By on April 14, 2014

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On a busy freeway, a first-generation Scion xB putters along. Ahead, a confused medley of dump trucks, semis, and passenger cars performs the lane-change dance that we all know and loathe. For the driver and passenger of the toaster, things are about to get interesting- and infuriating.

The dump trucks are fully laden, and there’s already plenty of junk on the road. The xB has a well-worn bug deflector, one which has spared the windshield from an unfortunate contact many times already. But this time, it won’t get the job done. Suddenly, a car darts across lanes in the traffic ahead. It picks up a rock, an asphalt clod, or some other piece of detritus. The missile arcs backward at the perfect angle. It misses the deflector by millimeters, hitting dead on right below the driver’s wiper. THWACK. Time to call the insurance company.

This isn’t the first time. The toaster is already on windshield number two, which itself has seen the business end of a resin gun. Half a dozen or so years prior, it took a stone right at the top, where the glass joins the roof. That time, the trauma wasn’t immediately apparent. However, a single cold, clear day later, the glass was split from top to bottom. The nice man from the glass shop told us that xBs were a great revenue stream for his company. Now he’ll be back to collect another check.

But oh, the glory of driving a fish tank. A virtually unobstructed view from any angle, the tiny blind spots totally confound the current zero-visibility trend in styling. When dad first bought it, I hated it. It was a dork’s car through and through. But when I got my license and my own ride, I began to appreciate its virtues. Those vast expanses of glass were fantastic for a young, nervous driver. They made it easy to watch the road, and to negotiate the tight spots. Dad appreciated it for much the same reason. At the time, no other car on the road offered the same level of visibility, unless it was a convertible. That’s even truer today. Perhaps that’s why he’s held on to it for longer than any other car he’s owned. Even if that fishbowl feeling comes at a price.

xB, Wrangler, FJ, van, and pickup drivers know all about the hazards inherent in steep windshields. Even so, they accept it as part of the costs of ownership. Many drivers tolerate possible headaches in maintenance and repair to get the special features they really want. A sunroof is a good example, as are convertible tops more generally. Heated and power seats don’t always last the life of a vehicle, but for many in northern climes they verge on necessity. Premium wheels can look great, even if they aren’t always resistant to potholes. Material quality and careful engineering can help special features last longer without requiring repairs. But some, like steeply raked windshields, can’t overcome the basic limitations of their design.

What weaknesses are you willing to tolerate in the design of your vehicle, to get exactly what you want? Or is durability your sole criteria? Have you ever been seduced by a trick feature that turned out to be an expensive source of woe later?

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70 Comments on “QOTD: Special Feature, Special Weakness...”

  • avatar

    Years ago, I was cut off by an SUV on a poor road and a single pebble was kicked up and hit my windshield. A tiny pit in the center.

    I vowed from the day forward to stay ahead of everything else on the road as soon as traffic conditions allowed.

    For some of us, the words “never again” hold special meaning.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto. A semi truck kicked up a stone and cracked my wife’s windshield last year (while I was driving it). I’ve come to the conclusion that windshields are not as tough as they used to be, so I now speed up around every semi truck I see.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been driving 40+ years now, and I went almost 20 before I had my first broken windshield. That one was a real joy. I was going down the freeway, and a dump truck, of course, merges into my lane. I was going to get off about a quarter mile further down, the exit that went to the other side of the divided road. Just before I would have been clear of the possible junk tossed out of the truck, a bolt comes out when it hit a bump, and hits my windshield and makes a nice little star in it. I would have tried to catch him to see what company the truck belonged to, but I was on the ramp at that point, so I had to get off. By the time I had gone down the ramp, made a few turns, the cracks had spread across the whole windshield and I drove to the auto glass place holding the windshield with my left hand. The next one was about 5 years later, on another car, then it was 2 years between windshields for the next decade. The last one was on my 2008 Charger R/T. They shot it with resin, and it was OK, but it was right in front of my head, so I saw the distortion constantly. So far, in the 3+ years I’ve had my present car, the stuff hitting it hasn’t done any damage. Yet.

