QOTD: What Vehicles Trumped the Previous Generation?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd what vehicles trumped the previous generation

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?

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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!

  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.
  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers.