Hooniverse Asks- What Car Has The Most Undeserved Reputation?

Remember that girl in high school, the  one that was supposed to be willing to do anything, even on a first date? Remember also how when you finally managed to grow a pair and take her out, it turned out that she didn’t do any of the things that she was reportedly notorious for? Not only that, but you later found out that everything that had been said about her had been lies spread by dudes who had never even dated her, and girls who were jealous of her  boobs.

Well, there’s a bunch of cars just like that girl.
BMWs are tainted by douchebag owners, VW New Beetles are the epitome of being a chick car, and Miatas bring teh Gayz (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
But not every Bemmer pilot is a tool. I’ve seen septuagenarian males behind the wheel of Beetles – sure, they were doing 20-mph with the blinker going, but they didn’t look out of place. And Miatas, well, who can say who’s gay and who’s straight these days?
Once there was a time when driving a Buick meant you were automatically fitted for white shoes and a matching belt, but maybe that’s not universal now that the brand has become a favorite of the Chinese. Genetic scientists have discovered the Mullet gene and have identified its connection to the Chevy Camaro, but our species is constantly evolving. Socially, we want to sort and allocate attributes. It’s what separates us from the lower forms of life, like dogs which would just as soon hump your leg as a lady canine.
And it’s not just negative attributes that have gained notoriety and ascription, positive reputations can be equally fallacious as well. So, what, in your mind, is the most egregious, the most blatantly wrong stereotype about a particular car?  What car has gained a reputation that it just doesn’t deserve?
Image sources: [metalarea.com, IRLDefender.com]

140 Comments

  1. Hummers as being good vehicles off-road!
    The H1 is mechanically over-competent but is just TOO WIDE for most trails
    The H2, come on, we don't need to make fun of the retarded. Not any better than a Tahoe, which is not very good at all
    The H3 is passable, but it cant' do anything a significantly cheaper and less embarassing Wrangler can't.

  2. The modern minivan.
    Fits plenty of people, often has tons of cool amenities, and are typically super comfortable behind the wheel.
    They are great at what they do, which is to move a group of people who don’t fit into a station wagon (modern wagon Tim, not your Ford Freight Train).

    1. Minivans have gotten a lot better. My parents always had them. My mom liked the high seating position with car-like ride and mileage. Plus captains chairs make long trips way more comfortable than any SUV. Styling today make them a lot less embarrassing as well.
      It's the logical person's people mover.

      1. Alright… nuff said… I am going to line up a Sienna for review. Maybe we should do a Van Off? Odyssey vs Sienna?

        1. I drove a Sienna for several weeks on the movie job I had last year. It's an outstandingly competent daily driver, but falls far short of anything I'd call "interesting".

        2. You better have at least a three way Van Off. The Sienna, The Odyssey, and a Chrysler Town & Country. There is a 4th competitor, and that's the Kia Sedona.

        3. You better have at least a three way Van Off. The Sienna, The Odyssey, and a Chrysler Town & Country. There is a 4th competitor, and that's the Kia Sedona.

        4. You better have at least a three way Van Off. The Sienna, The Odyssey, and a Chrysler Town & Country. There is a 4th competitor, and that's the Kia Sedona.

    2. Minivans have gotten a lot better. My parents always had them. My mom liked the high seating position with car-like ride and mileage. Plus captains chairs make long trips way more comfortable than any SUV. Styling today make them a lot less embarrassing as well.
      It's the logical person's people mover.

    3. Minivans have gotten a lot better. My parents always had them. My mom liked the high seating position with car-like ride and mileage. Plus captains chairs make long trips way more comfortable than any SUV. Styling today make them a lot less embarrassing as well.
      It's the logical person's people mover.

    4. It's not my fault they don't build-em like they used to. Although, if we ever get a CTS-V presser, I'm totally going to take it to Jack's for a pile of parts.
      +1 on the minivan. When you need to haul more literal that figurative ass, there's no beating one. 90% of crossover buyers would be better served by a minivan.
      Daisy's all about the Mazda5 these days. I could handle that, particularly b/c you can get them with a stick.

  3. The SUV. What used to be the vehicle of choice for people who needed to carry people and things to their remote cabin in Northern Michigan soon became a symbol of American excess. Soccer moms who rarely leave the tarmac — except when they are backing out of their driveway over my freaking lawn — were driving them. The Suburban went from being a utilitarian people mover to a plush commuter. A segment of the population loved them. Another segment despised them. They became caricatures of themselves with the Navigator and Escalade.
    However, the SUV as a vehicle alone is not bad at all. I had a 2002 Explorer and I was able to carry myself and 4 friends in comfort with all our camping gear, plus some camping gear from the people in the other car. I was able to tow the race car in a pinch. Their design necessitated that they not be the most fuel efficient vehicle. That just wasn't in the specs, and was completely counter to their other specs.
    Their design also gave them a higher center of gravity than a car. So, they earned a reputation for being tippy and rollover prone. The Explorer's image was tarnished with a rash of blowouts and rollovers in the early 2000s. Studies show that the rollovers were all caused by the driver reacting improperly to the blown tire. Many other SUV rollovers were the result of drivers trying to drive them like they would their Camry. It just isn't going to happen.
    So, in short, SUVs provide a useful function and they shouldn't be driven like cars. If people respected these two facets of the SUV then they wouldn't have become the pariah that they did.

    1. Our 2WD Trailblazer basically performs most of the same functions that a mid-size Chevy Malibu Wagon would have a generation before. But the Trailblazer gets better gas mileage, handles better, and has more power.
      As for the bigger SUVs, there is a large segment of the American population that wants an American Full Size RWD V-8 powered vehicle. Those that didn't want a Ford Panther platform moved to SUVs because that was the only option for a long time.

    2. I had a number of XJ Cherokees and on a number of occasions drove Explorers. While I don't really believe an Explorer is significantly more rollover-prone than the boxy, high center of gravity, double-live axle Cherokee, it always felt twitchier and just a little too nimble at freeway speeds for it's own good.
      Just my take, though.

