Honda launched the CR-V back in '97, when fossil-huffing Suburbans ruled the Earth. Most vehicles this far into their model cycle would be fading faster than red satin sheets on the heavy-duty whites cycle. But not the CR-V; the mini-SUV continues to earn its place on the showroom floor and in its owners' hearts. That said, the '06 CR-V is the last version of the SUV before Honda gives the model a long-overdue makeover. Is this, the current CR-V's last hurrah, worthy of a half-hearted muted cheer, or does the quintessential "cute ute" still possess enough charm to justify one more round of gushing applause?
Posts By: Rob Schweitzer
Novice violin students using the "Suzuki method" aren't allowed to touch their instruments for months. Aspiring musicians who aren't driven insane by repeatedly fingering cardboard cutouts often go on to make beautiful music, once allowed. Too bad Suzuki doesn't practice Suzuki; we could have all avoided the underpowered and funny-looking last gen Grand Vitara in favor of the infinitely more accomplished 2006 model. Despite obvious improvements since the Vitara's dress rehearsal, the question remains: is the new Grand Vitara finally ready for Avery Fisher Hall?
To make the Grand Vitara a headliner, Suzuki's engineers stripped their mid-sized ute to the frame and started afresh. While the new Grand's exterior is a radical departure from the old two-toned, plastic-clad and dimpled Subaru wannabe, it's still a deeply conservative design. Super-spy stealth touches — sleek rails that rise ever so slightly from the roof, black-trimmed wheel wells, black side gills on the hood — add a welcome touch of aggression. Sure, some clunkiness remains. The side mirrors are a dress size too big for the cute ute, and the huge tail lights give the rear end a decidedly dated demeanor. But they're the only flat notes in an otherwise harmonious composition.
On a recent episode of Jeopardy, none of the contestants could identify the company responsible for the motoring miscarriages known as the Aztek and Grand Prix. Seems GM's 'excitement' division has some heavy brush to clear. Despite the paddles-to-the-chest prospects of the new Solstice, the marque's main hopes for financial salvation lie with the Torrent. It's unfortunate that the name of the re-badged Chevy Equinox (or is it the other way around?) is commonly associated with the phrase "of abuse," because the little SUV doesn't deserve it. Well, maybe a trickle
The Torrent excels in a sport in which most American cars don't even place– styling. Given the Torrent's only-a-cataract-eyed-mom-on-tranqs-could-love predecessor (What is an Aztek, Alex), Pontiac's gold medal in the sheet metal sculpting event is a Miracle on Ice-caliber result. Although the Torrent's sharp lines and tailored creases are standard-issue cute-ute, the SUV is one of the more cohesive-looking vehicles in GM's truck-heavy lineup. The Torrent's both perfectly proportioned and elegantly detailed. Even Pontiac's signature "butterfly" twin-port grille looks like it finally found a happy place.