By on March 9, 2017

2017 Toyota Corolla LE - Image: Toyota

Which car models need to die immediately, TTAC asked two days ago.

What if they all died, all of them except one? Which one, individual, solitary new vehicle should be left behind to cater to the demands of every new car buyer in the world?

It will have to be a vehicle that perfectly balances an immensely broad range of requirements. This universal car has to be affordable, but let’s not pretend the Dacia Logan is up to the standards of Beverly Hills, let alone Dubai. It will have to be sufficiently environmentally sensitive to get past regulations in green-conscious markets, but can a Toyota Prius Prime fill the void left by a Mercedes-AMG GLS63? A two-seater surely won’t do, but a nine-seat Chevrolet Suburban is probably too large if every Amsterdammer trades in their bicycle. And if we don’t demand more than 250 horsepower, do enthusiasts get to have input?

If you could have just one car, and if your neighbor and all their neighbors and every global citizen had access to the very same vehicle, what should The Universal Car be?

I’ll nominate three contenders: one fastball across the plate, a curveball, and a changeup just to get you thinking.

Personally, I can currently possess just one car. We drive a Honda Odyssey, a minivan that fulfills a wide variety of needs. It’s powerful, shockingly fuel-efficient, and hugely space efficient. It’s a pickup when you need it to be, a veritable bus at all times, and it’s always pleasant to pilot. On the other hand, it is larger than ideal.

Second, what about the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited? It sounds odd at first, but in much of the world, consumers aren’t blessed with a pristine road network. Ruggedness is vital. With the Wrangler Unlimited, we enthusiasts will still get to have fun in the sun. And everybody gets a reasonably spacious vehicle. Okay, so it’s a bit rough around the edges, but this won’t come as a surprise.

But I believe one car does a better job of blending a variety of vehicles into one: the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It’s not that expensive. The GTI can handle a small family and a reasonably sized dog. It’ll sip fuel if you’re gentle, it looks good, it fits in tight urban centers, and it uses a platform that’s already central to assembly plants around the world.

Plus, it’ll knock your socks off if you find a twisty road.

Perhaps the GTI is a selfish answer to a question that requires an unselfish response. If we all had to coexist in complete automotive unity, what vehicle makes the most sense?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

146 Comments on “QOTD: If The Auto Industry Could Build Only One Car, What Should It Be?...”


  • avatar
    pdieten

    Honda Odyssey.

    You can’t have only one car and then suggest three. One means one.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I present to you, the One Car For The World:

    A Volvo XC70.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    In descending order of priority:

    1) It’s impractical to suggest that everybody’s vehicle have the carrying capacity that only a tiny percentage needs, but it should be able to carry the 90th percentile’s quota of four people and their stuff. That basically means a CUV, wagon or large hatch.

    2) Given the alarming pace of climate change, it must get excellent gas mileage. This is simply a reality. The number of vehicles that satisfy both #1 and #2 is very small, but oh well.

    3) From a consumer standpoint, it needs to have better reliability and durability than, oh, say, a Volkswagen.

    Mind you, the question here is NOT “what car should the industry build THAT YOU PERSONALLY LIKE?” If so, I’d have a different answer, such as the GTI. But it’s not, so I land on something like the Prius V or Kia Niro. Non-recreational, but oh so versatile.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      My assumption is that Prius/V will be a very common answer. We shall see.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        The Niro intrigues me in this connection because the Prius V is perceived as potentially too geeky and peculiar to be Everyman’s car, but the Niro is pitched right down the middle of popular tastes.

        Also, while it’s easy to forget this on a car nut site, over half of Everymen are actually Everywomen, and that car is made for them.

        • 0 avatar
          dawooj

          Recently had a ride in a Prius V taking Lyft to the airport. While I hate to admit it, the appliance would work very well as an all around car for the masses.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Toyota Avanza is like a third-world-proofed Prius V.

        Same wagon form factor, but with an old school powertrain, driving the rear wheels through a solid rear axle(!), which in turn is attached to an honest to god separate ladder frame (!!!).

        I got a ride in an Avanza taxi cab in Mexico, it was a magic carpet ride. Totally smoothed out the cobblestone roads that rattled your fillings out in a Nissan Tsuru.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Its impractical to suggest anything, because I know people who won’t fit in a Prius V. Their family won’t fit in one. Their tools won’t fit in one. The heavy equipment they use (tractors and implements, etc) sure as hell won’t be pulled by one.

