Skip to Content

9 Cars That Look Like PT Cruisers (A Look at Used Crossovers)

Cars That Look Like PT Cruisers

The Chrysler PT Cruiser was a big hit when it launched back in 2001. I remember my friend’s excitement when his dad brought one home from the dealership.

The PT Cruiser followed the popularity of the Volkswagen New Beetle introduced in 1998 which kicked off the whole retro contemporary styling trend.

The PT stands for personal transportation. Small and compact, it had more room than a car and better fuel economy than a truck.

It was a front wheel drive crossover SUV with a 2.4-liter inline four that produced 150 horsepower.

The unibody construction made clever use of interior space resulting in a roomy cargo area.

You could get it as either a four-door hatchback or two-door convertible. Checkout this list of our favorite in year model cars like the PT Cruiser.

1. Toyota RAV4 (2009)

Toyota RAV4 (2009)

Horsepower: 179 to 269

Engine: 2.0L I4 | 3.5L V6

Drivetrain: front-wheel | four-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 36.4 cubic feet | 73 cu. ft. with rear seats down

When the RAV4 was introduced in 1996 the term crossover wasn’t in common parlance yet.

Even Toyota wasn’t sure what to call their latest creation. RAV4 means recreational active vehicle with four-wheel drive.

Part of the confusion about how to characterize the vehicle has to do with the fact that the company says that the RAV4 doesn’t share its platform with any other vehicle.

Introduced in 2006, the third-generation increased dimensions making room for optional third row seating.

To offset the weight, the RAV4 gained a V6 but dropped the manual transmission.

2. Honda CR-V (2009)

Honda CR-V (2009)

Horsepower: 166

Engine: 2.4L I4

Drivetrain: front-wheel | four-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 35.7 cu. ft. | 72.9 cu. ft with rear seats down

Introduced to the North American market in 1997, the CR-V was aimed at those more concerned with reliability and practicality than flash.

The gamble paid off making the CR-V one of Honda’s bestselling cars. CR-V means comfortable runabout vehicle.

Are you starting to pick up a trend here? Since from the beginning the CR-V was created to be an SUV that rides like a car.

It comes as no surprise that it’s built on the Civic’s platform. The 2009 model represents the third generation for the CR-V boasting a roomier interior than the original.

The manual transmission had already been dropped by the second generation.

3. Subaru Forester (2008)

Subaru Forester (2008)

Horsepower: 173 to 224

See also  Should I Get a Jeep or Truck? (A Jeep vs RAM Comparison)

Engine: 2.5L flat four

Drivetrain: all-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 28.9 cu. ft. | 68.6 cu. ft. with the rear seats down

Except for the BRZ, Subaru’s modus operandi seems to be you can have any drivetrain you want as long as it’s all-wheel drive.

That’s not a complaint.

The Forester should not be forgotten as one of the earliest not-quite-an-SUV vehicles.

Dubbed as a box-on-wheels the first generation deserves the distinction of being the first boxy crossover in the market which we’ll show more examples of as we continue.

This second generation was introduced in 2003.

Based on the Impreza platform, it boasts a sharper appearance, improved handling and a classier interior than the outgoing model.

This interior is quieter than its predecessor.

4. Chevrolet HHR (2007)

Chevrolet HHR (2007)

Horsepower: 149 to 172

Engine: 2.2L | 2.4L turbo four cylinder

Drivetrain: front-wheel-drive

Cargo Room: 23.8 cu. ft. | 62.7 cu. ft. with rear seats down

If ever there was a direct competitor to the PT Cruiser, it’s the HHR.

The Heritage High Roof takes its design cues from the 1949 Chevy Suburban. While the PT Cruiser got two generations before it was cancelled.

The HHR only got one. Produced from 2006 to 2011, the HHR is a half-inch wider and 7.4 inches longer than the PT Cruiser.

Although driving dynamics aren’t sharp, the HHR feels smoother than the PT Cruiser. Unlike the PT Cruiser the rear seats are not removable.

5. Pontiac Vibe (2003)

Pontiac Vibe (2003)

Horsepower: 123 to 180

Engine: 1.8L four cylinder

Drivetrain: front-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 19.3 cu. ft. | 54.1 cu. ft. with the rear seats down

With an engine from the Toyota Matrix the Vibe was only around for two generations.

In fact, underneath the sheet metal they’re the exact same car, like the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86.

Like the Matrix, the Vibe was a tall five door car that competed against the PT Cruiser.

It had the handling characteristics of a car and the elevated seating position of a pickup truck.

