By on March 16, 2011

There’s an interesting (if troubling) perception out there that there is no longer such thing as “bad cars.” Certainly compared to what was available just ten years ago, the market has improved its offerings, making most new cars consistently better than the vehicles they replaced. But the corollary to this rule, that each new car is always better than the one that it replaced, does not actually hold up to scrutiny, at least according to Consumer Reports.

In fact, in its most recent auto issue, CR gave a number of vehicles worse scores than their predecessors earned, indicating that progress is not a given in the world of cars. And no wonder: automakers aren’t simply trying to wow consumers, but must constantly balance increased performance, content and features with lower costs. The VW Jetta is a poster child for the kind of decontenting that we’re beginning to see creep into the market, as Volkswagen is emphasizing the Jetta’s price in its marketing materials. But are there other, less intentional examples of automotive “value inflation”? What car is/was the biggest “step down” from its predecessor?

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125 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What Car Is Worse Than Its Predecessor?...”


  • avatar
    jeffsnavely

    I’ll start with the obvious — the E60 5-series vs. the E39 it replaced.  While the E60 does drive great, it looks terrible inside & out.
    I totally agree with CR about the current E-class also — I have a 2000 W210 E320 wagon and had an ’03 W211 wagon, and both drive better than the newest E350.  The steering is totally disconnected molasses – feels like a 1970’s American boat, and the handling is very poor.
    Also the new Subaru Outback – what used to be a perfectly-sized wagon is now a bloated crossover.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I think the new 370Z looks worst the old 350Z. The Camry has gotten cheaper on the inside and Accord has gotten uglier on the outside. However my comments are based mostly on looks, not sure if that qualifies as “step down” but I know the wife and I have eliminated vehicles on looks alone.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffsnavely

      I actually love the new 370Z.

    • 0 avatar
      Bluliner

      The newest Z-Car is lighter, more powerful, and slightly smaller than the previous car. Looks aside, that’s a step in the right direction if you ask me. Toss in the trick manual transmission and a much nicer interior; it’s a better car…looks aside.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Jeff is right, the 370Z was definitely an improvement over the 350Z, just in quality alone.  I happen to think it looks better too, as does everyone I know, but I realize looks are subjective.  Plus, for once, they actually made it smaller and lighter!!

      I know, only barely, but still, at least its not heavier.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Sorry, guys. The 300ZX has them both beat.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I’m surprised they haven’t done a new turbo ZX version yet. They had turbo 280ZXs, first and second gen 300ZXs. Take the current car with a nice turbo variant of the new VQ engines would be very awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Oh you are so right SVX.  I have actually found several excellent 300zx’s for sale recently, and not for crazy money.  Non-turbos of course, but guys apparently kept them in thier garage, kept them up nice, and they look incredible for around $5-8k.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @MBella, the 350/370 is supposed to be a “return to thier roots”, referring to the 240Z, before the bloated ZX and Turbo models.  Plus, a Turbo Z would step on the GTR performance.

      My vote is for Nissan to go downmarket and give us a 240SX revival, ala the hopefully upcoming Toyota FT86.

  • avatar
    jeffsnavely

    Also the latest Acura TL (and Accord)!  Increased size???  Interior & exterior styling, and completely tossing out the traditional Honda simple control layout.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The 2004-2008 Acura TL was very popular here in North Texas.  However, it’s rare to see a 2009-2011 Acura TL on the street.  More rare than a Hyundai Genesis sedan.  The current Acura TL is just too damn ugly to own.
       
      The Honda Accord 2011 styling refresh, in my opinion, helps disguise the big butt trunk.  I’d prefer a return to the “right” size, more efficient packaging, and pedestrian killing wedge nose of the previous generations, but the 2011 Accord isn’t hideous.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV 4 and every other vehicle that is no longer available with a manual transmission.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Definitely true for the North American market.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV 4 and every other vehicle that is no longer available with a manual transmission.

      When Honda retired the last CR-V, they noted that the manual-tranny take rate was something less than 1%.  I mean, geeze, I like stick-shift too but that’s not much a business case.

      If y’all want these manual-diesel-AWD-superwagons that can go off-road like a Wrangler, rule the track like an M3 and get panties/boxers of your preferred sex to drop like a Bentley**, you’d better start actually buying them when they’re offered. Otherwise, you can’t really blame the OEMs when they drop cars that no one seems to want.

      ** Or whatever.  I’ve never seen panties drop when a Bentley drives by, but I’d like to try.  The Bentley, that is.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      They just don’t sell.   Everyone says they’d like a manual, but when push comes to shove, they buy an automatic.   I’m guessing that the majority of CR-V or RAV4 customers are women, and I’m thinking they overwhelmingly want an automatic.   Wonder what percentage of Jeep Wranglers come with a stick… I’m guessing less than 10%.

    • 0 avatar

      Auto is better for crawling, so just about everyone who wants to take their Wrangler to the trail buys an auto, even after learning about the issue with 42RLE. I know I did. Many then install a tranny cooler, too. So, oddly enough, Wrangler is going to have higher percentage of auto over manual because it’s off-road vehicle. Where you probably want to have a manual is an expedition vehicle, because of a lesser risk of catastrophic breakdown far from help.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Actually, at least around here in FL, you would be surprised at how many new Wranglers are on the lot with manual trans, and also for sale used.  More than BMWs, thats for sure…

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      Thankfully my wife drives a stick.  Last September we bought her a CPO 2006 CR-V.  We were half-heartedly looking when we came across it (baby on the way, but not due til January).  When we found out 2006 was the last year for the manual trans, and how rare they were, we jumped on it.  I had told her that, if we didn’t find something to replace her 2001 Civic that also had a stick, I didn’t want to sell the Civic.  Our other vehicles have automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “you’d better start actually buying them when they’re offered.” Psar: You’re kidding, right? Surely you are aware that almost everyone who posts on this site only buys used cars? Shame on you!

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      One can still buy a Forester with a manual transmission (and they’ve gone from being a hideous granolawagon to an attractive crossover).

    • 0 avatar
      blau

      I definitely preferred the Forester when it was a hideous granolawagon.
      All the same, it still seems likeable in its current incarnation, so it sure beats the new Outback.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Except if you don’t get the manual you are stuck with the crude and dated 4spd auto in the Forester.  I absolutely hate this transmission and I know because I own it.

  • avatar
    squozen

    The Mazda 3.  The old one didn’t look pants-on-head retarded.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      The bizarre thing is that I test drove the current 3 and found it surprisingly good, far beyond any other Mazda I’d driven, especially the Protege I had for a week (serious issues so the dealer bought it back).  It’s as if they accomplished engineering that surprised even them, so someone said, “Lets make this thing look like a cartoon viewed through an acid trip, so people don’t think we’re taking it too seriously.”
      I almost even got over my realization that a middle-aged man will probably look ridiculous in the thing, but spotting rust issues in the wheel wells of a very low milage version cured that.

