By on January 16, 2012

With all of the leaks, it’s not so easy to be surprised at NAIAS. But I managed to learn a thing or two by attending. My top dozen takeaways:

1. Compared to a Lamborghini, a Ferrari seems…normal. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve never even sat in these cars before. The view forward from the driver’s seat of any Lambo is shockingly awful. I have a much easier time visualizing myself behind the wheel of the Ferrari FF, where the windshield design actually appears to have had forward visibility as a priority. Similarly, when behind the wheel of the Rolls-Royce you’re clearly looking down upon the common folk, while the Bentley comes across as a normal car, just lavishly furnished. I guess it’s a matter of whether you’re buying a car to make a statement or to drive (or be driven in).

2. The Subaru BRZ has a surprisingly nice interior, with open sight lines, supportive seats, and quality materials. The interior in the FR-S is very similar, but I wasn’t able to sit in the Scion and, from what I’ve read, it won’t be available with the Subaru’s up-level faux suede trim. How did the joint venture sports car end up with a nicer interior than you’ll find elsewhere in either partner’s lineup?

3. Lexus doesn’t have a clue. If you have to give a prepared speech to explicitly inform the press that you’re “exciting and dynamic,” then you’re not.

4. Chevrolet tries harder, but also doesn’t have a clue. The brand introduced two concepts based on “really getting to know Gen Y well.” Gen Y said it wanted functionality. Chevrolet responded with a pair of coupes, suggesting that GM continues to project its own preferences onto its target markets. Beyond their inherent functional limitations, both concepts were roundly panned on aesthetic grounds, one for being nothing new, the other for insufficient coherence.

5. I’m not Gen Y, but Chevrolet might yet become my best friend. I actually liked one of the concepts, the CODE 130R. Not because it’s attractive, and not because it’s a coupe. With three kids, I have absolutely no use for a coupe. But because it suggests that GM might actually offer an affordably-priced compact rear-wheel-drive car. Add a second set of doors, and perhaps a hatch as well, and I’d be very interested.

6. In another 30 years, Chevrolet might reintroduce the Cavalier. Or even the Aveo. After all, Dodge is bringing back the Dart, which old folks remember as a POS. To their credit, Dodge has packed the car full of features not often found in a mainstream compact, including reconfigurable LCD instruments, four-way power lumbar adjustments, and black leather with red perforations.

7. Honda, or at least Acura, might have finally rediscovered the plot. The semi-premium branch introduced a couple of cars that were pleasant to look at, and perhaps even a lot of fun to drive. The company’s turnaround doesn’t appear to have come soon enough to save the redesigned RDX (and across the aisle the Accord concept was also well short on wow value), but the Civic-based (if ill-named) ILX looks good. Perhaps it will fill the spot vacated a decade ago by the Integra? The new NSX also looks fantastic.

8. Acura is applying for U.S. citizenship. The brand will now be based in the U.S. The new NSX will be engineered in California and assembled in Ohio. An exotic from Ohio?

9. Pros and cons of the new Fusion. Biggest downside surprise: the car doesn’t look as good as I expected. The bodysides lack the fluidity of the Jags and Astons the car emulates. Why rake the windshield and backlight so dramatically, then make the bodysides so lean and stiff? Biggest upside surprise: despite the sweeping roofline, the back seat is very roomy and the most comfortable I’ve experienced in a mainstream midsize sedan. A nearly perfect height off the floor, seatback angle, cushion size, and shape. Don’t think rear seats sell cars? Check out VW’s sales.

10. The Buick Encore has a surprising amount of interior room for a 168.5-inch-long vehicle (a foot shorter than an Acura RDX). Adults will find sufficient space and comfortable seats in both rows. What the driver won’t find: sufficient power. Unless the Encore is packed with as much aluminum and magnesium as the ATS, and consequently tips the scales south of 3,000 pounds, the Sonic’s 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four will provide little joy. The Encore’s exterior design isn’t the most appealing, with proportions that recall the Rendezvous and odd little black plastic trim pieces on the rear pillars.

