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"The Best and Worst Automotive Makeover-Features"

Old 09-19-2006, 05:16 PM
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Default "The Best and Worst Automotive Makeover-Features"

The Best and Worst Automotive Makeovers - Features

Some redesigns rock. Others are tragic.
BY JARED HOLSTEIN, September 2006 (Car and Driver)


"At every new-vehicle introduction, manufacturers wax pedantic about rigidity and refinement, evolution and redemption. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes they’re dreaming.

It’s the job of forecasters, visionaries, and reactionaries within each brand to figure out what you want, or might want, and cobble together an approximation thereof. Coming up with something you want to drive and be seen in, at a price you want to pay, is tough.

This task becomes more grievous when instead of a blank sheet of paper, designers have an existing platform to renew. Throw in budgetary constraints, engineer-on-designer infighting, and random managerial directives, and it’s a miracle any great cars make it out of the factory doors. Ultimately, some models are resurrected with the glory of a phoenix rising. Some are less attractive. And sometimes, they’re total stinkers

The Best Makeovers

Pontiac Grand Am to G6

By the end of its unremarkable career, the ill-named Pontiac Grand Am packed more plastic than a Wal-Mart cashier. Ribbed-for-no-one’s-pleasure body cladding festooned all sides as if to measure its draft in water, thematically appropriate to the car’s nautical handling prowess. The G6 that replaced it for 2005 is better in every way, and its svelte, pleasingly spare body lines account for a big part of the improvement.

Honda Civic Si to Civic Si

When Honda birthed the Civic Si in 1989, enthusiasts were blessed with an eager, light, and inexpensive apex slayer with control arms at all four corners and a then-revolutionary VTEC engine. Things remained pretty fabulous until 2002, when Honda hung the Si badge on an awkward turd with the sporty moves of a Cub Cadet. Honda brought back the magic in 2006, delivering an attractive, remarkably priced driver’s car.

Ford Taurus to Fusion

Ford went Euro in 1986 with its debut of the then-remarkable Taurus, which was improved until it was the bestselling car in America from 1992–1996. After which, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord elbowed their way back to the top and held off the Taurus like the unremarkable car it had become. If you can’t beat the Japanese, join ’em, sort of. The new-for-2006 Fusion uses a lengthened chassis from the lauded Mazda 6, looks the part, feels the part, and funnels a legitimate Ford product back into the meaty middle of the passenger-car market. We liked it enough that it placed second in a recent mid-size-sedan comparison test, beating both the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry.

Hyundai Sonata to Sonata

The last-generation Hyundai Sonata wasn’t a bad car, suffering only from a bout of Mr. Potato Head styling (“let’s throw some Buick back there, some Mercedes headlights up there…”). What’s remarkable is just how solid, smooth, powerful, and attractive the 2006 Sonata is. It beat a benchmark, the Toyota Camry, in a recent comparison test, while costing a full $5000 less, and providing one of the best warranties in the business to boot.

Chevrolet Cavalier to Cobalt

The Chevy Cavalier, valiant emissary of pizza, rental-lot refugee, and monument to mechanical mediocrity is gone, sparing lower backs and tactile sensibilities everywhere. Its replacement for 2005, the Cobalt, might not be the fairest lass, but as an Everyman’s transport, it is competitive and composed, even refined, and—most important for GM—provides a sturdy rung in its ascent from purgatory.

The Worst Makeovers

Dodge Neon SRT4 to Caliber SRT4

Chrysler’s turbocharged, Neon-based SRT4 was one of the best performance bargains on the market. It was far faster than any car that cheap ought to be but not terribly refined or sexy. It didn’t matter. Its replacement for 2007, the Caliber SRT4, gets a turbocharged 2.4-liter four that makes a front-tire-shredding 300 horsepower. Righteou
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Old 09-19-2006, 05:31 PM
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Default RE: "The Best and Worst Automotive Makeover-Features"

My opinion. The only ones that I think really deserve recognition as being the best are the G6, Cobalt, and Civic SI. I think there are worse vehicles than those listed that were made over.

The SL-series to the ION. The SL-series isn't exactly what I can an attractive car but it at least had something (really good fuel economy, descent looking interior, decent reliability for the most part). The ION is down right ugly, the speedometer in the middle of the dash is just plain stupid, the fuel economy is lower than the G6 (and its smaller), and it looks cheap.

The 1995 Taurus to the 1996 Taurus. The exterior didn't look bad and the interior had a nice sporty looking design and the materials were decent. The SHO had the choice of two reliable Yamaha designs with the option of a 5-speed manual, as well as good looking body cladding that distriguished itself from the plain-jane Taurus to the more fun SHO model. The 1996 model just looked weird. The SHO of that year looked pretty much the same on the outside as the normal Taurus which was frightening. The engine changed from a smooth, good output per displacement engine to a buzzy Duratech based, super small V8. It was either just as fast or slower than the automatic V6 SHO of the earilier year, but cost more and sucked down more gas. It no longer had a manual option. The radio couldn't be traded out because it had a stupid oval design that no after market radio could replace, partly because they put the climate control on the radio. That is the worst make over in my opinion.
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