  • avatar

    I would pay to not have cheap plastics, flimsy door handles and cheap interior fittings. I would also pay for under the skin engineering that you cannot see but can sense through the body of a car while on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      Man, door handles are a great story in how a single part can have so much influence on someone’s opinion of a vehicle, while being such a finicky part.

      You know how much engineering goes into a door handle? It’s the first thing you touch when you go up to a car. That opening motion, the feeling of the mechanism inside, the sound of the latch releasing, that will determine an incredible amount of your opinion about that car. A handle that doesn’t pull just so, or a latch mechanism that makes the door sound like a hollow barrel, or an imperfect snap-back will make you think the car is cheap. Heavy handles, loose handles, handles that don’t fit in your hand right, they’ll annoy you every single time you get into your car.

      And there’s weight too; that handle can’t be allowed to open the door in a major side-impact scenario. That means the mechanism has to be designed such that significant accelerations on the handles (both inner and outer) and mechanism aren’t able to allow it to unlatch your door (even if a telephone pole is currently smashing half of it to smithereens) and that means as light as absolutely possible, even with the keyless entry system and LED light and everything else wedged in there.

      tl;dr: handles get serious attention, even “flimsy” ones get a LOT of work.

      • 0 avatar

        The infamous weak link of a Mark VIII. I have learned the Continental fix as well as the JB Weld method. My repaired handles are stronger than Ford’s I am sorry to report. I’m thinking of using the remote ones used extensively on customized cars in the 60’s. Or how about the electric defroster resistance element in Mercedes 450SL? $1000 for replacement. Or how about the cork faced clutch plate on the Hudson Hornet? A big torque six? Spark plug removal on many FWD V6 cars usually requires removal of the intake manifold. A personal nightmare was the Catera with the oil cooler and thermostat between the cylinder banks. I think all gearheads that wrench on their own cars have personal horror stories. No one is immune.

    • 0 avatar

      Door handles are always fun! I’ve owned a 1992 F250 and a 1995 F150. Anybody who’s worked with these truks can tell you about the plastic door handles. I switched to the metal ones from the 80-86- what a difference! Why couldn’t Ford just use the metal ones in the first place?

      • 0 avatar

        I had an early 90’s Chevy Lumina Z34 coupe. The door handles were located high on the window frame along the B pillar. They were made of pot metal and broke quite often. A pain to replace, also.
        As for windshields, new or “green” glass doesn’t have much strength. You are at a much higher risk of rocks breaking a fairly new windshield than and old one. Rocks just bounce off my 20 year old truck windshield with hardly a nick.

        • 0 avatar

          Just had a resin squirt on my Accord windshield last weekend. That w/s is thin, to be sure!

          What’s with the seemingly universal loss of the tint “brow” on top of new windshields?! That was a nice “step-up” from a Civic to Accord, but no longer! Fortunately, my 2013 Touring still has it (and I was assured that I can get a replacement with a “brow,” should I require it), but my next likely won’t! It’s just nice being able to not have to drop the visor immediately when the sun drops lower!

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on the door handles.

      How about decent door locks? My pal has a 2007 Civic LX, no remote open. The driver’s door lock failed, so he started getting in on the passenger side. That failed, so he forked out $280 for a new driver’s door lock. Then the trunk lock failed, another $280. Now the driver’s one is going out again. He’s livid.

      Makes you wonder – no failures of any kind in 7 years of driving, except door locks. And guess what? They have all sorts of door locks on the shelf at the dealer! Even if you have remote open, have you checked whether the one door lock they give you still works? You know, for when the remote batteries fail …

      Sometimes it’s the small things that drive you crazy.

    • 0 avatar

      This plus 10000. I used a mid 90’s Saturn for a few weeks that had handles that felt like I was going to snap them. That made me question the rest of the build quality.

      • 0 avatar

        And how many reviewers talk about that stuff, vs gushing silly lines about how this or that hyperbolic allegory makes the car worthy of being a classic….?

