Review: Saab 9-3 Turbo X

>> Thursday, January 1, 2009

 

Volvo did it. Acura still does it. Audi has been doing it for a long time. And now Saab is giving it a shot: start with a front-wheel-drive platform, add a powerful engine and an all-wheel-drive system (hopefully with a few tricks up its sleeve), and then try to pass the nose-heavy result off as a viable alternative to a balanced rear-wheel-drive BMW. To wit: the limited edition 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X, in sedan or wagon SportCombi form. Success? Not so much.


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Saab 9-5 SportCombi Review

1200665.jpgFirst impressions last. Or in this case, first. Anyway, the slightly-new-for-'06 (but mostly unchanged since '99) Saab 9-5 SportCombi misses the mark at first glance. GM's Swedish division crafted a wagon that looks like a slightly larger Saab 9-3, only uglier. The SportCombi's low greenhouse, swoopy rear windows and huge up-curving C-pillars combine all the worst elements of a '00 Saturn SW wagon and a Cadillac SRX. The design says "We wanted to make a wagon, but we only had enough cash for a car-camper shell." Volvo continues to master Skandinavisk chic. Saab goes for cheap chic-- and fails.


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Saab 9-5 Aero Review

1200716.jpgSaab may have been "Born from Jets," but there's little about the brand's current offerings that you'd call state-of-the-art. The 9-3 has changed little since its '03 introduction. The 9-7X dates back to the '02 Chevy TrailBlazer. And the 9-5 has been stuck in holding pattern since '98. I recently tested a 9-5 to see if the quirky car lives up to its high tech brand proposition. My range-topping tester's trim designation: "Aero." That pounding sound you hear is GM's marketers driving home the high-altitude hype.


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Saab 9-7x Review

1200459.jpgThe Saab 9-7x scored eighth place in TTAC's Ten Worst Automobiles Today awards. Its crime? As Jonny Lieberman wrote so eloquently, "It is a Chevy TrailBlazer with the ignition key between the seats." With these words echoing in my mind, I set off to test the 9-7x to determine if, indeed, the Born from Jets Saab SUV is nothing more than a Chevy TrailBlazer with the ignition key between the seats.


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Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi Review

1201326.jpgTrollhattensaab.net recently upbraided TTAC for failing to mention their champion amongst a list of station wagon alternatives to SUV's. According to the Aussie Saab blog, the SportCombi "more than matches its competition on price, performance, specification, utility and safety." Be that as it may, I wanted to know if Saab's wagon deserved a place next to Volvo and Mercedes in my list of classic European station wagons. So I grabbed some seat time in an '06 Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi (a.k.a. 9-3 Aero 5-Door).


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Saab 9 - 3 Aero Review

 Growing up in Southern California, I never understood the whole Swedish car thing. SoCal drivers need an all-weather automobile like tacos need herring. Although a Volvo wagon was the left-wing equivalent of a Ford F250 and a Saab was a cap and gown on wheels, speed-crazed Angelinos found Nordic transportation about as exciting as farm machinery. Then Ford bought Volvo and GM scarfed Saab. Suddenly, performance, handling and luxury were piled onto the Smorgasbord. To freshen-up its range, GM instructed Saab to reengineer an Opel Vectra and call it a 9-3. In this guise, the new Saab 9 - 3 Aero joins German rides in the land of palm trees and lip-injections. Perhaps the General was on to something…

Saab's decision to ditch their traditional hatchback for a three-box sedan raises immediate and uncomfortable questions about the intersection of corporate ownership and brand identity. The Aero attempts to distract the faithful with a rear that looks like a hatch (but isn't) and sporting cues. The Jay Leno chin spoiler certainly grabs your attention, and the dual pipes poking out from the blackened derriere make all the right noises. But the 9-3 is too narrow for such deep cladding and there's an excellent chance parking lot rampage will hammer the low-slung ground effects. The Aero's profile is its best viewing angle, projecting European rakishness. Even if Saab newcomers don't catch a Trollhattan vibe, at least they'll know they're not in Kansas anymore.


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Saab 9-2X Aero Review

The Saab brand's back is up against the wall.  Still... Five grand.  Depending on options, incentives and fire sales, that's the difference between the cost of a Saab 9-2X Aero and a Subaru WRX Sport Wagon. Underneath, there's not much in it: same platform, same bag of tricks.  No wonder auto industry wags have taken to calling the Saab 9-2X Aero the 'Saabaru."  Now that GM has sold its share of the Japanese automaker and relocated Saab's badge-engineering department to Opel's German digs, the time has come to ask a simple question: Why God, why?