      1. With you on that one. Explorers definitely had a notch higher COM and less roll stiffness than XJs or ZJs did.
        I'd take the XJ's 5 link coil-sprung front end over the Exploder's TTB any day.

    3. Our 2WD Trailblazer basically performs most of the same functions that a mid-size Chevy Malibu Wagon would have a generation before. But the Trailblazer gets better gas mileage, handles better, and has more power.
      As for the bigger SUVs, there is a large segment of the American population that wants an American Full Size RWD V-8 powered vehicle. Those that didn't want a Ford Panther platform moved to SUVs because that was the only option for a long time.

    4. My main beef with SUVs aren't with the people who drive them. Rather, from the perspective of someone who drive a small, short car,it's their intimidating size and weight. Combined with their over-representation on the road, it makes what would have been a perfectly reasonable vehicle choice much more dangerous. Because I'm surrounded by much taller and wider vehicles in traffic, my sight lines are cut short, which diminishes my ability to use my vehicle's maneuverability to avoid a potential accident. What's worse, a typical SUV carries 2-3 times the kinetic energy of my little CRX when both are traveling at the same speed. In a wreck, a Chevy Trailblazer packs as much punch at 70mph as my car would at 110, and (from a physical standpoint) it's more likely to get into that wreck in the first place because it can't maneuver away from it as easily as a car could.
      What it comes down to is what you laid out in your last paragraph. I don't mind the SUV when it's the best choice for its owner's needs, the same way I don't mind semi trucks. People who go boating or racing or camping can easily justify a seven-passenger truck. But for the vast majority of SUV owners, a sedan, pickup, or station wagon would have been a better choice. Imagine if three-quarters of all the semis on the road were being used by suburban commuters and never pulled a cargo trailer in their lives…
      <img src="http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-2005/2005-International-CXT-FA-Rocks-1024×768.jpg&quot; width=400>

      1. In certain areas and/or at certain times, the visibility of a car is cut down by the number of semis on the road. However, usually the semi driver is a better driver than your typical suburban housewife, so I would rather follow a semi than an Excursion.
        Also, your point about the energy balance is very true. I have long been a proponent of inertia-based speed limits at least for very large vehicles (over a certain weight limit such as 5000 lb or so). This is why on many roads trucks have a slower speed limit than cars/light trucks.

  4. Classic 4x4s: Early Broncos, Scouts, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers and CJs 2 through 7.
    In many people's heads, they posses magical powers not present in reality.
    29×6" tires, open differentials, manual brakes, manual steering,and 100hp carbureted engines are nice for nostalgia's sake, but they're not going to help you up that hill or over that rock.
    "Yeah, but you can fix anything on them with 3 wrenches and a hammer!"…this may be true, but the other side of that coin is the 99% certainty that you will have to fix them with all three wrenches and a hammer on any given trip.
    Don't get me wrong: I love older 4x4s for what they are, but people seem to have them elevated to an undeserved god-like status.

    1. Not an experienced off-roader but I'd put my money on the capability statement being accurate. That said, retro-car looks, dynamics, mystique, and even smell are a big part of this gearhead's disease. I'd still take an early 70's Bronco over a new Jeep or Land Cruiser any day (provided I don't have to put my young children in it that is, because that's just crazy talk).

      1. A newer Wrangler's better crash-engineered than an Early Bronco, but if you upgrade the EB to some decent seats and belts, the difference isn't that big.
        Doing serious offroading is pretty much the ultimate test of function over form. The nostalgia wears of about 800 feet into a serious trail.
        In stock form, there's pretty much nothing more capable than a new Wrangler Rubicon. That said, for 30 grand, you can build one hell of an early Bronco.

      2. A newer Wrangler's better crash-engineered than an Early Bronco, but if you upgrade the EB to some decent seats and belts, the difference isn't that big.
        Doing serious offroading is pretty much the ultimate test of function over form. The nostalgia wears of about 800 feet into a serious trail.
        In stock form, there's pretty much nothing more capable than a new Wrangler Rubicon. That said, for 30 grand, you can build one hell of an early Bronco.

    2. Not an experienced off-roader but I'd put my money on the capability statement being accurate. That said, retro-car looks, dynamics, mystique, and even smell are a big part of this gearhead's disease. I'd still take an early 70's Bronco over a new Jeep or Land Cruiser any day (provided I don't have to put my young children in it that is, because that's just crazy talk).

    3. Not an experienced off-roader but I'd put my money on the capability statement being accurate. That said, retro-car looks, dynamics, mystique, and even smell are a big part of this gearhead's disease. I'd still take an early 70's Bronco over a new Jeep or Land Cruiser any day (provided I don't have to put my young children in it that is, because that's just crazy talk).

          1. Yes. Note that I did not offer up my standard defense of Alfa Romeo in response to this particular question.

  5. The Toyota Hilux. One Top Gear segment has everyone believing that these trucks are invincible. I think most any full size American truck built before 1990 would stack up against it nicely and probably do most everything better. This is especially true if the American truck has a straight 6. The Big 3 just never sold to the 3rd world Warlord Market like Toyota so they don't have that rep going for them either. I still see unrestored 60s and 70s Ford and Chevy work trucks on the road everyday. When was the last time you saw a Toyota built before 1985 still on the road? I think a Slant-6, Ford 300, or Chevy Small Block would stack up pretty well against any Toyota engine. Sure the Chevy might run like crap, but it will keep running!

  6. Citroen Xantia. Yeah, yeah, not sold in States and the radiator shroud actually has a molded warning label that states that this vehicle is not to be sold in North American under any circumstances and no warranties shall ever be honored…. BUT… their resale value in EU was ridiculously low and aside from that one Turkish guy on that other blog I've never heard anyone actually wanting one. My mother has had one for ages and last I heard the mileage was north of 130 thousand. It has been dead-reliable in temperatures ranging from -40 to +90F, requiring only regular maintenance and a couple very reasonably priced and easily available gas balls. Even the AC works!