    • 0 avatar

      Mazda Rx-8, Mazda Miata, Mazda 3, all of those looked better before Mazda started taking styling cues from Jack-O-Lanterns.

  • avatar
    Seminole 95

    Yes the TL went from being one of the most elegantly styled cars to one of the ugliest. Just really sad.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    The classic example of this: 2000 vs 2001 Civic.
     
    I have NEVER seen a fast 01-05 Civic. They completely eviscerated that car.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      The 2000 even kinda sucked compared to the earliet gen Civics.  IMO, the last good Civic was the 1995, in 1996 they decontented it, squared off the styling added weight and neutered the engines too.  It doesnt have to be fast, it just has to be fun.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I have to go with pretty much every Acura… they traded sporty good looks for overstyled beaks, and made everything bigger and heavier. All Hondas have pretty much had the same problem, same with all BMWs.  OK, now I am seeing it, pretty much every manufacturer has done this, all the cars that used to be great suck now, and the cars that used to suck, ok, if they are still around, they got better…  :)

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Even the NSX?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Well when I see the second-gen NSX, I will tell you what I think of it.  So far, its vaporware, and even the concepts look to be more LF-A and less NSX.  Honda does fine when they stop with one, the first and only S2000 was nice too.

      Wait, now that I think of it… YES, even the NSX.  They refreshed it in 2002 with a butt-ugly headlight treatment.  The early models looked much better.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Acura blew their own foot off with a shotgun when they replaced the Legend, a surprisingly enjoyable FWD V6 alternative to the V8 RWD Infiniti Q with the RL, a dull as dishwater LS400 clone, which itself was a clone of the S-class.
     
    They’ve been trying to fix their RL problem ever since, and it has never, ever worked. RL sales have always sucked, all the way back to ’96.
     
    Lexus ran into a similar problem with the SC430. The original SC could compete with the BMW 8 series, the CLK, and arguably the S-class coupe/CL. With the 430 Lexus tried to go after the Jag XK, and ended up with Fat Bastard from Austin Powers.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    Subaru Outback.  Turbo gone, fun to drive gone, wagon looks gone.  Now it is just another face in a crowd of CUVs.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    The 2011 Plymouth Fury, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Mercury Courgar. Simply Terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      They make a new Plymouth Fury??

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      The 2011 AMC Javelin isn’t remotely competitive in the ponycar segment either.  If Richard Teague can’t come up with better styling than that, they should ship him back to Packard.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “2011 Plymouth Fury”  mazder3, in my unimportant opinion, the Sebring/200 should have been a Plymouth Fury all along! That size car should never have Chrysler on it in the first place! Never should have dropped Plymouth – that name stood for something, and for almost 20 years, a Reliant and Acclaim served proudly in our family. Besides, I have a soft spot for them, as my dad had a 1950 Plymouth for at least 10 years, so the emotion does run deep. I know you were joking, but I always liked the Plymouth name, and by extension, the Fury name.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    Lineup wise, the following automakers are imploding their lineup:
    Volkswagen (The New Jetta and Passat)
    Subaru (Especially the Legacy/Outback)
    Honda (The 2008+ Accord, the 2011 Civic)
    Acura (Entire lineup)
    Mazda (The 3 somewhat, the new 6 definitely)

    • 0 avatar
      Mark_Miata

      I have to disagree with you about two of these.  The new Subaru Forester is better than the old one – much more room, especially in the back, nicer styling, better controls and interior features.  My wife thinks its the best car she has ever owned.  I do think the new Outback is bloated, though.
       
      As to Mazda, she had an old one before the Forrester, and I rented a new one last year – head and shoulders above.  Drove great on the twisties, even in automatic form, and had a much nicer interior. New version of the 3 is full of win as far as I’m concerned – almost as fun as my Miata.

  • avatar

    The 1986 Buick Riviera:
    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1986-buick-riviera-gms-deadly-sin-no-1/

  • avatar
    jmo

    Just because a car has the same name doesn’t mean it always and forever has to occupy the same niche.  If Subaru wants to replace the Outback Wagon with an Outback CUV they can do that – they can use the same name.  If Honda wants to move the Accord up into Avalon territory, more the Civic up into Accord territory and introduce the Fit – they can do that.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      NO THEY CAN NOT!   ANYTHING THAT’S DIFFERENT FROM THE WAY IT WAS WHEN I WAS SIXTEEN IS A GODLESS, VILE HERESY AND MUST BE KILLED WITH FIRE!!!
       
      Ahem.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I agree, but the new cars need to not suck for that to work.  The Fit is ok, but they need to offer more choices in style, although I like what they have so far.  But the entire lineup used to be filled with fun sporty cars that were good looking and still practical.  Now its a bunch of boring bloated appliances that are ugly too.

    • 0 avatar
      Advo

      That`s amusing. I don`t recall everything when I was sixteen as being that perfect.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The 4Runner improved, IMO.  It gets better fuel economy, has more horsepower, has more interior space, and has more ground clearance.  Yeah, it drives like a truck.  It is BoF and has a solid rear axle, afterall.
     
    CR wants the 4Runner to be a Highlander. Toyota already has a Highlander, though.  It is a better car for 9 of 10 people, but for my needs, the 4Runner is perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      No way… the original 4Runner was a no-frills, light, scaled-down SUV that was truly off-road capable, even had a removable roof.  The second-gen was even better, the 3rd… well, still using the same formula, and all of them were bulletproof, and handsomely styled too.  The 4th gen started the trend of space-aged looks, and scaling up for soccermoms, the 5th gen is over styled, bloated, huge, and all about luxury.  Sure, it at least can still go off-road, but its incredibly unattractive.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Quentin I agree, the 4 Runner is noticeably improved.  It is still true to it’s roots, while keeping pace with an advancing industry.  That’s difficult to achieve. 

      That trail edition is a definite highlight.  The engine is smoother, but it is still a proper TRUCK.  A total misjudgement on the part of CR.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      mnm4ever – the 5th gen is a step back toward the 3rd gen in both styling and purpose.  Sure, it is much larger but that works out better for buying this as my “utility” vehicle.  I’d love to see a new 4Runner in the spirit of the 1st gen, but I think they’d be battling the Wrangler at that point and I don’t think I’d ever have been able to sell my wife on a Wrangler type vehicle.  I regularly see 22mpg in my 5th gen T4R and it does great off the beaten path.  The lever actuated transfer case reminds me of why I love the legitimate SUV.  Finally, beauty is subjective.  I think it perfectly straddles nice but rugged.
       
