The Comanche 180 was designed as an entry-level, economy class Comanche. Records show that a total of 1,143 were built. The initial production run of the 180 hp Comanche singles were given the PA-24 type designation. The remainder of this production run were given the PA24-180 designation. Like all Comanches, the 180 has a Lycoming engine, in this case the carbureted O-360-A1A. This is the lightest Comanche, with a gross weight of 2,550 pounds. Other noteworthy features of the airplane include a hand brake (conventional toe brakes were offered as an option beginning with the 1960 model year), 60-gallon standard fuel capacity (30 gallons more, in auxiliary fuel tanks, were made another option in 1961), and manual flaps. The Comanche 180 was a modest performer, with rates of climb in the neighborhood of 600 to 900 fpm, cruise speeds in the 116- to 139-knot range, and fuel burns between 7.5 and 10.5 gph. Those figures represent the range between 55-percent and 75-percent cruise speed values. Full-fuel payload with standard fuel is 715 pounds, but with the 90-gallon tanks, useful load drops to a mere 535 pounds. However, in this condition, endurances can reportedly run as high as nine hours with proper leaning procedures. With the standard fuel system, ranges with 45-minute reserves usually run in the area of 700 nm. A few later-model Comanche 180s have reportedly been modified by installation of a 250-hp Lycoming O-540 engine making them, in effect, cobbled-up Comanche 250s.
When new, standard, average-equipped Comanche 180s typically sold anywhere from $17,850 (1958) to $21,580 (1964).