Continuing the push for American companies to create a small car that is competitive with Japanese models, the 1999 Plymouth Neon provides a cheap, powerful compact. It is a simple daily driver with acceptable maneuverability in town and above average fuel economy both in the city and on the highway. With the available performance package, the Neon even provides an entertaining driving experience. However, this vehicle has no new updates this year. On the positive side, this means that the new model year will not bring any surprises to the market. On the negative side, this means the continuation of reliability issues that has plagued the Neon line over the past few years. With no new interior upgrades, this means the ride is still not the most comfortable around. It has also failed to address any safety concerns from previous models.
Body Styles: coupe, sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, three-speed automatic
Models: Plymouth Neon Highline, Plymouth Neon Competition, Plymouth Neon Expresso
The Plymouth has not introduced anything new to the 1999 Neon model line. With a new model cycle due out in 2000, all updates are being held over until then.
There have been no new cosmetic changes for this car. It retains the high roof, and the bug-eyed look caused by its round headlights. It also continues the availability of the color-molded rear bumpers with certain color options, which are more durable than the painted plastic that comes with most color options. A non-functional deck lid spoiler is available as an option.
While the Neon’s interior is fairly spacious for a small car; it comes with a cheap, hollow feeling. This is increased by the elevated roof and the high door sill lines, giving the feeling of sitting in a deep, empty bathtub. Additionally, the ride is not a quiet one, since the Neon does not appear to have any sound-dampening materials. The upholstery and dash materials are low grade cloth and plastic, which wear quickly. The weather strips around the doors and windows have a tendency to leak during heavy rains and high-pressure car washes. The interior is ergonomically sound and allows for good visibility. Trunk space is as much as can be expected from a compact car.
Performance & Handling
With the 150-horsepower, dual-overhead-camshaft-tuned engine and five-speed manual transmission, this car can actually be an entertaining drive. It has enough acceleration to get up to speed quicker than many others in the compact economy class. The top-end speed can be reached faster, and it will cruise nicely at highway speeds. Conversely, the stock 132-horsepower, single-overhead-camshaft engine coupled with the three-speed automatic causes the Neon to be slower off the line. This configuration also can cause issues when power is needed, as running components, such as the air-conditioning, can cause the car to lag while going up steep hills or not allow for enough power to pass at high speeds. The very basic suspension and short wheelbase allows for a maneuverable vehicle but nothing very precise.
This 1999 Plymouth Neon comes with standard driver and passenger front airbags, but little else in safety measures. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are optional on the Expresso model, but not available on the Competition or Highline models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it an average rating for front impact and below average for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated this vehicle ""poor"" for overall front impact safety.
EPA Fuel Economy
Plymouth Neon, manual: 24/36 mpg city/highway
Plymouth Neon, automatic: 21/29 mpg city/highway
- Great fuel economy
- Low sticker price
You Won't Like
- Poor reliability
- Cheap, loud interior
- Safety issues
A value at best, a clunker at worst.
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