      You call him out for skewing to one side, then you skew to the opposite.

      A Prius V will not fit the needs of everyone just like a Wrangler won’t.

      Singing we are the world and shaming everyone into a Hybrid because climate change is ridiculous. The climate of this planet is ALWAYS CHANGING, man has little to do with it. It was happening millions of years before anyone ever said the horrible word “prius”. I’m glad that thinking about everyone driving a Hybrid gives you the peace of mind that you’re saving the world, but its a farce.

      Tell the farmer in rual South America or Texas or Africa that his truck will be replaced by a fragile little car because its the modern day “I Care” badge. Tell the loggers who harvest the raw materials you need to wipe your @$$ and make a grocery list on that they need a little wagon so they can save the earth while towing one log at a time out of the woods. At that rate, toilet paper and other goods derived from wood would skyrocket.

      As would anything else that requires more than sitting in a cubical to produce, ship and sell.

      One car in the world and it must be a Hybrid because Al Gore’s Styrofoam melting ice caps made you tear up? Get real.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Its hardly practical to consider a Honda Ridgeline impractical; its capable of carrying four people and their stuff as well as any other type of vehicle (CUV in particular) as well as offering capability for the unusual load that’s too large or aromatic to be carried in interior spaces. After all, the bed can be covered, giving your load protection from weather as well as having lockable storage even when the bed is not covered. Of all the types mentioned, it really is the most practical type–especially in AWD version.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Subaru’s Outback comes to mind.Not everyone lives on paved roads.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      You over-estimating capabilities of latest Outbacks. In fact, snow test showed that Mazda CX5 AWD does better than Forester in snow

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Slavuta,
        If you live in a flat area, you could be correct. Any type incline or decline the mazda is crap compared to a Subaru with x-drive. I see this happening at ski resorts every week.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          In the test, Mazda CX5 did better job from stop up on a slick hill with wheels 30 degrees to one side.

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            Slavuta,
            Guess we are talking about alternative facts now. A little info. Stopping is more about tires than types of awd. Besides that, x-drive in a Subaru is in different class above almost all awd systems in this price range.

            The cx-5 is not an awful vehicle, just do some research before comparing it to a Subaru with x-drive.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            A locking transfer case can make the engine part of the stopping capability, even on snow and ice. I know of one type of automatic system that offers at least part of that capability.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        What does snow have to do with a dirt road?

        (Also, does the Forester even have the same AWD system as the Outback?

        Subaru AWD variations baffle and confuse me.)

    • 0 avatar
      Alfisti

      Regardless paved or not it is the best family vehicle in the world. Done.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      LS1,
      Agreed Subaru Outback would be an auto for all. Not everyone likes to stay on pavement, stay home when it snows, enjoys scraping the front end when entering or leaving a driveway, and having the feeling of sitting on the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Interesting about the sitting on the ground. I find a low seating position far more comforting, unless there is a lifted pickup next to me. I actually find high riding vehicles unnerving to drive. Not because of visibility, but that wagging side by side motion that is so much more prevalent in vehicles with high centers of gravity. And, yes, I know I am in the minority,

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          That body sway motion you’re concerned about isn’t as prevalent in today’s vehicles as they were in older ones. A stock JKU is remarkably tight for its height and you have to push it more than average to notice any sway; and yet its road manners are good and its ride, while firm, isn’t harsh. True, a low CoG car feels far more agile; I owned a Fiat 500 and loved it because it felt like I could squirt through traffic and maneuver incredibly quickly. But even with my taller Renegade I get much of that same feeling of tight ride and extreme agility.

          The only place where you might get such a swaying sensation from today’s taller cars would probably come when you have a strong cross wind where your lower body just doesn’t catch it as readily (those concrete barriers certainly act as a windbreak on freeway bridges.) Being aware of weather conditions (high-wind warnings, wind socks at gaps and passes in mountains, etc.) will go a long ways towards being prepared to handle sudden gusts.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          I get the swaying issue. Don’t like that sensation myself. If you drive a Land Rover Discovery or LR3-4 then you get that uneasy body roll. Newer Subaru Forester’s and Outback’s tend to be extremely stable and not sway or float. This also goes for Ford Escape’s and VW Tiguan. Honestly I get that sway feeling in the cx-5 and RAV4.