    • 0 avatar

      Road Noise.
      If you drive 50 miles a day, anything is good.
      At 100 miles, road noise can be tiring.
      At 200 miles, you notice the seats…in a big way.
      Too tight or too flat will kill you. BMW’s “sport” seat is probably the best compromise…older Volvo seats were also excellent. VW does a good seat in the German built cars today. Cars that do crappy seats (bottom too short, no support) are inexcusable in any price class.

      Road noise is complicated and expensive to engineer out, and is a very good indicator of the rest of the car (shut lines are as well…the place where the doors shut and meet the roof usually tells you all you need to know about tolerances in assembly).

      Power and handling are over rated from a fanboi way. Keep the tires on the pavement. Oft that pavement sucks so I’d rather slightly softer with maximum compliance than skidpad brilliance. Power must be sufficient to rip off a two lane pass but the 400 hp cars are fun and useless at the same time. I recall driving a GT-R, which was brutally fast with the AWD, had rally seating, and rode like the suspension was bolted to the car. Great track car, fun to borrow, but sucked as a daily ride. Much like the brown diesel manual hatchback (can we agree to shorten that to DBMH?) it is perfect on the internet but not the real world.

      You can isolate, as old school Caddy. You can go hard, like the Viper or Z series vette. It is much, much harder to engineer a car that has maximum suspension compliance and isolates the passenger while providing feedback. Anyone who has changed out the many huge bushings (aka “golden grommets”) in a BMW has seen the solution to that problem…but it is not cheap.

  • avatar

    I want cargo space, visibility, versatility, and a heavy duty suspension with enough ground clearance. Ride quality and noise are of little interest to me, and I can live with low-power engines – 0-60 times less than 20 seconds are perfectly manageable.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like your perfect vehicle is finally arriving — the four-cylinder turbodiesel Sprinter.

    • 0 avatar

      “I want cargo space, visibility, versatility, and a heavy duty suspension with enough ground clearance.”

      Are you my clone? Or vice versa?

    • 0 avatar

      “Ride quality and noise are of little interest to me, and I can live with low-power engines – 0-60 times less than 20 seconds are perfectly manageable.”

      Sadly for you, you may be the only person on Earth who feels that way.

      (I can cope with “slow”, having driven a 300D for over a decade. But noise is a killer, if you drive a lot; it’s *punishing* to drive a loud car for hours.

      Ride quality as an “optional” also baffles me…)

  • avatar

    I’m willing to tolerate ‘less that desirable’ mpg for a car that has good driving characteristics. More and more I’m experiencing cars with crappy EPS, unrefined AT’s (mainly CVTs and DCTs), and Eco Turbos that don’t seem to provide any benefit over a modern well engineered larger non turbo engine.

  • avatar

    I like interior refinement, and I keep telling myself I want more of it, but I’ve proven over and over again through my purchases that I don’t care quite enough about it to make a decision based on it.

    A good ride/handling balance (emphasis on balance) and accurate, communicative steering are my first two priorities. Reliability is close behind. Certain interior features (auto climate control in particular) are essential. Engine power is nice, but (beyond a certain point) not a huge deal. Impractical cars better be small and big cars better be practical.

  • avatar

    Give me simple and functional. I love my 1995 LeSabre and my 1987 Chevy R10 for this. If something breaks, I want to be able to fix it or ignore it until I’m safely in town.

    I lost third and fourth in the Buick 30 miles from anywhere (In Wyoming, that’s not really that far!). I put it in second, and drove it home. I want that kind of quality. That car lost half of a transmission, and I could still drive it home.

    Just make it work. I don’t want fancy bodywork or sculpted features. I want something that can take punishment.

    That said, I really love the luxury touches in my Audi A6. But, the Audi 2.8 is a great reliable engine that’s never stranded me.

    I want it all. I guess I’m a tricky customer, huh?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My Jetta has a 2.8-liter VR6, but from what I understand, it’s different than the 2.8-liter Audi engine. And it scares me every time I get behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I have noticed in the US mud flaps are almost non-existent.