11. Cadillac, on only its third try in thirty years, might have finally matched, even beaten, the Bavarians at their own game. Unlike most other recent GM cars, which have been a couple hundred pounds overweight, the new ATS will check in below the competition. The ATS’s driving position is very similar to that in the C-Class, providing an excellent view forward, and better than the new 3, where you’re buried behind a towering instrument cluster. The engineering team is clearly fanatical about the car, especially how it steers and handles. If it handles half as well as they claim, I’m gonna want one. Especially if the wagon they’re not denying is offered in the U.S. with a manual.

12. Lincoln’s sales are low…by choice. Or so marketing VP Jim Farley would like us to believe. Lincoln dealers’ relatively low sales will enable them to provide their customers with more personalized service, compared to the “big box” luxury car retailers from across the oceans.

Michael Karesh operates, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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75 Comments on “A Dozen NAIAS Takeaways From Michael Karesh...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    What’s the crazy-looking headrest on the rear seat with brown inserts? The headrest on the othert side looks normal.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      From the color combinations and striker plate design, I’m guessing Buick. The headrests would look the same in their lowered position; it appears they just hang down against the support posts when raised.

      • 0 avatar

        I would have been nice if the pictures were labeled. I was trying to guess which pictures applied to some comments.

      • 0 avatar

        I uploaded them with titles, but these were somehow lost in the editing process. WordPress does this sort of thing. I’d fix them, but fear losing the required “courtesy of” labels that Derek kindly added after the titles were lost. In the gallery the original labels are displayed.

    • 0 avatar

      That interior is only going to appeal to a certain sort, a certain sort that I really don’t want to know.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s designed to force you to raise it when you sit back there.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m wondering if it is more or less the opposite; in other words, it’s designed to allow you to lower it when no one is sitting in back so that you have a prayer of seeing out the rear window. Evidently, it’s OK to have less safety (reduced visibility) when you have more people in the car. Because that makes all the sense in the world.

      • 0 avatar

        And you think it would be better to have no option to move the headrests out of the way when they’re not in use? Or you think ordinary folk shouldn’t be trusted to make that decision? Sheesh, what do you people want? Not happy when the driver is given the option and assumed to have good sense, not happy when the choice is made for you. Unbelievable.

  • avatar

    “GM continues to project its own preferences onto its target markets”

    Clever way to sum it up. It certainly explains many things.

  • avatar

    “After all, Dodge is bringing back the Dart, which old folks remember as a POS.”

    Since it was leaked on the internet on Jan 7th, and after reading tens of articles and possibly hundreds of comments and replies on the Dodge Dart from a wide range of demographics; Congratulations, you are the first person who has said it is remembered as a POS, and honestly I would like to know where you got this information from.

    • 0 avatar

      It was news to me too. It isn’t like they called it the Aspen…

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like memories of earlier Darts differ. A few older people I spoke with don’t recall it so fondly. Not remotely a scientific sample.

      But auto makers don’t usually discontinue model names with strong positive associations (Acura being an obvious exception).

      And, well, they did resurrect “Aspen,” if only for a few years.

      • 0 avatar

        They weren’t fancy, or accurately assembled, but they were about the toughest and most durable cars ever produced by the big 3. I used to see them doing third world taxi duty during my travels in the mid-’90s, when the newest ones were twenty years old.

      • 0 avatar

        People who didn’t own them tended to dislike them — they were never much to look at or especially distinguished. People who owned them tended to love them due to reliability. Or drugged upholstery maybe.

      • 0 avatar

        The Dart/Valiant twins were terrific cars from the get-go in 1960 until 1973 or 1974, when the terrific slant sixes were overwhelmed with smog controls that Chrysler had done a bad job with (one of the major problems plaguing the Aspen-Volare twins). The slant sixes were considered 300,000 mile engines, and the cars were otherwise high quality. My parents had a 1970 for about 16 years, which was the best car they ever owned with the possible exception of the Volvo 940. The Valiant/Darts were absolutely not pieces of s**t. They were the creme de la creme in reliability.

      • 0 avatar

        If you wanted a reliable compact, the Dart/Valiant twins were one of the few cars with a better-than-average Consumer Reports reliability rating. Until the Toyota Corona that is…

      • 0 avatar

        Blah. Posters singing the praises of the Dart never lived with one. I learned to drive in my parent’s 74 Dart. The carb was a never-ending nightmare, and the car handled like a beached whale. And the fuel economy was terrible. I trust the new version is a step up.