  • avatar

    I vote with the decently powered 5 door hatchback or small wagon as the “universal car”. Take your pick from the VW GTI, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, the coming Volvo V40, or anything else in that general class of size, power, mileage, etc. Driving around Europe, this style of vehicle fulfills the needs of a large part of the population.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Crew cab 4×4 6 foot bed 1/2 ton truck with mid level engine and interior option.

    That would likely fit the needs of a huge slice of the population.

    FYI this QOTD sounds like something that would be said if a small group of enthusiasts sat around smoking too much weed and had a brainstorming session.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Great pick. Crew cab 4×4 1/2 ton truck would fit a huge portion of the population.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick

        A crew cab Chevrolet Colorado is still a very large vehicle compared to what you see in European or Asian cities. Keep in mind that more than half of the world’s pupulation is urban.

        The ideal car would probably be some sort of a modular, fully enclosed Kawasaki Mule. Seats 5 with a bed. Small, economical, rugged and cheap to repair. Not great for long commutes, but that is primarily an American problem as most of the rest of the world lives close to their workplace. With an adjustabe suspension and modular cab, it would be easy to adapt to different climates and landscapes.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Agreed; most pickups available in the US are far too large to be useful in other countries where roads are narrow and intersections are tight; you need a shorter wheelbase for them. The Ridgeline would be the absolute largest I would choose and even it would be too big for many.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Agreed, Dan. It can work for a farmer all day long and then go pick up his kids and groceries. A truck is practical.

      If not a half ton, then a mid size truck as an F-150 won’t fit down narrow roads in Ye Olde Worlde.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Trabant 601 Universal, of course:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Assuming “everyone” includes folks who won’t (or can’t) spring for a CUV or truck, I’d go with a VW Golf hatchback. The thing’s about perfect for anyone. Plenty of room, great to drive, inexpensive, efficient, and utilitarian.

    And what’s with that Corolla pic? BLEAAAAAACCCCHHHH.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Ford Flex Diesel/hybrid with CVT by Lexus.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Toyota Land Cruiser 70.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Civic.

    Not the new one, the 4th gen: hatchback, sedan, shuttle, CRX.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      Agreed. Wouldn’t complain about some upgraded drivetrains, though what was available worked fine.

      In case this is perceived as 4 different models, the RealTime 4wd Shuttle is my choice.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    What the majority of auto ‘journalists’ say, either the VW Golf Sportwagen or the VW Golf in all its variants.

    Jim Kenzie in the Star has been saying this since the demise of the AMC Concord. James May stated it in his Cars of the People series. And too many others to mention by name have repeated the same.

    Unfortunately VW is perceived as unreliable in North America. Not so anywhere else in the rest of the world (with the exception maybe of Japan?).

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The Golf does have a less than stellar reliability rep…though, as we know, “below average” these days doesn’t translate into “unreliable.”

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Compared with pretty much all the mainstream competition in the US, VW’s ARE unreliable… ain’t no “perceived” about it. Maybe they are more reliable than other German cars, but that’s not good enough.

      But yes, if we ignore reliability, a Golf variant is indeed the Correct Answer to this question.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think it depends on how you “weight the test,” if you will. Golfs aren’t “unreliable” in the sense that they’ll leave you stranded. They’ll have more problems than, say, a Corolla, but if the Corolla is the A student, the Golf is probably more like a B- kid.

  • avatar
    srh

    Subaru Outback. No question.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    One car for the world? Easy: Toyota LandCruiser.

    One car for the US (averaged across all geographic locales and needs)? Probably a crew cab 4wd pickup truck, the latest domestics get fairly palatable mpg if driven sanely.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Most of the world’s drivers are in urban environments. The huge and thirsty (even in turbodiesel form) Land Cruiser is a very poor fit for them.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Point taken, and yet many of those drivers across the third world all aspire to one dream car: a Land Cruiser. Safe on crowded roads, towering above the plebs on an air conditioned throne.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          We often want things that would create havoc if everyone had them.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’d rather be showing the Land Cruiser my taillights than “towering above it,” but it’s your money!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            But remember we’re crawling along in traffic, where exactly are you hurrying off to? :)

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            With the right car, urban driving is a blast. You get to do mini drag races all the time. Now, a Land Cruiser…yeah, that’d be no fun.