The Aero's exterior offers the best justification for its existence. The WRX has always been a visually challenging automobile.  Not to belabor the point: the '06 WRX Sport Wagon refresh is still ucking fugly. Thanks to its nose graft, the Saab 9-2x Aero is a far more handsome sled than its Japanese half-sister.  As Saab proved with its brand-stretching Trailblazer into 9-7X trick, their house schnoz gives even the most awkward beast a handsome, vaguely European vibe.  Although the Aero's C-pillar is as Swedish as unagi, at least Saab removed the Scooby's roof rails, making the Aero seem lower and sleeker, and added some black cladding around the exhaust, slimming the bulbous butt. If only they'd taken a blowtorch to those tortured side sills… 


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Land Rover LR2 Review

lr2_frontthreequarter.jpgIn 2001, Land Rover parachuted their not-so-cute ute across the pond. The Freelander landed with a splat. Gas was cheap and XXL SUV's dominated the landscape. What's more (or less), the 174 horse Freelander was technologically quaint, reliability challenged and forgot to show up for its federal crash test. And so Land Rover has redeployed the second-generation Freelander, the forgettably-named LR2, into the American market. This time, sales of big SUVs are in the toilet, there's a burgeoning compact SUV market and Land Rover's traditional entryway, the LR3 (nee Discovery), now costs a lofty $45k+.


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Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE Review

An LR3 in Range Rover drag.   The Range Rover Sport arrived just as Britain's Parliament banned fox hunting. Call it fortuitous happenstance. At the precise moment Britain's shotgun-wielding aristocrats lost their main motivation for chasing each other over hill and dale, the Ford subsidiary came plying more on-road aggression. If these frustrated followers of British blood sports looked upon the new Landie Sport as an opportunity to blow off a little steam in less mucky surrounds, it's a goal they share with America's wealthier PTA MILFs. So, does the Sport have what it takes to get the blood pumping for aristocrats on both sides of the Pond?

The Land Rover Sport HSE looks like a top-shelf Range Rover with its hair slicked back. The Sport shares the exact same two-box profile with its big brother-- complete with Rover's trademark 'floating' cantilevered roof. The more rakish Sport's canted greenhouse (both fore and aft) is the model's main distinguishing feature, and its only real attempt at a skosh of street cred. In the name of differentiation, Gaydon's designers replaced the Rangie's classy aluminum front-fender vent slat with a more traditional aperture, and substituted some overly ornate taillights in place of the bigger Rover's refined rounds. Details aside, the Sport remains the very picture of 21st-century shooting brakedom, albeit one rockin' a set of air suspenders.


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Land Rover LR3 HSE Review

The Land Rover LR3: steady as she goes. There comes a point in every enthusiast's life when it's time to slow down-- at least until some of the penalty points on their license expire. To avoid a complete loss of personal mobility, hamstrung throttle jockeys often find themselves transitioning into a slower vehicle. Not being attuned to The Ways of the Sloth, these once and future speed demons usually slide into some po-faced laggard. Bad move. The miserable car nut simply ends up thrashing the horseless carriage until it reaches extralegal velocities. If you have to go slow, there's only one way to go: the Land Rover LR3.

The LR3 is Oxycontin on wheels. Here's the pharmacology: command seating, a light and airy cabin, widescreen windscreen, superior sound system, silken slushbox, progressive brakes and roll-suppressing air suspension. Press the right pedal and the British-made SUV doesn't administer the G-force jolt pistonheads crave. Instead, it unleashes something just as intoxicating: a seamless surge of forward progress known to the luxury-class cognoscenti as "imperious wafting". Within minutes, driving slowly is as sensually satisfying as lying in a hot tub after a long day's work. Ten minutes later and the "go-faster" part of your brain goes numb.


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Land Rover Range Rover Review

 Evolution is a strange thing. You start with a single cell animal, wait a couple billion years and end up with Eminem. By the same token, you start with a rough and ready off-roader, wait thirty-four years, and end up with a luxury car on stilts. Evolution is not a good thing or a bad thing; it's just a thing. But the question remains: is the Range Rover fit enough to survive in an automotive environment teeming with first class competition?