    • 0 avatar

      The ones I remember people owning, 1967 and later, were very competitive at the time. Not quite as good as the Malibu and Nova, but less rust-prone than the Fords.

      Carpooled in the early 80s with a guy who had a 1975 Valiant (same car), which was solid and reliable despite spending its first several years in Northeast Pennsylvania.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow, people really do have short memories don’t they (or they’re in their 20s)!

      The Dodge Dart was a POS because:
      1) it was as boring a box as you could imagine (the K-cars were its spiritual successor).
      2) it was the #1 choice of grandparents everywhere who simply didn’t care.
      3) it played a key role in creating the “Stodgy Dodge” moniker.
      4) it lingered in the market, with its boxy inspiration far too long.
      5) it represented the worst of the 70s, in a slighly more compact form.
      6) it was a sea of crappy vinyl seating and bad plastics and the most boring interior design possible (because old people liked that).

      THAT’S WHY! Michael is correct. No one could have “fond memories” of the Dart of old.

      • 0 avatar

        Congratulations, you just described virtually every Big 3 car of that era. None of those make it a POS. uninteresting, sure. The defining heights of POSness are defined by the likes of Maverick, Vega, Chevette, Sunfire, Cordoba, Mont Carlo. A randomly composed list that I’m sure will insult many. Note that some of these are even “interesting” relative to what was going on at the time.

        Dart may not have been car you or I or any other car fanatic would own, but that doesn’t make it a POS. Or, if it does, the term is meaningless because it applies to most of what is built in all eras.

  • avatar

    Great pictures Mike.

    Was the ATS’ “Cue” system accessible?

  • avatar

    I remember the Dart as a reliable little compact. Nothing fancy, nothing one aspired to, but a sturdy little daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Dennis Weaver and Steven Spielberg may remember the Dart, too. It was the car Weaver’s character drove (and prevailed in!) in Spielberg’s circa 1970 “Movie of the Week” on ABC entitled “Duel”…

    • 0 avatar

      My aunt had one, a green Swinger with a white vinyl top. Kind of sharp looking car but when you floored it –with a 318 V8 as I recall–the only thing that happened was the interior filled with smoke. Never could consider a Chrysler after driving that car.

      • 0 avatar

        My grandmother had a 74 Dart Sport 2-door, loud banana yellow with a fat black stripe down the side (well, yeah, and a black vinyl roof). With a 318 V8 and a 3-speed automatic that would down shift with the slightest accelerator pressure. “Numb” does not begin to describe the power steering, so overboosted you could spin the steering wheel from lock to lock with minimal pressure from your pinkie. As far as I could ever tell the power brake pedal was a simple binary switch: from “my foot is not near the pedal” to “OMG lock the wheels!” with no in between. Driving on the highway was like trying to keep a nervous cat running straight down the road by yelling at it, with the prospect of having to use the brakes inducing terror in me and my brothers when driving it. Somehow my grandma was able to drive the thing smoothly, and quick. Damn she loved that car. Bulletproof and ran great for her till she sold it in 1999.

        Not my thing, and certainly highly flawed, but in the scheme of things hardly a POS.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the scouting report, Michael.

    If the Subaru BRZ has an inviting interior, it sure doesn’t come across in pictures. I feel like lining up a trauma surgeon to stitch my gashed elbows.

    If the Fusion has that spacious of a back seat, it officially leaves no reason for the disappointingly cramped Taurus to exist, except maybe in SHO EcoBoost trim.

    The Civic-based Acura sedan looks good, though I’ll bet that per usual Honda practice, it’ll look a lot less glamorous with smaller wheels in production form. It’ll be equally interesting to see if they nailed the interior, engine performance and NVH — a Civic, even a well-disguised one, won’t get it done in this price class.

    And finally, I don’t remember the Dart as a POS. Crude to be sure, but it steered well for the era and had the trusty slant six. I rather liked it.

  • avatar

    The only car maker who will capture GenY is the one still giving n.i.n.j.a loans.

  • avatar

    I saw the “Dart” name and the first question in my mind was “I wonder if it’ll have a cardboard glovebox liner”. Probably dating myself with that one..

