Playing: Forza Motorsport 3
My brother and I went to the Auto show yesterday at the David Lawrence Convention Center. Though some of the really exotic manufacturers (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, etc.) were not there, there were still an interesting selection.
OK, so we had (in order we visited):
So, we began with Porsche. I was disappointed that they didn't have the 911 there. They only had three cars:
I personally wouldn't have picked any of these vehicles to represent Porsche, because all of them have serious problems. The Boxster is for losers who couldn't afford to buy the 911. The Cayenne, which is by far one of the ugliest vehicles on the road, is for idiots without an imagination and NEVER use SUVs for what they are intended for. Basically, it's just meant for men to make up for their lack of something else (women say it's their penis). The Panamera, whilst a good idea, is not very good looking, and has one big problem...known as the Maserati Quattroporte, which is better looking and, so I'm told, drives much better than the Porsche.
I cannot comment on the interior of these vehicles as they were locked and were "look only".
We then crashed over at Mitsubishi. They had:
Lancer (no Evos)
As a whole I have to say Mitsubishi is doing well. There is a small issue with the Do-It-Yourself people. The engines in Mitsubishis have so much plastic on them and are positioned a little weird, do it yourself maintenance is going to be tricky. Interiors have a good quality feel to them and very well put together. I especially like the Galant. Nice choice of plastics and upholstery. Nicely laid out instruments and center console. Looks good too.
Now, Suzuki,cars for nice people, didn't have much to offer.
I personally was particularly interested in the SX4, as it was a joint venture between Suzuki and Fiat. As a whole, the car is good, but there is one little issue. It's rather tall, so I suspect it will roll like a pig in the corners. Interior is nice and pretty user friendly. There's not a barrage of button like some other cars. Everything is simple and easy to use. Interior space is good. Plenty of leg and head room. Plastics are a bit cheap but very well put together. Overall a good car for the money.
We didn't spend much time with the Kizashi, but overall it's a good car. Looks great, too.
Next we annoyed Kia, and oh dear...
Couple of issues with this one. For display they had:
We poked around the Forte first as it was an obvious rip off of the Honda Civic, and were curious to know how it would stack up. This car has some serious problems. For starters, its design was stolen from the Civic. The interior is not very good looking and you cannot escape the feel of cheap. They used some really cheap plastics, which feel terrible, and it's not very well put together. The doors are amusing because they rattle quite badly when you close them. Honestly, just spend the extra money and get the Honda Civic.
After the Forte, we really didn't want to try the Rio, as it was guaranteed to be rubbish, so we messed around with the Soul, since Kia is making a fair amount of noise about it. As a whole, I would say it's a valiant effort by Kia, but still needs some work for it to be worth the price tag. The interior is rather cheap for the money, the seats are pretty hard, something you are going to notice after a long journey, and the steering wheel is actually not centered correctly. Sitting perfectly upright in the middle of the seat, steering wheel felt like it was canted a bit to the left. The build quality is an improvement over the Forte, but there are still some lingering eye-sore panel gaps, but it's an improvement. Doors don't rattle as much when you close them. Overall it's not too bad, but there are better things out there for your money.
We didn't spend much time with Scion, but from what we say we weren't all too pleased.
There is a lot of flash in these cars (flashing lights, loud stereos, rims, etc.), even thought they're rather cheap, and for a reason. The money spent on these toys was cannibalized from the interior. Pretty cheap interiors, I have to say. Personally, I would gladly trade all the neat gadgets and flashing lights for some proper Toyota-developed interior panels. Just buy something else, people.
Jaguar, even though we didn't stand a chance in hell of buying one anytime soon, we decided to poke around anyways
I have to say, I'm really impressed from what I saw. Great looking cars on the inside and out. Very nice leather in all. Panel gaps were pretty much non-existant. No rattles whatsoever from the doors (from any of the trim, for that matter). Quality plastics, nice metals on the dash, loved the wooden finish on some bits. Brilliant cars! The XFR, looking at its stat sheet, impressed us in that considering it has a 5 litre SUPERCHARGED V8, it gets a respectable mileage.
