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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Mechanic's Automotive Underrated List follows up the Overrated List

Chismillionaire couldn't agree more with some of these but disagrees strongly on some others and thinks a couple of others note a mention.

GLARING OMISSION: Mercedes C63 AMG(have you heard this thing?) V8 M3, Audi RS4 or any other rocket Sedan. Way Way Underrated.

First off, the Jaguar XK is stunning, comfortable and a great value. How you choose a BMW 6 Series over the XKR is befuddling. Now with the all new 5.0 Liter motors, there is no real reason to even take the Mercedes SL with it's odd Borg styling over the Lovely Brit. This XK will age very well.

Next, Domestic Quality has turned the corner. Get into the showrooms and check these things out. Read the JD Power results and see for yourself. It's not across the board but certainly the prevailing attitudes of the public are incongruous with the current product mix.

Next, while the ZR1 is out there in looney land(come on 140 more hp than a Z06??) and has a great 4th order V8 sound, it is still a Corvette and it reeks of middle aged white bald guy which can't be the ultimate anything or even remotely aspirational. The seats are standard Corvette and for the price the shoddy trim pieces and Malibu steering wheel are inexcusable. Hint: Get the Used Z06 and retrofit magnetic dampers if possible and have the interior redone by Callaway or Carravaggio. Or pick up a new Cadillac CTS V for half the ZR1 Price, it'll be all you need. If you insist on craziness, I bet you can find a Lamborghini Gallardo with less than 20,000 miles for a stones throw of 100 grand. Then we're talking.

Next, sorry the Lancer Sucks. You're crazy not to go with the Subaru WRX or Imprezza instead

Wagons- yes Chismillionaire is a big fan of real wagons. Only real bet now is E63 AMG wagon which will show an Audi R8 its taillights. Recent sad departures - Dodge Magnum SRT8, Audi S4 Avant, Volvo V70R. Where is the BMW 335i Sport Wagon?? Audi, where is the S6 V10 Avant?

3 Series- it's Excellent as stated, but Infiniti closing quickly and for Ten Grand less. Hmm. Not sure it really qualifies as underrated either- gets quite a bit of fawning pub.

Hatchbacks- good for commuting and taking a parking lot carriage to the mouth but sorry, can't be inspiring. Pass. Yeah let me get one of those GTI's with leather seats. That's 27 grand please. What???? That said, Mini Cooper and Cooper Clubman are at least novel, but I'm not sure I put them in the hatchback category.

200C Concept most important? Nope it's the Fisker Karma Sedan. Incredible design, ready for the market now, and 20 grand less(more $ than that now that they raised the price for Tesla) than the puny Tesla Roadster. Amazing to me it doesn't get more pub.

Jeep SRT8- an all wheel drive hot rod with space to spare. However, the Interior makes a Geo Metro look like the Presidential Suite at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong by comparison. Nearest competitor is AMG Mercedes ML63 for double the price. 300C SRT8 is the better bet.

Audi TT- nope poseur mobile. Douche bags with frame less eyeglasses, who shave their chests and order papaya smoothies. The fact it's based on the Golf should be enough of a warning. 40 grand??= You've been had!

Pontiac G8 is America's Best Sedan and a raging Bargain. Supplement a Roots Blower Package and you have an M5/E63 Killer for 40% of the price.

Ford Flex- Great design and interior. A Real people mover without being a minivan. A Mini Cooper for Fat people. Well done! An under served market segment- the efficient fat people mover. Drop the Eco Boost in this thing and watch out.

Honda Accord- Plain Vanilla in a French Vanilla World. Tedious Really. For the money I don't know why the new Maxima isn't obvious. Maybe it's Nissan's non existent marketing for the car.


Driving a car that makes you feel good
Completely forgotten since gas prices went haywire. Worth remembering.

Finally Cadillac's V Series Failure is simply bad or mispriced product. A great idea and it could have been a home run. The first CTS V had such awful drive line issues it couldn't be a serious contender, but its price discount at least put it into discussion.

Second, the two other V cars were using the Supercharged Northstar(a faulty and expensive premise) and charging 80-100 grand. IDIOTIC. Almost killed the V brand with those two moves. Why not the LS7 into the STS V for 60 grand? XLRV for 100 grand. I mean if that doesn't bring you to near hysterics I don't know what will.