    And count me as +1 if Caddy offers a stick ATS wagon. Audi stopped making them, BMW seems poised to do the same, Saab is gone, Subaru only makes very ugly things, and I’ll burn in hell before I own another Jetta wagon.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like you’re in the same minority as the people I spoke with. Everyone else recalls the Dart as a solid compact.

      There were a few different cars with the Dart name, across three different size classes. Perhaps everyone isn’t thinking of the same car?

      • 0 avatar

        Good point, Michael. My positive memories were of the earlier, smaller and squarer model from the mid- to late- 60s. The later ones were longer with a rounded, bulbous tail reminiscent of late-60s GM big cars. They had thumpin’ straight-line performance when equipped with the 340, but I think the quality was slipping.

      • 0 avatar

        Having a cardboard glovebox liner does not make a car a POS. All it says about the car is that it has a cardboard glovebox liner.

        “Sounds like you’re in the same minority as the people I spoke with. – Everyone else recalls the Dart as a solid compact.”…with a cardboard glovebox liner.

      • 0 avatar

        Rest assured Michael, when my dad found out about the new Dart he laughed out loud and said “hopefully this one’s not such a piece of sh*t”…so you are by no means alone. My friends father reacted in the same way. This coming from a man who grew up with American cars and hasn’t touched them since the 80s.

  • avatar

    “Honda, or at least Acura, might have finally rediscovered the plot.”

    Yeah I am getting my Christmas wish. ILX and NSX both look great. Sad TSX is going awawy but my 08 TSX may get replaced with an ILX if it’s lighter and nimbler (and cheaper hopefully). Will check it in 6 years.

    I still think Encore will turn out to be a decent little CUV and will do just fine.

    • 0 avatar

      The ILX makes me happy because a) I might get one for a second car someday, and b) it will probably (finally) lower the resale on the TSX a little bit, and I’ve wanted a 2008 TSX (the last beautiful one) for a LONG time.

  • avatar

    This is great!

    I hope the ATS is good.

    Lincoln’s sales are low…by choice. Or so marketing VP Jim Farley would like us to believe.


    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Or as a great American philosopher (and onanist) once stated, “I meant to do that!”

    • 0 avatar

      Give Lincoln credit for trying to make lemonade out of the lemons they’re off-loading on dealers. But this is hilarious:

      “Lincoln dealers’ relatively low sales will enable them to provide their customers with more personalized service, compared to the ‘big box’ luxury car retailers from across the oceans.”

      Yes indeed, when you walk into a car showroom, you really hope there are two or three salesmen available to work you over, instead of just one.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised that the BRZ has a nice interior…it looks rather cheap and plasticky in the photos, with a design that seems more appropriate for a truck.

    I haven’t seen the Fusion in person yet, obviously (the Houston Auto Show is in 2 weeks, and it looks like while they’ll have the new Escape there, Fusion will be a no-show) but I think I see what you mean about the sides looking a bit “stiff” – I noticed that in the first official pictures, actually. I blame the ridges coming off the taillights, which from a front 3/4 view make the rear deck look quite tall and thus conspire to flatten the flanks out a bit. I consider it more of a niggle, though, and overall I think it’s a fantastic-looking car, especially for a relatively humdrum midsize sedan.

    As for the ATS, it’s a very impressive bit of design, if a bit too similar to the CTS from the A-pillar back. The interior looks superb, and it sounds like it’ll drive well going by all the effort put into it. A manual-trans wagon variant would be sublime.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, it is certainly all business, and no Lexus. Everything looked and felt solid and there was a large amount of red-stitched suede trim. Perhaps not all of it will be on the production car? I assumed this was the production car, but now that I think of it I should not assume. I do wish I’d taken more, better photos of it.

      I can add that the back seat is very tight, with no legroom if the front seat is set for a six-footer. If the person in the front passenger seat is willing to sacrifice a little then another man of average height can sit in back.

  • avatar

    These pictures really need captions and should be placed under the matching text, not above it with the previous numbered item.

    The comments on the CODE 130R caught my eye. I would love to see someone make affordable and practical RWD cars. The BRZ/FR-S may be it, but I’m assuming those twins won’t be suitable daily drivers for a highway commute.