Next was Land Rover. Good off-road vehicles these, even the LR2 (Freelander), despite it being more meant for soccer moms (no low range, no locking rear diff, relatively low ground clearance, street tires) that off road capabilities.
Now, Land Rovers are notorious for breaking down, so we set our expectations somewhat low. Despite their mechanical problems, they do have really nice interiors. Build quality is good, not as good as what we saw with Jaguar, but still pretty good. Prices are pretty steep, so they're really only worth it if you are actually planning on taking them off-road (which most people don't).
We briefly poked our heads into Volvo's corner.
Overall, they are nice cars to look at from the outside and are built very well, but the interiors are pretty dull, something Volvo should work on, especially on the S40.
Now, Audi. Always had a bit of a hate relationship with their cars simply because of the people who drive them. We walked straight into asshole central here. That aside, there was a nice selection there:
Audis are great cars. It's ashame most of their owners are real dicks. But disregarding their owners, they are great looking cars, built to last, great materials for the interiors, and go like hell. There was one small thing we didn't like. The S4's headlights. Audi is getting a little carried away with their LED daytime running lights, and up close they look weird. Not to mention they use those bright halogen headlamps, which are a real pain on the eyes.
Onwards to the second floor and walked right into, rather conveniently, into Ford. We were pretty excited about Ford, because for the past few years they've been on a roll in terms of quality. They had a lot of cars there:
Fiesta (look only, unfortunately)
Edge (2010 and 2011, though the latter was look only)
Explorer Sport Trac
F-Series (150 & 350)
Mustang V6, 5.0, & GT convertible
Focus SEL & SES
Fusion SE & Hybrid
Escape XLT & Hybrid
We were like kids at a candy store. We were a little upset that we couldn't touch the Fiesta, 'cause we're really looking forward to it and wanted to know how it stacked up against its rivels, the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit. With that bit of disappointment, we headed over to the Taurus, a car we both have been looking forward to, but Motor Trend has been ruining it for us. Unfortunately, Motor Trend was right. The Taurus is a very big car and probably too big for its own good. For being a big car, the interior is a little cramped. Don't get me wrong, there's good interior space, but the car's interior makes it feel smaller than it really is. Also, the car does sit a bit high off the ground, which might explain the heavy body roll Motor Trend mentioned when they test drove it a few months ago ("drives like a truck"). On the plus side, materials Ford chose are of pretty good quality. I especially loved the dash. Everything was thought out with the driver in mind (everything is easy to reach). And because the car is large, it has a very large trunk. You can park a Mini in the trunk of this thing, it's unbelievable! In summary, the Taurus is a great effort by Ford, but still needs some work (they could start by cutting a few inches off of the suspension).
Next we tried the Fusion, and I have to say, we were impressed. The car looks great on the outside, has a nice interior good a good choice of plastic and upholstery. Comfortable seats, nice instrument panel, adequate leg and head room, and a nice choice of toys. The only real problem we found with it was the positioning of the temperature controls. They are a little hard to reach without whacking your hand against the gear lever. The gear lever could also use a do-over, giving the driver the option to select individual gears (right now it's P R N D L, could use a 2 and even D3).
To satisfy our inner child, we made a quick stop by the Mustangs. Always been a Mustang fan, especially the old '60s Fast Backs, and these new cars satisfy my Mustang needs. Great retro looks, nice interior (though don't even think about trying to use the rear seats, 'cause they're hopeless), great finish. Fans of the old 5.0 will most likely love the new one.
The 2010 Focus was next, and I should start by saying that this is a car I've never been too sure about. I don't really like the way it looks. That aside, there were things about it that we both like and disliked. For starters, it is a bit pricey (depending on the options, it can be a little more expensive than a comparable Civic), but then again you do get wishbone, full independent suspension (not the crude torsion bar in other vehicles). The interior is not too bad, some of the plastics have a very cheap feel to them and there are some panel gaps here and there. The seats up front were pretty comfy with modest leg and head room, but the rear seats had problems. Very little head room and poor head room (by brother slammed his head on the roof). For it's price, I'm not too sure it's worth it, especially when you consider the Honda Civic, which we'll get to later.
