The Truth About Cars » wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:57:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029577 The traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its […]

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02 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its type. Look, it’s even a woodie!
04 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Buick Estate name goes way back in GM history. The version we’re looking at in this Northern California wrecking yard is from the final generation of the Estate Wagon, built on the downsized B platform for the 1977 through 1990 model years (after that, you could get a Roadmaster Estate).
09 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “wood” on this car isn’t particularly convincing.
11 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe cassette deck came with auto-reverse, still a futuristic technology in the eyes of Buick customers in 1989.
14 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe non-wagon LeSabre had gone to the front-drive H-body platform by this time, which must have been a bit confusing for Buick shoppers.

02 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Question Of The Day: Should I Blow My Tax Refund On This http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-blow-tax-refund/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-blow-tax-refund/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027945 So, let me be clear: I have a very good, brand new car. I have no real need for a second car, no place to park a second car and no desire to take on a project. But god damn it, I want this. The car in question is a 2003 BMW 325xi Touring. It […]

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So, let me be clear: I have a very good, brand new car. I have no real need for a second car, no place to park a second car and no desire to take on a project. But god damn it, I want this.

The car in question is a 2003 BMW 325xi Touring. It has a clean CarProof (Canadian version of a CarFax) and it’s a manual. On the other hand, it has 328,000 km (203,000 miles), and since it’s an auction, you don’t exactly have time to contemplate whether this is a good idea or not.

But, I’ve always wanted a BMW manual wagon, and I have a decent tax return on the way. What do you say, B&B?

 

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:45:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020681 At the launch event for the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in Austin, Texas, a chat with one gentleman from Volkswagen AG turns to a discussion of old Saab rally cars and his affinity for Swedish cars. The future of Saab seems up in the air, but in his mind, Volvo’s is more clear-cut. “These next few […]

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At the launch event for the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in Austin, Texas, a chat with one gentleman from Volkswagen AG turns to a discussion of old Saab rally cars and his affinity for Swedish cars. The future of Saab seems up in the air, but in his mind, Volvo’s is more clear-cut. “These next few months will be crucial,” he says, as talk turns to the launch of the XC90, “this is their last chance to turn things around.”

By the end of the event, I’m convinced that VW has built a better Volvo than Volvo itself.

Last year, Volvo re-introduced the station wagon to American consumers on account of popular demand from the Volvo faithful. Apparently, the longer, larger and infinitely more practical XC70 isn’t a true station wagon thanks to a slightly higher ride height and a bit of cladding. Talk about the narcissism of small differences.

What we got was the V60, which is a fine car to drive, but a poor station wagon, when examined in the context of what a Volvo station wagon traditionally is; practical, with plenty of room for people and cargo, prioritizing utility over beauty. Again, the XC70 is a better wagon, but the Puritancial enthusiasts among us refuse to accept it as a wagon. The V60 is the inverse of that formula. As much as I liked driving it, it is simply too impractical and too expensive to recommend to most people.

The best solution now comes from Volkswagen, which offers something that fills the role of a traditional station wagon while costing literally half as much as a V60. The Golf Sportwagen takes the MQB platform of the Golf, GTI and Golf R and stretches it out a bit to create a proper wagon profile. The end result is a vehicle that keeps its car-like profile, while offering more cargo space than a Mazda CX-5 or Jeep Cherokee (30.6 cubic feet with the seats up, 66.5 with the seats down). Like every other MQB car I’ve sampled, there’s plenty of space in the back for passengers too. Certainly more than the V60, not to mention the Cherokee, which is unfortunately lacking in room for anyone over 6 feet tall.

On the road, the Golf Sportwagen has the minimum amount of engagement required to keep a keen driver engaged. As Jack said, the basic Golf is a remarkably composed car for something with a giant hole in the body structure. Extrapolate that to the wagon, which has a bigger hole in it, and you get an idea of what you’re dealing with here. There’s more body roll than one would like to experience in corners, and the steering is a bit light on both weight and feel, but having driven two examples with different wheel and tire packages, I suspect that good rubber would help remedy some of these issues. On the whole, it still sits on the right side of “fun to drive”.

The new 1.8T engine isn’t bad, but the diesel is a true gem. Like any diesel, it falls off towards the upper end of the rev range, but the low-end torque more than makes up for it. It’s also remarkably smooth for a compression-ignition engine, and only when you’re outside can you hear the signature “clackclackclack” that lets you know it’s an oil-burner. But that’s a small price to pay given the numbers: 150 horsepower, 236 lb-ft of torque and 31/43 mpg city highway (42 mpg if you opt for the DSG). For me, the diesel is the obvious choice. I like the low-end torque and the refined feel, but the TSI engine has a fair bit more oomph up to (170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft) and respectable fuel economy numbers(25/35 mpg with the automatic) and the TDI may not make economic sense for many drivers. Caveat emptor and all that.

The interior materials and quality appear to be head and shoulders above the competition. As my drive partner, Jalopnik’s Patrick George, said “getting into a Focus after a Golf is a lesson in abject disappointment.” I think it’s even better than the new A3, which really does look like a cut rate Audi. My main gripe is the antiquated looking infotainment system and the lack of a USB port. Both of those will be fixed for model year 2016, when Apple CarPlay and Android support will be added, as well as somewhere to plug your devices in. The overall styling of the car isn’t going to incite sexual arousal in any human being, but it looks elegant in a restrained sort of way, like a pretty girl does when wearing head to toe Ann Taylor. It will age well, if nothing else.

My ideal Sportwagen would have the 2.0T out of the GTI, but for now, I find myself desiring a TDI Sportwagen with a 6-speed. It is the ultimate in cerebral compromise. A base TSI wagon starts at $21,395, while a TDI wagon starts at around $26,000. Loaded examples of both gasoline and diesel Sportwagens just avoid the $30k mark. you’ll have to wait until 2016 to get an all-wheel drive Golf. Volvo will sell you an AWD wagon right now, and it will have a much more powerful engine. Even so, the Sportwagen’s sticker price is nearly half that of the V60, but it in no way is it half the car.

The Sportwagen could conceivably do everything you would ever want in a passenger car, and never find yourself wanting for more. Ok, maybe something with more sex appeal, but like I said, it is the ultimate car to appeal to your head. If it’s the heart you’re after, you may want to look at something entirely different than a station wagon. Then again, if VW wanted to put their 2.0L turbo engines under the hood, the case for buying a V60 would evaporate, since a T6 Volvo wouldn’t be any faster than a GTI powered Sportwagen.

