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1998 Dodge Neon

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1998 Dodge Neon Review

A strong domestic alternative to Japanese compacts.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 1998 Dodge Neon classifies as a compact, front-drive car manufactured by Chrysler and sold under its Dodge brand. It also sells under the Plymouth brand as the Plymouth Neon and outside the U.S. as the Chrysler Neon.

The Dodge Neon debuted in 1995 as a replacement for the Dodge Shadow and the Dodge Colt. Touted as the ?Japanese car killer,? the car successfully offers price, performance, and good looks in a single package.

The Range

Body Styles: two-door coupe, four-door sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter A588 I-4, 2.0-liter ECC I-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual, three-speed automatic
Models: Dodge Neon Competition, Dodge Neon Sport, Dodge Neon Highline, Dodge Neon R/T

What's New

This year marks the debut of the R/T model. The 1998 Dodge Neon R/T coupe and sedan have a revised appearance, as well as some changes to the engine and suspension for better performance. All models of the Neon show some changes as well. These changes include reduced engine emissions to meet LEV standards, improved optional feature packages, and the use of the new generation of airbags with a lower deployment force than before.

Exterior

The 1998 Dodge Neon coupe and sedan feature a likeable exterior styling that gives other compact cars a run for their money. While most models retain this styling, the R/T takes it a notch further with a more racecar-like appearance. It has a completely different front fascia than the other models of the Neon, and it also comes equipped with fog lamps. The 1998 Dodge Neon has racing stripes, 14-inch wheel covers, and a slightly different choice of colors. If required, the stripes can be done away with as well.

Interior

Despite the small dimensions of the Dodge Neon, its cabin remains very spacious. Front and rear legroom and headroom look impressive and tall passengers find themselves comfortable in the vehicle. However, the rear doors prove a bit too small for making entry and exit an effortless affair.

Up front, the dashboard comes equipped with a modern design and layout. The controls look simple, easy to understand, and sit conveniently placed for both the driver and the front passenger. The 1998 Dodge Neon offers a decent amount of trunk space, which optimizes with the wide and flat cargo floor and the bumper-level opening of the trunk.

Performance & Handling

The base single-overhead-cam, four-cylinder engine delivers 132 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. Another engine, the two-liter, dual-overhead-cam, straight-four engine delivers 150 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come with a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.

The 1998 Dodge Neon moves quickly off the line with the base engine under its hood, irrespective of the transmission used. However, it tends to growl rather loudly when throttled hard. Despite its noise, the engine settles down to a quiet hum while cruising and does not shake up the car.

The automatic transmission tends to shift abruptly when the car accelerates briskly, and it also tends to be a bit too sensitive to throttle response. Downshifts also occur when least expected. The dual-camshaft, straight-four engine seems just a little livelier than the base engine.

Safety

With its new airbags and safety features, the 1998 Dodge Neon earns only three out of five stars for driver safety, but four stars for passenger safety in frontal-impact tests conducted by the NHTSA.

EPA Fuel Economy

Dodge Neon two-liter I-4, automatic: 25/33 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Lots of cabin space
  • Good steering and handling
  • Comfortable ride
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Simple controls and instruments

You Won't Like

  • Noisy engine
  • Problematic automatic transmission

Sum Up

A strong domestic alternative to Japanese compacts.

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