      1. <img src="http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y58/okyvolvo/citroen.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
        "This vehicle does not meet the regulatory standards in effect for the United States or Canada.
        No license expressed or implied has been given by Automobiles Citroen persuant to any patent, trademark, design or model for the importation, sale or use of this vehicle in the United States or Canada.
        No warranty of Automobiles Citroen applies if this vehicles is imported, sold or used in the United States or Canada."

      2. <img src="http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y58/okyvolvo/citroen.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
        "This vehicle does not meet the regulatory standards in effect for the United States or Canada.
        No license expressed or implied has been given by Automobiles Citroen persuant to any patent, trademark, design or model for the importation, sale or use of this vehicle in the United States or Canada.
        No warranty of Automobiles Citroen applies if this vehicles is imported, sold or used in the United States or Canada."

      3. <img src="http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y58/okyvolvo/citroen.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
        "This vehicle does not meet the regulatory standards in effect for the United States or Canada.
        No license expressed or implied has been given by Automobiles Citroen persuant to any patent, trademark, design or model for the importation, sale or use of this vehicle in the United States or Canada.
        No warranty of Automobiles Citroen applies if this vehicles is imported, sold or used in the United States or Canada."

        1. Wow. Thanks for the followup.
          So this label was present on all Xantias to be built? I'm impressed that Citroën pre-emptively molded a warning label into their plastics advising you not to import their car into North America. ("Do not import Happy Fun Ball.") Regardless if anyone wanted to!

    1. I would like to see you increase the scope of your comment to include ANY Citroen ever made! I live in Indiana, but I spent some time living in Europe. I have owned two Citroens … one 1986 2CV and a 1997 Xsara, which I bought new. Both cars, although quite different from one another (and, most other cars too …) were fantastic. Reliable to a fault, generous with comfort and I can't believe that I could drives any other vehicles for less total cost. One of my great disappointments is that Citroen has chosen not to sell cars in the US. I could not bring the Xsara home with me, but I did bring the 2CV. I kept it until just a year ago and I miss them both very much.

      1. The late 90's Xsara and Xantia really were quite a departure from traditional Citroen. They were built more like a "normal" car, had better build quality and were priced just right. This really gave the buying public a lot more confidence in their products, as they were now seen more as a proper car than some weird French engineering exercise. They also benefited from their acoustic research shop they set up at the time, the sound deadening in a Xantia is amazing… a little bit too amazing, you can barely hear the engine idle + the weird pedal feel conspire to cause many stalls in traffic lights until you get accustomed to it.

      2. The late 90's Xsara and Xantia really were quite a departure from traditional Citroen. They were built more like a "normal" car, had better build quality and were priced just right. This really gave the buying public a lot more confidence in their products, as they were now seen more as a proper car than some weird French engineering exercise. They also benefited from their acoustic research shop they set up at the time, the sound deadening in a Xantia is amazing… a little bit too amazing, you can barely hear the engine idle + the weird pedal feel conspire to cause many stalls in traffic lights until you get accustomed to it.

  7. The PT Cruiser. To read it on the car blogs, the Cruiser was some godawful, horrible contrivance that has become the poster child for why Chrysler got itself into so much trouble. It really wasn't all that bad. When it was introduced for 2000, it got rave reviews in the enthusiast magazines for handling, practicality, fun, and even quality.The styling was praised for daring to be retro and different. I drove a few in the early days and considered it to be a fairly pleasant car with lots of room for its small size. I liked the novel styling and it was well-priced. The biggest fault with the PT was the relatively sluggish engine – not very refined and not all that happy to rev. The big mistake that Chrysler made was not developing and improving it over the years. It ended up falling far behind the state of the art, and I can think of no reason to buy a new one.

    1. I agree that when it was first introduced it was not so terrible as it seems today but they never evolved it. I had a rental last year at this time that felt like a 10-year-old cheap car even though it was brand new. I hated it for its slow engine and poorly designed luggage space.

      1. Ditto. The PT Cruiser was originally a fine little car, and could have continued to be one if it had kept pace with the times. Instead it became an excellent example of what was wrong with Chysler. It was allowed to rest on its laurels while the rest of the industry moved forward.

    2. A point about the Cruiser. As a courier, our company fleet includes new Calibers, an HHR and a few PT's, all of which are 2009 models. The PT, from my experience, is a pile. We got them with 3,000 miles on the clock, and have had regular maintenance every 3k. At around 20k, the PTs all started leaking oil. The brakes fade fast, the ride is crashy, its turning radius is about that of my Ford Ranger, the engine is a thrashy sluggish mess, and the gas mileage is pitiful. The HHR is a luxury car in comparison, better fuel economy, smoother engine and smaller turning radius. I think the PT was always this bad, but was heralded for its unique styling. Just my $.02
      As for undeserved reputation? Having worked at an auto shop, I noticed that Toyotas tended to break like normal cars do. I think they could put up with a little more abuse, but take almost any car and keep it well maintained, and it will last. Case in point: My uncle had an S-10 from the mid 80's that passed the 400k mark before he donated it, still running…

      1. Interesting story, but I wonder whether Chrysler's difficulties in 2009 had to do something with the problems with your fleet's PT Cruisers. After all, it seemed that Chrysler didn't even have a future in 2009 (and it's still somewhat questionable). Would the people on the assembly lines have a job in a year's time? Those situations don't bode well for build quality. The same thing happened in the late '70s when Chrysler was on the ropes – quality took a huge dive. I've known several people who bought early PT Cruisers – for the most part, they loved their cars.

    3. Agreed, and I'll throw the HHR in the mix (although it's frequently forgotten about) – same idea, similar flaws (although the HHR's got much less visibility), and similar strengths. They're both wagon versions of some pretty decent econocars (the Neon and Cobalt), wrapped in old people clothes.