When Patrick asked the same gentleman who he thought VW competed with in the United States, he suggested Subaru (pronounced Soo-BAH-roo) and Honda. Volvo was not mentioned. But if the upcoming Tiguan and Passat (which will both be built on MQB) are this good, Volvo may have some competition for the XC60 and S60 as well.

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European Review: Škoda Octavia G-TEC Natural Gas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/european-review-skoda-octavia-g-tec-natural-gas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/european-review-skoda-octavia-g-tec-natural-gas/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008938 I have talked about diesel, manual wagons in this space a few times already, so you probably know that I don’t like them. I don’t like their clatter and I don’t like their limited rev range and turbo surge. I don’t like the massive servicing costs of the common-rail ones, which is the price you […]

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I have talked about diesel, manual wagons in this space a few times already, so you probably know that I don’t like them. I don’t like their clatter and I don’t like their limited rev range and turbo surge. I don’t like the massive servicing costs of the common-rail ones, which is the price you pay for the reduction in clatter. And I hate the tons of soot they spit out.

There is one thing, though, at which they are hard to beat. It’s providing a combination of practicality and driving fun combined with fantastic fuel mileage. But hard to beat doesn’t mean impossible to beat. So, let me introduce a car that should, in theory, kick the diesel, manual wagon’s arse at its own game. The Škoda Octavia 1.4 TSI G-TEC.

What it is? In essence, it’s the only car anyone in the world needs. Which is what they say about the VW Golf, and they’re right. But this is also a Golf. Just a bit bigger, and a little bit cheaper. With lots more space inside. The rear seat legroom rivals that of the 5-series BMW, the trunk is huge, and everything is built just a little bit worse than a Golf, to fit in the Sloan’s Piech’s plan of the brand ladder.

Under its hood resides a downsized, turbocharged 1.4 TSI engine, offering a 138hp in its standard form. But this is not a standard car. This one has been factory fitted with a CNG fuel system. Under the trunk floor, there is a huge tank storing just 15 kilograms of compressed natural gas, while the original 50-litre (13.2 gallons) tank kept intact. Together, they offer a range of about 600 miles in normal driving (or 1,000 miles under “economy run” conditions), with 200 miles of those 600 in CNG-burning mode.

DSC_5060

The CNG brings great advantage in running costs – in the EU, it costs about half as much compared to gasoline, mile-for-mile. And at first, there are no significant differences between the ordinary gasoline-powered car and this one. There are sublte details, like the second fuel gauge instead of a water temp gauge in the tachometer, or the second fuel cap under the fuel door. There is also a slightly higher trunk floor, and the lack of a spare tire. Other than that, it’s just like ordinary car. The switching between fuels is automatic, and you won’t even notice it. The trip computer provides info about distance to empty on both fuels together, and each of them individually. Everything is nice and easy.

Under real life European conditions, this car gets about as cheap to run as it gets. With consumption of less than 4kg of CNG per 100km, it is possible achieve the cost of about $0.04 per kilometer ($0.06 per mile). At our electricity prices, about equals the cost of driving a Tesla in the same manner. As a matter of fact, I’m working on getting those two together to perform a real-life running cost comparison test. I have a strong feeling that Octavia may actually win.

At the same time, the CNG powered car still offers the smooth, quiet operation of gasoline engine, as well as its wide rev range. Couple that with an extremely nice interior, great build quality and top-notch suspension (the G-TEC, unlike other lower-powered Octavias, gets a multi-link axle in the rear), and you should have a clear winner on your hands. Even when I take into consideration that no real-life G-TEC will look like my press tester, which came as a top-trim Elegance model complete with navigation, automatic parking, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, heated leather seats front and rear, power everything including seats and tailgate etc., the car that is likely to get ordered by a typical customer (some mid-trim level with only a few options, costing maybe $25,000 with VAT and not $40k with VAT like the tested example) will look and function pretty well for what it is.

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The downside? Lack of power. Turns out there’s more to G-TEC’s modifications than just adding a second system, and it’s not just a different mapping, either. The company doesn’t talk about it much in its PR materials, but the G-TEC engine has a different camshaft and a different turbocharger from the gasoline version, thus slashing both power and torque curves. The result is a car that is, in real-life, slower than the lesser 1.2 TSI version, with power and torque seriously lacking in low rev-range.

Unlike a typical TSI engine, you have to rev it like an old N/A 1.6 four-cylinder. On Czech roads, with lots of corners and heavy traffic, this makes any kind of fast driving significantly uncomfortable – I once had to rush the G-TEC a bit, when I woke up just an hour and a half before I had to appear at lunch, in a town nearly 100 miles away. I made it, but overtaking on country roads was a pain and driving at 100+ mph on the highway required near-constant full throttle. This also meant that the fuel consumption skyrocketed from 4kg/100km to about twice that.

The other downside? The combination of small CNG tank with a sparse CNG station network in Europe. Two hundred miles on a tank is really not much, and with maybe one in 10 or 20 gas stations carrying CNG, you will probably end up running on an empty CNG tank quite often, burning more expensive gasoline instead. But even then, the 1.4 TSI is quite a frugal car, though nothing to write home about. Also, it is quite interesting that even when burning gasoline, the engine doesn’t get any of the lost horses back.

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In theory, the CNG cars combine a gasoline engine’s smooth, quiet power, with even better economy than diesel. And the G-TEC delivers at about 85% of this. As long as you’re leisurely, relaxed driver, you can achieve unparalleled fuel econmy, beating even some electric cars. But if you tend to rush, the car lacks in power significantly. The solution would probably be to offer the G-TEC version of the more powerful 1.8 TSI as well – and we can only hope we will get one, soon. With that, the obnoxious diesel, manual wagon can finally be taken out and shot, as it deserves.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a ratty Chrysler LHS. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photos: David Marek

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992610 In one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform […]

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08 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform and sold alongside LTD IIs for that year. Why? Well, that’s like asking why Henry Ford II refused Soichiro Honda’s offer of cheap CVCC engines for the Fiesta a few years before! Anyway, here’s an extremely green first-year LTD II wagon (not a Country Squire, which was based on the larger “regular” LTD) that I spotted in Northern California a couple weeks back.
03 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDo you like green interiors, and by that I mean large expanses of petrochemical-residue-exhaling I Can Totally Believe It’s Not Leather™ vinyl that still looks good and vivid after nearly 40 years of California sun?
02 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has you covered! This car’s seats would make nice garage couches.
13 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord sent out 23 million of these recall-evading stickers, thanks to the generosity of Ronald Reagan, and thus didn’t go bankrupt in the early 1980s. Most owners didn’t apply them, but this car’s circa-1982 owner did.
04 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine compartment had a bit of a fire problem.
19 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe can assume this car was earning its keep until the day of the fire.

