Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rhys’ 2005 Ford Mustang V6

This Readers’ Stories feature is about Rhys and his 2005 Ford Mustang.  He is a photographer and blogger, and I encourage you to check out his blog (https://rhysfunk.wordpress.com/). He sent me a couple of pictures of his car, but he is skilled in photography, so I had no choice but to post them all (you can view them in the gallery at the bottom). I hope you guys enjoy this feature. If you want to submit a Readers’ Story, email me at rnrautoblog@gmail.com.

Dad's Legacy

 

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2000 Saturn SL Review

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My friend was puzzled when I asked him if I could review his beat up Saturn five speed. Many of you readers are probably wondering why I am reviewing this car, especially when the cars I have reviewed in the past include a Nissan GT-R, several Mercedes-Benzs, and BMWs. My reason being is that it is a manual, and also because it is a Saturn SL. Before we bought our 2002 Toyota Camry, we had a 1993 Saturn SL (see picture below). Saturn was a division of General Motors, and the idea of Saturn was conceived around 1982-1983. At this time period, American compact cars were considered obsolete in the face of Japanese competition. Honda and Toyota provided superior reliability, quality, and fuel efficiency that American cars failed to match. My dad bought his 1988 Honda Civic in 1988 because it provided the best reliability and value for the money compared to domestic rivals. The idea behind Saturn was that it would provide American vehicles that could provide Japanese quality and reliability but at cheaper prices. Saturn also implemented no-haggle pricing to aid customers in the buying process. Another Saturn feature was that Saturn cars came with dent resistant plastic body panels. The first Saturn vehicle were the 1991-2002 S-Series which consisted of a coupe (SC), sedan (SL), and a wagon (SW). The first SL sold well, and was met with praise by reviewers. My dad, a loyal Honda buyer, ditched his Honda Civic, and bought a SL, and we loved that car for nine years. In nine years, it racked up 130,000 miles without any reliability issues. The S-Series was redesigned in 1996, and then again in 2000, although it was more of a face-lift than redesign.  Continue reading

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2004 Ford Expedition XLT Review

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In the 1990s, the “SUV boom” was taking place. All of sudden, people started gravitating away from minivans and station wagons to SUVs for their family vehicle. Ford was one of the manufacturers that took advantage of this trend with their midsize Explorer SUV. It was wildly successful as Ford sold over 400,000 Explorers in 1996. However, people looking for bigger SUVs flocked to the Chevrolet Tahoes and Surburbans and their GMC twins. Ford then saw another opportunity for another SUV, one that would be more expensive and bigger than the Explorer. Heavily based off the Ford F-150, the Expedition came to fruition in 1996 as a 1997 model. The Expedition came with third row seating and several features that were not available on the Explorer, as well as more powerful engines for maximum towing capability. The Expedition found many customers, as it was sized between a Tahoe and Surburban yet was as affordable as a Tahoe. The Expedition’s success merited a luxury version for Ford’s luxury division, the Navigator, as well as an even larger SUV, the Excursion. In 2003, the Expedition was redesigned, still based off the Ford F-150. However, this generation was noticeable for being the first body on frame SUV (the chassis and the body are not connected together until the end of the production process) to utilize an independent rear suspension, a sophisticated suspension reserved for sedans. This move was criticized by some as it was thought that the IRS would hamper the Expedition’s towing abilities and off roading ability. Whereas the first Expedition felt like a truck with clumsy handling, jittery ride, and a loud interior, the second Expedition focused on a more comfortable driving experience as well as better interior accommodations.

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1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Review

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Even though the Volkswagen Jetta is popular as a “chick car”, I never got around to reviewing one because as you might have guessed, I refused to review an automatic Jetta. When I was growing up, I always had a fondness for the third generation Jetta. I loved the boxy looks of it, and how with a spoiler and the blacked taillights, it resembled a sports sedan. My friend’s mom let me come to her office to review her coworkers’ cars, and she knew I only wanted to do manual cars, so she let me look around the parking lot. I came to this beautiful green Jetta, and I looked inside, and sure enough, it was a manual. Not only that, this is the top dog GLX VR6. I got so excited that I started sputtering facts about the VR6 engine and random details of the Jetta that she could not help but get annoyed. Moving back to the Jetta, the original Jetta debuted in 1979 as a sedan version of the Golf hatchback. It was literally a Golf with a trunk crafted on. Back then, European cars were typically hatchbacks, and sedan versions of the hatchbacks were basically a hatchback with a trunk instead of a hatch. The Mk1 Jetta (generations of the Jetta are classified by MK’s) was designed by Giorgetto Guigiaro, a famous car designer known for designing Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Given that European cars sold in North America at the time were expensive luxury cars, the affordable Jetta became the best selling European model in the continent. The MK1 Jetta was praised for its handling and performance, but less so for reliability. The second generation Jetta arrived in 1984, and it retained its title as the best selling European car in North America, and another redesign followed in 1993, boasting a more aerodynamic look as well as an increase in refinement and quality. The VR6 version here is the high performance version of the Jetta, and it comes with a 172 horsepower narrow angled six cylinder engine.  Continue reading

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2006 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Review

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Even though it shares the same name, this modern sedan bears no resemblance to the Chrysler 300 from the 1950s to the 1960s. When the Chrysler 300 debuted in April 2004 as a 2005 model, Chrysler was experiencing a “rejuvenation” or so we thought. While Chrysler’s lineup made improvements in quality albeit not very significantly, the 300 was the model that made Chrysler relevant in terms of design and image. Some people may not know this but Chrysler which includes Jeep and Dodge, merged with Daimler-Benz AG (which owns Mercedes-Benz) in 1998. As a result, the Chrysler 300 as well as its twin the Dodge Charger, were built off the same platform that underpinned the 2003-2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. This allowed for a rear drive platform that also gave the 300 handling that bettered its rivals such as the Toyota Avalon and Buick Lucerne as well as giving it that Mercedes-Benz solid feeling. My friend’s mom let me come to her office to review her coworkers’ cars. It was like being in a candy store, and I could pick out whatever candy I wanted. She knew I only wanted to do manual cars, so she directed me to the parking lot. However, one car caught my eye: this 2006 Chrysler 300 SRT8. SRT is Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep’s high performance tuning division. Yes, it’s an automatic, but hello! 425 horsepower SRT8! How could I not review this car?  Continue reading

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Miranda’s 2004 Jeep Liberty Limited

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This addition to Reader’s Stories is written by one of my closest friends, Miranda. Like me, she is a car fanatic, and our daily text messages are composed of car related subjects. I like to think that she is one of the people I have converted to manual transmission. She currently drives a Mazda3 five speed. If you want to read about the insight of what it is like to be deaf, check out her blog https://musingsofadeafkid.wordpress.com/ Continue reading

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