    4. A point about the Cruiser. As a courier, our company fleet includes new Calibers, an HHR and a few PT's, all of which are 2009 models. The PT, from my experience, is a pile. We got them with 3,000 miles on the clock, and have had regular maintenance every 3k. At around 20k, the PTs all started leaking oil. The brakes fade fast, the ride is crashy, its turning radius is about that of my Ford Ranger, the engine is a thrashy sluggish mess, and the gas mileage is pitiful. The HHR is a luxury car in comparison, better fuel economy, smoother engine and smaller turning radius. I think the PT was always this bad, but was heralded for its unique styling. Just my $.02
      As for undeserved reputation? Having worked at an auto shop, I noticed that Toyotas tended to break like normal cars do. I think they could put up with a little more abuse, but take almost any car and keep it well maintained, and it will last. Case in point: My uncle had an S-10 from the mid 80's that passed the 400k mark before he donated it, still running…

  8. Generally speaking, Chryslers, at least in the way their build quality and reliability are percieved. While several models deserve their reputations for poor dynamics and undesirability (lookin' especially at you Caliber, Sebring), I have found my late model Jeep Cherokee, Ram pickup and Dodge Caravan to be superior in many ways to the Fords that preceded them. Reliability has been on par with just about anything else I've had, parts cheap and power more than sufficient, as long as you opt for the largest engine available.

    1. Chrysler had a terrific reputation for engineering and quality up to 1957. Then it all went to hell – the all-new '57 cars were riddled with problems, poorly built, and were horribly rust-prone. That bad reputation has never gone away, and it is at least in part deserved. For example, I owned a Duster 360 for several years. The drivetrain and suspension were extremely strong and pretty much trouble-free. However, the body and interior assembly quality was really shoddy. Also, the car rusted with a vengeance. I know of quite a few Mopar owners who have had similar experiences.

  9. In honor of its death announced earlier today, my vote is for the RX-8…which throughout its life was haunted by the reputation of rotary engines of yore.
    Unreliable? 6 years and 80,000 miles, not a single mechanical fault.
    Slow? Not really. Just keep the engine screaming…because it likes screaming.
    Oil guzzler? Sure, it's by design. I've had to dump in a $3 quart of Castrol every 4000 miles. No big deal.
    Gas guzzler? Well…yes. By 1970's standards though, Sexy Rexy is damn near a Prius though.

  10. My vote for the car that has gone to history with a largely underrated reputation was the 1979, 1980 and 1981 (was there an '82?) European Ford Fiesta. I have owned two of them, one the standard model and the other the "S" sport version. I don't know which one was more fun. The "S" was faster, and handles like a roller skate but the standard model was almost as much fun to drive and got totally outrageous fuel economy. Ford Europe has gone on to keep the Fiesta line going until this very day. I wish I knew when it started. I would love to find one of them today.

    1. IIRC Ford put quite a bit of engineering effort into the Fiesta Mk 1, as it was their first FWD car and they wanted to get it done right.

  11. Hummers as being good vehicles off-road!
    The H1 is mechanically over-competent but is just TOO WIDE for most trails
    The H2, come on, we don't need to make fun of the retarded. Not any better than a Tahoe, which is not very good at all
    The H3 is passable, but it cant' do anything a significantly cheaper and less embarassing Wrangler can't.

    1. H2 has 3/4 running gear, air suspension, 35" tires and locking differentials.
      …and the body of a pregnant sow.
      I hate the H2 for sucking so badly when it totally didn't need to. Different sheet metal on that chassis and it would've been an awesome vehicle.

  12. I would have to argue that almost any new American car. There are a ton of people out there still holding firm to the sentiment that American cars are still of the build quality and sporting design that made the Corsica and Topaz so memorable. Consequently, a large percentage of these same people still beleive that Toyotas are the best made vehicles money can buy, which, given recent troubles over in Toyodaland, can be validly questioned….
    Nearly every new vehicle coming out of an American manufacturer ( not so fast there Chrysler…) is infinitely more well designed and built than the crap that GM and Ford were pushing off ten years ago.

    1. "Nearly every new vehicle coming out of an American manufacturer ( not so fast there Chrysler…) is infinitely more well designed and built than the crap that GM and Ford were pushing off ten years ago. "
      But are they better designed and built than their their import competition? That's the really important question. I'd say Ford is in the mix, and bits and pieces of GM's lineup come pretty close. Otherwise, they're still chasing the leaders — although when Toyota is doing its damnedest damnedest to behave just like the Old GM, they may not be the leader for long.

    2. "Nearly every new vehicle coming out of an American manufacturer ( not so fast there Chrysler…) is infinitely more well designed and built than the crap that GM and Ford were pushing off ten years ago. "
      But are they better designed and built than their their import competition? That's the really important question. I'd say Ford is in the mix, and bits and pieces of GM's lineup come pretty close. Otherwise, they're still chasing the leaders — although when Toyota is doing its damnedest damnedest to behave just like the Old GM, they may not be the leader for long.

  13. Porches. I think this has more to do with how they are driven though. My buddies in NASA (that run mostly mustangs and cobras) walk on those high end beatles most days because they expect to break a thing or two and have the means to fix it themselves.

    1. They have to kill that thing and just make a 300 convertible. The only reason I'd consider owning a Mopar from the last few years is that they make a few decent rear-wheel drivers.

    2. They have to kill that thing and just make a 300 convertible. The only reason I'd consider owning a Mopar from the last few years is that they make a few decent rear-wheel drivers.

  14. The Toyota Hilux. One Top Gear segment has everyone believing that these trucks are invincible. I think most any full size American truck built before 1990 would stack up against it nicely and probably do most everything better. This is especially true if the American truck has a straight 6. The Big 3 just never sold to the 3rd world Warlord Market like Toyota so they don't have that rep going for them either. I still see unrestored 60s and 70s Ford and Chevy work trucks on the road everyday. When was the last time you saw a Toyota built before 1985 still on the road? I think a Slant-6, Ford 300, or Chevy Small Block would stack up pretty well against any Toyota engine. Sure the Chevy might run like crap, but it will keep running!