    Such a simple part to add to a vehicle can save a lot of heartache with you vehicle and other road users.

    Ever since I can remember in Australia mud flaps on all vehicles is mandatory. It really seems commonsense.

    We also have strict regulations concerning rims and the depth of the dish. You can’t have wheels protruding past the mud guard (fender).

    Where I live a roo bar is a must. I’ve already collected half a dozen roos since Christmas, they can cost money and leave you stranded.

    We also have birds up here that can dump what appears to be a pound or two at a time, which eats your paint.

    These things can throw more crap at your car in 30 seconds than most city people will encounter in the life of a vehicle.

    When hundreds of cattle can be transported with their asses pointed out to the side of the truck the cattle do tend to $hit and pi$$ on your car and it reeks to high heaven.

    I really feel sorry for you guys driving on manicured divided highways.

    • 0 avatar

      Better to drive through an animal-induced $h1tstorm than drive through a construction vehicle-induced meteor shower. At least a car wash can remedy the animal dung issue. Pebbles and rocks on the other hand, not so much.

      > Where I live a roo bar is a must. I’ve already collected half a dozen roos since Christmas, they can cost money and leave you stranded.

      We have roos as well. Only our roos are bigger ranging from 220kg (100 lbs.) to well over 2200kg (1000 lbs.). Our roos are usually called deer, elk and moose.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        We have millions of wild camels in the outback along with water buffalo in the Top End and Kimberly Region. I think what a vehicle is being used for will dictate what you really consider necessary.

        If you only have to worry about some insignificant issue with your vehicle, then you have a relatively good vehicle.

        It’s keeping a lid on the bigger issues that keep you from walking.

        Only road trains and large trucks can get away with hitting one of them. A roo bar is of little use.

        The worst are the emus. They are sort of similar to an ostrich, this means a couple of hundred pounds of emu body goes through the windscreen (windshield).

        Below; Emu on the road. As you can see the windscreen is where they will end up and at 80-90mph it probably will hurt you.×2-940×627.jpg

        Below; A cool emu picture. Thought I’d throw that one in.

      • 0 avatar

        Erm…. I think you must be related to the fuel guy who did the calcs for the Gimli Glider. 100 lbs. = 45 kg. and 1000 lbs = 454 kg. Try standing on your head to do it, and you will be fine. BTW, if you hit a moose, you won’t have to worry about the damage to your vehicle. It will be a write-off and you will most likely be dead.

    • 0 avatar

      >> When hundreds of cattle can be transported with their asses pointed out…

      The State of New Hampshire doesn’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets. The next time I’m up there and see one of those bare headed riders, I’ll remember that bit of information.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I have seen a few bikes up here, generally those Goldwing things and Can Hardly Davidsons. Sport bikes might become uncomfortable.

        I wonder how they manage when a road trains passes them? It must be like having a ticket in a lottery with good odds.

      • 0 avatar

        As a longtime motorcycle rider of both street and track, it always boggles my mind when I see riders without helmets in shorts and flip-flops. Defies all logic…

        • 0 avatar

          I know someone who about 45 years ago, found out the hard way that shorts, flip flops, and no helmet is a bad, very bad idea. He used to do talks with kids about how dumb it was, and show them his messed up legs. One was just has his kneecap ground down a lot, but the other one has more metal in it than one of the Terminator’s legs. All it took was one too many rides without all the safety stuff and someone in a car who didn’t see him and turned left in front of him. He’s 65 now, and is basically in a wheelchair at this point. The thing that amazes me is his “little brother” who is 55 years old, STILL raids in shorts and no helmet. I saw him lay his bike down once and he got off easy, just a ton of road rash, nothing broken, but You would think after seeing what his brother has gone through, he would be a little smarter.

          • 0 avatar

            I rallied once with an older guy who….wore no helmet. Since we were one of the pre run pace cars, we weren’t technically in competition. The car was otherwise properly kitted, with full roll cage and five point harness. One of the bars was close to one’s head. He told me he didn’t like helmets as they interfered with his vision. (its a rally car on a timed stage…you didn’t need peripheral vision). Whatever.

