: Most underrated cars you have ever driven?



orconn
06-17-11, 01:59 PM
I find it interesting to see how some cars that when actually driven or owned turned out to be pretty good, verses the the public perception held by :car guys!"

The second generation Taurus immediately springs to my, while certainly no winner in a styling contest, Forced familiarity with several of these cars showed me that they were really decent transportation cars. As I have said elsewhere, my wife's company used to supply her with a brand new Taurus every six months. Usually these cars sat neglected in our driveway, only driven by her on local company appointments.

Unfortunately, while walking one of our dogs, my wife slipped on wet leaves and fell seriously breaking her wrist. Unable to drive herself due to the cast on her wrist, I was called out of semi-retirement to chauffeur her around the Mid-Atlantic on her business appointments for a few months. This meant that I was going to have to drive one of the Tauruses supplied by Hewlett-Packard (not wanting to put uncompensated miles on one of other cars, nor to have to be covered by our personal insurance).

So on several occasions I drove one of these cars from Northern Virginia to Philadelphia and other places within the region. Now, at the same time, my son's one year old Honda Accord was also sitting in the driveway, as he was in Edinburgh, Scotland for the year at university. Doth to keep the Honda in running condition and to use paid for mileage, I often drove that car too. To be honest, the Taurus was the more pleasant car to drive, especially on longer trips. I have always appreciated Honda's, but when driven back to back the Taurus' size and overall performance made it the preferable car when long distances had to be covered.

Another, much maligned, that was far more satisfactory that its' reputation would have you believe was the Cadillac Catera. We had a 2000 Catera that was my wife's business car from early 2000 to late 2002. The Catera was leased after several alternatives were considered. We seriously considered the brand new Lincoln LS 6 with manual transmission and the also just out 2000 Oldsmobile Aurora 6 cylinder. After multiple test drives in each car both my wife and I decided the Catera was the best car. The Catera's more European handling was superior to either of the the other two cars and the fit and finish of the Catera, both inside and out, was in a different, higher, league compared to either the Lincoln or the Olds. While the Catera became a much jeered car among officionados and even the general public, our experience left us with a different opinion. This I think was a result of the ridiculous advertising that Cadillac used to promote the car; its' reputation as a "ladies" car, and later, because Cadillac agencies really didn't know how to service this model and GM withdrew support from the cars, for poor reliability. Our experience with the car left us with the opinion the that Catera was a decent European "executive" sedan, that when compared to the base level BMW and Mercedes models it was meant to compete with did very well.

I am sure you have had similar experience with cars that the general public, and or, the motoring press has disdained but fit your needs and taste better than was expected.

Jesda
06-18-11, 03:38 AM
I knew a guy with a bubble body Taurus. He took meticulous care of it. It was ugly as sin but the quiet cabin and seating comfort did impress me.

I owned a 1995 Mazda 626 2.0L 5-speed. I think Mazda sold a dozen or so 626s in the US. The autos were terribly unreliable and a bit jerky which tarnished the model's reputation. The car was smaller than its competitors so it was easily outsold by the larger and cushier Camry and Accord. I didn't have any complaints about its size; I even slept in it for a week. Its platform mates were the Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe, all built in Flat Rock, MI.

The magic was in the steering, clutch, and shifter. It really did feel like a four-door Miata.

brandondeleo
06-18-11, 04:42 AM
My first car was a marvelous car. 2004 Chrysler Sebring sedan. It had a 2.4L I4 that was nowhere near fast, but it had plenty of pep. Phenomenal gas mileage, tight handling when it was needed, bigger than both Camry and Accord, and much more comfortable. Great styling, if I might add. Chrysler has some of the best designers in the business. (as well as the worst transmissions! haha) That car saved my life. Hit the guard rail at 70mph, bounced off and got struck by an eighteen wheeler, flipped longways twice and landed on my roof. Landed, and the car was still running, lights still on, only one window burst and it was the one that the semi struck in the rear. Neither I nor my 2 passengers were seriously injured. If I were in a Civic, I would be dead. There is a reason that Sebrings are everywhere- they are awesome. If only people would acknowledge that. lol Loving the DeVille btw. I feel sorry for anyone who hits me in this thing! lol

brandondeleo
06-18-11, 04:43 AM
Just realized- that makes it sound like I was speeding. lol. The speed limit on the freeway here is 70mph.

amunderdog
06-18-11, 05:22 AM
Plymouth Barracuda
I have owned 3 or 4 of them
Everyone loves the looks of the 70 model (had one of them) but it was a straight line car.
1969 With a small block motor was my favorite. I may have had two of them?
First year for front disc brakes; with a four speed was Fast enough and could handle.

orconn
06-18-11, 02:02 PM
Another car that was underrated, or at least ignored in the U.S., was the Peugeot 505S. While the American enthusiast motor press didn't pan the car, neither did it praise it. Coming on line in the late '70's the 505 filled sort of an entry level executive car slot costing around $13000. in 1980. While the 505S proved reasonably successful in the Southern California market, like its predecessors in the American market.