    1. I can answer from personal experience. In the late '70s, I worked as a field tech for a largish A&E/surveying company. We had a fleet of Chevy and Dodge pickups as well as a couple of Toyotas. All were pounded equally hard on construction sites and new developments, including plenty of fairly hardcore off-road time. Driving 100+ miles per day was not unusual, as we covered all of Central Florida. I used to drive the Toyotas off-road filled with bags of drilling mud or Sakrete or carrying a 100-gallon tank of water. I can't tell you the number of times I had to dig or crank myself out of getting stuck. The Toyotas generally held up better than the American trucks. We never had to rescue a Toyota because of a breakdown. Can't say the same about the Chevy or Dodges. While the old American trucks were quite tough, the Toyotas could at least keep up with them if not do better.

    2. I can answer from personal experience. In the late '70s, I worked as a field tech for a largish A&E/surveying company. We had a fleet of Chevy and Dodge pickups as well as a couple of Toyotas. All were pounded equally hard on construction sites and new developments, including plenty of fairly hardcore off-road time. Driving 100+ miles per day was not unusual, as we covered all of Central Florida. I used to drive the Toyotas off-road filled with bags of drilling mud or Sakrete or carrying a 100-gallon tank of water. I can't tell you the number of times I had to dig or crank myself out of getting stuck. The Toyotas generally held up better than the American trucks. We never had to rescue a Toyota because of a breakdown. Can't say the same about the Chevy or Dodges. While the old American trucks were quite tough, the Toyotas could at least keep up with them if not do better.

    3. I dunno. I think domestic trucks of the era would probably hold up better in the rust belt (okay, they definitely did), but the 22R is one of the toughest motors I have ever seen. When I was a kid I drove one for over an hour is the summer heat with nothing but vapor in the cooling system.

      1. I ran the 4.9L I-6 in my F-150 for about 3 miles with ZERO oil pressure. Found out that little washer has to be in the right position on the distributor to let the shaft down far enough to engage the oil pump. No known ill effects from that abuse.

  15. Citroen Xantia. Yeah, yeah, not sold in States and the radiator shroud actually has a molded warning label that states that this vehicle is not to be sold in North American under any circumstances and no warranties shall ever be honored…. BUT… their resale value in EU was ridiculously low and aside from that one Turkish guy on that other blog I've never heard anyone actually wanting one. My mother has had one for ages and last I heard the mileage was north of 130 thousand. It has been dead-reliable in temperatures ranging from -40 to +90F, requiring only regular maintenance and a couple very reasonably priced and easily available gas balls. Even the AC works!

  16. Korean cars are crap.
    Lately Hyundai and Kia have received a few awards for customer satisfaction and initial quality. Now Korean cars 10 years ago were crap, but now i would likely consider these brands before a toyota or honda since theyve fallen from their pedestals. The Hyundai Genesis platform is cooler than anything made by the old Japanese standbys.

    1. It's getting better, isn't it? I'd argue that they damn well deserve the positive rep they're getting with their 100,000 km warranty and me actually wanting a Genesis Coupe.

    2. My mom got an Elantra in 2005, and I was impressed enough then to say that I would strongly consider a Hyundai if I were in the market for an affordable "transportation" vehicle, to which I received much incredulity from my peers.
      Five years later and my tune has changed, though in the following way: barring a need for four doors and a preexisting infatuation with AWD, I would have bought a Genesis Coupe a couple months ago instead of a WRX. It looks good, it performs, it's got three more warrantied years than my WRX + extended warranty, and oh-my-god the interior. And Brembos. And a six-speed. Yes yes, I understand this is an apples-to-oranges comparison to make, but cross-shopping is cross-shopping.
      And if I were looking for a luxury sedan? Genesis, hands down. Nothing I've been in within $20k of that car can offer those levels of comfort. And thanks to my mom's experience with warranty/dealership, I know that 100 year/100k mile bit isn't a gimmick.
      So basically yes, I agree.

    3. It's getting better, isn't it? I'd argue that they damn well deserve the positive rep they're getting with their 100,000 km warranty and me actually wanting a Genesis Coupe.

    4. My mom got an Elantra in 2005, and I was impressed enough then to say that I would strongly consider a Hyundai if I were in the market for an affordable "transportation" vehicle, to which I received much incredulity from my peers.
      Five years later and my tune has changed, though in the following way: barring a need for four doors and a preexisting infatuation with AWD, I would have bought a Genesis Coupe a couple months ago instead of a WRX. It looks good, it performs, it's got three more warrantied years than my WRX + extended warranty, and oh-my-god the interior. And Brembos. And a six-speed. Yes yes, I understand this is an apples-to-oranges comparison to make, but cross-shopping is cross-shopping.
      And if I were looking for a luxury sedan? Genesis, hands down. Nothing I've been in within $20k of that car can offer those levels of comfort. And thanks to my mom's experience with warranty/dealership, I know that 100 year/100k mile bit isn't a gimmick.
      So basically yes, I agree.

    5. My mom got an Elantra in 2005, and I was impressed enough then to say that I would strongly consider a Hyundai if I were in the market for an affordable "transportation" vehicle, to which I received much incredulity from my peers.
      Five years later and my tune has changed, though in the following way: barring a need for four doors and a preexisting infatuation with AWD, I would have bought a Genesis Coupe a couple months ago instead of a WRX. It looks good, it performs, it's got three more warrantied years than my WRX + extended warranty, and oh-my-god the interior. And Brembos. And a six-speed. Yes yes, I understand this is an apples-to-oranges comparison to make, but cross-shopping is cross-shopping.
      And if I were looking for a luxury sedan? Genesis, hands down. Nothing I've been in within $20k of that car can offer those levels of comfort. And thanks to my mom's experience with warranty/dealership, I know that 100 year/100k mile bit isn't a gimmick.
      So basically yes, I agree.

    6. This goes along with the perceptions that American cars are crap. Perceptions are often harder to change than reality, and there is a definite lag between what is actually happening and what is perceived to be happening. This is why quality is so critical. Having excellent quality for 10 years then crap the next 10 is guaranteed to put you in trouble for the following 20 or even 30 years.
      Also, Hyundai definitely has my attention. That Genesis Coupe is a Korean pony car. I drove a base rental Elantra not too long ago and was pleasantly surprised at how good the quality was.