The moment you heave yourself aboard the Range Rover, the British-built SUV asserts its exclusivity. The RR rejects the usual luxury car sports seat posturing in favour of a driver's throne, complete with leather arm rest. The view through the all-but-vertical windscreen reinforces the imperious vibe. You sit up high, master of all you survey - including about an acre of bonnet stretched out beneath you like the playing fields of Eton.


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2008 Pontiac G8 GT Take Two

When it comes to cars from General Motors, I'm always prepared for disappointment. No matter how promising the new vehicle is (Corvette!), GM finds a way to let me down (Corvette seats!) Take the Pontiac Solstice GXP. Flat gorgeous. More important, that sweet turbocharged engine with its (relatively) massive power and torque. Hell yeah, right? But the shift linkage is made from hamster bedding. The interior was designed for Gitmo inmates. And the brakes -- when pushed -- stink. I mention this because I was wholly ready to be let down by the new Pontiac G8 GT.


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2008 Pontiac G8 V6

x08pn_g8026.jpgLet's not dismiss the Pontiac G8 V6 out of hand. Sure, you give up a Smart-and-a-half of ponies with the less powerful powerplant. But 256 horsepower would have seemed like plenty even five years ago. (And the way things are going, it might seem like plenty five years from now.) For enthusiasts who've advanced beyond the raw thrill of gut-sucking torque, it's not the meat, it's the motion. Yes, Virginia, it's possible for a car to be fun to drive even if it can't flatten you against the seatback off the line. Ah, but does this G8 V6 fit this bill?


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2008 Pontiac G8 GT Review

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The first time GM attempted to create a BMW 3-Series fighter, we got the Cadillac Cimarron. After 27 years of trying again (and again and again) to take on the rear-wheel drive driver's car, we've got a rebadged Australian import that goes by the name Pontiac G8. No question: the G8 is a far better automobile than the Cimarron (what modern car isn't?). But it's still no 3-Series. Frankly, it's not clear what it is.


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2008 Pontiac G6 GT Hardtop Covertible vs. 2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited Hardtop Convertible

x08pn_g6007.jpgSpring: the season of love, flowers and convertibles. As warmer weather approaches, car dealers put away the 4x4 SUV's and pull the drop-tops from the back of the lots in the hopes of snagging passersby wanting a vehicle to celebrate the (global?) warming weather. Pontiac tempts buyers with the G6 GT Hardtop Convertible while Chrysler lures in the public with the newly-introduced Sebring Limited Hardtop Convertible. As the only American-branded hardtop convertibles, which one truly deserves your hard-earned income? Or should both be tossed into the bonfire of the vanities?


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2008 Pontiac G5 Coupe Review

x07pn_g50052.jpgThe Pontiac G5 Coupe reminds me of John Steinbeck's classic novel "Of Mice and Men." Best-laid schemes aside, no car deserves more to be taken out to a field and shot in the back of the head. This brand-engineered blight bleeds bureaucratic bumbling. No doubt someone at GM figured that Pontiac should share some of the Cobalt love with a derivative of their own (a la the Cavalier/Sunfire). Rather than taking a pass-worthy platform and making it into something worthwhile, they gave us the G5, "lea'e us nought but grief an' pain." 


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Pontiac Grand Prix Review

pontiacgp-2b.JPGI sometimes get sentimental for the Good Old Days, a bygone era when gas was cheap (and the good stuff was called Ethyl), back seats were the ticket to romance, and tailfins were a mark of distinction, rather than bad taste. Back in the day, the coolest metal was Detroit born-and-bred, bearing real nameplates that paid homage to fast animals and faraway places and auto races, not to alphanumeric jumbles inspired by IRS tax forms. It was during one of these recent waves of nostalgia that I found myself looking forward to spending some quality time flogging one of America's last remaining full-size touring sedans, the Grand Prix. That is, until I drove one.


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Pontiac Vibe Review

better_days.jpgLate last century, GM decided to fight the rising tide of uninteresting front wheel-drive cars Japanese cars by building their own uninteresting front wheel-drive cars. Three decades of trying to out-Japan the Japanese yielded the pinnacle of American wrong-wheel technology: The Monte Carlo SS. Now that GM's hulking trucks have had their day, the automaker is busy hawking its lackluster though miserly Cobavion. This despite the fact that one of the best small cars GM has ever produced sits unloved in Pontiac lots across America. Go figure.