Ford didn’t hesitate to pitch the big LTD as more car for the money. Look, bigger than a Cadillac, yet cheaper!

As for the LTD II: if you’re a sporty guy with a sporty mustache, the “trimmer” LTD II is for you!

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Brazil Vacation, Part II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-ii/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987546   Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism. Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in […]

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A Captiva audience?

Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism.

Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in Frankfurt as the Antara GTC.  Harley Earl may spin in his perfectly-proportioned grave…but I digress.

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Few Americans shall admit a speck of admiration for the Chevrolet Captiva SUV, but the similarly-Korean Cruze is a respectable machine to most.  Well, colossal DLO fail at both corners notwithstanding. No matter, its suitably upscale: Chevrolet Brasil offers it as their most premium sedan offering. (At R$75,020)

Strangely, the Cruze 5-door hatch is cheaper (R$71,860) than the sedan: usually it’s the other way in the US. Known as the Cross Sport 6, the Cruze Hatchback looks the business against the usual Brazilian subcompact. Here’s one driving past the scenic Vista Chinesa.

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While I have little complimentary to say of Chevrolet’s split plane grille, this Chevrolet Onix wears the face quite well.  Sure, the upper half needs to grow a good 1-2″ to meet the hood’s cut-line. Or better still, drop the cut-line instead. But the look is catchy, nicely proportioned on this small canvas.

Chevrolet Brasil made a fetching machine, but this white one in Leblon was kinda rare. And that’s the problem:

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(photo courtesy: www.simcauto.com.br)

Chevys, at least in Rio, are heavy in fleet distributions.  Rio is nearly as taxi-centric as Manhattan, but the market wasn’t dominated by something Crown Victoria-esque. There’s Renault, Fiat and Citroen hacks too, so perhaps the Bowtie-branded Daewoos sporting that unique yellow/blue stripe paint scheme are a red herring.

And perhaps there’s no such thing as American Exceptionalism in car design. Not anymore, at least.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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SEAT And The Killer MQBs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/seat-killer-mqbs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/seat-killer-mqbs/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 21:39:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974098 We know that the new MQB Golfs are bloody huge inside. If you need all of that, plus more space, more power and none of the added weight of the Golf R Sportwagen’s AWD system, SEAT has something for you non-American readers. The SEAT Leon ST Cupra will be cheaper than the equivalent Golf Wagon, but it won’t […]

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We know that the new MQB Golfs are bloody huge inside. If you need all of that, plus more space, more power and none of the added weight of the Golf R Sportwagen’s AWD system, SEAT has something for you non-American readers.

The SEAT Leon ST Cupra will be cheaper than the equivalent Golf Wagon, but it won’t have AWD, or the extra 16 horsepower. You can get a manual or a DSG, and 60 seconds come up in just 5.7 seconds. If you live in Mexico, Europe or elsewhere, game on.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Dodge Aspen Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968594 Commonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by […]

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13 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCommonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by the early 1990s. I photograph them whenever I see them, of course, but that isn’t often. In this series before today, we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this ’76 Volaré sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now we’ve got a mossy, lichen-covered Northern California Aspen wagon.
07 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe winters in the San Francisco Bay Area are cold and wet, and a car that spends a few years (or maybe a couple of decades) parked in shade will gather moss.
20 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd, much like cars that spend years in the birch forests of northern Sweden, this car has provided a home for lichens.
10 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThink the 318 under the hood is still good? Probably so, but these engines get few takers these days.
06 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSuch an expanse of brown vinyl!

Better than a Nova? That’s a tough call.

01 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Colony Park Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938577 The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was […]

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13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was uncommon then and near-extinct now. I do see some Ford LTD Country Squires in wrecking yards nowadays— this ’86 woodie and this ’87 woodie, for example— but this Colony Park is the first I’ve seen in at least a decade.
01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis generation of Colony Park wasn’t quite as majestic as its 1950s and 1960s predecessors, but it also got about twice as many miles per gallon as those barges.
11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old familiar 302-cubic-inch Windsor V8, still fitted with a carburetor in 1985, powered this wagon.
25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights!
17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis fender trim has a very maze-like shape.
08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre there little speakers in the steering wheel, or are those holes merely decorative?
10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Colorado sun has not been kind to these leather seats.

The Grand Marquis kicked some Buick and Oldsmobile butt, to hear Mercury tell it.

01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Is Scion’s Next New Car A Station Wagon? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/scions-next-new-car-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/scions-next-new-car-station-wagon/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:53:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935450 The death of the Toyota Matrix will leave a hatchback-sized hole in Toyota’s lineup. But the replacement won’t be a Toyota, if Scion’s newest concept is any indication. As we reported back in June, Scion is said to be readying a new hatchback based on the Toyota Auris. The Auris is a European version of […]

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The death of the Toyota Matrix will leave a hatchback-sized hole in Toyota’s lineup. But the replacement won’t be a Toyota, if Scion’s newest concept is any indication.

As we reported back in June, Scion is said to be readying a new hatchback based on the Toyota Auris. The Auris is a European version of the Corolla, which features an independent rear suspension, rather than the Corolla’s torsion beam setup. The new vehicle will apparently be dubbed the Scion iM, and will debut in lightly disguised “concept” form at next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Some time ago, our own Ronnie Schreiber got a chance to drive both the Auris hatchback (akin to the Matrix) and the Auris Touring Sports, which is a true station wagon variant. Will Scion be bold enough to bring the wagon version here? We’ll find out next month.

scion-la-concept-1-1 scion-la-concept-2-1

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QOTD: Another Member Of The Brown Wagon Club? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/qotd-another-member-brown-wagon-club/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/qotd-another-member-brown-wagon-club/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:32:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933906 While helping my grandmother hunt for a new car, I tried to steer her towards a Mazda3 Sport. She didn’t take to the “game changer” (which is the tagline for the car’s marketing campaign, not an attempt to cash in on my catch phrase), but I did notice a similar example on the lot. This […]

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While helping my grandmother hunt for a new car, I tried to steer her towards a Mazda3 Sport. She didn’t take to the “game changer” (which is the tagline for the car’s marketing campaign, not an attempt to cash in on my catch phrase), but I did notice a similar example on the lot.

This color, called “Titanium Flash”, looks more like brown to me. As far as I’m concerned, the line between station wagon, hatchback and CUV has been sufficiently blurred that this can qualify as a member of the mythical brown wagon species – and you can get it in a manual as well. I’ll defer to the B&B on this one, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to count every possible example to help shore up ranks.

