In our humble opinion...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1989

RAY: When the household chores really start to pile up, my brother and I start looking for things to do. Luckily, we can always use the excuse that we have to test some new cars. So while our wives were out raking the leaves this week, we drove the following new vehicles.


TOM: There's not much new about the Dodge Grand Caravan and Plymouth Grand Voyager this year, which is good, because these minivans are still the industry leaders in terms of interior design and use of space. While the Mazda MPV may be the best minivan in terms of drivability, the Caravan and Voyager are hard to beat overall.

RAY: What is new this year is Chrysler's own V-6 engine, a smooth and quiet engine with plenty of power. There's also a smooth shifting electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. The electronics are supposed to eliminate the jerks normally associated with shifting. That may be why my brother said I couldn't drive it.

TOM: The next step Chrysler should take with these vans is to improve their safety. Even though they are technically classified as trucks, most Caravans are used to transport families. Chrysler should take a bold step and voluntarily make the Caravan and Voyager comply with passenger car requirements. That would involve adding 2 1/2 MPH bumpers, better side impact protection, and passive restraint systems. While they're at it, rear shoulder harnesses and anti-lock brakes would be great additions too.


RAY: This is a Volkswagen, although it is a not an econo-box. It's a sports car. It's quick, it rides hard, it sticks to the road, and it remains stable at high speeds.

TOM: The handling is magnificent, but we should emphasize that this is not a car for the "soft of posterior." It has princess-and-the-pea suspension, and you feel everything. The Corrado is also low and small inside, but if you don't have any problems which require frequent visits to the chiropractor, you'll love this car.

RAY: The Corrado's looks are definitely Porsche influenced, although I thought the rear end looked more like Mike Tyson's forehead than a 928. A supercharged four cylinder engine gives the Corrado plenty of power at the high end, although by contrast, the lower ranges of the gears were a bit pokey.

TOM: At $18,000, the Corrado is not for everybody. But if you like the German road feel, and don't want to re-mortgage your house to buy a Porsche, you could just take out a home improvement loan and park a bright red Corrado in your driveway.


RAY: There's good news for Subaru lovers who are weary of bouncing along in noisy, clattering DLs and GLs. Now there's something to move up to. The Legacy is still a Subaru, but it's surprisingly quiet, surprisingly comfortable, and surprisingly powerful.

TOM: And speaking of surprises, Subaru claims to have used a more modular exhaust system on the Legacy, which we hope will eliminate what Subaru owners know as "exhaust surprise." That's when your car gets loud at about 70,000 miles and it costs you $1000 to quiet it down. The other improvement we see is that even though the Legacy's been fitted with Subaru's brand new, bigger engine (2.2 liters), there's still a remarkable amount of room in the engine compartment. That means the Legacy should be a piece of cake to work on when things do go wrong.

RAY: In terms of size and styling, the Legacy is comparable to the Toyota Camry Wagon. I don't know if the Legacy will develop that car's reputation for quality and durability, but the Legacy is a well-thought-out, fun to drive, upscale Subaru. If you liked your old Subaru, you'll love the Legacy.

TOM: We're also pleased that Subaru hired Vanna White to consult on model designations. Vanna apparently suggested that the company buy some vowels, which is how they went from the DL and GL to the Justy, Loyale, and Legacy.

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