            Then again, I’m pretty sure my Jetta would probably probably sustain heavy damage on a rocky trail…

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Depending on which powertrain is in the Land Cruiser, the monster 3UR 5.7 we get in the states will hustle that beast up to 60 in about 6.5 seconds, without dealing with potential loss of traction accelerating through an intersection in a FWD and hitting rippled/potholed or wet pavement. The global diesels are not as sprightly, admittedly.

            Throw some 1 inch spring spacers on the Jetta, an oil pan skid plate, and it’d do okay in most places in the world IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Might screw up the handling characteristics, though…

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “Might screw up the handling characteristics, though…”

            Meh not critically. Ideally it’d be a different spring (taller and a bit stiffer) like manufacturers do for “rough road” packages in certain countries.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Hate to differ, but yeah, raising the car an inch would do no favors for the car’s handling. Not critically, of course…but, yes, there’d be a pretty major impact.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Sure, but “aspirational car” is not the same as “the one car that ought to be made if we only made one”.

          (Fortunately, in the real world, there is no World Car Czar mandating a single vehicle.)

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      gtemnykh – Agreed. One car for the world, Toyota LandCruiser would fit the bill. I also agree with your pick for domestic use.

      One could argue that pickups and the LandCruiser are not cars but we’ve already see the car market dying off and being replaced by CUV’s.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Honda CRV…as I run for cover…

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    TIM MAKE ME SO ANGERY.

    Rejecting my XC70 as it is deceased. I don’t have a good alternative.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    It needs to be:

    – small enough to manage in urban environments; vertical size is better than horizontal
    – large enough to carry at least some cargo
    – rugged enough to handle light off-roading, and available with AWD
    – good on fuel, and able to run on crap fuel
    – automatic transmission available to accommodate disabilities

    I think the answer would have to be a small Euro-van with a 1.6-liter-ish turbodiesel in a low state of tune, but lifted a couple inches and with available AWD. It could be available in either passenger or cargo trim.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Juke. Because misanthrope.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    F150. So many different versions. Something for everyone.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Camry Wagon. Reliable, affordable, comfortable plenty of space for all your junk. And a nice low center of gravity to avoid tipping over. Also I think the Camry is the most American car out there by content, so it will make us great again. Sorry about that last bit.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    For my lifestyle, 4WD Crew cab PU. The swiss army knife of vehicles. There’s a reason I’ve been talking about selling mine for close to year now but yet still haven’t listed it on CL. I think it’s gonna happen in the next week or two. We’ll see if and how long I can survive without it.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Honda Fit.

    Si version to satisfy the enthusiasts.

    Load leveler for a 400# tongue weight allowing 3000# of towing capacity, enough for another Fit on a trailer.

    Everyone else is being far too accommodating of microminorities. Excluding 40-ton freight, 80% of total trips in this country could be accomplished with a 125cc motorcycle, over 95% with a Del Sol, about 98% with a Fit and no trailer, deep in the 99%s with a Fit and a trailer.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My parents use their ’07 Fit to just about full capacity, carrying bee hives and farm supplies to and from their acreage tucked away in hilly Central NY, often times over dirt roads, and even does an admirable job of scrambling up the unpaved hillside that is their property. It’s holding up well, considering, and is fantastically efficient in the process. But given their use scenario, they would be perfect candidates for the Diahatsu Terios like the one I rented in Costa Rica. A more durable suspension, a very capable fulltime 4wd setup, while retaining most of the mpg, and low purchase price.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “80% of total trips in this country could be accomplished with a 125cc motorcycle”

      You live in the desert, don’t you?

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I can’t answer for the world, but for America, Jeep Grand Cherokee. Not too big, not too small, can be had (relatively) stripped out or loaded up, off road capable, on road comfortable. Get Toyota to help QA/QC and I’d buy one tomorrow.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Interior/cargo room lacking on the modern GC, less utility than most well packaged compact CUVs these days sadly. They used to have larger trunks (think ZJ and WJ). In overall utility (while admittedly sacrificing on road manners and some luxury) the current 4Runner has got it all over the GC IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        This brings us back to the 1st Gen Honda CRV. Beef up the steering/suspension components, switch in the 1.5T and add 20 pounds of soundproofing. Then it just needs a way to lock the rear axle without overheating the AWD driveline.