Out of curiosity, we checked out the trucks, starting with the Explorer. Overall, not too bad, but Ford has got to ditch the 4 litre V6. It's old and terrible! After that we tried the Escape. Now, this is technically a Mazda, so we were expecting a few good things from it. Up front for the driver, the vehicle has its merits. The seats are comfortable and there plenty of leg and head room. Things start to fall apart from there. The plastics are pretty cheap and there are a few noticeable panel gaps. The rear legroom is rubbish and the rear seats were a bit hard. Overall, it's an improvement over the previous Escape, but still needs work.
The Ford Expedition, otherwise known as the soccer mom express, was a bit of a surprise. The interior is pretty nice. The plastics have some quality to them and there are no panel gaps worth mentioning. Good quality leather on the seats, thought I did find the seats a big too soft (kind of sank into them). Interior space in all three rows is pretty good, and there is plenty of flat cargo space with the third row folded down. For the driver, there is one small issue I don't like and that is the gauges. The tach and speedo are really big and the fuel and engine temperature gauges are a little hard to see. Motor Trend says that it's a modest off-roader, and with full-independent suspension, off-road tires, locking diff, and low range, I can believe that. The only real issue for me is that it's a big truck. Persoally, I think it's way too big to be of any real good use. If you have a lot of kids, buy a minivan. This truck is only really useful if you have more than 3 kids AND have something really heavy to tow, like a big boat. Otherwise, buy something smaller. Seriously!
Now, the Ford Edge. The new 2011 model was on a stand, so we couldn't poke around in it, so we had to settle with critiquing the 2010. The 2010 model was the Sport version, and good God Ford, what were you thinking? The 22" wheels are too big and too flash (and spoil the handling, apparently). The 22" need to go, no joke. Apart from that, there were some good things and bad. The build quality was pretty good. Some of the plastics were cheap, but were put together nicely. Interior space is nice front and back and the seats are a happy medium (not too soft, not too hard). However, it can only seat 5 people, which is a problem because the Taurus, despite all of its problems, can do the same thing with a bit more room for the passengers. The edge doesn't really have the advantage in cargo space either. It can hold more, but the Taurus is right behind it.
The Flex is another story. It's basically the Taurus underneath and as a result it did inherit its piggish handling. However, it has almost the same passenger and cargo capacities as the Expedition, but without the rollover risk and rubbish fuel consumption. For people who don't have to haul a boat, but have a large family, this is perhaps the vehicle for you. As a side note, the Flex does remind me of the classic American station wagons. Put some surf boards on the roof and the Flex looks like something from the '70s. This is a good thing, because with the rise of fuel prices and the increasing hatred of SUVs, now's a good time for the station wagon to make its comeback. Like the Taurus, take off a few inches in the suspension and Ford is pretty much ready to bring back the classic wagon with the Flex. Generally impressed by this vehicle.
The Transit Connect is a curious little vehicle with a lot of potential. It's a great little van for those who find the E-series too big. Nicely equipped, loved all the little storage areas around the driver's seat and it's got loads of space in the back. Damn it, Ford, just ditch the E-series and give us the full size Transit!
Not much to say about the Ford Ranger, other than it's really starting to show its age. However, why change what's working? Certainly seems like that's the mentality with this truck. If it works, it works.
We didn't spend much time with Mercury/Lincoln simply because they're basically the same as their Ford counterparts, with a few different options.
Subaru, very expensive cars. So, are they worth it?
Impreza WRX STi
Subaru is known for the rally pedigree, so that's where most of your money is going into with these vehicles (performance). However, that's not all. Interiors are nicely equipped and really well made. Nice choice of plastics and excellent build quality. The Impreza is a nice car but it's all-wheel-drive does have a price for the trunk. The rear axle does intrude into the cabin a bit, reducing cargo space. It really depends if you are willing to spend the money to buy a car which is pretty decent off road.
Over to Honda...
