QOTD: What Was The Most Desirable Mid-Sizer Ever?
I had somewhat of a unique high school experience, in the sense that it was the most after-school special, stereotypical experience possible. I went to a suburban school with just the right amount of ethnic diversity — which is to say that even the black and Hispanic and Asian kids listened to Pearl Jam and wore Ralph Lauren.
When it came to our first cars, we didn’t just go down to the local dirt lot and buy something with our savings from fast food jobs. No, we were spoiled brats who were given sensible compact to mid-sized sedans by our parents. We didn’t lust after MK II GTIs or Geo Storms — no, we sat around the lunch table in 1994 and debated the merits of the fifth-gen Honda Accord, the basic but steady Ford Taurus, and the GOAT XV10 Toyota Camry, especially the blingy “American Edition.”
As for me, I had my heart set on the recently introduced Nissan [s]Stanza[/s] Altima.
My father and his wife had a matching set of Infiniti J30s, and the Altima was strikingly similar in design. I remember Brother Jack having a hell of a time selling J30s after the Altima dropped, even with those creepy AF Jonathan Pryce ads. There was even an advertised $199 a month lease. My dad couldn’t understand why I wanted a four-door sedan instead of something sporty — oddly enough, the young girls I went to school with found sensible and practical more attractive than sporty and sexy. It’s not surprising that the vast majority of them ended up becoming school teachers.
Ultimately, though, I ended up with the very first MK III Jetta sold in Ohio, a teal vision with 13-inch wheels and an 11 second 0-60 time. But whenever I see one of those first-generation Altimas rusting their way down the road, my inner 16-year-old has a slight pang of envy and regret that I didn’t get one.
Some other favorites of mine over the years:
The current Ford Fusion is, in my opinion, the best looking mid-sizer ever. Yes, the Aston Martin visual cues are ever present, but it’s one of the few mid-sizers that actually strikes a little bit of desire and envy in the hearts of the neighbors.
The aforementioned 1991-1996 Camry is considered by many people who care about such things to be Best Camry. My high school football coach had one, and he was the coolest teacher in the school (and everybody suspected that he was banging the cheerleading advisor, who was megahot).
I might be alone in this, but I always dug the 2008-2012 Chevrolet Malibu. It was a huge departure from the prior model and was the first American mid-sizer since the Taurus to be genuinely desirable. It won all sorts of COTY awards on its debut.
So which mid-sizer actually inspired lust in your heart? Which one crossed the threshold from appliance to art for you? We want to know!
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Gonna date myself a bit, and I'll have a caveat afterwards but: 1987 Dodge Lancer ES Turbo 1991 Nissan Maxima 1994 Dodge Intrepid 1995 Ford Contour SVT Thing is, I know the Lancer was a bag of crap. My dad had a string of company cars (replaced every 2-3 years, depending on the lease deal the company had set up. They gave him a choice of three, generally, all domestics) in the eigbties and nineties. And they were forbidden fruit for me - I wasn't allowed to drive them, because the company insurance didn't cover anyone under 18. Well, that's what he told me. In hindsight, I'm not certain that was entirely true, and may have been an excuse to keep me out of the company cars. Eventually, though, I could drive them. The one that got away was the '87 Lancer. And it was a K-car hatchback, with a turbo, no cooling for the turbo, and no timer. And they blew up like clockwork at about 70k miles/110km (his car, specifically, went back to the dealership, and his bosses' kid bought it, and it blew up almost exactly at 110,000km) I never got to drive that one, I was fifteen when he had it. But that turbo push was... that was the first time I realized that a Lambo, or Ferrari got you noticed, but there was real, affordable, useful power for the plebs who couldn't afford such pedigreed iron. The Intrepid was a seriously good long distance cruiser, in the first gen. Chrysler did something very right with it. I don't mind the second gen, but the first was incredibly distinctive, had great power, and would eat miles. It was interesting, even if it would prove to be unreliable in the long term. The early 90's maxima was a car I argued for years (with my dad) would become a future classic. Here we are, 25 years later, and I can't say it's actually happened, to be honest. But I always loved the lines of that car, and the smooth power of it. I only rode in one once, but it cemented a lot of the idea of what a sport sedan should be in my head. Finally, a buddy had an SVT Contour with some very mild mods when I was in university in the late 90's (well, all of the 90's, and part of the early 2000's, if I make admission). And for its time, that car was an absolute monster. You know, I'd also give a nod to the 1988 Mazda 626 GT turbo as well - one of my buddies had one in high school, and one of my friends now has one that he's building up for kicks. With the same drivetrain as my little brother's '91 MX6 GT Turbo, that car was fast... if you could get past the ridiculous gearing (for the time) and monstrous torque steer.