        Unfortunately, the question was for new vehicles.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I guess the “perfect” vehicle simply has too many requirements/specs tugging at it, and I think we’ve already figured out that different environments (size constraints, MPG requirements) preclude the needs of these widely disparate groups from being met. How is a rancher supposed to tow with a small Euro-style diesel wagon thing? How are inhabitants of densely packed urban areas supposed to drive sturdy capable BOF 4wds?

    Also relevant: is some sort of budget implied? Because if we average out across the globe, we’d end up needing something closely resembling a Tata Nano.

    I’ll throw some sort of modern reincarnation of the LuAZ-969M into the ring. Air cooled motor making 40ish hp, immensely capable, and probably would be very economical to build. Of course any emission and safety standards go right out the window.

    isthat.info/uploads/luaz/luaz-969-m/luaz-969-m-07.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It boils down to what’s right for you, writ large. Thus, I’d argue for a Golf, and you’d argue for a Land Cruiser. Ain’t no right or wrong answer per se.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Why not propose an updated Lada Niva? Smallish, rugged, easy to work on and relatively economical (cheap).

      But then everyone who hates small SUV’s would decry this choice.

      For those proposing American pick-ups, there is a rational reason why they do not sell well anywhere else in the world.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yeah I mean a much better engineered Niva already exists, and it’s called “buy a clean Suzuki Sidekick/Vitara” :)

        I think you’re right though, a utilitarian compact-ish sized 4cyl wagon-shaped thing with a sturdy suspension with ground clearance, at least optional 4wd, and an emphasis on easy to repair construction would be closest to the mark if we were to average across the globe. Offer a strong turbo diesel 4cyl engine option for those that need to tow/haul more and still get acceptable mpg. Have the Japanese design it, with localized assembly across the world. Market it as “put the world on wheels” and make it a hip thing so wealthy celebs want one (thus covering the luxury/high end angle). Judging by exploding Wrangler Unlimited sales, suburban Americans can tolerate a somewhat jiggly and stiff-legged ride that comes with a tall and sturdy suspension layout.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Think that we nailed it.

          1) Make a bare bones 3rd world version. Possibly with a diesel and a MT.
          2) A slightly upgraded version (A/C, auto and petrol powered) for 2nd worlders, 1st world seniors and cheap B&B types.
          3) A ‘rugged’ (‘trail rated’)version for 1st world ‘active lifestylers’. (An Eddie Bauer edition?)
          4) A version with upgraded seating/sound/paint for urban hipsters. Maybe a hybrid?
          5) A ‘brougham’ (Denali?) version for the soccer moms and 2nd world business types.

          Locally built and available in right or left hand steering.

          Think we may have created the modern day Model T? As you said ‘put the world on wheels’. At the very least this is far more market friendly than anything that Cadillacs deep thinkers have come up with.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Take a look at the Russian UAZ Patriot, something with old-a** primitive 50 year old UAZ 469 bones (BOF, solid front and rear axles) that any half-sober shade tree mechanic in rural Russia knows how to fix and with a pretty widely configurable spec that includes foreign diesel motors in addition to the wheezy 4cyl Russian one, and trims that vary from bare bones to pseudo-mall cruiser with big wheels.

            Now downsize that and radically improve build quality, and you’d have something. Solid front axle unnecessary, but I’d keep the BOF concept for durability’s sake. Drop the clearance somewhat to improve center of gravity.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Advertising along these lines “Strong enough to serve as a platform for your RPG during the day and luxurious enough to take you to dinner at the Russian Embassy in the evening. Small enough to drive in Mumbai traffic, yet large enough to carry your extended family to the market. The perfect vehicle if you are caught in a zombie apocalypse.”

            I agree with your concept of the UAZ Patriot. BOF is a must. Perhaps redesigned and manufactured (or overseen) by Suzuki? It would need to be manufactured in its 3rd world (base) and ‘Eddie Bauer’ editions with a solid removable or canvas top to allow for the optional RPG mount.

