When I was about 12 years old I had a couple of neighborly brothers who used to tinker with the most ludicrous little contraptions. From their shed placed in the back yard of their home I witnessed many marvelous inventions come to life, including a 600cc ATV-engine powered go-kart, a backwoods tree-destorying Ford LTD with full bush bars, and a three-wheeled ATV that had seen more abuse than Whitney Houston. Sure, these toys were interesting, hillbilly gas burners meant to either get you in a lot of trouble or a lot of hurt, but it was what was in their driveway that mesmerized me for years. Read More
Call me skeptical. Go ahead; it’s a label I wear with pride. I’m a half-ass Catholic with a solid education, and though I chose to pursue the arts instead of the sciences, I evaluate the results of both disciplines with a critical eye. Blind faith is another matter entirely (unless we’re talking about the spectacular Magic Hat brew, which is a notion I can fully support). So a couple years ago, when I was a bit more naïve and a steadfast Euro devotee, I chuckled at my auto industry friends’ (and Kia’s and Hyundai’s) insistence that the Korean manufacturers were poised to take the auto landscape by storm.
Is there such a thing as having your automotive cake and being able to drive it too? If you drive any one of the handful of available sport sedans, then it’s possible to get a slice. Sliding behind the wheel of the 2009 BMW M3 Sedan however, I received a face full of Funfetti cake and pressing the gas pedal further only spreads the frosting wider across my smeared, “why-so-serious” gaping maw.
The 2009 Infiniti FX50 is a crossover SUV that thinks (and acts) like a sports car.
Close your eyes and stick out your hand. I am going to put a set of keys in your palm and give you some quick stats about which car they belong to. A seven-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and downshift rev matching. This is linked to a 5.0L DOHC V8 engine pushing out 390 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque to an Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system. Dual stainless steel exhaust pipes bellow out a raucous symphony and large brakes to bring the large wheels and tires to a stop. What kind of car is this? Trick question, it’s not a car; it is the 2009 Infiniti FX50 – a luxury crossover SUV.
I don’t know how we went from this to this, but I do know the Dodge Journey is Chrysler’s attempt to keep their promises of future.
Even after ‘inventing’ the first contemporarily packaged, attainable mainstream minivan in the 1980s, Chrysler continued to dream aloud through moonshot concept multi-purpose vehicles. The Dodge Epic, Plymouth Pronto, and Chrysler Citadel concepts employed emerging “Cab-Forward” architecture to maximize interior volume. Somewhere along the road to retail, cost-cutting and stagnance took their toll on ChryCo’s bottom line. Bankruptcy ensued. Here we are today.
In execution, the Dodge Journey feels like a Hyundai-built Ford Edge — like the first-generation Chevrolet Equinox, engineered before GM gained “product religion.” Ergonomics oddities abound, and its lagging powertrain fails to deliver power or fuel efficiency superlatives. However, hope hides in each cleverly concealed crevice. The Journey’s suite of storage crannies proves that Chrysler is still staffed with real moms and dads who understand what it means to take a family roadtrip. If these creative engineers are given the tools and support to radically redefine automotive interior packaging, Chrysler could one day be a multi-purpose vehicle leader. Otherwise, the company will wither.
It would be poetic to say that the return of the Great American Sedan was announced as the speedometer of the 2010 Taurus SHO swept past the one-hundred-and-twenty-mile-per-hour mark with the insouciant prowess of a young Mark McGwire taking practice swings in the batter’s box. And it would be more than delightful to describe the way this big sedan trail-braked into an off-camber hairpin, smoking in sideways and providing my dry-heaving fellow member of The Press As A Whole the most panoramic view possible of the Great Smoky Mountains above the spectacular dashboard and sculpted bonnet while the steering spoke to me with crystalline clarity and the transmission snapped off two flawless downshifts. Or I could describe how, on a hill so steep walking it would be a challenge, the twin-turbo SHO squeaked its front tires for a nearly imperceptible moment before swapping drive to the back wheels and rocketing us up the slope with the force of a small-block Chevy.
The truth of the matter, however, is that I knew everything I needed to know about the 2010 Taurus when I was handed a floppy-looking interior door skin.