  17. The Edsel. It was just as competent, powerful and reliable as anything else to come from FoMoCo, but its unusual styling (which has aged very well, IMO) made it the butt of jokes from the likes of Bob Hope (a major GM shareholder at the time, or so I've heard), and this constant harangue against its looks somehow morphed into a perception by the public that it wasn't a very good car.

    1. Well said. I couldn't agree more.
      It is, was, basically a Ford Fairlane. It's dependability issues where a direct result of putting it onto the same car line building Mercs and Lincolns. The Teletouch never did work proper.
      Beyond that, it is a great car. I know we love ours. In the family since new.

      1. Actually, the senior Edsels for 1958 (Citation and Corsair) were based on the Mercury platform and not the Ford. I've heard that those were the best-built Edsels of all. For 1959 and 1960, the Edsels were all Ford-based.
        It's my understanding that the Edsel flopped for two major reasons: 1) The 1957-58 recession killed the market for medium-priced cars – especially unknown ones; and, 2) Ford built up the Edsel so much prior to launch that people were expecting something really special. When it was revealed to be no more than a variation of the existing cars, everyone was disappointed and the jokes came in.

        1. Yes, you did nail it. those where also specific reasons for its failure. Good call on the Merc platform for the high end models also.

      2. Actually, the senior Edsels for 1958 (Citation and Corsair) were based on the Mercury platform and not the Ford. I've heard that those were the best-built Edsels of all. For 1959 and 1960, the Edsels were all Ford-based.
        It's my understanding that the Edsel flopped for two major reasons: 1) The 1957-58 recession killed the market for medium-priced cars – especially unknown ones; and, 2) Ford built up the Edsel so much prior to launch that people were expecting something really special. When it was revealed to be no more than a variation of the existing cars, everyone was disappointed and the jokes came in.

  18. The Edsel. It was just as competent, powerful and reliable as anything else to come from FoMoCo, but its unusual styling (which has aged very well, IMO) made it the butt of jokes from the likes of Bob Hope (a major GM shareholder at the time, or so I've heard), and this constant harangue against its looks somehow morphed into a perception by the public that it wasn't a very good car.

  19. The Pinto. As I've stated here before, I learned to drive in one, and it put up with serious teenage hoonery, being driven cross-country while overloaded, and only died because sand trickled into the air cleaner (my fault. Dirt road hoonery). It got great gas mileage, handled pretty well, and really wasn't all that gutless. I remember it as being a good little car.

    1. Which is why you should get a Ranchero.
      Speaking of our beloved car/truck bisexual vehicles, I saw a Dodge Rampage last week in Virginia. I haven't seen one of those in ages. It had a folding lawn chair for a passenger seat and a bad two-tone roller paint job. Somehow, it was more awesome than the 911 it was parked next to.

    2. As a former Ranchero owner I would agree. It was sort of cool for a couple of months. Then I had to haul my riding lawn mower. that's when i realized I needed a real truck. They offer all the disadvantages of a truck (super-light rear end, no lockable storage, thirsty) with none of the advantages (ability to actually haul stuff, good visibility, soft/off-road capability).

    3. Which is why you should get a Ranchero.
      Speaking of our beloved car/truck bisexual vehicles, I saw a Dodge Rampage last week in Virginia. I haven't seen one of those in ages. It had a folding lawn chair for a passenger seat and a bad two-tone roller paint job. Somehow, it was more awesome than the 911 it was parked next to.

  20. Non-car people who owned Audi Foxes (1st gen Audi 80's) love to tell horror stories of what terrible cars they were and you can often find them, along with their VW Dasher counterparts, on the "worst car" lists of cut-rate automotive journalists and bargain-bin coffee table books.
    I however, would like to vouch for the character, the gusto, the better-than-average-for-it's-day reliability, and the shockingly good winter weather prowess of this wonderful little, dramatically underestimated car. An unbaffled fuel tank that would cause it to run out of gas on extended highway ramp corners, a visibly off-center semi-independent rear beam suspension and dubious handling at full passenger capacity it may have had, but really, look at what else the world had to offer those days.

  21. Non-car people who owned Audi Foxes (1st gen Audi 80's) love to tell horror stories of what terrible cars they were and you can often find them, along with their VW Dasher counterparts, on the "worst car" lists of cut-rate automotive journalists and bargain-bin coffee table books.
    I however, would like to vouch for the character, the gusto, the better-than-average-for-it's-day reliability, and the shockingly good winter weather prowess of this wonderful little, dramatically underestimated car. An unbaffled fuel tank that would cause it to run out of gas on extended highway ramp corners, a visibly off-center semi-independent rear beam suspension and dubious handling at full passenger capacity it may have had, but really, look at what else the world had to offer those days.

    1. I'm a car guy, and my first new car was a '78 Fox. I liked driving it (at first, anyway), but it was a piece of junk. The K-Jet fuel injection was the source of numerous headaches just in the first two years (warm-up regulator, fuel distributor, fuel pump, all $$$ parts), the automatic transmission would slip on the 1-2 shift (and this was the second tranny, after a tow truck driver destroyed the original one by towing it front wheels down and backwards, after said warm-up regulator died), during left-hand turns, the original exhaust system rusted out before 30k (and I didn't take short trips, so it didn't have a moisture problem), the cooling system was inadequate for Texas summers (and the electric fan was noisier than a B-36 on takeoff), and it had electrical woes as well. After three years, I traded it for a '68 Bonneville. I was glad to be rid of the Fox.

      1. I hear ya, but take into consideration what the options were then. In the late 70's, anything new from the big 3 would have been equally problematic or more than likely, considerably worse. The K-Jetronic fuel system treated me very well on my 76 Fox, 77 Rabbit and numerous 80s VWs, but I've seen the horror show they are capable of. Every time I bring up Fox nostalgia to my father-in-law he starts grimacing.

        Anyway, it obviously can't hold a candle to the reliability engineered into a modern car new car and it was the first and somewhat experimental generation of a lot of new Audi/VW/Bosch technology (and had lots more things to break than a '68 Bonneville), so the praise I offer for it is largely the context of it's era of production.

