When I began traveling the country to work for the 24 Hours of Lemons, back in 2008, I began experiencing the joys of renting the very cheapest cars (that could haul four adults and all their stuff) available at airports in places like Charlotte and Philadelphia. That’s when I discovered the Dodge Avenger and its Journey platform-mate. These fleet-spec Avengers were not good cars, to put it mildly, but we’d speculate— jokingly— on how amazing the factory-hot-rod R/T version must be as we sliced our fingers on door-handle casting flash and listened to the wind shrieking through the sub-par door seals. Here’s one of those mythical Avenger R/Ts, found in a Denver self-service yard.
How much car can you get in this country for sixteen thousand bucks? Well, you could try a base-model Elantra, or with a bit of sharp dealing you might come up with a Sentra. TrueCar thinks you might be able to sneak into a Cruze LS. Certainly you could get a Ford Focus, which might be the best choice if you can shift for yourself or you trust the PowerShift double-clutcher.
How about something a little bigger and more powerful? Would you be interested? What if I told you it wasn’t all that bad on a racetrack? What if you’re a subprime buyer?
A sports car. A luxury car. A truck. A car for third-world nations. And yet CCS never gave me a project that said, “lower your standards and design a great rental car” for a week of studio work. Does anyone design anything with unloved dispensability in mind? But I see it that way: leaving the design world to (eventually) to flash my MBA with an occasional corporate trip…with the obligatory rental car. But how pretty is the Queen?
The fleet queen that is.
Well, the death of the Sebring name anyway. The Detroit Free Press reveals some of the first details about Chrysler’s all-important refresh of the Sebring/Avenger, a vehicle that CEO Sergio Marchionne recently admitted (in what was surely a Lutzie-award-worthy understatement) is “not the most loved car by car enthusiasts.” The biggest detail: it won’t be named Sebring. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering that the Sebring’s issues are less related to a tepid reaction from the enthusiast market, and have more to do with the fact that even the least car-literate Americans recognize the Sebring name as a symbol for all that is wrong with America’s auto industry.