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Pontiac Solstice Review

X06PN_ST065.jpgWhen you punch the Pontiac Solstice's go pedal to the floor, you can almost hear that great Les McCann/Eddie Harris tune "Compared to what?"  Normally, the Solstice is compared to the Mazda MX5 or its twin-under-the-skin, the Saturn Sky-- which is a bit like comparing Heather Graham to Sarah Michelle Gellar and Salma Hayek.  While it's clear that the GM cars have more visual appeal than the Japanese roadster, looks can be deceiving.  Has GM "made it real," or is the Solstice just playing a part?   


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Pontiac Solstice GXP Review

x07pn_st001.jpgI once drove off the road, screaming, at 80mph. Why? I was in love. When love turns blind, men do irrational things. As far as healthy, loving relationships go, the one presaging my off-highway excursion was a malignant tumor wrapped in an iron lung. I imagine that owning a Pontiac Solstice GXP is a similar affair. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; the prosecution calls her a "femme fatale on wheels." I ask you: how could something this beautiful be so damn dangerous?


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2006 Pontiac Torrent Review

I'll take re-badged mid-sized utes for $23k.  Or not. On a recent episode of Jeopardy, none of the contestants could identify the company responsible for the motoring miscarriages known as the Aztek and Grand Prix. Seems GM's 'excitement' division has some heavy brush to clear. Despite the paddles-to-the-chest prospects of the new Solstice, the marque's main hopes for financial salvation lie with the Torrent. It's unfortunate that the name of the re-badged Chevy Equinox (or is it the other way around?) is commonly associated with the phrase "of abuse," because the little SUV doesn't deserve it. Well, maybe a trickle…

The Torrent excels in a sport in which most American cars don't even place-- styling. Given the Torrent's only-a-cataract-eyed-mom-on-tranqs-could-love predecessor (What is an Aztek, Alex), Pontiac's gold medal in the sheet metal sculpting event is a Miracle on Ice-caliber result. Although the Torrent's sharp lines and tailored creases are standard-issue cute-ute, the SUV is one of the more cohesive-looking vehicles in GM's truck-heavy lineup. The Torrent's both perfectly proportioned and elegantly detailed. Even Pontiac's signature "butterfly" twin-port grille looks like it finally found a happy place.


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Pontiac G6 GT Review

A rare (but beautiful) shot of the G6's Gallic derrierePontiac's ads proudly proclaim that their latest sports sedan is "the first ever G6"-- as if the company somehow beat its competitors to build a G6. Which is what exactly? A car that gets 100 miles per gallon? Brings peace to the Middle East? Self-replicates? We all know the G6's REAL claim to fame: it's the first automobile personally bestowed upon every member of a studio audience by a chat show Queen, under false pretences. (Pontiac provided the vehicles, Oprah took the credit, recipients didn't like the taxes.) Otherwise, the G6 is a standard sort of car.

Come to think of it, that IS a major breakthrough. Pontiac has been making sub-standard cars for decades: front-wheel-drive machines with asthmatic engines, no handling and even less build quality. [NB: The new GTO is an Australian import.] The idea that GM's nominal performance division could create a machine that can hold its own in a class filled with talented, well-established Japanese contenders is about as credible as cold fusion. And yet, here it is.


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Pontiac GTO Review

  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Once upon a time, brand heritage kept customers loyal. "I'm a Chevy man" actually meant something. These days, Chevrolet sells a Korean compact with about as much Chevy DNA as a Manchurian ring-necked pheasant. Ford's offers a retro-Thunderbird whose driving dynamics, ergonomics and style would have found few takers in 1955. And the new Pontiac GTO is a distant cousin of the old GTO, adopted and twice removed.

The original GTO started life in 1964 as option 382 on a Pontiac Tempest LeMans. Two-hundred and ninety-five dollars bought a bigger engine (389 cubic inches) and air scoops (non-functional). The new GTO is an Australian coupe, slightly modified for the US market, with a 5.7-liter V8. In other words, if you're a heritage freak looking for a connection between the old "goat" and the new, don't bother. Unlike its illustrious predecessor, the new GTO has no kinship with any other Pontiac automobile made, ever.