Accord (sedan & coupe)
...where we began with the Civic. Very well thought out car. The split instrument is interesting and a nice touch with the speedometer easily visible in your peripheral vision. Interior quality is superb for the price. Plastics are some quality feel to them. The seats are very comfortable and do a good job to hold your body for tight cornering. Everything is easily reachable for the driver. Interior space is excellent for a car of its size, front and back, with good headroom for the rear passengers (something hard to find in cars of this class). The only real niggle is the center console, which is really funky for young people, but as a result, not very user friendly (not a problem for the young generation, but a small problem for the older folks). Good car for your money.
The old-man's Accord was next, and I was also impressed with this vehicle. Loads of interior space which made the car feel larger than it really was. The trim was very well put together with a good choice of plastics and a nice, fake wooden finish. The only problem with the Accord is the same problem the Civic has; its not-very-user-friendly temperature and radio stack. It's just a mess of buttons.
The Fit was next and this was a really important car for us as we both are planning on buying one (the Ford Fiesta was the other option, but since we couldn't poke around in it, we still haven't made up our minds). This car is deceiving. It looks tiny on the outside, but once you have a seat inside, everything changes. The interior space is unbelievable. Front and back it felt like a big car. The front seats are very comfortable and everything is set up for the driver; radio, A/C, even the glove box is easy to reach from the driver's side. The rear seats do a great job for back support and are fairly comfortable. There isn't much space in the back for cargo when the rear seats are up, but with the pull of a single tab, they fold completely flat for loads of cargo space. The engine compartment is also a good setup. The spark plugs are a little hard to get at, but everything else is easily accessible from any angle. Good for the do-it-yourself folks (like us). As a whole, I am really impressed with the little Fit and I'm really considering buying one now (I'll make my decision once I get a change to poke around with a Fiesta).
The Insight was next and this car has a few pros and cons. It shares many bits and pieces of the interior with the Fit and the Civic and is very roomy for the driver. However, the rear passengers won't really like this car as it is a bit cramped in the back. There is good cargo space in the trunk, thought.
Nissan was next on our cross hairs:
The GT-R was "look only", which was depressing because we really wanted to feel what the car was like on the inside. Apart from that rocket, the only other car we were interested in was the Sentra. Since my brother owns one of the older models, he was curious to know what progress was made. The car is a great improvement over the previous generation. Interior space has improved greatly, especially for the rear seats (was utterly rubbish on the previous generation). Trunk space has also been increase without increasing the length of the car by too much. In summary, big improvement over the previous model (the way it should be).
Given their current styling, which both of us really don't like, we walked past Mazda and ventured into the luxury brands; Acura, Mercedes, and Lexus. Didn't spend much time here as there was no chance we could every have one. However, there are a few things I need to nitpick with some of the cars. The unfriendly fire begins with Acura, and their new ZDX is evidence that Acura is spending WAY too much time looking to see what BMW is up to. This vehicle competes with the Bimmer X6...which is a ugly, utterly useless pig and anyone who buys it is an imbecile and now Acura thinks it's a good idea to join BMW. For God sakes, don't! It's basically a big, off-road vehicle that looks like a 2-door coupe, but has 4-doors. Because it looks like the Bimmer, the Acura has the same problems. Interior space is terrible, especially for passengers and cargo, it's unbelievably ugly, and it's a big, off-road vehicle that can't go off-road. Useless! Don't do this Acura, you're going to dig yourselves into a hole.
Acura is not alone. Lexus also takes beating from us. The RX, for example, is another hopeless-off-road soccer mom bus which is ugly and because it can't go off-road, despite being an SUV, it's a vehicle for idiots. The HS (Prius sibling) is also pointless because it is very expensive for its size and doesn't give back much in fuel savings. For those looking at this vehicle, just buy the IS.
