By on January 11, 2021

The Rare Rides series featured a Passat wagon once before, in the long ago time of 2018. It was a 1992 G60 with all-wheel drive, a manual transmission, and supercharged engine. Staying true to quirky form, today’s newer and more luxury-oriented Passat pairs its all-wheel drive grip with an eight-cylinder engine.

(Read More…)

By on December 28, 2020

1990 Mitsubishi Galant GSX in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAs we’ve seen in this series, Coloradans bought plenty of all-wheel-drive-equipped AMC Eagles, VW Quantum Syncros, Audi Quattros, and Toyota All-Tracs during the 1980s. The suits at Mitsubishi Motors saw all those AWD-enhanced car sales in snowy American regions and decided to sell some rally-influenced Galants on our shores. A few decades later, this rare-but-not-valuable Galant GS-X appeared in a Colorado Springs self-service car graveyard. (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2020

Toyota

As expected, the traditionally front-drive Lexus ES will enliven its rear axle for the 2021 model year.

Like its sister sedan, the Toyota Avalon, the ES range will see the addition of an all-wheel drive model motivated by the automaker’s stalwart 2.5-liter four-cylinder. A powerhouse it is not, but come winter, the ES 250 AWD could be a respectable motorist’s best friend. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2020

Despite deep-sixing its Yaris hatch and sedan for the coming model year, Toyota hasn’t lost interest in all of its passenger car models (not that the Yaris was really as Toyota, but that’s beside the point). There’s been a fair bit of action on that front in recent years, and the automaker shows no signs of stopping.

New trims join the brand’s car entourage for 2021, though those looking to get into the barest-bones Camry will walk away from this article disappointed. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2020

Once upon a time, it was expected to find the driven wheels of a car aft of the rear seat. In this writer’s recollection, the coming of winter would see the addition of a few bags of concrete mix or sidewalk salt added to the trunk for extra traction. Most pickups, usually of the wholesome regular cab variety, boasted the same setup.

Eventually, front-wheel drive replaced RWD as the go-to way to put power down, while in the background four-wheel drive gathered steam.

Would it surprise you to learn that the majority of 2020 model-year vehicles sold in the U.S. thus far eschewed front- or rear-drive? (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2020

Today’s Rare Ride is an example of a vehicle that was fairly common in the early Nineties. However, the passage of time is never kind to low-value and oft-forgotten economy cars, so survivors like this little blue Tempo are quite a find.

(Read More…)

By on February 27, 2020

An all-wheel-drive vehicle will reappear early this spring after a decades-long absence, tempting those who demand a sure-footed sedan with untold amounts of badge and nameplate loyalty.

While the Toyota Camry AWD might arrive too late to tackle our current winter, the future is a blank slate, ready to be filled with instances of snow-flinging fun. Perhaps a dirt road race against a Subaru Legacy driver is in the cards.

As the Camry AWD heads to dealerships, Toyota has revealed pricing and fuel economy for the intriguing model. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2020

nissan

Within a couple of years, Nissan hopes to put the company’s current dark clouds behind it and get on with the business of selling cars and making money. One vehicle expected to help the automaker in this supposedly EV-hungry decade is a production version of last year’s Ariya — a concept crossover powered solely by electricity.

Looking pretty fleshed-out for a concept, the Ariya, or whatever Nissan chooses to call it, will join the long-running Leaf in the company’s emissions-free stable. At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, the automaker chose to show off the system that gets the Ariya moving. It’s an unholy marriage of letters and numbers. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2019

Earlier this year, when rumors of a forthcoming all-wheel drive Chrysler Pacifica arose, the minivan segment seemed ready to birth a rival to Toyota’s AWD Sienna. Instead, Chrysler ended up debuting a stripped-down version of the FWD Pacifica called the Voyager.

AWD isn’t off the table, it seems, but the traditional form of all-wheel traction is. A new report claims the coming year will bring an electrified AWD minivan from Windsor Assembly. (Read More…)

By on December 18, 2019

There was a time when no one out-weirded Subaru. Gonzo digital gauges, windows within windows, and a general Birkenstock image cemented them as the choice of the grains-n-granola crowd. These days, the cars still march to a different beat but appeal to a much wider audience. The company’s winning sales streak stands as proof.

For 2020, the Pleiades brand has tweaked its Impreza sedan ever so slightly … but that’s not why it stands as today’s pick. It is, so far as our research shows, the cheapest way to buy a brand-new all-wheel drive car in America.

(Read More…)

By on November 13, 2019

There was a flurry of speculation earlier this year about a traditional people hauler, with whispering voices claiming that, in a bid to boost demand, Fiat Chrysler was prepared to offer an all-wheel drive version of its Pacifica minivan. Minivan sales aren’t doing too hot, as you know. Crossovers and the like…

While the automaker’s minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario did get a funding top-up in April, thus far the only byproduct of that $355 million cash dump was the creation of a new/old nameplate — Voyager — to stand in for lower-trimmed Pacificas. A new bit of evidence, however, does point to an eventual AWD Pacifica. (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2019

Depending on where you live, the newest variants of the Toyota Camry and its big brother, the Avalon, may arrive too late to help you conquer any wintry weather. This winter, anyway. Slated to arrive in North American markets starting early next spring, the two sedans boast something unfamiliar to owners of these long-running models: All-wheel drive.

In an announcement that took many by surprise, the automaker claims these new AWD sedans can thank the new-for-2019 RAV4 for their existence. A little engineering work later, and here we are. The 29-year drought of AWD Camrys has ended. (Read More…)

By on September 3, 2019

2019 Mazda Mazda3 front quarter

With Labor Day in the rearview, the grim prospect of winter now rears its ugly head. For many of you, it’s no big deal. It might rain. You’ll have to put on a light jacket before leaving the house. For others, Mother Nature awaits with several gigatons of snow and ice.

Suddenly, that two-wheel drive vehicle that served your needs just fine throughout the summer is no longer king of the road. Sufficient, sure, but not ideal. Bringing all wheels online would improve your car’s winter prowess and boost driver confidence (possibly by too much of a degree), yet few passenger car makers think of adding it to models lacking boxy, cargo-happy bodies.

If AWD is something you covet, would its presence sway you away from a crossover and into a normal car? (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2019

Subaru has been on something of a tear lately, cashing in on the crossover craze and ringing up ledgers full of sales. In fact, as of July this year, the company can boast of 92 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. That month was also the second best in Subaru history, just 435 units off its best month ever, recorded in December of last year.

For 2020, the Exploding Galaxy has paid attention to its Legacy sedan, imbuing it with fresh styling and all manner of safety features. Despite these advances, this big car still bears a base price of just $22,745. And, yes, all-wheel drive is standard.

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

In The Current Year, new car lots are filled with family-friendly adventure vehicles. They’ve got lots of seats, lots of cladding, and some sort of system to drive all four wheels (even if it’s a lousy system like on the CR-V). But our Rare Ride comes from a time when family 4×4 options were much fewer in number. 1989 was a very different time for the adventuresome family buyer.

Enter Quigley, and the Chevrolet Beauville.

(Read More…)

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