While under powered, a situation typical of cars of that period, the 505 delivered very decent handling, on a par with many German sedans of the day, while delivering a super ride quality that was often compared to a Jaguar XJ sedan (the best riding sport sedan of its' day. In fact the Peugeot 505 was often dubbed the poor man's Jaguar XJ6. Having owned both cars side by side in the W's I can vouch for the correctness of that comparison. The seating, both ergometrically and because of the velour material used in the "S" model, was excellent, among the most comfortable of the period. The handling was sharp, but with the typical French tendency to lean (but with security) and has been said the ride was superior. The styling was by Pininfarina and the French assembled cars showed excellent fit and finish with excellent materials where they counted. The 505S was fully equipped according to the "luxury" car standards of the day, Alpine radio, power windows, climate control, sunroof, etc. My wife's car had a ZF automatic trans, and while satisfactory the automatic was deprived of the sprightlier performance and fun of the manual trans cars. The only real failing to the cars were its' electrics. Typical of European cars of that time, the electrics could be erratic at times, letting one know on occasion that the Europeans had not mastered the dark art of electrical components (also a fault of Mercedes and BMW, certainly Jaguar and other British cars afflicted with "Prince of darkness disease).

My wife had her Peugeot 505S for four years and it fit her needs for a business car to a tee. She loved the car. I can honestly say that when I drove my son's brand new 2006 BMW 3 series I found it felt and drove very much like the Peugeot. My wife felt the same way. Of the many business cars my wife had over the years, the Peugeot 505S was her favorite. A great size, well built with excellent handling. Today it would seem definitely under powered, especially with automatic, but then most cars of the early eighties suffered from the same fate.

Peugeots, over the years have as a car of choice in Third World countries where there superior ride and comfortable seating and there high build quality and proven toughness have allowed them to excel on both the dirt and gravel country roads and the less than perfectly maintained city thoroughfares. The Peugeot make is a much underrated make in the United States, especially when it comes to diesel powered cars!

mhamilton
06-18-11, 03:44 PM
I have to say that the Chevy Cobalt was a surprisingly nice small car. I'm decidedly not a fan of compact cars, but have driven other small cars (Ford Focus, Nissan Versa, probably others), and the Cobalt was quite nice. The others had deafening road noise, unrefined drivetrains, and poor ergonomics. The Cobalt, though small, has a nice interior, quiet smooth ride, peppy acceleration. And it had a smooth idle! Of all the surprises. I was in a newer Nissan Altima 2.5 recently, as a passenger, and at idle I was annoyed by the poorly balanced engine.

Florian
06-19-11, 01:14 AM
dupl

F

Florian
06-19-11, 01:15 AM
My first car was a marvelous car. 2004 Chrysler Sebring sedan. It had a 2.4L I4 that was nowhere near fast, but it had plenty of pep. Phenomenal gas mileage, tight handling when it was needed, bigger than both Camry and Accord, and much more comfortable. Great styling, if I might add. Chrysler has some of the best designers in the business. (as well as the worst transmissions! haha) That car saved my life. Hit the guard rail at 70mph, bounced off and got struck by an eighteen wheeler, flipped longways twice and landed on my roof. Landed, and the car was still running, lights still on, only one window burst and it was the one that the semi struck in the rear. Neither I nor my 2 passengers were seriously injured. If I were in a Civic, I would be dead. There is a reason that Sebrings are everywhere- they are awesome. If only people would acknowledge that. lol Loving the DeVille btw. I feel sorry for anyone who hits me in this thing! lol


wasnt that designed by the Japanese?

F

I~LUV~Caddys8792
06-19-11, 01:29 AM
Much like Jesda, I was impressed with a Mazda 626.

My father bought a 1991 DX sedan in 1994. By the time it got hit and subsequently junked in 2005, it gave us 193,000 very trouble free miles, only needing a tow once when it wouldn't start due to a faulty starter solenoid. Other than that, it was incredibly reliable. It was the car I learned to drive in and took my test in as well. It was "tossable" and peppy, but I wouldn't call it sporty, but compared to the 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity and 1997 Chevrolet Lumina we also owned during our stay with the Mazda, the Mazda was the one I preferred to drive. The Lumina was a snoozefest in comparison, and the Mazda had much tighter steering and much better throttle response. I also preferred the buckets n' console setup of the Mazda to the split bench of the Lumina...