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Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Comp G Review

 I'm convinced my local highway on-ramp was designed by the Pawtucket (Rhode Island) Fire Department. Drivers have just 100 yards of tarmac to join the outside lane of a three-lane road that immediately and violently kinks left. The ramp ends on a bridge, so there's no breakdown lane for failed mergers and there's an off-ramp 200 yards ahead. As you'd expect, cars line up like F14 pilots on a carrier deck. It's the perfect Death or Glory test track for the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP with Competition Group Package: the "Comp G".

Pontiac gave me a fighting chance by transversely mounting a supercharged V6 under the bonnet. The 3.8 litre unit may be older than Abba, but it stables 260 horses. Equally helpful, the super six cranks out 280 ft. lbs. of torque at 3200rpms. By all accounts, it should have been sufficient oomph to keep Pawtucket's paramedics in front of their soap operas.


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2009 Subaru Forester XT Review

Boxy is out, SUV-ish is in.The Forester XT is living, breathing proof that Subaru has lost its way.  The Toyota-fication of the brand has now reached its pinnacle in the redesigned Forester, and it stands tall (really, really tall) as the perfect example of how to alienate the hippies and hoons that bought Subaru after Subaru.  To put it succinctly, driving the new Forester XT is like answering the door expecting Ed McMahon with a check for a million dollars and finding your mother-in-law standing there instead.  At least the MIL eventually goes home.  The Forester XT just hangs around and keeps disappointing.


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2009 Toyota Matrix S AWD vs. 2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-Door

matriximprez1.jpgAt some point in our recent automotive history, all wheel-drive (AWD) replaced front wheel-drive as the paranoid consumer's drivetrain of choice. The safety advantages of high quality snow tires (as needed) and a low center of gravity (in all cases) got lost in translation. Ready to capitalize on the AWD's popularity: the economy-oriented Toyota Matrix and the Subaru Impreza. Both diminutive scramblers aren't nearly as cheap or efficient as their front-wheel-drive cousins, and they won't off-road, tow a boat or carry seven passengers. Still, both cars offer a [potential] extra safety margin and [potentially] better handling. So if you had to choose one...


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2009 Subaru Forester L.L. Bean Edition Review

4984_116_lg.jpgSubarus are supposed to be the Birkenstock sandal of the automotive world; simple, robust cars with a certain sense of style that doesn't care about current fads. Alternatively, you could say a Subie used to be what a VW used to be (before Ferdinand Piech started messing with the brand) plus a boxer engine (once a key VW characteristic) and standard all-wheel-drive. In recent years, Subaru's image has become less and less clear. The automaker's desire to escape the granola ghetto first gave us the Tribeca, and then the new Impreza. And now we have a new Forester; an answer the question that in the past didn't have to be asked: what is a Subaru?


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2008 Subaru Outback Review

4217_116_lg.jpgStation wagons with manual transmissions are quickly going the way of the fedora. In fact, there are more gas-electric hybrids for sale stateside than row-your-boat wagons. If you want an all-wheel-drive model, the number plummets. Which makes me wonder: what's the point of the Subaru Outback five-speed?


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2008 Subaru Impreza STI Review

sti4.jpgWhen I bought my second Rex, I nearly bit the bullet and went STI. But I like to haul more than ass. So I sacrificed balls-out speed for cargo capacity and bought the five-door WRX (again). The good news: starting now, Subaru's hottest rally-bred machine is available only as a hatch. The bad news: the new STI costs $14k more than the WRX. Is it worth it?


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Subaru Impreza 2.5i Review

25-front.jpgThe 2008 Subaru WRX is the U.S. pistonhead's cheap thrills with no frills poster child. Meanwhile, the Impreza. Yes, I know: a Subaru without a turbo is like a Mercedes without automatic climate control, but hey, normal people drive cars too. When you move away from turbo-nutter wastegate wonderland, the word "thrills" takes on a different meaning. Or does it? Sans blower, does the new entry level Impreza have what it takes to tickle the fancy of a wider audience?


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Subaru WRX Review

front1.jpgWhen the redesigned 2008 Impreza WRX made its New York debut, you could hear the collective creak from the upturned conks of the cognoscenti. What's with the Camry clone? Somehow Subie thwacked a dart-full of its patented anti-fun serum into the styling of one of the world's most "enigmatic" designs. But just how bad is the damage? Have Subaru's efforts to re-brand the rockstar 'Rex as a kinder, gentler, pop-idol created a yawnster? More importantly: is it possible to be a bad Subaru, but a good car?