            Maybe include the solid front axle? If so could it then handle a winch and a small plow for those in snow country? Bush/Kangaroo bars available. And of course the emergency hand crank start that was standard on Ladas imported into Canada.

            The fact that any shade tree mechanic can work on it is a big bonus. Not just in the 3rd world but also in North America.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Only one for all of us to do everything?

    I say half ton crew cab as well. Can’t really hang a snow plow on an odyssey or CR-V can you?

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Accord – 4cyl or maybe hybrid.

    Decent compromise in all respects, with the added bonus that it does not break.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Mazda CX5

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Your answer is in the photo… almost.

    It’s called the Toyota Corolla station wagon, or perhaps the Auris Touring Sports, depending on where you live.

    Make one car-like variant, and another with AWD and a beefed up and jacked up suspension for places with lousy roads.

    Exciting? Nope. Could serve 90% of the population of people who don’t need a truck? Yup.

    https://www.toyota.co.uk/new-cars/auris-touring-sports/index.json

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My fam rented a JDM courier-spec 100 series Corolla wagon (a ’94 iirc) for a hiking trip in the Altai mountains back in 2004. Courier spec means leaf-sprung rear beam axle, vinyl interior, 4spd manual driving a trusty 4AFE 1.6L motor. That little car had 5 people in it, with 5 fullsize hiker’s backpacker’s packs in the trunk. It took us over steep mountain passes, across rutted and rocky steppe, and through a water crossing where water came over the hood. It was in rough shape when we picked it up from the rental “company” (garage full of beaters run by some hung over looking guys), the ignition cylinder ended up getting shaken to death on the way back. No such thing as AAA in the middle of the Siberian steppe, we ended up hotwiring the ignition and using that the rest of the trip. The guys at the rental place did not seem to phased when we returned it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      …closest thing would be a Golf Sportwagon.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    You all are missing the obvious choice: crew cab Hilux with a cap. It’s already the default vehicle for 90% of the world.

  • avatar
    stubydoo

    Chevy Avalanche.

    Or perhaps a Pontiac Aztek.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Chevy Malibu.

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    Subaru WRX

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Volvo V70R wagon.

    People would be better drivers with a manual transmission, AWD, fast wagon.

  • avatar
    slap

    Mazda MX-5.

    Put on a trailer hitch and a lightweight trailer and you have hauling capacity.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    Despite all the bias against it, it’s gotta be the Prius or variant of same. No vehicle getting worse mileage can suffice (remember one of the qualifiers was that it needs to serve all the people currently riding bikes in Amsterdam); it’s versatile (serves as like a small pickup truck with the seats down), and it carries ENOUGH people.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Unfortunately it would have to be an import. Lada! FTW

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My 09 Sedona, which I will weep over when I part with it. It’s thirsty, but does all jobs well.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    If just for the USA I say Accord but since it is the world I say a VW Golf, a little big for most of Europe and Japan but a little small for USA so a compromise is needed, I know some say the Corolla but come on folks I need some joy in my car.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    From a utility standpoint, it really must be something minivan-ish, let’s say a Touran or whatever. From an ecological standpoint, it couln’t be more than a Renault Twizy or such if we wanted to inhabit this planet just a little while longer.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The vehicle we would end up with would be simple and rugged, more than likely something akin to a Mahindra or simpler.

    Road infrastructure would have decayed to a point where a 4×4 is required and very few would have the means to afford a vehicle.

    The engine would need to run on various grades of moonshine. So it would need to be an ICE.

    The ability to carry produce, animals and clay pots to trade for moonshine is a must.

    The World would be fncked at this point. We would subsist and exist as opposed to live.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      But but but … we all learned from the Mad Max movies that once fuel runs out and so does civilization, we’ll all roam the country in souped-up V8 muscle cars, dune buggies and pickup trucks!

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    A Honda Ridgeline. It offers the best of all vehicle types, though compromises all by trying to be everything in one.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I change my mind again, this is what the world needs, a car that can be fixed with an axe. Looks like a pos Chevy Cavalier.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    The answer is already in the post.
    What do you get when you mix a minivan, a jeep and a hatchback?
    Crossovers are not only a fashion statement. (but a lot of ‘hipsters’ like to appear like pragmatics I guess)

    I think sloped hatchbacks are more aerodynamical, and more practical when carrying longer or taller objects, so I’d prefer something like a Crosstour or cheapened X4, but if it has an opening rear window like the first two CR-V models, that can work too.