        Did I mention that mine saw it's demise in a nasty T-bone accident? The entire car bent around the impact beams in the doors, preserving the integrity of the passenger compartment. I was sad to see it go, but it absolutely saved my ass.

      2. I hear ya, but take into consideration what the options were then. In the late 70's, anything new from the big 3 would have been equally problematic or more than likely, considerably worse. The K-Jetronic fuel system treated me very well on my 76 Fox, 77 Rabbit and numerous 80s VWs, but I've seen the horror show they are capable of. Every time I bring up Fox nostalgia to my father-in-law he starts grimacing. Anyway, it obviously can't hold a candle to the reliability engineered into a modern car new car and it was the first and somewhat experimental generation of a lot of new Audi/VW/Bosch technology (and had lots more things to break than a '68 Bonneville), so the praise I offer for it is largely the context of it's era of production.Did I mention that mine saw it's demise in a nasty T-bone accident? The entire car bent around the impact beams in the doors, preserving the integrity of the passenger compartment. I was sad to see it go, but it absolutely saved my ass.

        1. My first new car was a 79 Audi Fox four door in Arctic white on blue velour. It had a north-south 1.6 K-Jetronic four banger, a four speed and a sunroof. I upgraded (!) to 175/70/13 tires on wider steelies at purchase. It was a typically slow car but it was huge fun to drive fast. It had brilliant steering and throttle response and was a blast to drive on the highway.
          One day after we had the car for about a year, my wife and I were driving on a deserted road which stretched for miles. I ever so gently kissed the redline in top gear. My wife leaned over and snapped a picture of the instrument cluster moments after. The tach shows 5K and the speedo shows 160 kph (~100 mph). At the redline of 6250 we were doing about 195k (~120 mph). I remember the car felt rock solid, composed and extremely controllable at that speed. It had to feel good because my wife was interested in snapping pictures and was not screaming in while-knuckled terror. To this day it's the fastest I've ever driven.
          Later on that drive, the alternator failed. The mechanic said it was strangely heat-blued. It was replaced under warranty. And that was the only trouble we ever had until late one night I was sitting at a red light when a guy driving in diabetic shock drove right into the back of me at 30 miles an hour. The Audi slammed into the car ahead. My seat back collapsed which saved my back but my neck was tweaked pretty good. I had to kick the door open to get out. The car was accordioned and later written off. Some fool rebuilt it and put it back on the road. But it never tracked straight again because the unit body had been twisted in the crash.
          The loss of that car taught me not to grieve for things because, after all, it was only a car. I replaced it with a 1980 GTI (yes, they were available in Canada). I had a new automotive love of my life and all was well.
          Thirty years later, though, I still miss that Audi. And that GTI come to think of it. And the other GTIs that came after… and the TR6… now now, musn't grieve for crushed scrap metal, then.

  22. Lexus IS300. How a 3000-pound, 220hp Lexus sedan became one of the priciest cars to insure is beyond me. I'd get a WRX if I wanted a fast 4-door with astronomical insurance rates.

    1. My rate on my '02 IS300 is far LESS then the VW Jetta 1.8T it replaced. Priciest cars to insure??- Not sure where your stats are coming from

  23. In honor of its death announced earlier today, my vote is for the RX-8…which throughout its life was haunted by the reputation of rotary engines of yore.
    Unreliable? 6 years and 80,000 miles, not a single mechanical fault.
    Slow? Not really. Just keep the engine screaming…because it likes screaming.
    Oil guzzler? Sure, it's by design. I've had to dump in a $3 quart of Castrol every 4000 miles. No big deal.
    Gas guzzler? Well…yes. By 1970's standards though, Sexy Rexy is damn near a Prius though.

  24. the miata. it's not nearly as entertaining as it's reputation suggests (except as a spec racer). sure, it matches grip and grunt well- in the sense that it has none of either. and the brakes are appalling.

  25. Merkur XR4ti.
    I wanted one for years (12 of them, actually) and when it finally came time to own one, I was bored to death. Maybe because it was following a dearly loved Fiat X1/9 but even pushing 20psi of boost, the car just underwhelmed.
    I felt bad for the XR4ti. I had it on a pedestal for over a decade, I suppose my expectations were just too great.

  26. My vote for the car that has gone to history with a largely underrated reputation was the 1979, 1980 and 1981 (was there an '82?) European Ford Fiesta. I have owned two of them, one the standard model and the other the "S" sport version. I don't know which one was more fun. The "S" was faster, and handles like a roller skate but the standard model was almost as much fun to drive and got totally outrageous fuel economy. Ford Europe has gone on to keep the Fiesta line going until this very day. I wish I knew when it started. I would love to find one of them today.

  27. Maybe it's from having more of a BMW state of mind, or from being a Dodge fan in the last and darkest days of DaimlerChrysler, but I've never understood what the attraction is for Mercedes-Benz.

    1. I am a huge M-B fan. Or should I say, I was a huge M-B fan. Their current offerings are lower quality (not lower quality as in sloppy assembly but lower quality as in under-designed to save pennies), ugly (as in gaudy chrome and f'ed-up awkward angles), and not available in North America (as in C-Class Diesel Wagon with four wheel drive available in Europe only).
      Now, a Benz does have one thing going for it. There is a small center in each hoon's brain which intuitively measures momentum, this is the brain center that can be stimulated easily driving heavy Detroit iron with an American 8. Now, somewhere at M-B there are artists who can take a dyno and draw the most beautiful torque curves. I don't know what they do but M-B mill seems to have mountains of torque that turns on at idle and just keeps on truckin' in a straight line right to the redline. It makes for the most wonderfully linear throttle response. You could swear your throttle foot was connected directly to the road. Now, take this beautiful, linear tap that just pours out torque like a river and bolt it into a solid tank of a car. That little momentum center in your brain just goes to full orgasm. Luckily these cars aren't equipped with brakes but instead have a boat anchor release pedal installed.
      Now, before about 1999 or 2000 M-B was a different company. You could smell the quality down to every bracket, clip, and bolt. Parts that are plastic or cheap stamped metal on every other car were machined aluminium castings on the Benz. I'm talking about parts that just don't matter in the grand scheme of the car. Like brackets to hold pumps and tubes under the hood or the door latch striker peg. But M-B just made them 100% right.
      Oh and the body. What a body. For years M-B styling was impeccable. I mean, you might not like every model but they would always age gracefully. You could park a Benz from a decade for two before in a lot of shiny, 2 year lease cars and the Benz would just sit there and make them all look like cheap cardboard cut-out of cars or crude sketches of cars drawn by children. The styling was perfect. Like a nice suit there is no particular thing you notice; you just notice the whole thing all at once and it you just want it right there.
      So in short, Mercedes-Benz has lost its way. The penny counters are designing the mechanical parts. The marketing morons are destroying the body panels and slapping on chrome. And someone in corporate is bleeding the soul of one of the oldest brands in the automotive world out into a quarterly earnings report. I don't know how these people sleep at night.
      Mercedes-Benz is trying with every muscle to become Buick. Only a corporate business guy could explain how this makes sense.

