific Chrysler brands including Dodge, but the Plymouth Neon was discontinued. One specific Neon was reported to be Plymouths last vehicle ever produced and although it wasn't a high-performance R/T variant, it still was special-order and received some notoriety due to it ushering in the end of the Plymouth line.