      Canuck129 – I don’t totally disagree with CR.  If you want a truck based SUV, it is a great SUV.  CUVs are better for a majority of the people out there, though… and CR hates the Wrangler in road tests as well.  For what I want out of my SUV, that is pretty good company. :)

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      I’d call it about a wash.  The platform is certainly improved.   KDSS is pretty awesome.  But unfavorable exchange rates forced blatant decontenting – interior, Torsen, V8 – that’s not reflected in the US sticker price.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      It may be a step back, but its still huge, and the design isnt well put together, just a bunch of angles and bulges in some lame attempt to look “butch”.  Its not just Toyota, Honda does it with thier SUVs and psuedo-pickup, the Hummer is the epitome of bad fake butch design, and the Chevy Avalanche is another offender (but at least you can get them without all the cladding.)  Its like they stuck a bunch of people in a room and asked them what details they liked, and added everything.

      Compare that to the Nissan Pathfinder.  They modernized it, and it looks good.  Very clean, still butch and modern, but actually “designed”.  Of course, they cant sell them, so what the hell do I know?!?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I think we need to make a distinction between “Not as good as the previous model” and “Not the kind of car that fits what my preconceptions of the nameplate/brand should be”.
     
    The former can imply and include the latter, but the latter does not automatically assume the former.  The Accord is the classic example: it’s a very good car, it’s just not the same class of car it used to be (a role that the Civic now plays).  Just because you might be chuffed that it’s no longer a 2100lb compact three door with the crash safety of a popcan doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent full-size sedan today.**
     
    The same goes for a lot of the cars mentioned above: the Outback (excellent car, just not a lifted Legacy wagon anymore), Mazda3 (odd-looking grille, but a better car), Honda Civic (ditto everything said about the Accord), and so forth.  Not liking the way a car looks, or how it’s mission has changed, doesn’t make it “worse” except in a subjective and largely meaningless way.
     
    ** you don’t hear anyone complaining about how, eg, the Elantra or Sonata aren’t small and light and svelte anymore.  How come they’re not “bloated”?

    • 0 avatar
      mikeolan

      It’s more about if you sit down in a 2010 Outback vs. a 2005 Outback you’re greeted by a pure junk interior replacing the Volvo-grade one of the old model. Sit in a 2008+ Accord and you notice Honda decided to cover the cost of making it larger by stripping out the niceties such as padded door inserts (watch your elbows) , decent-quality seating arrangements, and a clean dash design (replaced by “Squeak City”)
      Compared to its immediate predecessor the new Accord, which can’t even keep up in the air conditioning department, is worse in every way.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      They arent bloated because they were styled to be attractive.

      You are missing the entire point, the original question IS subjective.  The Accord and Camry are two of the best selling cars on the market, obviously a large number of people like the looks, or at least dont mind the appearance in exchange for a comfortable spacious and reliable car.

      Your Sonata comment proves my point entirely, Hyundai was able to design a car that grew just as much as the Accord, but most enthusiasts at least can admit its better looking than before.  And although I havent driven one, from what I read here it isnt a great driver, but its OK… better than before.  They improved.  They might get better, which is why no one who commented thinks the current Sonata is worse then the previous one.

      All of us are basically concerned with the cars that appeal to enthusiasts, and we are passionate about it.  BMW is a polarizing example.  They have historically been considered true drivers cars.  They became luxury status symbols.  And people who want luxury status symbols want bigger back seats, more optional features, and automatic transmissions.  Remember when you could go to a BMW dealer and find many models with manuals??  Try that now… you basically have to special order a manual, if you can even get it.  That sucks.  Sure, the cars are “better”, i.e. bigger, safer, faster, more comfortable.  But by appealing to the general public instead of enthusiasts, they are now uglier, heavier, thirstier, and boring.  Same with Honda.  Same with Acura, Toyota, Subaru, etc.  By chasing the “Camry buying public”, trying to get market share, they abandoned the qualities that made them so popular in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      They arent bloated because they were styled to be attractive.

      Bull.  They aren’t being called “bloated” because nobody has fond memories of losing their virginity in the back seat of Hyundai Excel when they were sixteen.**

      Personally, I’m getting really tired of the strident conservatism.  Every car is somehow worse, less fun, more bloated (god, how I hate that word) than it’s predecessor, forgetting that a) often the automaker makes a less bloated car anyway, just under a different name, and b) cars from the 80s are the exception, not the rule, and the “bloated” Accord (which you can still get with a stick) is a friggin’ sports sedan next to the domestic land yachts (almost always manual-equipped) that typified automobilia from 1940-1982 and 2002+.

      Those BMWs?  You can still get a 128i or 135i, and manuals are pretty common.  They even have about the same rear-seat space as the E30s and are a hell of a lot of fun to drive.  The 3 fills the same niche the 5 used to, while the 5 has moved up to where the 7 used to sit.  Honda has done the same.  So has Toyota.  So has Subaru***.  So has everyone, except the Americans, and that’s because they started huge and got small, rather than going the other way.  Does anyone complain about how the current Malibu isn’t the Imperial Star Destroyer On Wheels it used to be?

      What gets me most is the whinging about Honda, though.  Honda could have “stuck to it’s guns” and ensured the Accord never grew up and stayed, oh, about the same size as the Kizashi and first-gen Mazda6.  How did those sell, by the way?   Instead, Honda grew it’s models because, gosh darnit, that’s what it’s customers wanted.  And they still sell Civics and Fits for enthusiasts, only enthusiasts (and everyone else) don’t seem to buy them.

      Posts like this remind me that TTAC’s commentariat is, quite frankly, composed of a lot of grumpy, change-resistant old men pining for the glory days of a youth that, really, wasn’t that glorious.  I grew up in the eighties and nineties and I really am at a loss as to where all these magical cars were because, quite frankly, most of them seemed to be pretty unremarkable.

      ** They might have done so, but the point is that we’ve decided that the Accord was “cool” and the Excel wasn’t, and therefore changes in the Accord are wrong, while changes in the Excel/Sonata aren’t material because the Excel was never decided, even post-hoc, to be cool.  So they probably lied and said they got their cherry popped in an Accord, which was the greatest car of their youth, rather than a clapped-out rustbucket that differed from the clapped-out rustbucket that was the Excel by having a reliable powertrain.