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Subaru Legacy 2.5i SE Review

subaru-legacy_sedan_2004_1600x1200_wallpaper_02.jpgAccording to psychologists, the middle child fights an endless, depressing battle for parental attention. So pity the poor Legacy 2.5i Special Edition, sitting between the WRX and Outback. The WRX is the pistonheads' golden child. Older brother Outback is largely credited with the family's success-- despite the fact that the Legacy was Subaru's sales leader in May. The shrinks say lavishing praise on the neglected sib is the best way to cure middle child syndrome. Ah, but is the Legacy 2.5i Special Edition (SE) special enough to deserve it? 


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Subaru Tribeca Review

front-front.jpgReaders may recall that my previous review of the Subaru Tribeca described the SUV's front end as a flying vagina. Shortly after this aesthetic assessment hit the web, the San Francisco Chronicle canceled my regular reviews. Both Subaru and BMW banned The Truth About Cars from their press cars. While the column is history and the ban remains, Subaru got the message. The new Tribeca's front end looks nothing like airborne pudenda, and everything like a Chrysler Pacifica. 


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Subaru Legacy GT Limited Review

legacygt_front.jpgLet's face it: Subaru isn't known for building physically attractive automobiles. Their products are the automotive equivalent of the "butter face" girl: everything is great "but her" face. Fortunately, the new Legacy GT (LGT) avoids the brand's heavy-handed airplane-inspired refreshes, or the new Tribeca's po-faced Pacifica pandering. The Legacy GT's not-so-B9 makeover puts the model in prime position for the legions of more mature automotive enthusiasts desperately seeking Subie. 


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Subaru Forester 2.5 XT Review

sub_forester_06.jpgBack in the day, Subaru couldn't afford to build a new vehicle to compete in the smoking hot SUV sector. So they took an Impreza, jacked it up a couple of inches, raised the roof and reskinned the body. The result was a hit, and helped define the modern small CUV. Ten years later, the Subaru Forester battles on, facing its third gen competitors (Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4) with nothing more than a few questionable sheet metal creases, a spiffed up interior, and the addition of the turbocharged XT model. The CUV pool's getting more crowded by the day, and, compared to the Subie's well-worn REI fleece, the competition looks like its wearing designer duds. We checked out an XT to answer a simple question: is it a classic or a relic? 


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Subaru Impreza 2.5i Sport Wagon Review

front.jpgI don't get veggie-burgers. If something didn't actually die for my dinner, I reckon it should at least have been pretty severely inconvenienced. What's more, a good burger is always bad for you (arterial distress on a sesame-seed bun). So it is with the Subaru Impreza 2.5i Sport Wagon. Why would anyone buy such an entirely sensible vehicle when they could drive away in a full-fat, hormone-injected WRX Sport Wagon? Why indeed. It's time for a serious sampling of Fuji Heavy Industries Lite.


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Subaru Outback 2.5 XT Wagon

 A preppy soccer mom wearing steel-toed boots and work gloves. That's the look copped by most wagon-based crossovers. And while grafting raised white letter tires and frightening quantities of ribbed cladding to the family transporter hardly qualifies today's genre-benders for MOMA's parking lot (let alone their exhibition hall), virtually every manufacturer in the segment uses the recipe. Unsurprisingly, all of Subaru's previous efforts became ensnared in the very clich├ęd design trap that they helped originate. Until now…

The athletic contours of Subaru's attractive Legacy are a welcome departure from the norm. Its tapering greenhouse, sloping backlight and interesting harp-shaped taillamps are inherently attractive. Fortunately, the team at Subaru charged with transforming the Legacy's basic form into an Outback didn't violate that trust. Yes, there's still lower cladding and a vestigial spear of door-ding armor, but both have been smoothly baked into the vehicle's form (available in body-color on certain hues). So even if the 2005 Outback it isn't a picture of modern maternal magnetism, it's still a second-look MILF. The design works particularly well up front, where eagle-eyed headlamps no longer appear malnourished (in comparison to the bumper's elephantine fogs). Handsome, broad-spoke alloys draped in 17" mud-and-snow rated Bridgestone Potenzas mark out their territory convincingly. A wisp of roof rack topside completes the picture.


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