The word "cobalt" comes from 'kobolt', variant of the old German word 'kobold', meaning 'goblin.' As the story goes, German silver miners of yore believed that goblins would come and steal their booty, leaving worthless cobalt in its place. Not exactly an auspicious choice of names for a car, then. Still, one can hardly fault […]
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Applebee's. Outback. Red Lobster. Mediocre eateries are carpet-bombing America's landscape with the sort of scorched-earth expansionist verve that would chafe Sam Walton. How is that, exactly? To a chain, most such restaurants have been designed to look, feel, and taste the same regardless of locale. Accidental tourists who dined in a Scranton Ruby Tuesday's have a sporting chance of finding the bathroom in the Seattle franchise without asking the waitstaff. Outsized, filling portions dominate, with the quantities served constituting something of an apology for the food itself. And yet, to gorge oneself stupid on basket after basket of Riblets is to leave feeling strangely bloated and unsatisfied.
So it is with Ford's new Five Hundred. Make no bones about it: Dearborn's 'Year of the Car' centerpiece is no gourmet's feast. More to the point, the Five Hundred is a blandly flavored proposition inside and out, enticing consumers on portion size, a smorgasbord of ingredients and a low price point. Like the themed restaurants in front of which it will inevitably park, the Five-Hundred is a blatant attempt to appeal to the lowest-common denominator, blueprinted to offend as few as possible.
The 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT is a bland, blend-into-traffic ovoid. Despite ten years of mechanical innovation and evolution, the Dodge (and its sibling the Chrysler Town & Country) is still a dead ringer for the very first minivan. It still has about as much road presence as a Budget rental car.
Even so, the Grand Caravan has a message for all those NASCAR dads and soccer moms who left ten-foot-pole marks on the genre, opting for the go-anywhere machismo of towering, gas-guzzling sport-utes: come back, all is forgiven. If you can get over your image issues, the SXT is by the better beast for real-world parenting. Let's start with soccer
Here's the thing: the 2004 Honda Civic Si has already been written off. Somehow, the car that popped the cherry for America's import racers has become an also-ran, outgunned by a new generation of high-horsepower compacts like the Subaru WRX and Dodge SRT-4. Honda's legendary hatchback now finds itself in an awkward and unfamiliar position: on the outside looking in. So is it time to say 'Sayonara' to the Si?