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Turbo Surprise

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RAY: Despite my brother's persistent attempts to keep his bucket of bolts on the road year after year, we realize that most sane people buy new cars from time to time. So we'd like to periodically give you our impressions of some of the new cars we drive.

CHEVY LUMINA
TOM: I'm very excited this week, because I drove a General Motors car I can say something nice about! It's the new Chevy Lumina. But before I praise it, let me get a few things off my chest. First, GM still needs to improve its fit and finish. This car did not leave the factory in perfect condition, and new cars should. Second, the drivetrain is noisy, particularly in the lower gears. If you grew up on rock and roll, this may not bother you. But if you grew up on Perry Como like my brother did, you'll find this annoying. Having said that, however, I would have to say that the Lumina is one of the best mid-priced General Motors car I have driven in many years.

RAY: Chevrolet has been struggling to develop a competitor for the popular Ford Taurus, and they seem to have done it. The Lumina is a comfortable, roomy, and handsome car. With the 3.1 liter V6 engine and the "Euro" package, it handles and performs very well.

TOM: Don't be fooled by the fact that Mickey Mouse is the only "person" you've ever seen get in and out of a Lumina. It may not win any awards for innovation. But if you're looking for a five-passenger mid-priced sedan, don't overlook the Lumina.

EAGLE TALON
RAY: There have been a number of impressive sporty coupes introduced in the last year or so. Among them, the Nissan 240 SX, the Ford Probe, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse (which also sells as the Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon). We drove a turbocharged four-wheel-drive Talon and found that it handles as well as any car on the road. We could not make the car go into a skid, although my brother made several valiant attempts one day rushing home to see the Regis Philbin show... a repeat at that.

TOM: The Mitsubishi-made engine is powerful and silky smooth, and the turbo lag provides extra added--and sometimes unexpected--excitement. If you really want to have fun with this car, head into a sharp curve and hit the gas. Then hold onto your teeth and wait to see when the turbo will kick in. If you like funhouses and russian roulette, you'll love the turbo on the Talon.

RAY: I was also bothered by the long throw of the shifter. On the other hand, my wife did compliment me on the muscle tone in my right arm after a couple of days in the Talon. Other than that, this is really a fun car. It's quick, handles magnificently, and even has room for a couple of small pizza boxes in the so-called back seat It also falls under the Chrysler 7/70 protection program if you buy it as the Talon or Laser. If you want a fun, sporty car at a reasonable price, this is a great choice.

DODGE CARAVAN TURBO
RAY: While the Talon came with "turbo surprise," new Chrysler mini-vans are now available with a superb turbo option. We have always felt that the the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine was underpowered in the Caravan/Voyager. In fact, it was a good thing that engine came in a 7 passenger vehicle, because 6 people had to get out and push whenever you came to a steep hill. That's no longer the case. The new four cylinder engine with turbo is almost like a V8. There is virtually no turbo lag, and the Chrysler mini-vans are still the industry leaders in terms of use of space.
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