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Question Of The Day: The Narcissism Of Small Differences http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/question-day-narcissism-small-differences/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/question-day-narcissism-small-differences/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927562   “When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” – Jack Nicholson, The Departed […]

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“When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” – Jack Nicholson, The Departed

So why is the Mercedes-Benz GLA a crossover, and a Porsche Macan is a crossover, but something like a Mazda3 Sport is a hatchback?

Well, two reasons

  1. CAFE
  2. Calling something a crossover makes it sell. Calling it a wagon or a hatchback does the opposite.

This, of course, is the opposite of what happens in the strange, insular world of automotive enthusiasm. There is a reflexive hatred of anything CUV, even when the CUV in question, like the Mazda CX-5, drives better than some passenger cars. Or witness the gnashing of teeth that accompanied the Audi Allroad’s rise and the death of the Audi A4 Avant. Both vehicles drive like lifeless appliances for those who think a Toyota Venza is beneath their station in life. But the Allroad attracted the scorn of countless forum posters, even though the two cars are basically the same, minus some cladding and a raised ride height that has zero effect on handling dynamics.

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As tempting as it is to rail against the ill-informed knee-jerk disdain for crossovers, I’ll bring it back to the original question. What is the tangible difference between the GLA “crossover” and the Mazda3 Sport “hatchback”? Why does one raise the ire of enthusiasts merely by virtue of its classification (a discrete criticism on its own, rather than being lumped in with the idea of a front-drive, entry level Benz) while an identical car is lauded with Hossanas for carrying to hatchback/pseudo-wagon torch.

Over to you, B&B.

Photo Credit: Alex Nunez/Road & Track

*For the record, I think the base GLA is a cheap, nasty looking thing designed to fleece the terminally self-conscious out of their $299 each month. I’d take the Mazda3 all day, every day. But the 345 horsepower GLA45 AMG? Well, that’s another story.

**As far as the CUV hatred phenomenon goes:  You might think they are the worst attributes of an SUV and a car combined in one, but millions of Americans couldn’t care less, and have very rational reasons for buying them, nor are they in the grip of some false consciousness and in need of a vanguard to liberate their minds from the shackles of automotive marketing. Get over it, or start buying new station wagons in meaningful numbers again.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-tercel-sr5-4wd-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-tercel-sr5-4wd-wagon/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914002 I’ve owned quite a few Tercel wagons of this generation (though most of mine were the common-in-California front-wheel-drive type), and I respect these things for their simplicity, cargo capacity, and reliability. True, they were underpowered and not exactly inspiring to drive, but they could be very lovable. Living in Denver, I see these cars just […]

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20 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve owned quite a few Tercel wagons of this generation (though most of mine were the common-in-California front-wheel-drive type), and I respect these things for their simplicity, cargo capacity, and reliability. True, they were underpowered and not exactly inspiring to drive, but they could be very lovable. Living in Denver, I see these cars just about every time I hit the junkyard, but mostly they don’t seem special enough to merit photographing. Realizing that this one is 30 years old, however, inspired me to pull out the camera.
17 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSold in New Mexico, died in Colorado. There’s some rust, but more of the paint-burned-off/snow-buildup variety than the cancerous Midwestern type,
18 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou are awesome!
19 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe notorious “ice maker” next to the license plate. I’ve never been fully clear on what you got with the SR5 package, which was available on just about everything Toyota sold in the 1980s.
06 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 3A engine was harder to kill than rats and cockroaches combined.
04 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBecause the driver had to select front- or four-wheel-drive manually, many owners of these no-center-differential-equipped cars tore up tires and/or wore out drivetrain components by driving 365 days a year on dry pavement in the 4WD setting. Probably most of those Tercel 4WD owners bought Subarus after this happened.
05 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith the air conditioning turned off, you were jamming econo.
09 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI was able to skip chaining up when driving Donner pass in the winter in FWD Tercels, simply by picking up this emblem at the junkyard and adding it to my cars. Easiest 4WD conversion ever!

01 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Bark’s Bites: The Joys of Owning a Six Hundred Dollar Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/barks-bites-joys-owning-six-hundred-dollar-subaru/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/barks-bites-joys-owning-six-hundred-dollar-subaru/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:52:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903058 “I have a couple older Subaru wagons (96-97) for sale in Morehead. Message me if you are interested.” Interested? Was I ever! As I stated in one of my more recent contributions to TTAC, I have been driving my Boss 302 as my daily driver ever since I bought it (with a brief interruption from […]

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“I have a couple older Subaru wagons (96-97) for sale in Morehead. Message me if you are interested.”

Interested? Was I ever!

As I stated in one of my more recent contributions to TTAC, I have been driving my Boss 302 as my daily driver ever since I bought it (with a brief interruption from a 1995 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Elite that had more electrical glitches than one might have thought possible). Well, with winter approaching yet again, and my right rear wheel still showing the ill effects of my last attempt to drive the Boss in about a quarter inch of snow, I thought it might make sense to investigate when a friend of mine made the post seen above on Facebook back on June 27th.

Fearing I might already be too late, I started the following message chain (the names have been redacted to protect the quilty):

27/06/2014 16:46

Bark M.

Interested in the subies! What are the details?

.

27/06/2014 16:58

G. T.

Okay one is an outback 1997 with 262366 miles and is in fair to good condition KBB is @$1800 The other is a legacy L with 163654 miles it has two set of wheels and tires. It does need a catalytic converter and some minor electrical. KBB on that one is fair condition is $684. I am open for offers especially for the pair. They are old gals but have been great cars.

.

27/06/2014 17:01

Bark M.

Does the legacy run?

.

27/06/2014 17:01

G. T.

Yes it is also a manual and is quite fun to drive.

.

27/06/2014 17:02

Bark M.

Any head gasket issues with either (and I promise that’s my last question)?

.

27/06/2014 17:03

G. T.

Yes the outback had that problem and it was replaced. That is an issue with these engines.

.

27/06/2014 17:03

Bark M.

That’s why I asked

.

27/06/2014 17:04

G. T.

There were no xmas presents for the kids that year

.

27/06/2014 17:05

Bark M.

Hahaha I bet not. Do you think the legacy could run from Winchester to the Lexington airport and back reliably (I lied apparently about the questions)

.

27/06/2014 17:05

G. T.

Yes it could

.

27/06/2014 17:06

Bark M.

I will take it for six hundred then if you’re cool with that price.
.