            I live near a very popular cycle destination in NY. Every weekend I see the girl riding post with shorts, t shirt, flip flops, and open face helmet…..cringe.

  • avatar

    After growing up driving Panthers with a plethora of friends who drove everything from Lotus Espirit to Civic Type R I always had a limited advancements car that was simply indestructible. I’ve found I would prefer to keep it that way but I think my next car will need to have an infotainment system, preferably one with a small HDD so I can upload my music collection into the car and save me trouble of using my phone’s battery or anything like that.

    I’ve never really had big durability issues before or now. The only things I tend to upgrade are brakes to slotted rotors and EBC brakes (Yellow stuff is street legal that’s next to replace my red stuff.) I like a good tight handling car over anything. The 2nd generation xB isn’t going to outrun anything with real sport suspension but I know how far I can throw it and it works for me. I’m looking to upgrade to something that will take my ‘push my luck’ style of driving for the next upgrade.

  • avatar

    I own multiple Rotary engine cars, so, not even really sure where to start with this one.

  • avatar

    I like lightweight practical cars that give the driver some feedback. I am not interested in paying extra for sound insulation, large wheels, touchy-feely plastics, leather , an automatic or a badge, so if I buy a german car it better be a really cheap (probably trashed) one…
    I will forgive mileage if the car is fun to drive, but right now I need a practical utilitarian safe car with room for two baby seats and a 5’10” teenager, so I currently drive a boring, selfgearing, quiet, heavy car with awful seats and huge heavy wheels..
    After our family was darn close to being killed by an old man who missed his side of the road, I find it hard to buy car without a safe structure and airbags, even though I don’t really like modern cars.

  • avatar

    A car needs to accelerate with traffic, have a “safe” acceleration rate to pass or merge, and hold a highway speed of 70-75MPH. Any horsepower beyond that is useless to me. Consequently, I have had quite a few cars in the past that would have been considered underpowered. In the case of my 1983 Toyota Van, 2.0L 88HP and 5spd, severely underpowered.

    On the other side of the ledger, a car or truck can’t use a given amount of fuel or space unless there is a tradeoff for that fuel usage. A perfect example is the Honda Ridgeline. Terrible tow vehicle, limited room inside, and a useless pickup bed; yet the vehicle struggles to break 20MPG on the highway. I spent many years more well served with a 2002 Ford Ranger and 2000 CR-V which, together, costing less to purchase, getting 10MPG better, and each vehicle taking up considerably less parking space resulting in an easier vehicle to drive.

    REQUIREMENT: A vehicle has to have a “color” of paint. The trend towards varying shades of white and black (Gray, titanium, platnium, silver, charcoal, slate, the list goes on) is boring and, in my opinion, unsafe. I will allow a nice stainless steel color on the right car, but outside of that, give me screaming red or yellow. I want people to see it. Call it being safe.

  • avatar

    Every design is a compromise. That being said, contemporary cars by-and-large simply don’t excite me anymore:

    I’m generally sick and tired of cartoonish design language used for car bodies and their interiors. Likewise of ridiculous and illogical ergonomics, particularly in the cockpit. We know better and should execute cleaner, more functional designs by now.

    I’ve pretty much had it with touch-based and multi-media interfaces; I pine for electromechanical switchgear with positive detents that can be checked by touch, particularly at night. Stuff that can be adjusted without removing my gloves on a cold morning. How about labeling switches with words again? The equipment exists for automotive applications, why on earth don’t we use it?

    Cheap plastics that groan, rattle and crack in cars drive me insane, along with semi-useless outside rear-view mirrors that lack a wide-enough angle view when changing lanes or backing into a tight parking space. I also want cars that are easier to keep clean inside. I don’t tolerate wall-to-wall carpeting in my house for a reason.

