Review: 2008 Subaru Impreza

I was excited to drive the all-new 2008 Impreza 4-door sedan. Recently, a friend of mine had driven WRXs and STIs through the frozen tundra of the Yukon Territory of Canada. He raved about it’s performance, on-snow driving, and how fun it was to rally those cars through breathtaking scenery. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have the opportunity to take it through such dramatic landscapes, nor was I driving the sport-packed engines of the WRX or STI.

Subaru Impreza

The introductory price of my Impreza was $17,000 and includes a 170-hp engine that is unfortunately under-powered. With such a rich heritage of rally car champions, getting into a Subaru and feeling the sluggish, unresponsive weight of the throttle disappointed much more than when driving an even more under-powered car but from a lesser pedigree. And as I remembered from driving Imprezas past, the seats were firm and uncomfortable. The final negative was the car looked and felt very cheap inside. The first glance around the cockpit revealed plastic-looking and feeling levers, knobs, and dash panels that aren’t inappropriate for an entry-level car, but again, with such a rich heritage of making great cars, it was disappointing to see how cheap this Subaru was. Continue reading Review: 2008 Subaru Impreza

Review: Ford F250 Super Duty

You don’t get into a Ford F250 Super Duty, you climb into it. Opening the door, and hoisting yourself into the driver’s seat, you suddenly become a “truck driver”, whether you started out as one or not. Turn on the engine, hear the diesel engine grumble to a roar, and put it in gear. Everything about this truck says “Big and Tough,” and as the driver, you begin to take on that persona as well.

2008 Ford F250 Super Duty

I really wish I had a trailer of horses to tow, or a flat-bed filled to the brim with quads and toys, because I’m sure this truck would have delighted in the extra work required, not stopping for a moment to complain, but happily taking whatever you threw at it and asking where you wanted it delivered. It was certainly up for the task. Instead, I was stuck driving it through downtown Portland, navigating smaller cars like a Godzilla avoiding screaming people. For that purpose, I didn’t have as much appreciation for the size and power of the vehicle, as it did me little good (accept to annoy hybrid drivers with my gas guzzing–not that I like doing that.) Continue reading Review: Ford F250 Super Duty

Review: 2007 Tribeca

The Subaru Tribeca is one of those cars that garner three reactions. 1. Surprise; “I didn’t know Subaru made a SUV”. 2. Disdain; “Wow, that is one funny looking car”. and 3. Confusion; “Yeah, I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s kind of weird.” While, only 1/3 the responses were outright negative, it’s hard to find people who just love this vehicle.

Subaru Tribeca B9

To look at it, you’re going to either love it or hate it. It’s incredibly unique shape, curves, and features make it stand out like few other $30,000 cars do right now. However, that uniqueness is the main problem people have with this car. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the rear 1/3 of the car. The front is pretty unassuming, but from behind it always has reminded me of an alien head. I think that Subaru would have had a real winner on it’s hand if they hadn’t handicapped themselves by giving it such unusual styling which people could disagree with. However, the 2008 model addresses these issues and it looks much better. But this review is about the 2007, so let’s get back to that.

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2007 Kia Amanti

The first time I saw a Kia Amanti, before I knew it was a Kia, I thought to myself “What car is that? Is that some new Mercedes or something?” It actually fooled me into believing it was a true luxury car by it’s outer styling and established grill. When I saw who made the car, I blushed and quickly changed the subject. In retrospect, I think it’s the biggest compliment I could have given it. It confused me into thinking it was a true luxury car.

2007 Kia Amanti

The Kias are coming a long way, and they’ve been winning the hearts of people across the country, but it still seems weird to me to call a Kia a luxury car maker, even though the Amanti is entering into that class.

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2007 Chrysler Pacifica Touring

This is the Chrysler Pacifica. Or, the MiniVan of Dreams. It’s a four-door van with several forward-thinking features. It’s got a power-lift gate. Normal windows for the rear passengers to roll down. A center console between the backseats. About a hundred different seat configurations (some up, some down, some hidden or taken out), and a multi-media mavens dream.

2007 Chrysler Pacifica Touring

Featuring the UConnect, it allows you to speak commands to the car without taking your hands or eyes off the wheel/road. It sounds fantastic, but I never got it to work (although, I barely gave it the college try, and didn’t read the manual… But I stick by my guns that I shouldn’t have had to.). Did I mention forward-thinking features? Well, it also has the most backwards thinking feature I’ve seen in a long time. Instead of putting the navigation and rear-camera display in the center dash like everyone else in the world, they put it inside the instrument cluster. This makes it almost impossible to look at while backing up (when you’d actually need to use a rear-mounted camera), and extra impossible to use when you’re turning the car while backing up, as your arms and hands and steering wheel all server as obstacles to look past. If you’re going to go through the trouble of putting in these features (camera and nav), please put them somewhere where I can see them, and my passengers can view them. It’s great to have my co-pilot watching the navigation and telling me what to expect, but when it’s out of their view, and ultimately, out of mine, it’s worthless.

2007 Chrysler Pacifica Touring

By the way, that photo above? DEFINITELY a ‘simulation.’ The video doesn’t look anywhere near that clean.

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