07/06/2014 17:06

G. T.

sold

And just like that, I owned a 1996 Subaru Legacy L Wagon, AND it was a manual! Imagine my surprise when he rolled into my driveway to make the exchange and I discovered that it was AWD! My good pal had done his KBB valuation based on the car being FWD, which meant that he had undervalued it by about $600. Well, perhaps he had been a tad generous in estimating the vehicle condition as “Fair,” too. The interior was covered in dog fur, especially the cargo area. The front passenger floorboard looked as though a soda had been spilled on it in 2003 or so and had never been cleaned up. The smell of dog was pervasive, too. Nevertheless, I was more than happy to press the cash into his hand before he changed his mind, although due to it being Sunday, we had to wait until the following day to actually change the title into my name.

The next day, I met him at the UPS Store where we had the title notarized. I swiftly took it to my local title agency, where it took a mere two trips and 45 minutes to get the title switched into my name (turned out that they needed the old plates). After paying a whopping $36 in property tax, I was officially the owner of My First Subaru.

Thrilled to death with my purchase, I drove it happily to the grocery store to make use of the spacious cargo area. After loading up the back with a week’s worth of groceries for the fam, I got behind the wheel, turned the crank…and nothing. Tried again. Nothing. The starter appeared to be working fine, and the battery wasn’t dead, but the damned thing just wouldn’t go. Oh, well. Good thing I had already added it to my insurance policy and had enthusiastically said “YES” when asked if I wanted Roadside Assistance. After a quick call home and a rescue trip by the rest of the family, I transferred the contents of the cargo area to my Flex and was ready to leave the Subaru to sit in the parking lot of the grocery store and be towed off to the local garage. I thought I might try it one more time, though, since it had been sitting for a while.

Boom, started right up, no problem, but there was a horrible whining noise that sounded like a belt problem of some type. Now what to do? The tow truck was already on the way. I decided to let them tow it to the garage anyway and allow the mechanics there to give it a once over (especially since I had bought it sight unseen and had no discernible mechanical ability).

They kept it for about a week. They couldn’t duplicate the issue. Every day I called and asked, and every day they told me the same thing. No problems with the car—it starts right up every time. No belt noise. Weird, right?

Well, I decided that I should go get it. Sure enough, it started right up. I drove over to the local library to take the kids to pick out some new books. Had a wonderful time at the library, picked out about 20 books each. Went to the Subie to drive home…no dice. ARRGH. Waited about 15 minutes. Tried again. Started right up. Oh, well. Home we go.

Ever since then, it has been dead reliable. I have driven it as far away as Charlotte (about seven hours) with no issues whatsoever. The radio works, the AC works, the power windows work (well, the switch did snap off in my hand, but it still works), the windshield wipers work, the CLA works…it’s been perfect. The shifter is exciting, because there’s no relationship between the actual gears that makes any sense at all. The shift lever will move several inches in any direction when in gear, and often just falls down and to the left, so there’s no real way to know what gear the car is actually in without doing some RPM and MPH calculations. Fifth gear is impossible to find—I have a 50/50 shot of putting it in third, instead.

I have tried vacuuming it with three different vacuums (Dyson, Shop-Vac, and Car Wash Hose), but the dog hair appears to be here to stay. However, the good news is that I have found nearly a dollar in change in the various crevices of the interior, so my net purchase price is getting closer to $599 every time I drive it. Also, it has a “LADY VIKINGS SOCCER” sticker on the rear driver’s side window that probably has a street value of about $5.

The best thing about the car, though, was pointed out to me by my good friend, Ryan, when he rode in it for the first time. “Man, I miss being in old cars,” he opined as I struggled to find third gear. “My car is a 2012, which is great, but it has no character, no personality. This thing has character.”

There’s no question about that. I fall in love with it a little more every time I pick it over the 444 HP beast nestled safely in the garage behind it. The little Subaru sits outside, parked in the grass next to my driveway, with nary a complaint. It goes when I call upon it. It sits inconspicously in the airport parking lot. It gladly takes my luggage in its vast interior and welcomes me home cheerfully with a slight whine of a yet-to-be-determined belt when I start it up. It’s like a previously neglected golden retriever—it just wants me to love it.

And I do.

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Junkyard Find: 1970 Ford Fairlane 500 Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1970-ford-fairlane-500-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1970-ford-fairlane-500-station-wagon/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888105 We haven’t seen a Ford Fairlane in this series since this ’65 sedan, way back in 2010. We see station wagons here all the time, of course, the last couple being this ’66 Toyota crown and this ’86 Nissan Maxima. Our most recent Detroit station wagon Junkyard Find was this ’72 Pinto (or this ’60 […]

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18 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe haven’t seen a Ford Fairlane in this series since this ’65 sedan, way back in 2010. We see station wagons here all the time, of course, the last couple being this ’66 Toyota crown and this ’86 Nissan Maxima. Our most recent Detroit station wagon Junkyard Find was this ’72 Pinto (or this ’60 Valiant, if you don’t consider the Pinto to be a proper Detroit station wagon). This ’70 Fairlane is rare indeed; I can’t recall having seen any midsize Ford wagon of this vintage on the street or in the junkyard for many years.
17 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s a lot of nostalgia for the big American family wagons among some of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, though most of those cars are the full-sized machines built on the Galaxie/Impala/Fury/Ambassador platforms, not the smaller midsize ones such as this Fairlane. My family never had a station wagon, preferring the Chevy Beauville passenger van as our family-outing-mobile.
10 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWindsor V8 with an enormous AC compressor, the same thing you saw under the hoods of millions of Fairlanes, Montegos, Torinos, Cyclones, and Rancheros of the era.
01 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one took kids to soccer practice 40 years ago.
05 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGuam pride!
06 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s not rusty and wouldn’t be a huge challenge to restore, but the love of old wagons among Generation X types hasn’t translated into much real-world willingness to spend money and time fixing them up.

The ’68 was an earlier generation of this platform, but it had the same “action size” as the ’70.

01 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877490 One thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland […]

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04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland self-serve yard.
03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was just a few years before the Infiniti brand hit these shores, and the Maxima (like the Toyota Cressida) was seeming less luxurious compared to the competition as the decade of the 1980s wore on.
12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI found an excellent addition to my collection of heartfelt notes to tow-truck drivers in this car.
10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe paint is faded, but the interior isn’t so bad.

A powerful rebuttal to the notion of compromise.

As always, the US got the most boring commercials for Japanese cars.

WHOOOOOOSH! Super Sonic Suspension!

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The Atlantic Pays Tribute To America’s Automobile: The Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-atlantic-pays-tribute-to-americas-automobile-the-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-atlantic-pays-tribute-to-americas-automobile-the-station-wagon/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 16:42:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861737 This summer marks two years since my impulse-buy manual Volvo wagon departed in favor of an impulse-buy Miata. I will hopefully make the same mistake again, assuming I can find a nicely maintained (for a change) manual wagon, and I don’t buy a Fiesta ST. Or perhaps, we’ll see the wagon come back into the […]

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This summer marks two years since my impulse-buy manual Volvo wagon departed in favor of an impulse-buy Miata. I will hopefully make the same mistake again, assuming I can find a nicely maintained (for a change) manual wagon, and I don’t buy a Fiesta ST. Or perhaps, we’ll see the wagon come back into the collective consciousness of American consumers?

Writing in The Atlantic, Charles Moss laments the demise of the American station wagon, taking us through the history of the wagon, its eventual usurping at the hands of the CUV and the lasting influence of its aesthetics on the automotive landscape. Rather than spoiling the article, I’ll direct your attention to the comments section, where numerous Millenial commenters (with families) display their displeasure with the minivan, a vehicle that Moss blames as one of the chief architects of the wagon’s demise. There’s also a smattering of wagon love sprinkled throughout, including the Jetta TDI contingent.

The only missing link in the article? The unintended consequences of CAFE, and how it pushed auto makers to kill off wagons in favor of everyone’s favorite anti-environmental object, the SUV.

Side note: I had no idea Oldsmobile sold a B-Body wagon. It turns out that the Custom Cruiser was never sold in Canada.

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Piston Slap: Brooklyn’s Dream Machine? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-brooklyns-dream-machine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-brooklyns-dream-machine/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:29:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840273 Dave writes: Hi Sajeev - I live in Brooklyn and I have a 2011 Prius that I still owe about $10k on. Before mocking my choice of personal transportation, remember that driving dynamics mean next to nothing when you live in a place where it’s hard to go above 40 MPH at any given time […]

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Dave writes:
Hi Sajeev -

I live in Brooklyn and I have a 2011 Prius that I still owe about $10k on. Before mocking my choice of personal transportation, remember that driving dynamics mean next to nothing when you live in a place where it’s hard to go above 40 MPH at any given time and the roads resemble 1990’s Kosovo. That said, my best friend is the service manager at a Volvo dealership and she just received a 1993 Volvo 940 wagon on trade.

It has 124k miles on it, and it’s been garaged and meticulously maintained with new tires, new muffler, new brakes, etc. She’s having her shop give it a once-over and she can sell it to me for $3k and I’m impulsively forking over the money without giving it a second thought. I’ve always wanted to own a Volvo wagon; perhaps it’s because in 1993, our family owned a 1986 Nova and a 1991 Saturn and I was always painfully aware of the better options on the road. Psychoanalysis aside, I’ve been a ‘car guy’ my entire life but I don’t know the first thing about fixing a Volvo.

Here’s my plan: keep both the Volvo and the Prius for the summer and decide to sell one of them at the end of August. Forge a good relationship with a local, well-reviewed Volvo repair shop. Be honest with myself and realize that the Prius will likely get the boot come August.

Since I’m currently paying $300/month in car payments, I could save that much and presumably spend it on the Volvo (which I wouldn’t mind, knowing that I’d be driving my dream car). I don’t depend on my car to get to work and would put less than 10k/year on the Volvo were it to become my daily driver.

I can’t tell if this is the best or worst idea I’ve ever had and I’d love to get your thoughts.

Sajeev Answers:

Aside from parking availability, this is one of the smartest things I’ve seen in months. Here’s why.

One of my closest friends lives in Brooklyn, and I’ve spent a few days there with his family.  I kinda loved it, as so many things were within walking distance from their apartment. So I see where you’re coming from. And your assessment of the Volvo and your need to find a reputable mechanic implies you’re covering all the bases. Considering the roads and availability of public transportation in NYC, having an old Volvo as your only mode of transport isn’t a bad idea.

It’s kind of a great idea. Plus, if you fill the cargo area with crates of PBR, you’d be the coolest cat in your borough.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist making a hipster joke. 

Get the Volvo, find a good indie mechanic, register on the brickboard forums and be an active lurker, sell the Prius and live a happy life with your dream car.  Many of us will be jealous, but we’ll be happy that you are happy.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830033 The third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. […]

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20 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. These cars rusted fast east of the Rockies and— once they got to be 15 or so years old— weren’t worth fixing when they got ugly in the non-rusty parts of the country. That makes them fairly rare in junkyards today; in this series so far, we’ve seen this ’76 Corolla liftback and this ’74 Corolla two-door, and that’s about it prior to today’s find.
11 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars don’t rust much in single-digit-humidity Colorado, but these cars were very eager oxidizers.
23 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe High Plains sun is hard on paint.
13 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 75-horse 2T-C engine was a sturdy, if noisy, pushrod unit.
15 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir-conditioning was a rare option on these cars, because frugal buyers of gas-sippers didn’t mind a little sweat. I’ll bet it felt like someone pulling the parking brake when you activated the cold air in this car.
05 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis looks like an aftermarket setup.
03 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear defrost! Rear wiper! Even most Country Squire owners didn’t get that stuff!

This ad was hitting Chrysler below the belt.

Didn’t Lee Iacocca use the “if you can find a better car, buy it” line a few years later?

01 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=825650 There was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was […]

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08 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was in high school, the Pinto was one of the cheapest first-car options available for wheels-hungry teenagers; you could get an ugly runner for a C-note, any day of the week. The Pinto wasn’t a good car, but it wasn’t intolerable by the (admittedly low) compact-car standards of its time. Then, rather suddenly, all the Pintos disappeared. The Crusher grew fat on Pinto flesh, then switched to Hyundai Excels. They’re rare finds in wrecking yards today, and we’ve seen just this ’74 hatchback in this series prior to today. During a recent trip to Northern California, I found this early Pinto wagon, short quite a few parts but still exuding its essential Pinto-ness.
11 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome bottom-feeder East Bay car dealership hoped to sell this “perfect classic” for $1,499, but was not successful.
04 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMore than 20 years ago, I grabbed every early-70s Fasten Seat Belt light I could find, for an ambitious project that I’ll complete someday. I have many examples of this Ford version.
06 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe hood once had some sort of JC Whitney hood scoop, which was made quasi-functional by the rectangular hole.
05 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s no telling what sort of connection went between the scoop and the carburetor, because everything above the engine block is long gone.

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The strength to climb the Rockies and the brakes to stop quickly on Los Angeles freeways.


From the Model T to the Pinto!


The little carefree car that could withstand a rank of giant fans placed at the roadside.


A few years later, Jackie Stewart boasted that the Pinto was faster than the Datsun B210, the Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic.