    Up to now I frankly haven’t met an automatic transmission I like; there are some I tolerate, most I downright loathe. I can say the same for forced induction, particularly in gasoline power plants. However, diesels and turbos are symbiotic companions and by now a fairly settled and well integrated technology, IMO.

    Generally, I’ve wanted upgraded brakes in every new car I’ve owned/leased/borrowed or commandeered over the past 35 years. If upgraded brakes were an option (not the $8K+ carbon-ceramic option on some marques) I would seriously consider ticking off that box when ordering a car/SUV/truck.

    What can I say, I like to drive. It is my nature and delight. I’ve been learning since I started on a ’66 Nissan Patrol on the farm and could barely reach the pedals. Why take that away from me? Most automation in today’s autos leaves me uninspired at best and furious and/or exasperated at worst. As the level of car automation increases it leaves me simply uninterested and uninspired, unconnected if you will. I want to drive. I want to feel the car. I like my cars to feel analogue instead of digital and not have the product attributes of a smart-phone.

    I suppose I’m getting grumpier in my old age. I thought I would have mellowed by now, but appear to be heading towards the lunatic fringe of autodom from the view of today’s offerings by auto manufacturers. Pity. At this stage in my life when I can afford the cars I wanted in my youth, the modern versions seem ridiculous, overwrought interpretations of what were once–arguably romantically–sublime objects of desire.

    Perhaps the time is ripe to resto-mod? Or stick to conveyances such as vintage motorcycles and stick and rudder aircraft? Those might allow me the thrill and exposure to the smells, sounds and feel I cherish and find lacking from the new products on the market today.

    Please pardon the long rant and thread drift.

    As I said, I’m grumpy these days.

  • avatar

    I’ll have to give up my choice of any decent color if I plan to get another 6MT Accord Coupe. Beyond that, the car have everything I could ask for.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think the “Tiger Eye Pearl” (sort of a bronze color) looks beautiful on the Accord Coupe. But it does suck that you can only get it with the automatic transmission. Although I’m not that big a fan of row-it-yourself transmissions, I don’t like that automakers limit options for those who do. I understand minimizing risk, but does Honda honestly think there isn’t an appreciable population who’d like the Accord 6MT in that sapphire blue color? Or the brown? Or some other color besides the three that are offered?

      • 0 avatar

        “does Honda honestly think there isn’t an appreciable population who’d like the Accord 6MT in that sapphire blue color? Or the brown? Or some other color besides the three that are offered?”


        Not enough of one to build inventory of them, at any rate.

        Want one?

        Buy another color once it’s discounted because nobody wants one, and have it painted any color you like.

  • avatar
    George B

    I like the 2 door coupe format with long doors. That feature pushes the B-pillar backwards so it’s out of the field of view, but the long doors can be tricky in narrow parking spaces. I also prefer narrow A-pillars, moderate cowl height, and low beltline for a less obstructed view. I want some manufacturer to ignore Europeans pedestrian safety standards and build cars low, long, and wide again.

  • avatar

    Timing chain vs. belt. Years ago, threw the belt on my B18A1 ’93 Integra in the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel. Not cool, and especially frustrating because I was about a thousand miles short of the change interval and had already planned to change it the next weekend. I was very happy when Honda went to chains with the K series. My almost 13 year-old K20A2 is a rock.

    Another design element that’s always bugged my dad are rotors that require hub disassembly to remove (no cars I’ve owned, but I know it’s one of his special pet peeves).

    To the OP: One thing I will give California props on is no windshield decals at all. Makes replacement much easier than having to move/replace registration/inspection/tax stickers.

    • 0 avatar

      “Makes replacement much easier than having to move/replace registration/inspection/tax stickers”

      Do states do that? I’ve never lived in one that has, thank God.

      Who puts a vital compliance document on a *wear item*?

    • 0 avatar

      I used to think that on the whole chain vs belt argument, but I had a late-90s Audi at the time. My chain driven Hondas have been rock solid for me as well, but a timing chain is not a panacea.