You could get it as either a five-speed manual or four speed automatic.

The Vibe tried hard to differentiate itself from the Maxtrix with an easily identifiable aesthetic that was all Pontiac.

6. Honda Element (2005)

Honda Element (2005)

Horsepower: 160

Engine: 2.4L four cylinder

Drivetrain: front-wheel | four-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 25.1 cu. ft. | 77.1 cu. ft with the rear seats down

See also  9 Cars Like the Toyota FJ Cruiser (Rugged Body-On-Frame Alternatives)

The Element was the first crossover to take the boxy aesthetic literally.

Straight off the success of the CR-V Honda came up with the Element. Although the Element is based on the CR-V the dimensions are different.

This additional size adds 250 pounds compared to a similarly speced CR-V.

Inside the floor of the Element is completely flat with rear seats that can be removed. Or both front and rear seats can recline flat for a makeshift bed.

Plus, the seats are waterproof. You could get the Element as a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

Both transmission choices are borrowed from the CR-V.

7. Scion xB (2015)

Scion xB (2015)

Horsepower: 108

Engine: 1.5L four cylinder

Drivetrain: front-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 21.2 cu. ft. | 43.4 cu. ft. with the rear seats down

Remarkably, there were two generations of the xB before Toyota pulled the plug on the Scion brand.

I say remarkable because just as quickly as Scion – which means descendent, or offspring – was introduced to the market it disappeared.

Scion was developed to sell cheap cars to early twenty somethings. But with a recession looming, we couldn’t afford them.

Like the Honda Element, the xB has plenty of personality. The seating position is an inch or two lower than the RAV4.

Dashboard data flows from a centrally mounted pod like a base model Mini Coopers of the same era.

The ride quality is for the lack of a better word more performance oriented than plush which is to say hard.

8. Nissan Cube (2009)

Nissan Cube (2009)

Horsepower: 122

Engine: 1.8L I4

Drivetrain: front-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 11.4 cu. ft. | 58.1 cu. ft. with the rear seats down

Proving the trendiness of this box shape among manufacturers was a car that Nissan simply called the Cube.

Looking back, I’m still not sure why they thought this boxy shape would be appealing to young people.

Nevertheless, amazingly to me this car lasted for three generations spanning about twenty years.

But it only sold in America from 2009 to 2014. This is the third generation Cube which is what we got in the U.S.

The most distinctive trait about the Cube besides its marshmallow design is the way the passenger side glass wraps around to the tailgate.

Functionally, you get plenty of visibility in areas that would otherwise be blind spots.

See also  7 Capable Off-Roading Toyota Cars That Look Like Jeeps

Its twenty inches shorter than the Scion with an upright seating position. Like the Honda Element the front and rear seats fold flat to make a bed.

9. Kia Soul (2010)

Kia Soul (2010)

Horsepower: 122 to 142

Engine: 1.6L and 2.0L four cylinder

Drivetrain: front-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 19.3 cu. ft. | 53.4 cu. ft. with the rear seats down

Likely inspired by the youth market trend in automotive design that created the Honda Element, Scion xB and Nissan Cube.

Kia smartly entered the ring with the Soul to capitalize on the success of the PT Cruiser. I still remember the commercials with the hamsters.

Like the PT Cruiser it’s a five-door hatchback that’s 7.3 inches shorter than the PT Cruiser.

One of the Soul’s most striking features is a dramatically angled window line.

Built on a modified Kia Rio subcompact platform, you can get the Soul with either an automatic or manual transmission.

Perhaps learning from the Scion xB the Soul’s gauge cluster is positioned right in front of the driver where it belongs.

10. Ford Escape (2006)

Ford Escape (2006)

Horsepower: 153 to 200

Engine: 2.3L and 3.0L four cylinders | 3.0L V6

Drivetrain: front-wheel and all-wheel drive

Cargo Room: 29.3 cu. ft. | 66.3 cu. ft. with the rear seats down

Moving away from the more intentionally boxy crossovers, last but not least is the Ford Escape.

A few things that distinguish it is Mazda’s involvement in the design. And it’s the only crossover on our list besides the RAV4 to offer a V6.

The styling is boxy but like the Kia Soul it’s not as harsh as the Honda Element, Scion xB and Nissan Cube.

The interior is both comfortable and roomy. In my opinion the first two generations are the most visually interesting.

For my money I would go with the V6 which comes from the Taurus instead of the four banger from the Focus.

But then you don’t get the manual transmission which I prefer to the column mounted automatic shifter. With a length of 174.9-inches its longer than the PT Cruiser.