Beyond the luxury brands, we ran into Hyundai. Being Korean, we expected some of the rubbish quality we saw with Kia...and we did. We focused our attention on the Genesis coupe. Some people are talking a lot about this car, but we really couldn't see what all the noise was about. It's not very good looking from the outside and the interior is rubbish. Very cheap plastics and noticeable panel gaps. Very hard seats and most of the trim rattled when the stereo was turned on. Visibility out the back was terrible and because of the blind spots, I can see many lane-change accidents in this car's future. The doors themselves vibrated as you moved them and rattled badly when slammed shut. Just work harder and buy something else.
The People's Car, also know as Volkswagen was next on our escapade.
We started with the Eos as it was a curious looking car. This car got off to a good start in that it was the only 4-seater convertible we've seen where the rear seats are actually usable. Interior quality was good. The plastics used in most of the VWs were on the cheap side, but were very well put together. All of the buttons felt like they were a nice fit and felt a bit chunky (which is good). Same with all of the knobs and levers. Unfortunately, the interior is not very exciting in VWs. To be honest, they're somewhat dull. Seats are a bit firm, but still comfortable. Even with the roof folded, the Eos has modest cargo space in the trunk for some groceries or small boxes.
Next was the Golf and it's sister, the Jetta. Both of the cars there were 5-speed manuals and we found it easy to change gears. We did have to fish around a little bit for 5th, but not too bad actually. Clutch movement was also good. The interior in both vehicles were identical to each other and were very similar to that of the Eos. Interestingly, after talking to one of the gentlemen there, we learned that the Jetta diesel is actually a good alternative to the Prius. It may not get as high mileage in the city, but the diesel Jetta beats the Prius on the highway (someone managed to get 51mpg from his jetta), and because diesels are not as complex as petrol engines, they are easier and cheaper to maintain. In the long run, the diesel Jetta will probably beat the Prius. Something to think about.
After VW, we migrated to the other side of the floor to the bane of my existence, GM, Chevrolet to be specific. We stabbed GMC and Cadillac a little bit afterwards.
Cobalt SS coupe
In the interest of fairness, I pushed my hatred aside and focused on the cars themselves. We started with the Cobalt, and let me begin by saying that I have no idea what people see in this car. It's crap, to say the least. It's basically a Vauxhall Astra under the body work, but with the drive train and suspension from the Cavalier (which was shit). Various bits of the interior are from the Astra (wheel, gauges, center console), but the materials are cheap and not very well made. There are panel gaps and despite being a new car, things were already rattling in it. The seats were very firm and uncomfortable. The cup holders are in a really bad place (you'd think after the Cavalier, GM would have learned, wouldn't you?). So yeah, it's terrible. Hell, my brother's 3-year-old Sentra is a much better car.
After the Cobalt, we moved to the Aveo. Out of all the cars in its class, it's the cheapest, which is why it was on my list of possible cars to buy (key word there is "was"). It's unbelievable how much of that car reminds me of my Cavalier. The seats are uncomfortable, the seating position is awkward, the plastics are extremely cheap and there are panel gaps everywhere, it's very dull and very grey, rear legroom is hopeless, and for being a small car, it sits somewhat high of the ground, so I expect rubbish cornering and heavy body roll. It's terrible.
Next was the Camaro and, despite being a Mustang fan, I was actually looking forward to this car, and so was my brother. Unfortunately it has some big problems. The interior looks great, but is cheaply put together (cheap plastics and panel gaps), the rear seats are useless, the seats themselves are rather hard, and as much as I like the gauges, putting the oil pressure, temperature, battery voltage gauges down under the center console is not the best place for them. Hell, considering their importance, that's possibly the worst place to put them. There's also one dangerous problem with this car, rubbish visibility. I thought the Genesis had poor visibility, but it's nothing compared to the Camaro. It's also made worse by the fact that the mirrors have terrible visibility. I see many accidents in the future. Overall, the Camaro was a huge let down. It's still plagued by GM's lingering imbecility.
After the Camaro disappointment, we decided not to try our luck with the Corvette as it was bound to be terrible since GM is more focused on performance than build quality in that car (everyone knows this). We thought it would be best to go back to being sensible and look at more family cars, particularly the Impala and Malibu. The Impala, sadly, is really starting to show its age. The interior is old, dull, and rubbish. Leg room is terrible, front and rear (especially the rear), though it has a very large trunk. Engine choices are rubbish as well.