      You should look into the B6/B7 S4 and its timing chain guide issues, they like to eat the motor at higher mileage. Maybe it’s just a VAG thing.

  • avatar

    I have never replaced the windshield on my xB in 130k miles of ownership. I hear damage happens a lot though. You can always increase your interval on the highway. Not that it will 100% stop another trashed windshield, but perhaps that’s the difference between you and me.

    Mine has an aggressive fiberglass bodykit that’s been through 3 front bumpers, 3 rear bumpers, and numerous fiberglass repairs/repaint. I would say I blow up a bumper/side skirt at the rate of 1.5 per year. I have to change back to OEM for the winter, or else snowplow. Ditto for the 17″ Volk Racing wheels (now bent). During the winter, the lowered ride on the 15″ snows is horrific thanks to the suspension being tuned to the 17″‘ers. Like riding on beach balls. This is the only one of my five cars that I would even attempt to drive in the winter BTW. I suppose this answers your question.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve gone about 170K in two Xb1s with no cracked windshield and I’ve been hit pretty hard by highway debris on multiple occasions. So despite the steep rake on the Xb windshield, my experience is that its tougher than you might expect. I also however take immediate action when I see a dump truck ahead of me.

      Forgot, you’ll probably go through more rear tailgate handles on the Xb1 than you will windshields (3rd one of those for me).

    • 0 avatar

      … what are you DOING that destroys your side skirts and bumpers?

  • avatar

    I’m willing to tolerate a crappy sound system. That can easily be fixed.
    I own an SUV, so obviously I don’t care much about gas mileage.

    Unforgivable offenses for me are primarily issues of durability and repair. If the car has a critical flaw that craps out the engine at 80K (I’m looking at you, IMS failure Porsche), then I will not touch it.
    The worst thing for me is when a car has a one-off motor or transmission. I like it when there are more available replacement parts.

    • 0 avatar

      Your second point almost makes me regret moving to an AP2 S2000. The replacement parts for AP1 are so much more numerous that it makes sourcing major drivetrain components in the event of catastrophic failure incredibly cheaper and easier.

      Case in point: I ate a transmission last summer (my fault) and sourcing an AP2 version took me 3 weeks and cost $900. An AP1 unit could have been sourced in under a week for $600. While they’re technically interchangeable, the AP2 has different gear ratios (for the lower redline) and carbon synchros, as opposed to the brass ones in the AP1.

  • avatar

    I would like to see some features unbundled.
    –Upholstery: cloth, vinyl, leather. These are preferences that vary by person and climate. Let me order what I want.
    –Sunroof/no sunroof. I’m tall and long waisted. I hate sunroofs, but manufactures have decided if I want nice things (power, leather, good audio,etc.) that I must want a sunroof too. No. Just no.
    –Transmission. I like clutch pedals, but most cars where it is possible to get a manual transmission offer it only in poverty-spec trim levels.

    Unbundle these feature, please.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Kia Soul has its options nicely sorted. You can get things like navigation and the large sunroof and the projector/LED headlamps without opting for leather upholstery.

    • 0 avatar

      It seems like Europe has most of their features unbundled, and it’s way easier to get, say, manual seats and a stick shift with premium options. But cars are also much more expensive there.

    • 0 avatar

      In many cases, I think this is not much a manufacturer issue as a dealer issue. Case in point, on my wife’s last new car the sunroof was technically an option which on we were take-it-or-leave-it, but across three dealerships in our metro area as the time, I believe every car of that model in inventory had a sunroof, regardless of trim level.

      This is not to say it’s not a desirable option, but we really didn’t have much choice in the matter. Coincidence and not a profit driver I’m sure….

      • 0 avatar

        Probably demand.

        People – for reasons I do not personally comprehend – like sunroofs.

        They also view them as a “premium” marker and probably think they increase resale value.

        Thus … lots of sunroofs.

        • 0 avatar

          –>People – for reasons I do not personally comprehend – like sunroofs.

          Count me in as a card carrying, dues payin’, horn tootin’, member of the I love sunroofs party.