      *** Where are these magical Subarus that everyone talks about?  Because the cars I remember were slow, cramped rattle-traps with Japanese econobox-generic interiors and a heavy, leaden feeling that came from dragging around AWD running gear.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Well I didnt lose my virginity there, but I had a lot of fun in the back seat of my Excel. And it was a total POS, no doubt.  The new ones are MUCH better.  They improved.

      But this isnt conservatism, you simply dont get it.  They can make cars bigger yet still make them attractive, still make them fun to drive.  An Audi A6 is bigger than the A8 used to be… the A8 is huge.  Both of them drive amazingly.  They improved thier cars… notice no one mentioned them.  I challenge you to go to a BMW dealer and count the sticks vs. manuals on the lot.  Try it… they order autos because almost all of thier drivers want an auto.  The 1-series is similar in size to the E30, well the E36 at least.  And its only a coupe, and it weighs about 400lbs too much because it sits on the same chassis as the 3-series, and it costs almost as much too.  But you made a good point, I like the 135i.  And even though I hate the styling, at least new BMWs still drive nice.

      Honda?  Nope, it isnt fun.  The Fit isnt as good as the old Civic, and the new Civic is boring as a toaster to drive.  Which is really sad because they have good styling at least, I like the wedge shape.  The Accord?  What a snooze.  Sure, you can get a stick… in the base model… and try to find one.

      Its not really thier fault though, because they make what the public buys.  And its hard to make a business case for enthusiast cars when there arent enough of us buying them.  Why do they stop making sticks in regular cars?? Because no one wants them, like the CRV.  I wouldnt even want a stick in an SUV.  I even bought the DSG for my GTI, so I am as much at fault as anyone.  But perfect case there… at least they went through the trouble of making a GOOD auto option, instead of a normal slushbox.

      My point is, there is no reason Honda couldnt make the Accord more like a Japanese Audi than a Camry clone, or at the very least offer us a sport model with a decent suspension, good interior and optional stick.  Even charge more for it.  Make it look good, instead of looking like it was designed by a committee.  Who thought the Acura beak was a good idea after the gorgeous 2005 TL??  There is a car that improved dramatically over the previous gen, and the previous one before that too.  Now they screw it up?  Why?  Just to change, it had been 4 yrs and they needed something fresh.  Hey, lets add 200 lbs, and a beak.  The TSX?  What a great car when it first came out, I didnt even miss the Integra.  So what do they do? Hey, lets make it bigger!  And add a V6 that weighs more, but now we can compete with Lexus!  No one really cares that the IS is RWD.  Oh, and forget the stick, no one who wants a faster car could possibly also want a stick!

      Cars can improve, they can grow, they can change missions, classes, whatever, they can get heavier and more modern, I like modern design too.  But there is a right way and a wrong way, and a lot of people obviously agree, read the comments.  Change for the sake of change is stupid.

      Tomorrow they will ask us which cars got BETTER, then see the examples.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      I think we need to make a distinction between “Not as good as the previous model” and “Not the kind of car that fits what my preconceptions of the nameplate/brand should be”.
       
      But if we can’t whine about our preconceptions what fun would writing about cars be?
       
      I personally think SAAB went from making quirky functional transportation up to the 99 but since has wandered off into adult toys, and we see how that worked out.
       
      Oh, And Ford used to make made simple, reliable, robust, capable, dirt cheap cars to become the worlds number 1, but I still think they went off the rails when they shut down the model T
       

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      The Accord?  What a snooze.  Sure, you can get a stick… in the base model… and try to find one.

      I did…and it was easy.  I bought a ’10 LX sedan with a 5 speed manual and there were 30 or more manual sedans at dealers within a 50 mile radius of my house.  And, you can get a stick in the EX 4 cyl sedan and even the V6 coupes.

      I have to agree with psar here.  The “bloated” comment kills me.  Take 2 minutes and look up the curb weights, trim level for trim level, between the current-gen Accord and the previous-gen.  My ’10 LX weighs…wait for it…55 pounds more than the 7th gen Accord LX.  It weighs 3200 pounds, people.  A featherweight by today’s standards.

      You can say that the Accord is a snooze, and you’re certainly entitled to that view, but go ahead and drive one.  Even my lowly LX has a butter smooth manual trans, a 7000 rpm redline, double wishbone front suspension, absolutely fabulous steering (and I’ve owned numerous BMWs and two Porsches) and seats that, in a lot of other cars, would be considered sport seats.  It’s a great driver with sublime handling, period.

      It’s popular to slam the Accord as bloated and boring, as if saying it makes it true.  Styling is subjective.  I think it has some nice angles and some weird ones (rear 3/4).  But I believe, despite the slight decontenting and greater size, the current Accord still adheres to the traditional Honda philosophy.  Just my 3 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Fair point about Honda products (I was once the owner of a 1978 Accord).  As Honda started aiming for the middle of the market, in the early 1980s (not satisfied with being an “inexpensive, fuel-sipping import” it had to follow the market, which went for increasingly larger cars as gasoline prices fell throughout the 1980s and 1990s.  And I have to admit that, IMHO, there’s an “optimum size” for a car, which is definitely bigger than the first-gen Accords.  The optimum size is a car which will carry 4 people of adult size in reasonable comfort for a couple of hours, illustrated (i.e. not limited to) today by Ford’s Fusion, the Accord, the BMW 5-series (although the 3 comes close) and the Nissan Versa.  Bigger than that provides all-day riding comfort for 4, but very few people need a car that can keep 4 adult passengers happy for an all-day ride.  And, for those who do, the passengers are usually kids, and the most efficient vehicle is a mini-van.
      But, I think it is fair to criticize cars that are at once heavy, expensive and have vestigial rear seats that are not usable by anyone but children: I’m speaking specifically about the BMW 1-series and the Lexus IS 250/350.  At least there’s a pretty big price and size gap between the Lexus IS and GS-series cars.  But the case for the 1-series over the 3-series has yet to be made.  The price difference is marginal, the fuel economy difference (with the same engines) is marginal and the performance difference (again, with the same engines) is pretty marginal, too.  And, I won’t even talk about the appearance difference.  The 1-series is NOT comparable to earlier versions of the 3-series, from the 1980s or the 1990s.  Both of those cars had more room in the rear.
      I suppose the lower limit of a modern car’s weight is dictated by passenger protection requirements and I will admit — reluctantly — that removing the element of consumer choice in that regard is probably o.k.
      Having grown up in the 1960s, I will also freely admit that the typical American sedan handled like a pig, that it was difficult to keep the back of a Corvair behind the front, that it was all to easy to get a VW Beetle upside down, that attempting a panic stop from 60 mph in most cars was an act of faith (that the car would actually stop and would not go into a spin from rear wheel lock-up) and that the “legendary” first-generation Porsche 911 had extremely vicious handling characteristics.  And also, if you do the numbers, the “muscle cars” of the era were not all that fast, either in top speed or 0-60, although they were unequaled in visceral thrill, with bellowing exhausts and induction and great clouds of smoke from burning rubber.
      I suppose some of our nostalgia for these cars arises out of the fact that we survived them.  The fast cars of the era were cars that had to be learned and mastered — and treated with respect for what they could do to you — unlike most of today’s cars, you couldn’t just hop in the car and drive fast, without placing yourself at considerable risk.  Attaining triple-digit speeds (assuming the car was capable of them) was something to be approached very, very carefully.  “Character” is the word that comes to mind.  Those who didn’t survive the experience intact would probably choose a different descriptive.
      As I tool around in my 10-year old Z3 3.0, I sometimes think of what an amazing car that would have been had I had it in my high school days — just the acceleration, handling, and braking capabilities — the (relatively) benign handling characteristics, the tractable engine . . . but with a 6500 rpm redline!

