QOTD: Found Yourself Pleasantly Surprised?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

It’s easy for a car to disappoint — it’s seen all the time in the reviews featured on these pages. A squeaky seat here, loose trim there, or a ride quality as smooth as falling down a flight of stairs.

But what about those times when the opposite happens?


Today we want to talk about instances where a vehicle exceeded your expectations. The bar didn’t necessarily have to be low to start. Perhaps your expectations started out high, and the vehicle in question delighted anyway. The example I’ve got in mind was certainly an instance of a low bar to clear.

My expectations were so low because of the family lineage which preceded the car that impressed. By now you’re aware we’re talking Chevrolet Cruze; specifically the first generation. I didn’t have a lot of hope for the Cruze after considering its predecessors, the Cobalt and Cavalier. “Neither of those were very good,” I mused at the Avis counter. “GM will make the same mistakes again.”

And yet, no. The well-equipped rental Cruze (2LT I believe) rode pretty nicely. It was quiet at freeway speeds. The suspension handled rough roads and potholes with aplomb, and the seats were generally comfortable. The materials used, while not upscale, were at least competitive for the class. And the whole car felt solid, and like it was screwed together properly by people who weren’t drunk. The Cruze impressed me in lots of ways where I was expecting it to fall flat. I’d still recommend the first-generation Cruze as a used car buy, assuming one could be found that wasn’t used up, or a prior rental (same thing, really).

When did an experience with a vehicle surprise and impress you?

[Images: Mitsubishi, General Motors]

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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  • Funky D Funky D on Feb 27, 2019

    The 2 truly pleasant surprises I've had are both currently in my garage. 2011 Toyota RAV4. I've never been a Toyota (or any Asian brand) fan up until we got the RAV4. While certainly not an enthusiast vehicle by any means, it does the job it was made for as well or better than anything else on the road. The 2.5L 4 is surprisingly torquey and delivers good mileage. It eats up cargo and miles with ease. The other one is the 2012 VW Eos that I bought to succeed the 2006 GTO after GM dried up the parts supply. While not a fire-breathing monster like the Goat, the 2.0L is sufficiently fast, and the DSG grew on me. I like the European driving feel and the hardtop convertible roof makes for any open or closed driving experience you want.

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Feb 27, 2019

    I'll chime in not one, but TWO rental Nissans. I would no more buy a Nissan than fly to the moon, but I had positive experiences with a Versa sedan: huge back seat, larger than expected trunk, great little commuter car. And a new-bodystyle Altima. Doors sounded terrible, closed with a metallic "clank" noise, but when I picked it up at TPA, the trunk was open so I couldn't see the badge...I could only see the c-pillar shape and thought I had lucked into a Maxima, in a sea of Kia Optimas. Overall a very competent car and the CVT wasn't obnoxious at all. I don't know if it's dumb luck or what, but I have tended to get REALLY low mileage rentals from Alamo at Tampa Int'l...including a Cadillac XTS with 4 miles on it. The Altima had something like 900 miles on it. Perhaps a higher-mileage car would have been less impressive. I am scheduled to pick up a Ford Expedition (or similar) for a family trip in May, no telling what I'll wind up with...

  • Arthur Dailey 'The capitalists will sell use the very rope that we use to hang them.' In our household we have cut down our shopping/spending and pay more to purchase products from 1st world nations or 2nd world nations that are our 'allies'. That also means quite often only buying and eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Just like our parents and grandparents did.At least TTAC published an article on May 21st regarding LAN transformers that contravene the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act being used in some BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, and VW products?
  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.
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