The new CTS V is a world beater by all measures. An Instant Legend. The problem is where to go from here? CTSV coupe?? There is no end game for the V series now. It's a one model franchise for as far out as the eye can see.

The fact is that there are many things in our little world of cars that don't get the recognition they deserve. So I decided to make a list of things I thought were underrated. This is my Underrated List and I'm positive you'll enjoy it.

Jaguar XK
Jaguar sold just 2,779 in 2008. Meanwhile, BMW sold 5,341 6 Series and Mercedes moved 5,464 SLs. The XK is beautiful from the curb and from the driver seat. It's the best car Jaguar has ever made. More people should be buying them.

Domestic quality
This one is tricky for two reasons. First, everyone has their own definition of quality, and second, there are some vehicles I don't think this applies to. But if you're not buying a Ford Flex or a Buick Enclave or a Pontiac G8 or a Cadillac CTS or a Ford Edge, etc. because you think it's going to fall apart and spend most of its days at the dealership service department, you're living in the past. And the Inside Line Long-Term Test blog is packed with real-world data to support this.

Chevy Corvette ZR1
Sure, everyone says it's great. But it's even better than that: it's the world's greatest performance car. No, I'm not kidding. Nail the throttle in a ZR1 and your life changes. It alters your reality. I must have one. And GM should be getting the credit it deserves for building the damn thing.

Mitsubishi Lancer
Forgotten in a sea of Civics, Corollas and Mazda 3s. The Lancer is a hell of a nice car that gets lost in the mix. Maybe now that the new Mazda 3 looks like the Chevy Cobalt drives, more people will give the Lancer a chance.

They're always the next big thing, but never seem to be. They should be. Ninety-nine percent of the fools out there driving around in SUVs, crossovers and even minivans should be driving a wagon. And not some fake high-riding wagon like the Benz R-Class, the Ford Flex and that new Toyota Venza thing. I mean a real wagon.

BMW 3 Series
Best all-around car on the market today. A marvel of engineering. If you find it unappealing, you probably live and work in Detroit or have ball bearings for brains. Wait a minute, that's the same thing. Forget it.

See Chevy Corvette ZR1 above. By the way, they're also under the hoods of the Dodge Challenger SRT8 and the Chevy Camaro SS.

All of the wonderful Inside Line/Straightline Readers
Simple pandering.

The "Americans don't buy hatchbacks" thing has been around too long. Fact is, they only buy good hatchbacks like the Mini Cooper and the VW Rabbit. Hatchbacks, like wagons, should be in more American driveways.

Chrysler 200C Concept
The most important car at the Detroit auto show. Proves Chrysler isn't dead on the inside.

The Ugliness of the Nissan Murano
Looks like 16 different people designed it. Which would be fine if any of them had any design talent. How do you make a Murano look good? Park it next to a new Maxima.

The Stupidity of iDrive
Amazing, even after all these years of calling it stupid, iDrive remains so stupid, its stupidity makes this list.

The It Factor
The one part of a car that cannot be designed or engineered. It's also the most important part of any car. Without it, you've got the Cadillac XLR.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
The only SUV that could make me give up on wagons.

Audi TT
An engineering and design marvel. Think about it; it's a VW Rabbit underneath.

Pontiac G8 GT
Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, feature for feature, this is America's best sedan.

Inarguably the most important part of any car. Think about it, it's the only part of your vehicle that touches the ground. Cheaping out by not replacing them in a timely manner or buying them at Pep Boys because you can get 4 for $50 is just foolish. And for god's sake, check your tire pressure.

Driving a car that makes you feel good
Completely forgotten since gas prices went haywire. Worth remembering.

Ford Flex
Ford's best. Proof Mulally and Co. are capable of getting it 97 percent right.

Honda Accord
Still the benchmark for the class. A real example of Honda's talents. Load one up, however, and the price starts making a Pontiac G8 GT look like the one.

The failure of Cadillac's V-Series
Last year Cadillac sold fewer than 1,000 V-Series cars. Meanwhile BMW moved 1,400 M5s. Yes, just M5s. Maybe the new CTS-V will get the V-Series back on the map, but let's face it: After several years of trying, Cadillac is again starting from scratch. -- The Mechanic, Inside Line Contributor