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @PartsUnknown — I will admit when I am wrong, or misinformed.  A few minutes with Google shows that the current Accord is actually quite light, as light as my GTI apparently, at least for the 4cyl.  Thats impressive, and I didnt know that.

      However, I didnt know that because when I drove them, they drive like a huge heavy car.  Not sure where you live, but bravo for those dealers ordering sticks.  In FL, you rarely find them, especially in the Accord.  More often with Civics (for price leaders), and almost never even with the Fit surprisingly.  So I drove the auto, V6 and 4cyl.  If you consider those sport seats, well, OK, if you say so.  I found the seats in the Fusion to be worlds better.  The suspension was too soft, disconnected.  Very comfortable, probably makes the morning commute so nice.  But not fun.  The bloated comments are more about the styling, which just isnt very attractive.  But styling is subjective.

      I guess why it pisses me off so much is because they have all the right components, but the make it appeal to the lowest common denominator.  They chase the Camry instead of making a Honda what made it great to begin with.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      mnm4ever,
      Thanks for the response.  It’s refreshing to “agree to disagree” on the web without insults being hurled around.
      I live in the Boston area, a Honda hotbed.  Maybe the demographic calls for more manuals, I don’t know.  I think compared to your GTI (a great car), the Accord would drive like a barge, particularly in V6/auto trim (which is 400 pounds heavier than my 4 cyl manual).  In the context of workaday midsize sedans however, the Accord qualifies as sporty.  Interestingly, when I was in the buying process, the Fusion was the other finalist.  Great driving dynamics and styling, but I hated the interior.  Plastics were horrible, much lower quality than the Accord, and poor ergonomics.  The seats were very comfortable, where I would classify the Accord’s chairs as supportive, hence the “sport seats” reference.  I didn’t say they were sport seats, just that in the context of its competition, I found them to be more supportive and better bolstered than those in the Fusion, Camry, et al.
      I will grant you that the Accord doesn’t set the world on fire, but in its class (with a lot of very good cars as its competition), particularly in 4cyl/5 speed manual trim, it stands out (in a good way).  It does make the morning commute pleasant and fun.

      I do not appreciate the “lowest common denominator” comment however. Everyone has their reasons for buying a particular car. I needed a fuel efficient car with a manual to get me back and forth to my commuter train station every day, and comfortably fit my two little ones in the back (I’m 6′ 1″) in a pinch. The Accord fit the bill for not a lot of money. Even the Camry, which actually is as dull as dishwater, serves the needs of plenty of informed consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Actually, given your point, I totally agree with you.  In the context of todays sedans, it is sporty.  But the problem is, all of the competition sucks.  Being sportier than a Camry isnt really a challenge.  I didnt expect it to compete with the GTI, we werent cross shopping them at that time anyway.  But, I liked the Fusion better, I dont agree that the interior plastics were worse than the Honda, maybe a bit boring though.  The blue seat inserts and accents of the sport package on the Fusion made it look cool though.  But case in point, Honda doesnt even offer a sport package, you can get boring beige with some colors, or boring grey with others.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    It is very hard for me to think of any car that has not gotten worse in the last 10 years.

    • 0 avatar

      VW GTI is the only one I can think of off the top of my head….the brands that have overall gotten worst is the Japanese while the US has improved…hope Germany doesn’t follow suit.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Well the Mk4 GTI sucked compared to the “baby beemer” feeling Mk3, but the Mk5/6 brought most of the goodness back.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Mustang. Compare a 2011 to a 2001.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Just about every American car has improved in the past ten years.  Damning with faint praise, I know.
       
      Actually, I’d hazard that most cars have improved, just in ways that the Angry Old Men don’t appreciate.  I certainly prefer my in-law’s current Corolla (a 2010) to their 2001, with it’s ass-on-floor seating position, and I preferred that to my 86 Corolla, which didn’t come with a radio (at all!) and, as it aged, required me to play the “try to keep the carb working” game.

  • avatar
    Hank

    Lexus SUVs, which never really had a reason for existing anyway, have only made increasingly strong arguments for their discontinuation with each generation.  Same for the the Infiniti Mob Family Truckster.

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      I think the bionic cheetah is actually pretty cool still. Especially the FX50S. And they call it bionic cheetah.

      Bionic Cheetah.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Yea I like the FX too, of all the luxury SUVs marketed, thats the one I would actually buy.

      Plus, technically, it doesnt count for this discussion.  Its the first one, and they only did a mild refresh, its still on Gen1.  When they screw up Gen2, we can talk about it.

  • avatar

    E9X M3…No need to say anything else really *sigh*

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Second-gen Scion xB – bigger, heavier, thirstier, and less visibility combined with no more interior room and only marginally improved performance. Plus they kept the dumb central gauges.
     
    Honda Del Sol – the CRX died for this?
     
    Mercedes W210 E-Class – this is where the cost-cutting and quality slips really began to show.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      epsilonkore

      +1 on the xB bloated remake. It actually has MORE content for the dollar, but totally misses the POINT of the minimalist art that was the original.
      +1 on the W210 E-Class

      Dont know about the Del Sol though, the Si trim was quite fun in a different way from the CR-X. Its hard to put a removable top, airbags and side impact beams into a vehicle without adding a little fun sapping weight :/ I never considered it a CR-X replacement, more of a : lets change direction a bit, and grab some Miata sales, re-invention.

    • 0 avatar

      You took that Scion comment right out of my mouth, though it also got ugly.
      The Nissan Cube got ugly too, the somewhat earlier model that didn’t make it here dosen’t look like its melting.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Every version of the 4runner after the 1985 model where the ditched the solid axle for IFS has been a steaming pile. The last few versions are simply glorified station wagons.