    ILX looks good. Hopefully it drives well and gets the NVH plaguing newer Hondas under control.

  • avatar

    Interesting to see Lincoln basically concede that it has become a niche brand. Unfortunately, nobody (including Lincoln) seems to know exactly which niche it fills. The “we offer a more intimate experience than ‘big box’ luxury retailers” line is the biggest BS PR spin I’ve heard in a while. A brand that was not too long ago the #1-selling luxury brand in the U.S. should not be okay with having shrunk to niche brand size.

  • avatar

    Acura has (3) vehicles being built in the US.

    Buick will import the Encore from Korea.

    My, how things change.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes how things change – Acura is a dying brand available in only a few markets. Buick is a growing brand (here and abroad) and is available in most markets.

      • 0 avatar

        Most markets? North America, China, Taiwan, and Israel is most markets? Buick’s growth here is due to the demise of Pontiac, Saturn, and Oldsmobile. GM didn’t keep that big of a percentage of the customers they orphaned, but those they kept had to buy something. Spinning that as a triumph of Buick is laughable, but then again you did say Buick was available in most markets. BTW, Israel must be a crucial market, since Acuras are available in North America, China, and Hong Kong.

      • 0 avatar

        I won`t take advice from someone who said not long ago that the VW Jetta outsold the Ford Focus because there are more VW dealerships than Ford in the US! I also recall you saying that you couldn`t tell the difference between a Fiesta and a Focus, well it is probably as hard as telling the difference between a Fit and a Civic. Certainly easier though than telling the difference between a 2011 Civic and the “all new” 2012 Civic! So much for spinning!

        You have forgotten the middle east and New Zealand as other Buick markets. Buick handily outsells Acura in the major markets of the US and China. Acura isn`t even sold in its home market of Japan.

      • 0 avatar

        That was sarcasm. VW having more outlets in the US than Ford? Really? The point was that there are over 4,000 US Ford dealers and approximately 600 US VW dealers selling the same number of compacts, even though VW pulls pretty far ahead when you add in Golfs. Ford dealers sell an average of less than one Focus a week, while VW dealers come close to selling an average of one Jetta a day. I assumed everyone knew enough to identify such obvious sarcasm, but I’ve over-estimated you once again. I was also obviously kidding about the possibility that the Focuses flooding my local dealers could have been Fiestas. Having run the numbers, they must be thrilled to have a year supply(44) of Focuses on hand. Mossy has 40 Focuses in stock according to their inventory: Ford Focus&paCode=05428&zipCode=92109#callback=reanimateSession&data%5BzipCode%5D=92109&data%5Bdealer%5D=05428&data%5Bvehicle%5D=2012+Ford+Focus&data%5BsortDesc%5D=false&data%5Bpage%5D=8

        Supply isn’t the issue. For comparison, my local VW dealer has 46 of the 296 Jettas they’ll likely need this year. Looking at traffic, I’d say they’ll sell more than the national average while Mossy is on the phone trying to stop Ford from delivering any more Focuses.

        As for Buicks in the middle east or New Zealand, I searched on Buick and listed the coutries on Buick and Acura’s wikipedia pages. Now that you’ve brought up those nations, a quick search returns that Buick stopped selling cars in New Zealand during World War II. A search for used Buicks in New Zealand returned one match, a Nissan Skyline. Buick ceased middle eastern sales when the Roadmaster was discontinued. For various reasons Buick has a large presence in China, which has turned out to be a rare good business decision for GM, although they’d have been much smarter to choose a more viable North American brand like Pontiac to promote in the first place.

      • 0 avatar

        I didn’t want to assume it was being sarcastic because with you one never knows. Although you are rather acerbic, so I should have known.

        Thanks for finding out about New Zealand, so it seems Acura sell in as many or nearly as many places as Buick. They just sell many less vehicles. Make of that what you will.

  • avatar

    I know the old Darts had a history of being bullet-proof. Actually they weren’t. I had a friend who owned a Dart back in 1979 that was riddled with bullet holes. So, not bullet-proof.

    Though they may have been reliable.

