QOTD: What Vehicles Trumped the Previous Generation?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Keeping things fresh and interesting (or boring and CUV) is what drives models to the top of the sales charts. As designs age out of the public’s collective (un)consciousness, they need to be replaced. And unless you have some Impala Classic soldiering on and breaking all the replacement rules, the standard consumer will expect a new generation of their vehicle every five to seven years. The Laws of Advertising mandate a claim of superiority be made about each new generation upon introduction, like in the delightful vintage Plymouth ad you see above. Something to the tune of, “This new and redesigned Sportslife XLS is best in all things car!”

Sometimes, the OEMs get the new generation of a model just right, and really hit it out of the park compared to the prior version. Which of these generation gaps stands out most to you?

When you clicked through, perhaps you thought I’d leave you hanging with no example this time around. Sad! Take a look at my first generation relative fail.

After 1995, the quite expensive Legend Coupe was axed alongside its sedan brother, as the new 3.2 RL debuted the following year. This left Acura in a spot without a coupe model, and thus the CL you see above was born. Not intended as a direct replacement for the Legend Coupe (happily), the CL was instead a coupe version of the TL, which was — of course — based on the ubiquitous Accord. The first car built by Acura in the United States, it was screwed together in the Marysville, Ohio plant that still makes many Hondas today.

Equipped with a 3.0-liter V6, or a 2.2-liter inline-four for 1997 only, this first CL featured a very unique design, which I’ve decided is part of a design aesthetic known as “Shovel Face.” The front and back ends had their own shovel shapes. I didn’t like it when it was new, and I don’t like it now. It hasn’t aged well, and the CL is notorious for automatic transmission issues. Acura customers were stuck with this as their coupe option from 1997 to 1999. After that, Acura called it all off for a year, and took a moment to get it together.

Then in 2001, the second generation CL came around. This time, styling was massively improved, and there was a much better 3.2-liter V6 engine. In 2002, the star-of-the-show Type-S model became available, featuring a six-speed manual transmission and limited slip differential. There was also a considerable jump in horsepower, from 225 to 260.

In stark contrast, this generation CL got a lot of things right (but still not the automatic transmission). It looks great today, even though it drew its last breath back in 2003. It’s also still desirable on the used market, particularly in the more rare colors of Type-S trim.

While I wouldn’t touch a first generation CL, a Type-S generation two is something I’d gladly have parked in my fantasy garage, driven only on nice days. Which cars do you see as standouts compared to the generation that came before?

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • THX1136 THX1136 on Apr 04, 2017

    1970 Barracuda 1968 Charger 1968 GTO

  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Apr 08, 2017

    Late to the party here, but 9th-Gen Accord (2013-present.). Only some cheapness in the interior lets it down; the switch to front MacStruts wasn't as bad as I was afraid it would be, since the bloated 8th-Gen was too heavy to handle well, anyway. After having knocked the Accord out of the park, Honda "beak-ified" the MMC! Then after seeing the tepid Civic Si revealed this week (seriously, WTF were they thinking dropping the CR-V motor in there with a slightly higher tune instead of a detuned Type-R 2.0T), and knowing that the Accord will share platforms with the Civic henceforth (along with no spy shots of prototypes running around by now), I'm guessing the next Accord will likely be a stretched Civic with all engines being overworked, underengineered, four-bangers with hamster wheels attached (and the added cost of maintenance, plus the drivability disadvantages versus the weapons-grade TORQUE of the V6 all included), plus a drop in overall execution to Civic levels. If this comes to pass, and the new Camry V6 is available in the upper trims with a "normal" sunroof, and comes up to Accord levels of handling and drive quality, along with an increase back to expected levels of Toyota interior quality, one of those will grace my garage at some point, and Honda will lose a 23+-year customer!

  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.
  • Ajla A Saab that isn't a convertible. 😏