          • 0 avatar

            Never would go without one!

            One problem in twenty years of Honda EX-grade cars: a cracked roof on my 1994 Civic Sedan, replaced under warranty (and tinted for $50 at the local Ziebart after I realized it was clear glass).

    • 0 avatar

      Totally agree with you on the sunroof thing. I’m 6’4″ and long waisted, headroom is always a chief concern. Although, I do see it becoming more of a trend that a sunroof is a separate option.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. I never use sunroofs. It’s nice to occasionally open the sliding cover (not the glass) to let some light in, but most of the time it remains completely closed.

  • avatar

    If there’s one positive element to my Caliber SRT-4’s design, it’s that the giant front deflects any rocks thrown at it. This also means that my front bumper really, really needs a repaint. One thing I’m not compromising on next time: the 19″ wheels are way too fragile for the amount of potholes in Montreal, Quebec. Getting two of them repaired this month. I think the next vehicle I get will have 17″ mags, max… at least until I move back to BC and can enjoy less destroyed roads.

  • avatar

    I accept, that at my financial station in life, that most everything has to be a compromise. I don’t have the pocketbook to truly get what I want. Or that what I want is a minority interest to the people who make things, so it will never be available.

    My Mazda 5 is full of compromises, but it is a vehicle I enjoy. I enjoy how it drives, but the economy is only OK for an adequately powered four. It’s only adequately powered. The interior is nice looking, but full of cheap plastic. It has room enough for 4 people and stuff or six people and no stuff. It also lacks storage for being a “multi activity vehicle”. I like having a moonroof, I hate how it sticks out of the roof instead of retracting into it, since it looks terrible and creates a lot of noise.

    But, since it was(and is, at least in the US) truly the only vehicle like it at the time (except for the Kia Rondo, which was even more of a compromise), it won our money.

    I like buying optioned up cars.I like leather, I like HID headlamps, heated seats,etc. I feel since I’m spending the money, I might as well get as much as I can. But I’d like to have the option of a manual transmission on a top trim level. I’d also like more an of an a la carte style of ordering a car, without having it be a Rolls or Porsche.

    And the mention of brakes is a big one. We have tons of 250+hp, 4000+ lb “family” vehicles, none of them REALLY have the brakes to back that up. I’d like a brake upgrade box too, and not just on a performance car.

  • avatar

    I am generally willing to accept many compromises for styling, including reduced visibility, but when I had an Audi TT, the top of the windshield was so low that one could not see overhead traffic lights while stopped at intersections. Craning one’s head forward to see them was quite a pain. Though I suppose, on the flip side, I seldom needed to use the sun visors in that car!

  • avatar

    “But some, like steeply raked windshields…”
    Not to be pedantic, but a steep, ie near vertical, windshield is the opposite of a steeply raked windshield. “Rake” refers to inclination from the perpendicular, so a vertical windshield has no rake at all, as it’s perpendicular to the hood.

    My Element’s picked up it’s share of chips over the years, but we have a good glass shop nearby so I’ve been able to stay on top of them. Still on the original windshield.

  • avatar

    I want windows I can see out of

  • avatar

    “What weaknesses are you willing to tolerate in the design of your vehicle, to get exactly what you want?”

    Iron block, iron head, 2v/cylinder, and one camshaft. I love them, but winding one out means like 5000RPM.

  • avatar

    “What weaknesses are you willing to tolerate in the design of your vehicle, to get exactly what you want? Or is durability your sole criteria?”

    As evidenced by my choice of a Series 100 Land Cruiser, I’m clearly willing to give up fuel economy for the sake of visibility, durability, and capability. I really enjoy the thin A pillars and upright, large windshield (as opposed to the upright but tiny windshield of the FJ Cruiser and 5th gen 4Runner).

    I’ve driven the Series 200 Land Cruiser and like it worse. I’m an automotive curmudgeon prematurely, despite only being 32.

  • avatar

    i love my Jetta…. had many…. Better floor carpeting would be cool….other wise it all works.

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