    My problem with Darts, and I did have a problem with them, was the drivers. I swear that more than half of the annoyingly driven cars in the 70’s were Dodge Darts. By annoying I mean wallowing all over the road with little regard for -or perhaps ability to navigate- things called “lanes”. Or maybe it was the Dart’s steering system after all. I never worked out the cause but I was incredulous about this for years. I’m glad they’re off the road. But I am a bit excited about alpha Darts.

    • 0 avatar

      Everyone has been jogging my memory. My parents actually bought a Volare back in 1976. I remember them talking about how the slant six was supposed to be “bulletproof” (the troublesome carburetor was another story).

      So why not retain the Dart name for the new car? Because while the car was thought to be durable, it was also regarded as cheap and boring. Not a POS in the sense of falling apart, but of being an obviously cheap car. Much like the Cavalier (some of which do go 250k miles).

      The new Dart, with its upscale features, does not aim for the same position.

  • avatar

    Mike – regarding the Fusion and “The bodysides lack the fluidity of the Jags and Astons the car emulates. Why rake the windshield and backlight so dramatically, then make the bodysides so lean and stiff? ”

    Didn`t you (correct me if I mis-remembered) also say you don`t like gimmicks and odd lines on the side of cars just for the sake of it. This is a sensible midsize car that is by all accounts spacious in the back (unlike the Focus). So maybe the side design reflects this. What were the interior plastics like?

  • avatar

    Lincoln is NOT becoming less popular, its appeal is becoming more SELECTIVE… (spinal tap reference)

  • avatar

    ‘Acura is applying for U.S. citizenship. The brand will now be based in the U.S. The new NSX will be engineered in California and assembled in Ohio. An exotic from Ohio?’

    In the world we live in now, this cannot be outside the realm of possibility. Maybe the Mayans were right…

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    If the Dart/Valiant was a POS, it was a sturdy little POS. It also spawned the Duster, Demon, 340s and 360s in a tossable light chassis.

    Sadly, the Volare/Aspen killed its diplomacy….

  • avatar

    “After all, Dodge is bringing back the Dart, which old folks remember as a POS”

    Umm… that’s not necessarily “old folks” opinion. That’s YOUR opinion. So much for good journalism.

  • avatar

    Michael: Comments on your comments…
    1) No comment. Wasn’t able to sit in any of those.
    2) Underwhelmed with both Subie/Scion twins. Goofy names, BRZ? FR-S? Scion should have been marketed as a Toyota Celica. Doesn’t seem to fit the Scion brand. Exterior OK, couldn’t sit in either, not sure about interiors.
    3) Lexus might be clueless, but the Lf-Lc(?) concept was surprizingly, my favorite of the show. Damn sexy car! However, Lexus “pinched” Audi grille looked absolutely ridiculous on their big SUV.
    4) Did not like either Chevy concept much.
    5) Of the two, I liked the “Code” the best. Looked like the offspring of a scandalous affair between a Camaro and a BMW 1-Series.
    6) VERY impressed with the Dart. Looks like a home run for Sergio. Interior is a cut above the class. Hope they do a coupe and convertible version. Most people I’ve talked to seem to have fond memories of the Dart nameplate.
    7) Really liked the new Acura ILX (stupid name though). That should be a big seller for them. You are right, the new RDX must have been late to the design party. Current model looks better.
    8) If the yen stays where it is, nothing will be sourced from Japan.
    9) Thank you. Totally agree with your assessment of the new Fusion. Yes, the front grille looks like an Aston, and overall it is nice. However, however, the side and rear of the car don’t deliver what the front is promising. It’s like they took the gorgeous Evos concept and ironed it flat.
    10) Liked the Encore (awful name) more than expected. Although very small and somewhat awkwardly proportioned, interior looked surprizingly nice. It’s like an Enclave that shrunk in the wash. It just might create a little niche for itself. Don’t know why it’s not assembled in Lake Orion, with the Sonic platform mate. That would play better in Peoria.
    11) ATS looks like a Mercedes C-Class with Cadillac design cues. Not sure it looks “new” enough to stand out in the crowd. Will be hard to tell from CTS in particular. Wasn’t impressed with the XTS either, proportions are all wrong, wheelbase too short, rear overhang too long. Belies it’s FWD platform.
    12) Lincoln MKZ concept looked pretty good, but not that much better than the much cheaper Fusion. They should have given it suicide doors to give it a class distinctive feature that is part of Lincoln’s heritage. Right, I’m sure Farley is happy to sell LESS Lincolns to provide a “personal” experience for the luxury car buyer. Uh-huh.