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2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Will Not Have AWD – Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-will-not-have-awd-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-will-not-have-awd-yet/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 21:25:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=819938 Volkswagen officially announced their new 2015 Golf Sportwagen (nee Jetta Sportwagen) for the US market. And they’re still unclear about whether it will get 4Motion AWD. Despite rumors to the contrary, Volkswagen told TTAC that they are still “investigating AWD”. For now, FWD will be the only option, along with a 1.8T gas engine (with […]

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Golf SportWagen Exterior

Volkswagen officially announced their new 2015 Golf Sportwagen (nee Jetta Sportwagen) for the US market. And they’re still unclear about whether it will get 4Motion AWD.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Volkswagen told TTAC that they are still “investigating AWD”. For now, FWD will be the only option, along with a 1.8T gas engine (with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed auto) or a 2.0 TDI with either 6-speed manual or DSG gearboxes. VW says that cargo space will rival many small SUVs, and now it’s up to all of you to buy them, rather than just let the internet know how great wagons are.

Golf SportWagen Trunk Golf SportWagen Interior Golf SportWagen Exterior

 

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Reader Review: 2014 Cadillac SRX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-2014-cadillac-srx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-2014-cadillac-srx/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 16:44:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=818258 Reader “Bunkie” aka Peter Hansen, sends us his impressions of the 2014 Cadillac SRX, versus his 2010 CTS Wagon. There are times when it’s a good practice to review long-held beliefs. I’ve never owned an SUV or a CUV. I have owned two Rangers, back when I lived in Columbus and had the whole house/2 […]

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Reader “Bunkie” aka Peter Hansen, sends us his impressions of the 2014 Cadillac SRX, versus his 2010 CTS Wagon.

There are times when it’s a good practice to review long-held beliefs. I’ve never owned an SUV or a CUV. I have owned two Rangers, back when I lived in Columbus and had the whole house/2 kids/2 cars/mortgage-in-a-new-subdivision sort of life. I loved my Rangers. The last one came in really handy when that life imploded and I needed to ferry my things to the storage unit that I referred to as the “museum of my former life”.

Since then, it’s been a life lived in Manhattan with a progression of 3 Taurii (wagons) and 2 Cadillac sedans Now, I drive a 2010 CTS Wagon purchased as a CPO car back in 2012. We keep our car in a garage, which is an unholy but necessary expense. Our usage pattern is to escape the city on Fridays, driving about 120 miles to a weekend house in Pennsylvania. This results in about 15-18K miles per year.

Two cars back, we got our second Cadillac (a CPO STS with the Northstar) from R.J. Burne in Scranton, and I returned to the dealer to purchase our CTS. When our CTS Wagon went in for service, R.J. Burne was kind enough to give me a loaner SRX, since they’re quite a distance away from New York City, and I was interested to see how a CUV would compare to my beloved station wagon. By the time I pick up my car (which should be as you read this), I will have put almost 200 miles on the SRX, over a mix of highways and very rough back roads.

I like a certain amount of functionality in a vehicle. I love sports cars, but we live in the real world with a single vehicle, so I must compromise. That’s exactly why I worked so hard to locate a CTS Wagon. The biggest letdown is the 3.0L V6, which feels inadequate compared to the torquey turbo 4 in my sister’s 328xi. I hadn’t yet tried the new 3.6L V6, but the SRX loaner afforded me that opportunity.

Like most CUVs in this class, The SRX’s shape and size is defined by its mission to provide a high level of comfort and space. To me, it looks short and squat with overly large wheels. I can’t say that I’m a fan of the new grill, as it appears too busy. I’ve always liked the vestigial tail fins that are part of the tail lights, largely because I’m a child of the 1960s and loved the befinned Caddies of my youth.

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Maybe it’s my age, but my very first impression was how damned easy it is to get into the driver’s seat. I’m about 6’2” with long legs for my height. I usually swivel my butt over and drop into the seat then swing my legs into the car. In the SRX, I was able to just step in and sit down. Like Etta James, the SRX appears to be built for comfort, not for speed. The second impression is that the driving position is more upright. This SRX was a Luxury trim, which included a thigh support. I’ve seen this feature on other cars, but the seat height has been to low for it to make a difference. Here it worked wonderfully and, for the first time, the weight of my upper legs is actually supported by the seat, not my knees and hips.

Visibility isn’t quite as good as our CTS Wagon. The A-pillar is huge. This SRX has deeply tinted rear and passenger windows, but at least the side mirrors are large and have a blind-spot monitoring feature. The rearview camera is acceptable, with a curving path graphic when you turn the wheel.

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This was my first experience with CUE, and I found the learning curve to be brutal. Nothing was intuitive and every action, from setting the climate control, to finding Deep Tracks on SiriusXM, took a long time. The sound system is from Bose and, frankly, the sound quality isn’t very good. As someone who builds speakers as a hobby – and onced worked for Bose – it’s disappointing to think of how many superior components are out there.

I have yet to find the way to reset the fuel mileage and trip computer, I suspect that I won’t get time to figure this out. Having said all that, we must accept that if we want this level of control and this rich feature set, there will always be a learning curve.

The driving experience far surpassed my expectations. Compared to the most recent CUV I’ve driven (an Ecoboost Escape), the SRX felt well-planted, free of the usual top-heavy sensation through curves. The steering does an excellent job of pointing the car despite lacking feedback. The primary characteristic when pushed hard into a corner is mild understeer. Body roll is well-controlled. The brakes are nice and linear, well-suited to the car’s weight. Ride quality is another surprise. Compared to my CTS, the SRX feels sharper yet the effect of this year’s crop of monster potholes barely unsettled the car. Road surfaces that have the CTS transmitting every small irregularity to the seat bottoms are no problem for the SRX. You feel them, but the amplitude and impulse are greatly reduced. Another side benefit is that the car is very quiet, more so than the CTS.

The difference between the 3.0L in the CTS and the 3.6L in the SRX is vast. In the 3.0L, there’s simply no torque below 4000 rpm – manual shifting and driving like a lunatic are needed to extract its full performance. The SRX is almost 1000 lbs. heavier than the CTS yet it feels much stronger. Put your foot in it, and it needs one less downshift to find the ponies. Shifts are smooth but leisurely. Manual mode is better, but compared to the 328, they are slow – not that any GM/Cadillac transmission I’ve experienced has performed with authority.

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From a practicality perspective, the SRX has a shorter cargo area than the CTS wagon, by about 4-5 inches. Depth is better and hatch height is much better. The CTS manages barely 19 inches while the SRX is about 28 inches.