      1. I completely agree – prior to the 1990s, a Mercedes would have been the last car you really needed to buy. It was expensive to buy and keep up, but it would last forever as long as it was reasonably maintained. Mercedes had cost-be-damned build quality and engineering excellence as well as a timeless style. However, the company must have gotten a big scare from Lexus because evidence of cost-cutting began creeping in during the '90s, and the cars tried to be more fashionable and more overtly "styled". Now there isn't a single Mercedes model that I really care for.

  28. The Pinto. As I've stated here before, I learned to drive in one, and it put up with serious teenage hoonery, being driven cross-country while overloaded, and only died because sand trickled into the air cleaner (my fault. Dirt road hoonery). It got great gas mileage, handled pretty well, and really wasn't all that gutless. I remember it as being a good little car.

  29. The Mustang, or rather its solid rear axle and V8 engine. If you'd listen to the internets, it'll suck gas like a frat boy goes through beer on spring break, and there's no way in hell you'll be able to fill up because you'll never make it around the corner into the gas station (never mind if the corner's bumpy). Of course, I've driven a BMW Z4 that in spite of its IRS, got mighty upset over some frost heave, and the Mustang gets the same fuel economy as an EVO.

  30. imo, all of them. the 3rd generation (06+) cars are more capable, but the on-limit handling is ragged. the 2nd gen mazdaspeed turbo version would have been good, except the 17s ruined the ride to the point that it felt like the frame was about to yield.
    no offense to any miata fans out there. i'm less than impartial (i bought an s2000 instead); take pride in your ride, whatever it is.

    1. I completely disagree, the Miata is an extremely fun car. No it doesn't have a ton of power, or a ton of grip, it isn't a race car. It is the definition of a slow car that is fun to drive fast, the steering is quick, it's well balanced, and it clearly communicates what it is doing. I have a first generation (94, after the engine got bumped to 1.8, bigger brakes, more bracing), and it is such a simple car to drive quickly, if I want to slide it, I know exactly when the rear is going to break loose, and can let it go as far out as I want, and bring it back just as easily. That also lets me use every bit of the available grip while driving it, with no surprises. The car is simple, honest, reliable, inexpensive, and easy to work on. To me, it is the perfect toy car, I don't drive it every day, but when I do it puts a smile on my face, and is cheap enough that parking it for the winter doesn't bother me. I've never heard anyone complain about the brakes on a Miata before, sounds like an anomoly to me.

    2. But the 2009 S2000 base price was $12,000 more than the Miata. If you can afford the difference, great. Not everyone can.

  31. Is it the perfect car? No. It's not very comfortable, very little storage space, it's noisy, and as you said, it doesn't have much power. It's a tiny convertible, but it's not an S2000. The S2000 is more comfortable, has much more power, more space, and higher handling limits. But from the times I've driven them (I had a friend with one that let me push it a few times), the S2000 breaks loose without any warning, so it wasn't nearly as easy to exploit on the street, and just wasn't as entertaining for me to drive because of it. I'd love to have a S2000, but I can't justify the cost of one for a toy that is not going to be a daily driver and will be parked for 5 months out of the year, especially knowing that I will never take it onto a track where I could exploit the greater capabilities of the S2000. S2000s do look downright mean though, wish the Miata looked more aggressive, I much prefer the look of the S2000.

  32. The W123 Benz, especially the wagon. Yes I have owned one. For all of 3 months. I went back to an Olds Cutlass Cruiser (FWD A body) wagon. Quieter, roomier, more comfortable, more user friendly (one step to fold the back seat instead of 4), cheaper to fix, and better gas mileage (my Benz was a gasser).

    1. Wow, I didn't even know those were available. I've only seen diesel W123's in the states.

  33. Is it the perfect car? No. It's not very comfortable, very little storage space, it's noisy, and as you said, it doesn't have much power. It's a tiny convertible, but it's not an S2000. The S2000 is more comfortable, has much more power, more space, and higher handling limits. But from the times I've driven them (I had a friend with one that let me push it a few times), the S2000 breaks loose without any warning, so it wasn't nearly as easy to exploit on the street, and just wasn't as entertaining for me to drive because of it. I'd love to have a S2000, but I can't justify the cost of one for a toy that is not going to be a daily driver and will be parked for 5 months out of the year, especially knowing that I will never take it onto a track where I could exploit the greater capabilities of the S2000. S2000s do look downright mean though, wish the Miata looked more aggressive, I much prefer the look of the S2000.

  34. The Skyline has quite a reputation as Godzilla, right? The Skyline has some interesting history, and the current one is hyper-car fast and a blast to drive, and has received numerous accolades from many, many journalists and consumers. The Skyline does not deserve this reputation. A Skyline is just a Nissan. Soul and passion is one quality in a car that really defines its reputation, and the Skyline has neither. John Q. Public could pop in one and rip the 1/4 mile in what, a dozen seconds without much drama? I would be more impressed if Johnny Q. could do the same in a Mustang Cobra without popping it into the wall. The Cobra has spirit. The Skyline is spiritless, and has had heaps of praise cast upon it undeservedly so.

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