  • avatar

    Thanks Michael for the in person look. It helps add some perspective to the show photos.

    I’m sad to hear that the Fusion wasn’t as pretty in person as it is in photos. Between the Fusion and the Optima, the midsize segment has gotten a real jolt of style lately. Did you get a chance to check out the interior? How were the materials and layout? I’m really looking forward to a full review – especially the 1.6L with a manual transmission.

    I disagree with Acura finding a clue. In recent years, they’ve gone from conservatively styled to confusingly ugly. While someone inside Acura seems to have finally heard the complaints, “not ugly” is still far from “good looking”.

    Here are a few more observations and opinions on the show.

    • 0 avatar

      If you like how the Fusion looks in the photos, you’ll like it in person.

      Was able to check out the interior. Materials are about as nice as those in a Focus, but not better. So not as far above the norm for its segment.

      Kudos to Ford, though, for offering both brown and red as interior leather color options.

      My largest problem with the interior is that the instrument panel is very deep. Anyone who’s been reading my reviews knows I don’t like the effect a deep IP has on my perceived connection with the car and the road.

  • avatar

  • avatar

    It’s always interesting to read the observations of someone actually attended the show, but I can’t agree that the original Dart was a POS. Those were tough, reliable cars. I remember people seeking out Valiants and Darts as used cars in the 1970s, much as they seek out Camrys and Accords today.

    The real problem was often that the Slant Six and Torqueflight were so durable that the rest of the car often disintegrated while the drivetrain kept running.

    A big reason Chrysler landed in trouble by 1978 was that the Aspen and Volare were designed to replace the Dart and Valiant, and disappointed a lot of customers because they really were a POS.

    • 0 avatar

      Putting together the comments here with my earlier discussions, I think we must distinguish between a car that is a POS and a car that only looks like a POS. I don’t think any of the people I spoke with earlier ever personally owned a Dart. Even these people thought of the powertrain as durable.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t recall the Dart and Valiant as being especially ugly or cheap-looking by the standards of that time, particularly the ones built before 1973. Maybe compared to a contemporary Eldorado, but people were not cross-shopping Darts with Eldorados in the 1970s.

        At any rate, I’m not sure that the flamboyant, post-1970 Eldorado has worn any better over the decades than a 1970s Dart. If anything, the Dart scores extra points for being a more honest car.

        The Dart (and Valiant) was square and boxy, but in the sedans and hardtops, that resulted a very practical, roomy car for the size.

      • 0 avatar

        I think what’s interesting about the new use of the name Dart is that Fiat (Marchionne) is trying to pull something positive out of Chrysler (model names that evoke some warm fuzzies) to fold into the new mix of Fiat-based cars. A . . . “Valiant” . . . effort?

        In some ways the “Dart” name seems like a long stretch, but if you think of it as a run-of-the-mill ordinary person’s car consistent with norms of the era, but with unusual longevity and reliability . . . well, you could certainly do worse; run-of-the-mill cars today are pretty comfortable and handle and perform pretty well compared to those of only 10 years ago. And it’s not like the industry doesn’t have a very long history of recycling names on utterly unrelated cars.

        I mostly like what I see Chrysler/Fiat doing these days. I’d say they’re making a pretty impressive effort from a position where most of us would simply be throwing up our hands and giving up.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …..”a valiant effort”……at last an honest model name……ladies and gentlemen, the revolutionary 2013 EFFORT, no game-changer, just a plodding plebeian prototype, panned by pros, blasted by bloggers, and purchased by just enough people to prove it profitable……now if only they’d build a 7 speed wagon version…

  • avatar

    Seriously, Karesh…are you mildly retarded or a shill for some other car company? The Dart was a fabulously successful line for Chrysler, managing to be a durable economy car and a muscle car depending on the year and your inclination. Nothing GM, Ford nor the imports had could match it for value between 1963-75. You obviously have a bias.

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