Tag Archives: automotive reviews

2005 Ford Mustang V6 Premium Review

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Do you ever believe in coincidences? Well guess what, I do. The owner of this car went to the high school I would have gone to had I not changed districts, and as it was unbelievable how well I knew his classmates (I attended the elementary school that preceded the high school). Not having spoken to many of those classmates for so long, the owner filled me in on them, and it was like reading a tabloid about my former classmates. Because of that, we started bonding and became great friends. If that is not a coincidence, I do not know what constitutes as one. Our friendship was made better because he informed me that he is a car fanatic, and he drives a manual car, a 2005 Ford Mustang V6 5 speed. The Ford Mustang was what one would call the starter of the “pony car.” Ford wanted to build a sporty but affordable and family friendly vehicle for the masses. The first Mustang debuted on April 17, 1964, and these Mustangs were regarded as the “1964 1/2 Mustang.” In its first year, it sold over 400,000 copies and sparked the muscle car era. Shortly after, Ford’s rivals Chevrolet and Dodge/Plymouth started getting in the action with the Camaro and the Challenger/Barracuda. The Mustang II, introduced in 1974-1978, was a disappointment compared to the first generation. No longer displaying svelte and crisp lines, the frumpy Ford Pinto-based (Ford Pinto was an economy hatchback) Mustang II was slow and featured ordinary styling. Due to the oil crisis of the 1970s, the Mustang II was fitted with fuel efficient but slow engines. However, the Mustang soldiered on till the fifth generation in which the most significant Mustang since the original debuted in 2005 model year. This generation’s design would borrow heavily from the original Mustang as well as be completely redesigned in and out. I had the pleasure of driving a 2011 V6 and 2014 5.0 GT, but since those were refreshed models of this generation, I thought it would be cool to review a pre-refreshed Mustang, with a manual transmission of course.  Continue reading

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2011 Mazda3 S Grand Touring Review

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I never understood why Americans are against hatchbacks. My family and I travel often to other countries, and in Asia and Europe, hatchbacks are the norm. Even in Australia and New Zealand, hatchbacks generally sell more than sedans. So why does America have an adverse reaction to hatchbacks? I have no clue. One time, in a store parking lot. I pointed out a nice Audi A3 hatchback, and I said to my sister, “Look at that A3, isn’t that a sweet ride?” Her reply? “Ew. It’s a hatchback.” I am baffled. Logic dictates that we should prefer hatchbacks over sedans because they provide better cargo space and more versatility and in some cases, they tend to look better than their sedan counterparts. Such is the case with the second generation Mazda3. Replacing the Protege (called the Familia overseas), the 2004 Mazda3 was the start of a new era for Mazda. No longer a company of humdrum and ordinary vehicles, Mazda placed emphasis on sporty driving experiences and styling which started with the first 3. The first generation Mazda3 was a blistering success, and it was the car that pulled Mazda out of obscurity. It was renowned for its blend of enjoyable handling, quick performance, excellent fuel economy, and its design. I reviewed two first generation 3s, the high performance hatchback, Mazdaspeed3 and a sedan. I was impressed as they provided the driving experience of a BMW but for half the price. In 2009, the second generation debuted as a 2010 model. I also had the opportunity to review one, but it was an automatic transmission sedan. However, this car is a hatchback with a manual transmission. Which begs the question; would I like the hatchback configuration better than the sedan?  Continue reading

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2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Review

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When foreigners judge Americans in terms of cars, the first thing that pops to mind are pickup trucks. Which makes sense considering that a Ford F-Series truck has been our best selling automobile for the past 32 years (according to Wikipedia). However, there is one other thing we are also known for: our muscle cars. America has a long history of shoving big horsepower engines into sporty cars, a craze that started back in the Roaring Sixties. When the economy was booming, American manufacturers wanted to add fun to their lineups. Ford was the first to jump start this idea with the 1964 Mustang. Then Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, created the Camaro three years later. So did Dodge two years later with the Challenger. The three of these muscle cars coined the term “pony muscle car.” The Camaro also spawned a twin, the Pontiac Firebird. The Chevrolet Camaro lasted for four generations until Chevrolet discontinued it in 2002. By the time the fourth generation arrived, the Camaro and its twin, the Pontiac Firebird became more like big sporty coupes rather than sports cars. Due to lackluster sales and the market’s decreasing appetite for sporty coupes, General Motors discontinued the Camaro and the Firebird. However, in 2006, Chevrolet showcased the Camaro Concept at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show to unexpected levels of acclaim and praise from spectators worldwide. The Camaro became more prominent, especially in its role as Bumblebee in the Transformers series. The overwhelming demand for the Camaro was too much for Chevrolet to ignore, so they made the decision to produce the Camaro as a 2009 model. The release date got pushed to spring 2009 to produce the Camaro as a 2010 model. The Camaro was designed and engineered by GM’s Australian division, Holden, and it was built off the “Zeta” architecture that underpinned many Holden vehicles. After reviewing a Mustang, and a Challenger, I was anxious to review a Camaro. However, you may remember that I will refuse to review a car unless it is in the proper specification. That’s right, I told myself I would review Camaros only with a manual transmission. Problem is that this is America. Luckily, the opportunity presented itself soon enough, and it was not just any version of the Camaro, it was the top of the line version, the SS!  Continue reading

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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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