    If it would be ‘the only car in the world’, all manufacturers could share some R&D. So I would expect a plug in hybrid with decent electric range and optional awd and diesel engines, that as safe to crash , even if it has systems that should avoid crashes altogether.
    And if they found a way to add a manual clutch to the drivetrain for emergencies I’d drive it everywhere.

  • avatar
    tubacity

    “We drive a Honda Odyssey, a minivan that fulfills a wide variety of needs. It’s powerful, shockingly fuel-efficient, ” Shockingly big for cities in Europe, Asia without tour bus interior capacity.
    Might be ok if gets traded every 5 yrs or so. Longer and risk VCM problems including sludge, stuck piston rings, scored cylinder bores, broken spark plugs, high oil use that consumes all engine oil between oil changes if not watched and replaced. Of course, everyone here who is OCD checks engine oil every day, but others do not. VCM deactivates some cylinders on light load but there are consequences in some. VCM for miles per gallon is a Faustian bargain.
    Simpler and rugged are more the way for world car.
    A 4 cyl diesel with slightly high station wagon like body and seats behind the 2nd row for passenger and cargo room. 2wd rear drive where AWD or 4WD not needed to keep maintenance and repair costs down. Not very large to keep costs lower. Adequate ground clearance. Nothing coupe-like. They do exist in the world if not USA.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      You slag a Honda V6 and then suggest modern diesel encrusted with failure prone emissions equipment?

      I do agree with the gist of what you’re saying, in anything less than a careful maintenance scenario, VCM is for the birds IMO. Toyota is wise to leave it off their wonderful 2GR V6. Frankly for the third world, even variable valve timing systems that depend on oil pressure activation (and thus, high oil quality) might not be the best idea, same goes for the chains on many newer multi-cam engines, the single row crap some makers have been insisting on (for lower frictional losses, better NVH?) have had a mixed track record indeed, and likewise depend on high quality oil changed regularly. I’d insist on either an OHV design with a short chain, a sturdy fat twin-row chain, or a easy-to-replace belt with a non-interference head design.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        Interference engine with an easy-to-change belt.

        Don’t foul up your energy efficiency for every mile just so you can change the belt when it breaks rather than change it at 7/100.

        Again, the people suggesting high-clearance vehicles with 4WD are not even close to right. Even in Michigan and remote rural areas the roads are easily good enough for a Civic to survive.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “Don’t foul up your energy efficiency”

          I’ll take the peace of mind of non-interference over marginal MPG improvements, frankly. And I’m a guy that changes T-belts religiously according to schedule.

          To your second point: you have a limited scope. Yes even in rural Siberia there are a limited number of Honda sedans/wagons rolling around that get by okay on atrocious roads there (in the summer anyways). My cousin’s wife had an older Honda Partner, fittingly last time I was visiting he was in the middle of some front end work (control arm bushing replacement), it’s also fantastically harsh and uncomfortable on what passes for roads there. BOF trucky stuff lives a longer happier life out that way, and is more comfortable to drive in the process. Anyone with any sort of money out there buys the nicest Land Cruiser they can afford, the same is true in much of Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East, etc. Not a German luxury sedan or anything else that will get obliterated in short order.

          I will leave you with this video:

          youtu.be/VYPL32zJ0QY

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Ford Transit Connect, thanks in part to the many available configurations. Could use some additional aftermarket sound deadening though :).

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Rnaboz: I would love a subscription service in my next car! Blind spot monitoring Lane departure warning Bluetooth...
  • FreedMike: C/D tested a Genesis that fell apart in 40,000 miles? I’d like to see that article. Link?
  • EGSE: Oh, it’s still doing it; I’m using a laptop on a 32″ monitor, not a phone. I occasionally get...
  • EX35: How about focusing on making cars that do not completely fall apart by 40k miles, as C&D found out. Even...
  • IBx1: Anything that ruins the comment section will ruin the entire website. Car and Driver, Road & Track,...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States