QOTD: Found Yourself Pleasantly Surprised?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd found yourself pleasantly surprised

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]

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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...

  • Jwee More range and faster charging cannot be good news for the heavily indebted and distracted Musk.Tesla China is discounting their cars. Apart from the Model 3, no one is much buying Tesla's here in Europe. Other groups have already passed Tesla in Europe, where it was once dominant.Among manufacturers, 2021 EV sales:VW Group 25%, Stellantis at 14.5%,Tesla at 13.9%Hyundai-Kia at 11.2% Renault Group at 10.3%. Just 2 years ago, Tesla had a commanding 31.1% share of the European EV marketOuch. https://carsalesbase.com/european-sales-2021-ev/@lou_BC, carsalebase.com changed their data, so this is slightly different than last time I posted this, but same idea.
  • Varezhka Given how long the Mitsubishi USA has been in red, that's a hard one. I mean, this company has been losing money in all regions *except* SE Asia and Oceania ever since they lost the commercial division to Daimler.I think the only reason we still have the brand is A) Mitsubishi conglomerate's pride won't allow it B) US still a source of large volume for the company, even if they lose money on each one and C) it cost too much money to pull out and no one wants to take responsibility. If I was the head of Mitsubishi's North American operation and retreat was not an option, I think my best bet would be to reduce overhead by replacing all the cars with rebadged Nissans built in Tennessee and Mexico.As much as I'd like to see the return of Triton, Pajero Sport (Montero Sport to you and me), and Delica I'm sure that's more nostalgia and grass is greener thing than anything else.
  • Varezhka If there's one (small) downside to the dealer not being allowed to sell above MSRP, it's that now we get a lot of people signing up for the car with zero intention of keeping the car they bought. We end up with a lot of "lightly used" examples on sale for a huge mark-up, including those self-purchased by the dealerships themselves. I'm sure this is what we'll end up seeing with GR Corolla in Japan as well.This is also why the Land Cruiser has a 4 year waitlist in Japan (36K USD starting MSRP -> buy and immediately flip for 10, 20K more -> profit) I'm not sure if there's a good solution for this apart from setting the MSRP higher to match what the market allows, though this lottery system is probably as close as we can get.
  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Unrelated to this article but of interest I found this on You Tube which explains why certain vehicles are not available in the US because of how the CAFE measures fuel standards. I remember you commenting on this a few years ago on another article on TTAC. The 2023 Chevrolet Montana is an adorable small truck that's never coming to the USA. It's not because of the 1.2L engine, or that Americans aren't interested in small trucks, it's that fuel economy legislation effectively prevents small trucks from happening. What about the Maverick? It's not as small as you think. CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy is the real reason trucks in America are all at least a specific dimension. Here's how it works and why it means no tiny trucks for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eoMrwrGA8A&ab_channel=AlexonAutos
  • Gabe A new retro-styled Montero as their halo vehicle to compete against the Bronco, Wrangler and 4Runner. Boxy, round headlights like the 1st generation, two door and four door models, body on frame.A compact, urban truck, Mighty Max, to compete against the Maverick. Retro-styled like the early 90s Mighty Max.A new Outlander Sport as more of a wagon/crossover to compete against the Crosstrek and Kona. Needs to have more power (190+ HP) and a legit transmission, no CVT.A new Eclipse hybrid to compete against the upcoming redesigned Prius. Just match the Prius's specs and make it look great.Drop the Eclipse Cross, I am not sure why they wanted to resurrect the Pontiac Aztec. Keep the Mirage and keep it cheap, make the styling better and up the wheel size. The Outlander seems fine.I like the idea of some sort of commercial vehicle, something similar in size to the Promaster City but with AWD.
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