  • avatar

    The real issue is not “there are no bad cars” but that for the most part, it is a mature technology.  I drive a 2003 330i sport package.  I recently drove a new 335i and 335d.
    I like the exterior, and hate the interior.  The electronics are better. A functional interior was made less functional, and is noticeably cheaper than the e46….in a car that goes for over 40k in most instances.
    Other than that clear edict to take 5% out of production costs, they drive the same.
    A good used e46 can be had for 14k.  The new e90 is 40-55k.  The e90 is NOT screamingly better.  Driving a 335d with sport package felt like my 330i Sport Package with fresh shocks and bushings.  I replaced my shocks and bushings and my old used car feels 98% of the new one.  Unless it’s the M3 there is no compelling reason to replace unless your car wrecks or wears out.
    This applies to most cars in all categories since 2000.  You have a set level of technology, and the car makers are now adjusting for market, value, and production costs.  Best example, the new Passat/Jetta and another round of “crap for the colonies”. Meanwhile Ford finally brings us the new Focus, so it goes in both directions.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Well, there is that minor detail that the e90 goes faster (335i and 335d are MUCH faster), uses less fuel, is safer, roomier, and pollutes less than your e46. And adjusted for inflation and equipment, costs less. I too prefer the looks of the e46 and think Bangle should be strung up by his testicles, but that is subjective – I am under no illusions that each generation of 3-series is not better than the one that went before.

      That last one is the real killer. The simple fact is, cars are expensive. Nice cars are very expensive. And more and more technology has to be added every generation. Some of it because the buyers want it, some of it because regulators require it, some of it just because they can. That all costs money. But buyers do not want to pay more. Something has to give. Someone on this forum once pointed out that adjusted for inflation, a Toyota Camry of the ’90s cost as much as a Lexus ES today – that is true pretty much across the board.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Seems like we are in another era of malaise for the car business.  Probably a good eight or ten years in.  Have we hit the bottom yet?  Who knows.  Problem is, cars have only been around for a century or so.  So it’s too soon to recognize a pattern.
     
    But if history can be trusted, and the crap that began (to be really noticeable in the early 70s) but really late 60s, and took took, well, the Big three are still trying to find their mojo…
     
    But I’d say, we have at least another ten years before the auto makers figure things out again.
     
    On an aside, I see a neighbor every so often driving an early 90s Legend that is in prime condition.  What a beautiful car.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The 1974 Mustang was a disappointment for me. The 1973 had bloated up but still had the premise of a muscle car, and the engines to back it up. The Mustang II was a disgrace. At least GM kept building Firebirds and Camaros that were in some ways still real cars.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Okay, here’s one I believe few of you would disagree with me on.
    The 2nd gen Saturn S-Series… and the Saturn Ion.
    The former was a very nice and comfortable runabout. The later an absolute atrocity in every form imaginable. Styling from someone who appreciates deformed cubism. A new powertrain that drove somewhere between an old Subaru and industrial machinery (is there a difference?)
    Actually I will take back. The Ion was simply a brutally bad vehicle by every measurement I can think of. In no way did it ever come close to the ‘OK car’ that was the 2nd gen S-Series.
     
    Other honorable mentions include…
    1990-1993 Celica vs. 1994 – 1999 Celica
    1982 – 1986 Supra vs. 1987 – 1991 Supra
    1st gen Q45 vs. 2nd gen Q45
    The already mentioned Scion Xb
    1991 – 1997 Grand Cherokee vs. 1998 – 2003 Grand Cherokee
    1991 – 1994 Nissan Sentra vs. 1995 – 1999 Nissan Sentra
    Volvo 850 vs. Volvo S70
    and many, many more…
     

    • 0 avatar
      BunkerMan

      I’ve owned a 1992 SL1 (7 years), a 1998 SL2 (4 years), and now an ’06 ION3 2.4 (in my second year).  I feel I have a good handle on the model differences.
      While I agree that the Ion is not a “real” Saturn, it’s not that horrible, at least if you get the high end model like mine.  Most of the Ion’s bugs were worked out by the time mine was manufactured.
      My favourite of the bunch was by far the SL1.  It’s drivetrain was bulletproof, it got good mileage, and was amazing in the snow.  The styling stood apart from the crowd in the early 90’s too.
      The twin cam 2nd gen I had was worse on gas, and not quite as fun.  The interior was not even up to the standards of Tupperware.  The dash even cracked at one point.  It was a step down from the 1st gen for sure.
      My current commuting appliance is an ’06 Ion 3 with the 2.4 Ecotec and a stick.  I like it, honestly.
      It’s larger inside, quieter, safer, and more comfortable.  A *LOT* more comfortable than the ’98 I had, so I’ll disagree with you there.
      The styling may not be to everyone’s taste and the centre guages took some getting used to.  I can’t complain about having comparable fuel economy to my original SL1 in a much larger vehicle with exactly twice the horsepower (170 vs 85). I think it looks a hell of a lot better than the other 4 door versions on the same platform in my opinion, anyway.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Agree with everything. Aside from the Jeep.
      The GC Mk2 certainly looked worse from the outside, did not up the ante on the inside, but that 4.7 engine…  A true gem. One of the few where I did not mind having an electronic throttle. Then came GC-3 and they suffocated it to death with more emissions, flexfuel compatibility, et al. QuadraDrive II was not bad too.

  • avatar

    The E60 vs E39 comparo is not IMHO to be found in the looks but actually in the actual “BMW-ness” of the two cars. It’s clear that, on all fronts, the E60 is not an upgrade in any way but increase of price. It doesn’t handle, doesn’t get better mileage and gives very little driver feedback. Maybe it’ll turn out that they will have been correct in their decision to step away from the enthusiast market, but I think it’s the saddest story here.
    Detroit has always shot itself in its collective foot, Japan has been aiming at a major fall, and MB has a long history of problems, but BMW has done nothing but move upward on all fronts since the 1800.
    It’s funny that Cadillac, Volvo and Jaguar seem to be the bright marks in the current market and CR doesn’t even tend to notice these brands as a whole…

  • avatar
    1600 MKII

    After all this crap, in honesty, all cars are objectively “better” than they ever have been…so one or two years of financial insanity can throw things off but all will right itself.

    That said:
    The E60 vs E39 comparo is not IMHO to be found in the looks but actually in the actual “BMW-ness” of the two cars. It’s clear that, on all fronts, the E60 is not an upgrade in any way but increase of price. It doesn’t handle, doesn’t get better mileage and gives very little driver feedback although apparently the electronics work better and the new Tranny is to the moon. Maybe it’ll turn out that they will have been correct in their decision to step away from the enthusiast market, but I think it’s the saddest story here.

