MSRP and major options: $49,195. SRT Option Group II — electronic upgrades ($900), Kicker SRT sound system ($685)
J. BARUTH: With the LY-based 2011 model just around the corner, could our Deep Sea Blue SRT-8 be perhaps the very last LX-platform Chrysler 300 to find its way into a press fleet? It’s certainly one of the most expensive cars in history to wear the Chrysler nameplate, just knocking politely at the door labeled “Fifty Grand”. For that kind of money — less than five hundred dollars cheaper than a new BMW 535i — this had better be a very special car indeed. To find out, we crossed the country at, ahem, a brisk pace, winding up at Virginia International Raceway. Read More
Major equipment: Touring Trim, Sport Package, Sirius Satellite Radio
In the fleet: 12/01/2009 – 12/08/2009
Approximate mileage driven: 650
As often happens when we receive a sporty press car here at Speed:Sport:Life, winter paid a visit during my time with Nissan’s latest Z-car. No matter. When snow and slush threatened to spoil a weekend plan filled with back roads bombing and general hooning, I simply adapted. Instead of back roads, I spent some time in a back lot, as you can see above. With the stability control disabled and a fresh layer of slushy accumulation in front of me, I set about making snow art. I call it “Snowrifto Blues.” No wheels or curbs were harmed in the production of this entry.
J. BARUTH: Remember all the things we used to love about “foreign” sedans back in the dino-sized Big Three days of the Eighties? They were good-looking, reasonably-sized, fuel-efficient vehicles that offered manual transmissions, interesting equipment, decent handling, and bulletproof durability.
So now here we are in 2009, and the average “Camcord” is a bloated, cost-conscious, automatic-transmission sled. Meanwhile, Ford has a car that reminds us more than any current mainstream Japanese sedan of what those great Accords and Stanzas used to be like. It’s not overtly sporty, the convincing-looking wheel covers aside, but it’s an acceptably rapid, very spacious, rather pleasant conveyance. To make things more interesting, you can now choose the option of a six-speed manual transmission to help the 175-horsepower Duratec kick the Fusion down the road.
We didn’t have a chance to shoot the TorRed Challenger SRT8 so we’re using photos we took of a HEMI Orange one that we shot earlier in the year. We aren’t colorblind, I promise. — Z
Carl Modesette: The thought hit me somewhere along the lazy, post-rush-hour, 12-mile drive home from picking up the 2009 Challenger SRT-8: “This may be the last fun car Dodge, as we know it, ever makes.” It’s not exactly the kind of thought that cheers you up, but, as Barney Stinson so wisely admonishes on How I Met Your Mother: “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead.” And how to be awesome instead in a 425 horsepower car? Drop 3 gears and flatten the accelerator, of course.
Exterior Photos by Zerin Dube, Interior Photos Courtesy of Kia Motor Company
Vehicle: 2010 Kia Soul Sport
Price-as-tested: $18,345 incl. $695 destination
Major equipment: 2.0L inline four-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, power sunroof ($700 option)
Approximate mileage driven: 175
If ever there was a car doomed to fail in the American market, surely it was the first-generation Scion xB. The underlying idea — hastily converting a Japanese-market “room-on-wheels” based on the showroom-poison Toyota Echo to left-hand-drive — was so terrible that one wonders exactly what kind of blackmail took place behind the scene to make it happen. Of course, the little xB turned out to be Scion’s success story. Nominally aimed at artsy college kids and even-artsier bohemians, the xB turned out to be a massive hit with small businessmen, housewives in search of a shopping-cart-sized shopping car, and older people who appreciated the basic utility of Toyota’s no-frills wagon. The xB’s runaway success was an object lesson in the fact that some people really do want an affordable urban utility vehicle, but Toyota chose to ignore that lesson by making the second-gen xB half as again as powerful, hundreds of pounds heavier, and utterly devoid of the original car’s simple charm.