We left the piece of crap that was the Impala and looked at the new Malibu. Let me begin by saying that the Malibu is an example of GM shooting themselves in the foot. It's basically the same size as the Impala, but with more interior space, better quality, and better engines. They really should just discontinue the Impala, 'cause it's pointless. With the Malibu, we were somewhat pleased with what we saw. The build quality has improved greatly over previous models, but there are still a few panel gaps here and there. Plastics are a mix of cheap and somewhat good, though the amount of cheapness is a bit overwhelming. The interior is actually pretty dull, but does have a few things going for it. The center console is not too bad. The seats are a bit firm, but acceptable, unfortunately the "leather" was pretty cheap and some of the stitching was sub-par. There is plenty of room in the Malibu, though, for both driver and rear passengers, with a respectable trunk. Overall, it's a great improvement over previous models, but there's still some work to do if they want to take on the Accord ("may the best car win", yeah right).
Since we took a look at the soccer mom's Expedition while at Ford, we figured it would only be fair to see how it's rival the Tahoe stacks up. Unfortunately, the news isn't good. There are some serious quality issues here and were surprised by this because of what we saw in the Malibu. With the decent quality we saw in the Malibu, we thought the Tahoe would be the same story, but we were wrong. The plastics are cheap and there are panel gaps everywhere. The seats are way too soft and uncomfortable. For being such a big vehicle, you'd think rear legroom would be better (somewhat cramped back there). The dashboard is a mess of fake wood, plastic, and buttons which are placed weirdly. The live rear axle at the back doesn't help either, resulting in some intrusion into the passenger cabin. Third row seating is a joke, to say the least. It's the same story with its sister, the Suburban.
After this bit of disappointment we decided it would be best to leave GM and go give Chrysler a head-ache.
To help Chrysler maintain some dignity, we chose to leave Jeep alone and focus on Dodge. After the Mustang and the Camaro, we figured we'd might as well do all of them and try out the Challenger.
This car has some serious issues. While it looks great on the outside, the interior is a completely different story. I won't sugar-coat it, it's rubbish. The instrument panel looks like it came from one of their trucks, the center console is a mess, the plastics are cheap, the panel gaps are huge, the steering wheel is from a ship, the gear lever is clunky, the seats are solid, rear seating is hopeless, visibility is out the back is terrible, the engines are rubbish, and for what you are getting, it's not worth the price tag. Things continued to go downhill when we hopped into the Caliber. The interior is hopeless. A mess of cheap plastic, terrible upholstery solid seats, tiny legroom, and the overwhelming dullness. I should also say that it's not very good looking.
In a desperate attempt to find a flower in this sea of rubbish, we tried our luck with the Avenger, and oh dear... To spare you all the agony, just read what I said about the Challenger and you'll get the idea. This hopelessness could probably be explained by a little sticker we found on the Avenger that said "build by the UAW" (United Auto Workers). It might explain everything since the UAW is pretty much THE reason why the American automakers are in deep trouble.
Very disappointed with Chrysler. Let's just hope Fiat can work their magic...
Feeling that Chrysler was a lost cause, we went back to GM, trying our luck with Cadillac. Certainly all the extra money you pay for a Cadillac over a Chevy has to be for something, should it?
We focused our attention on the Escapade...err, Escalade. This bus, which for some reason is very popular with California women, football players, murderers, and drug dealers, will set you back about 80K, a little over 30K more than it's Chevy counterpart. So, what does an extra 30K get you? For starters, you actually lose something. The Tahoe has a small storage unit between the two seats in the second row. The Escalade doesn't have this.
Instead it offer beige leather...and not very good leather at that, I should say. Very cheap stuff. For something that's so bloody expensive, you'd think the build quality would be better? It has the same problems the Tahoe has. On the plus side, it does offer independent 2nd row DVD players and a single DVD player for the third row. But here we have a problem. It's 30K more for what's basically just a Chevy Tahoe. It's just as hopeless off-road as well. The only difference is some pretty cheap leather, DVD players, halogen headlamps, and chrome drug dealer wheels. Sounds to me like a rip off. Honestly, despite their inevitable mechanical problems, you are better off with the Land Rovers. Or, if you want to be a soccer mom, the Lexus RX.