    Detroit has always shot itself in its collective foot, Japan has been aiming at a major fall, and MB has a long history of problems, but BMW has done nothing but move upward on all fronts since the 1800.

    It’s funny that Cadillac, Volvo and Jaguar seem to be the bright upgrade marks in the current market and CR doesn’t even tend to notice these brands as a whole…

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “the E60 is not an upgrade in any way but increase of price. It doesn’t handle, doesn’t get better mileage and gives very little driver feedback although apparently the electronics work better and the new Tranny is to the moon. Maybe it’ll turn out that they will have been correct in their decision to step away from the enthusiast market, but I think it’s the saddest story here.”

      The E60 electronics are becoming more of a pain as the cars age. That was my reason for going E46 – relatively simple electronics in the 3-series compared to the contemporary 5-series. Make sure the cooling system is solid in an E46, replace front suspension components as needed, and you’re golden. One of the better German cars out there and very DIY friendly.
       

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      I think the later iterations of the E60/61 were actually pretty good. Biggest problem IMHO with the first ones was the cheaper looking interior, but the facelifted versions are much better in that regard, especially the last ones with the upgraded iDrive (I think this was introduced to the fünfer in 08 for the 09 MY).

      Also, in the right colors, they still look pretty good and contemporary today while a competing A6 and particularly W211 looks decidedly dated in comparison if you’d ask me. Though I’d agree that the E39 was a world beating car (still amazing to me that it was launched in 1995) and the F10 looks way more like a succesor to that car than the E60 ever did, I wouldn’t mind a reasonably priced 08/09 E60 and wouldn’t necessarily say it was a failure after the E39.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    I think Hyundai/Kia is one of the few carmakers whose model lineup is actually getting more desirable over the years.
     
    Ford has some very decent models in the showrooms (Mustang/Explorer/Fusion/Taurus SHO), and the new Focus looks promising.
     
    Nissan/Infiniti also seem to be moving in a good direction. The G series offers more performance in every model iteration while staying away from idiocy that BMW embraces, like batteries that can only be replaced at the dealer for $500, and offer no weight saving or life cycle advantage over a regular battery that I can buy at a Napa auto parts store for $80. The current 370Z offers Cayman S performance at half the price of a Cayman S, without Porsche service and maintenance costs.
     
    And while Subaru made the Outback into a squashed MDX, they actually made the current Forester into a very nice smaller crossover as compared to the first and second generations (targeted towards REI and food co-op shoppers who plaster them with left-wing bumper stickers – hey, I know of what I speak, I live near Seattle).

    • 0 avatar
      areaman

      Indeed, you speak the truth. Everytime we Vancouverites trek down that way we get much amusement out of people’s need to blast their political leanings all over their vehicles.

  • avatar
    hurls

    Every non-truck Honda. maybe the trucks too, but I don’t know anything about them (guess I’d better read the Odyssey review right below this) and really don’t care much :)

  • avatar
    zeus01

    The 1974 Mustang was a disappointment for me. The 1973 had bloated up but still had the premise of a muscle car, and the engines to back it up. The Mustang II was a disgrace. At least GM kept building Firebirds and Camaros that were in some ways still real cars.

    AGREED! The ’74 Mustang was IMO the worst disappointment in automotive history, and it took Ford a full 30 years to get back what they’s squandered. The only way Ford could have made the fall even more acute would have been to skip the ’69-through-’73 models and go straight to the ’74 from ’68. 

    A close second (for me at least) was the ’86 RX7, a designed-by-committee monstrosity that was like nothiong you’d ever seen before—- unless you’d laid eyes on an ’84 Dodge Daytona. In all other respects the ’86 RX7 was a better car than the ’85. But the styling left me preferring the inferior-performing-and-equipped 85.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Maybe its my age, but I loved the 86 RX7.  It was styled like a Porsche 944, but really did it better and cleaner.  Even today, that generation of RX7 looks uncluttered and timeless, where the 944 looks dated.  the previous one looked a bit dinky and awkward.  I still love them both though…

  • avatar
    rutgersftw

    The new Jetta isn’t *as bad* as many think, but it is significantly worse than its predecessor.  They took away all the nice little bits and gave us 3 more inches of rear legroom in a car that was already roomy enough for 4 adults and still isn’t wide enough for 5.
     
    It will be interesting to see how the new ‘Merican Jetta and Passat play in the model lineup where the Wolfsburg-built Golf, GTi, and Jetta Sportwagen still ride on better platforms and haven’t gone under the cheapening knife yet.
     
    Much worse than the MkVI Jetta is the current Corolla, which is worse than its predecessor, which was worse than its predecessor, and so on.  I don’t care how many airbags or iPod inputs you slide into a crap car, it’s still just a crap car.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I wish there were a website that actually examined this recurring claim that the current Accord is “bloated”.  Last time I looked, it was the essentially the lightest midsize car for sale in America.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      You noticed that, huh?
       
      It’s practically a full-size car that weighs within two hundred pounds of more than a few compacts.  The problem is the badge, and if Honda had stuck Inspire badges on it and sold the TSX as an Accord I don’t think people would be up in arms.  Hell, we’d probably have the same people who decry the Accord as “bloated” calling the Inspire “the lightest, sportiest full-size car you can get”.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The Sonata is lighter – especially when you compare the 2.0t vs. the Accord V6. Although, I do agree that the 4 cylinder version isn’t bloated.

  • avatar
    VespaFitz

    I completely disagree with the Odyssey ratings, not because of the current vehicle, but the 91 it scored previously.
    I have no idea how that happened. The last Odyssey was an obscenely expensive, uncomfortable, ill-handling turd-pile, with a notoriously bad transmission and a trouble-prone power steering system. Its Chrysler competition was a significantly better vehicle.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Every stinking car that was originally offered in a pillarless hardtop version where all windows rolled down, that had chrome bumpers, etc. Actually, believe it or not, I always try to look forward and not so much backward. Those cars had their good points in STYLE, but for the modern day, I truly enjoy getting in my car every day, turning the key, having it start each and every time and haul my rapidly aging carcass to and from work in comfort my parents couldn’t fathom! That being said, the current Accord, Camry, Wrangler, Taurus (the name is inappropriate) and Impala just for starters, are not as good as their predecessors, at least in style, and, in some cases, substance.

  • avatar
    Marko

    A few of these have already been mentioned:
     
    Lexus SC430
    Ok, to be fair, it’s got a beautiful interior, it will probably become a “classic” over time, and the first SC wasn’t selling very well at the end. However, this second generation should have been called something other than “SC”. (You could argue that the IS and GS together replaced the first SC, though.)
     