Feature-wise, I like the driver info center. This is an area where all cars have been getting better with more customization. My loaner SRX has the Intellibeam automatic headlight-dimming feature. We had this on our STS and, at times, it required manual intervention. The SRX is much improved. It dims when following other cars, and isn’t fooled by reflective signs. I miss the fog lights and adaptive lighting from my CTS, however.

Now we come to re-examining part. I’ve stated publicly that I don’t like CUVs all that much. But as my needs are changing, I have become more impressed with the segment – provided that they are executed properly. Since I can’t have a pickup, I own a cheap trailer and can tow it behind my CTS. While my car is only rated for 1000 lbs, the SRX can tow 3500 lbs. I probably won’t even exceed the CTS’ rating, but it’s nice to know the extra capacity is there.

As someone who needs one vehicle to do it all, the SRX really won me over. I like the idea of the higher ground clearance and AWD (even with proper snow tires, the CTS does require more care in winter weather). The better seating position and larger cargo capacity are welcome. The 3.6L is a gem, and makes the 3.0L mill in my car look stone age. I may need to re-consider my biases against CUVs. At the very least, the SRX is a way for Cadillac to keep us CTS Wagon owners (all 4 of us) in the fold.

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Volkswagen Builds The Enthusiast’s Dream Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volkswagen-builds-the-enthusiasts-dream-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volkswagen-builds-the-enthusiasts-dream-wagon/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 04:01:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=781161   The wagon you’re looking at is actually not an enthusiast’s dream. It’s not a diesel, nor rear-drive. It may not have a manual, either. But it’s still a tasty bit of forbidden fruit. Spotted by AutoGuide and their team of crack photographers, the Golf R Wagon is a bit like a baby Audi RS6. Using […]

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volkswagen-golf-r-wagon-spy-photo-01

 

The wagon you’re looking at is actually not an enthusiast’s dream. It’s not a diesel, nor rear-drive. It may not have a manual, either. But it’s still a tasty bit of forbidden fruit.

Spotted by AutoGuide and their team of crack photographers, the Golf R Wagon is a bit like a baby Audi RS6. Using the Golf R’s 296 horsepower 2.0T engine and all-wheel drive, Volkswagen has created the ultimate version of what will be the next generation Jetta Sportwagen.

As far as we know, this is just a prototype, and we probably wouldn’t see this car in America. But we can at least gaze from afar.

 

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New Or Used : Go Fetch! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/new-or-used-go-fetch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/new-or-used-go-fetch/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:38:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773737 We own a pet supply delivery business and use two vehicles. A 1995 Toyota Tacoma with 360,000 miles, and a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica with less than 20,000 miles. Guess which one has given us more problems? In fairness, the Pacifica wasn’t intended to be used for our business. However my dad no longer finds the […]

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Yummy Food + Fire Hydrant Red = A Dog's New Best Friend

Yummy Food + Fire Hydrant Red = A Dog’s New Best Friend

We own a pet supply delivery business and use two vehicles. A 1995 Toyota Tacoma with 360,000 miles, and a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica with less than 20,000 miles.

Guess which one has given us more problems?

In fairness, the Pacifica wasn’t intended to be used for our business. However my dad no longer finds the Tacoma to be comfortable for the 150+ mile daily journeys, and the Pacifica has us a bit scared thanks to multiple high cost repairs.

We are wanting to save money on fuel, and have the ability to trade in a vehicle (or both) to save money on insurance, fuel, and downtime. With my dad’s age, he wants something much more comfortable than the truck.

We’ve looked at various models of Prius, Scion xB (1st Gen), Transit Connects, and lately have thrown in an Insight (2nd gen) and Escape Hybrid. He doesn’t like German (due to threat of high repair costs), though I’ve tried to convince him a diesel could be an option. Other than that, he has no brand loyalty.

Total cost should be under $10,000 – and we are able to do driveway fixes. The fewer miles the better. It does not need to be comfortable for passengers. We do haul about 300 to 400 pounds of product in our travels. So we want something that can handle that load without any issues.

Steve Says:

I would start with the seat. No, I am certainly not joking about that.

With all that driving, you will eventually prioritize that throne over all other considerations. Even those you already mentioned. What is different now versus nearly 20 years ago is that the Toyota/Honda quality dominance is no longer an absolute when it comes to cars. Every manufacturer can offer a durable product these days. However seat comfort seems to run the gamut. Some cars are wonderful. Others I can barely stand.

There are also so many vehicles that offer sold fuel economy, that it will be hard for me to say that one vehicle will equal out to more dollars and cents than another over the course of time. All that traveling for a mature person requires a supremely comfortable seat, a well constructed interior (a.k.a. avoiding Tonka level plastics)  and an overall environment that will allow for low stress.

My top pick for a $10,000’ish wagon like vehicle with good fuel economy? A Hyundai Elantra Touring wagon.  Like this one.

These models have plenty of room inside. A nice smooth suspension, plenty of good lumbar support… well, I’m not the review guy. So visit here, here and read the comments left by several owners and renters.

I’m sure there are other folks here who will recommend everything from a Dodge Magnum to a (gulp!) Ford Ranger. But if I were looking for a roomy economical transport vehicle for about $10,000, a late model Elantra Touring would represent the bullseye within a bullseye.

 

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-toyota-cressida-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-toyota-cressida-wagon/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770506 The Toyota Cressida is now at its moment of peak junkyard availability, with most examples finally getting to the point at which repairs just aren’t justified by the car’s value. The Cressida was an extremely well-built car by 1980s standards, and a pretty good car even through our jaded 21st-century eyes (which view vehicles that […]

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20 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Toyota Cressida is now at its moment of peak junkyard availability, with most examples finally getting to the point at which repairs just aren’t justified by the car’s value. The Cressida was an extremely well-built car by 1980s standards, and a pretty good car even through our jaded 21st-century eyes (which view vehicles that get scrapped before 200,000 miles as suspiciously crappy and/or abused). We’ve seen this ’80, this ’82 this ’84, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in the Junkyard Find Series so far, but today’s Cressida is the first wagon.
07 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one had 234,392 miles on the clock when it finally took that last tow-truck ride.
17 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI shot this in Northern California in January, and this temporary registration expired in August. That means the car was probably still legal when it got towed away for parking tickets and its fines not paid (most likely) or sold for scrap.
08 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo rust. None at all. Fans of old Japanese cars in rusty areas, you’d better come west and rescue some stuff like this.
12 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe same DOHC 5M-GE engine that Supras got. In fact, the whole car is full of Supra drivetrain and suspension hardware.
01 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWorth restoring or converting into a drift car? Not in California!

01 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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