Feeling that we've bashed GM and Chrysler enough, we decided to finish our tour to see what Toyota was up to. Since I've mentioned Toyota, before anyone says anything about the recent recalls, do keep in mind that the Detroit three have their problems (some of them even worse than stuck throttles) and should really keep their mouths shut.
The Toyota Sienna was the only thing new Toyota had to offer. Seeing as I'm not much into minivans, I'll only say that I don't really like the way it looks. That's all I'll say.
Focusing on something that's more relevant to us, we poked our heads into the new Prius, Yaris, Corolla, and Camry. Since we poked around with the big, fat, American SUV (i.e. Tahoe), we concluded by seeing what Toyota had to say (Sequoia).
The Yaris, sadly, is starting to show its age. Luckily, Toyota has announced they are working on a new model, but for now we'll focus on the current. The only thing I've had against the Yaris over the years is the positioning of the gauges, right above the center console in the middle of the dash. I'm not a fan of this layout and would like it if Toyota changed it (I understand why they did it, but I still want them to change it). With that out of the way we focused on more relevant things. For a small car, it's actually pretty roomy inside. The center console is also very nicely laid out. Everything is simple, easy to reach, and easy to understand. It is one of those cars that you can just get in and go. Very user friendly car, they just need to work on the gauges. The plastics are a bit cheap, but very well put together. The seats are a bit firm, but remain comfortable. Leg room is good for such a small car, front and back, and there's plenty of space in the trunk for your luggage. Though not as good as the Honda Fit, it does have price going for it (it's cheaper), so it's an option.
Looking for something a little larger, we stopped by the Prius first just to see how the most popular hybrid is coming along. Unfortunately the news isn't all good. There are a small number of problems with the Prius. It is larger than the Honda Insight and has more passenger head and leg room, but dash is a little awkward and the plastics are pretty cheap. To keep the price down, the build quality did take a small hit. It doesn't really stack up against what we usually expect from Toyota. And lets not forget the Jetta diesel we looked at earlier. Because of the complexity of its design and construction, in the long run the Jetta diesel is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the Prius. So yeah, the Prius's biggest problem is the Jetta diesel.
Afterwards, we made a quick stop over by the Corolla. Although it is marketed as a brand new car, I personally find the new generation Corolla to be more of a face lift to the old model. That said, it is a good car. Very good plastics for the interior and excellent build quality. Plenty of leg room front and back. It's only problem is the dullness of the dashboard, something the Honda Civic takes advantage of.
Nothing much has changed with the new Camry over the one we currently have, other than a new grill and tail lights. It's still pretty much the same car we have. Some cheap plastics here and there, but very good quality build, comfortable seats, user-friendly dash, and leg and head room. Still a good car.
Our last vehicle is the big, fat, and not very good looking Sequoia. Between this, the Expedition, and the Tahoe, it is the most expensive of the trio. Things don't get any better on the inside. Because it is very wide, the center console is wide as well, making it a little difficult to reach some of the dials for the radio. However, the extra money spent on this slowly starts to make itself apparent. The second row can seat 3 people, not just 2 like in its American rivals. The upholstery and plastics are of a higher quality. There's also more room for the passengers in the third row. Like the Expedition, it offers full independent suspension, low range, locking rear diff, and power operated lift gate. There's an optional satellite navigation and DVD players for the passengers. Plus, it has the highest towing capacity out of the three (10,000 lbs), a bonus for the boat enthusiast.
Unfortunately despite it's pros, there is one big con. It's really big, something that's not really in Toyota's blood. Personally, I think it would be best if Toyota stayed on the path Honda is taking and focus on what they do best; small, reliable, inexpensive cars.
We had a blast at the auto show and will be looking forward to next year. I just need to remember to bring my camera for next time...