    Cadillac Seville
     
    It just kept getting worse from its inception until 1991. First came the infamous “bustle-back” and FWD (great in a normal family car, but in a V8 “flagship luxury sedan” supposedly targeted at Mercedes?!?), and then came the infamous “Vega Deluxe” engine. (Kind of like the reverse of “kaizen”…) Things got a LOT better in 1992, though, even if the Seville was still FWD.
     
    1998-2002 Toyota Corolla
     
    Yuck. All the blandness of the 1993-1997 model without the “mini-Lexus” feel.
     
    The current Lexus GS350 AWD
     
    A fine car in many ways, but why does it STILL have “worse than average” reliability according to Consumer Reports? Come on, it’s a Lexus and it’s been out for six years already!
     
    (I don’t have anything against Toyota – in fact, I have a lot of respect for them, but they have made some mistakes like every other company.)
     
    As mentioned by others, the current Acura TL and the 2004-2010 BMW 5 Series. I’m not even going to get into these.
     

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The new Honda, Toyota and Nissan vans are styled considerably worse than there previous models and all three suffer from worse steering and handling than before. The new Jetta is certainly worse than the outgoing model but that isn’t saying much. The so called new Carolla is a joke too. It looks ever more like a cheap rental car with it’s plain decontented exterior with the it’s way too familiar styling, a cheap pedestrain interior and now only one mediocre engine choice tied to a 4 speed automatic. Ouch

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    I can say that, in my long, slow somewhat tortured car shopping (my car is aging but not in dire need of replacement), I’ve found:
    – I like the first generation Acura TSX but have no interest in the current iteration.
    – Despite a distrust of turbocharged engines, I also like the last generation Legacy GT but find the current one oversized and dull in comparison.
    – I’ve owned two Hondas which have been, by far, the most reliable, astoundingly good cars I’ve had.  But I do not want to buy anything currently made.
    And in the about to pass category:
    – I’d probably buy a current BMW 328i if I could come to terms with the long term reliability and cost issues, as well as the lack of an oil dipstick and place to even store a spare tire, but after the naturally-aspirated inline six is replaced, that temptation will be gone.
     
    And, in general, I prefer manual transmissions and naturally aspirated engines, both of which are endangered.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Wow, I agree with your post 100%, and I’ve also had two Hondas myself.  Go figure.  If you want a manual transmission and a naturally aspirated engine, without breaking the bank, Infiniti is the way to go.  I have a G37S 6MT and someone will have to pry that car from my cold dead hands before I ever get rid of it.  Best driving car I’ve ever had.  Reliable, fast, and I row my own gears.

  • avatar
    carve

    This is an oldie, but the Jeep Liberty is inferior to the Cherokee in every way I can think of.  In fact, it was so inferior that the new Cherokee’s name was changed to “Liberty” so they could keep producing the old Cherokee along side for a few more years.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Ford Taurus. A real roller-coaster ride of development. In my not-so-important opinion, the refreshed 1992 edition was so much better than the original, but then came the “symphony of ovals” and they really messed that up. The damage-control refresh almost made it back, but the perception of it being smaller than the original killed it. Then came 500, which should have been Galaxie 500, which was pretty good, save for the styling, then back to Taurus again and now the new Taurus. Ford should have let it die with the 2006? models and brought back a name with recognition, Galaxie 500. But they blew it. The new Taurus, I understand, has many issues, too. A co-worker just bought one and it’s been back to the dealer to have things fixed several times already. First, warped rotors, then door locks and a couple other niggling issues. Nice looking car, though, if a bit over-styled.

  • avatar
    fozone

    Sadly must agree with the Outback.  I’ve had every Legacy or Outback model since the early 90s up until the previous generation (2009), and unless Subaru changes course, it will likely be my last.

    It seems like they over-compensated with the new one;  The Outback has always needed a little more rear seat (and foot) room, a little more cargo space, and a little better gas mileage.

    But instead of evolving with this gen, they threw out the old car’s existing virtues and made it not only hideous but also resorted to trickery like a CVT to improve mileage, instead of trying to rework the engine or shedding some weight.  Boo Subaru.
     
     

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    The Mach 5 is now a tarted up poseur-mobile.  I thought the Mach 4 was the shizzle, personally.

    Go, Speed Racer!

  • avatar
    Acubra

    While one can argue infinitely about appearance et al, there are other things that prevent me from generally preferring newer generations of cars to previous ones. 

    – New safety and emissions regulations. They give us inferior engine performance, worse reliablilty and less user-friendliness. Here come unswitchable chimes for belts, keys, TPMS, rain-sensors….., raised dashbords and hood lines, thicker A-pillars.
       
    – Ever-increasing complexity and proliferation of electronic systems, often appearing for nor better reason than have them mentioned in a sales brochure. 

    – No real speccing choice – everything is stuffed in packages and to get something you really need/want, you have to pay extra for stuff you do not need / hate to have.   
     

    • 0 avatar

      Open up the hood of an 80’s Omni and open the hood of a new Chevy Cruze, most older cars are much easier to work on in the engine bay which can save the owner a lot of money.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      +1, Acubra.  I prefer the elegance of simplicity; the economy of light weight, over a rolling bordello that most cars have become.  Sadly, safety standards and equipment don’t allow for that sort of car anymore.
       
      One of my favorite cars of the past was a Jeep YJ Wrangler…my example had the front clip off a CJ; no carpet; no backseat.  Light; rugged, economical with a four.  Now, I realize the market for that kind of vehicle is somewhat limited…but when I look at the current Wranglers, with all that plastic-fantastic trimming and padding…I just want to retch.  How can anyone climb into such a rig with muddy jeans, glop on the boots?
       
      Today’s cars are miles ahead in durability and drivability…for the most part.  But in a concept-to-execution context, they lack.  Someone pointed out how much less of a purpose rig was the Jeep Liberty over the Cherokee.  Likewise the Honda Civic; and although I’d never buy one, the Taurus also.
       
      Technological excellence – to compliance with government edicts – is astounding.  In terms of character and individual needs, and inspired design, not so much.

  • avatar

    This may be an oldie but the VW Type 2 got worse as it went on, it got bigger, slower, thirstier, and it may’ve featured more kiten ware but it was still being pushed by a small engine.
    Shoot, the 80’s VW vans were almost as inefficient as Hummers!

  • avatar
    ajla

    Not as good as the previous model:
     
    Cadillac SRX and Matrix/Corolla XRS
    _________________
    Not the kind of car that fits what my preconceptions of (what) the nameplate/brand should be:
     
    Taurus SHO and Audi S4

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