When I was driving around in that 626, all I could think about was how badly I wanted a Cadillac (I ended up getting the Roadmaster first) and how uncool that Mazda was, but looking back on it, it was a good car. I actually found one for sale at a client of mine on Friday, maybe I'll goad them into letting me take it for an "obligation free" spin for old times sake. :)

But anyways, Mazda sure didn't make many of the 626's in comparison to the Accords and Camrys, and I can't figure out why.

orconn
06-19-11, 03:00 AM
I remember when the Mazda 626 came out in 1978, a friend of ours bought a coupe which I got to drive. It was a very surprising car. The auto press of the time touted it as a "Japanese BMW" and the car really was a sprightly performer and a good handler for the time. The 626 was slightly upmarket from the Toyota Carollas and Honda Accords of the time period and really did perform at a new level for Japanese cars of that time. The ^@^ of the late 1970's was something of a hit in the California market and sold very well there for some time. After that first generation 626 I lost track of what the model was doing, although later on another friend had an '80's version in a four door hatchback that she really liked. But it is the '78-'80 Mazda 626 Coupes that I remember fondly!

Playdrv4me
06-19-11, 03:29 AM
I have to say that the Chevy Cobalt was a surprisingly nice small car. I'm decidedly not a fan of compact cars, but have driven other small cars (Ford Focus, Nissan Versa, probably others), and the Cobalt was quite nice. The others had deafening road noise, unrefined drivetrains, and poor ergonomics. The Cobalt, though small, has a nice interior, quiet smooth ride, peppy acceleration. And it had a smooth idle! Of all the surprises. I was in a newer Nissan Altima 2.5 recently, as a passenger, and at idle I was annoyed by the poorly balanced engine.

Weird! The Cobalt (a rental) was going to be mine last night but I figured I must have been remembering it wrong. Apparently not!

brandondeleo
06-19-11, 05:35 AM
Florian-
It is easy to see where that is coming from, but no. The Sebring Coupe shared the platform of the Mitsubishi eclipse, but the sedan was Chrysler's JR platform, and mine [2004 design update] was a Chrysler design, not ripped off of Mitsubishi like the Coupe. All the same, isn't everything made in Japan nowadays anyway? haha

gdwriter
06-19-11, 03:42 PM
I was in a newer Nissan Altima 2.5 recently, as a passenger, and at idle I was annoyed by the poorly balanced engine.It's even worse when you step on the gas.

I had a rented 2.5 Altima in North Carolina last weekend, and the noise when accelerating, compounded by the horrid CVT, was absolutely horrid. I couldn't believe that kind of engine racket would be considered acceptable in 2011. Felt like I was driving a freakin' Vega.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
06-19-11, 09:05 PM
I've driven more Altimas than I care to think about, but I don't think they're unusually coarse. I wonder if the one you had wasn't abused (rental) or was in need of maintenance.

The dealer I work at sells Altimas and Optimas. How they manage to sell any staid Altimas when the hot new Optima is on the market is beyond me.

cadillac kevin
06-20-11, 01:11 AM
the most underrated car I have driven was my dads cutlass cruiser (ciera) wagon. the cutlass ciera is pretty much the stereotypical 1990's rental car (along with the chevy malibu "classic"), with its bland exterior and interior styling, lack of power (3100 was ordered in almost all cieras) , and overall grandma stigma. the 3.3, while not as powerful as the 3800 revved very quickly and could beat alot of higher output cars in a straight line and hugged curves like a champ. eclipses, crxs, and the like (aka ricers) were a walk in the park for it. steering input was precise although the wheel "snapping" back to center was annoying and at times painful (pulled my arm muscles a few times). on dry pavement it could be pushed far past what you thought a wagon could handle, and I think the fact that it was a wagon helped hold the back wheels to the ground. torque steer was incredible during a hard launch, so most launches were only WOT after 10 mph, which still netted 8 second 0-60 times (top speed was about 120). It was almost as fast as a 3800 in 0-60 times and got almost as good mileage (18 combined with a mix of mild and heavy driving, 27 highway @ 75mph) the wagon aspect also came in handy with hauling stuff that would not fit in a car (P/A equipment, tools, 2x4's, etc). plywood wouldnt fit inside it (about 1 ft short and just under a foot too narrow). actually, even though these cars were incredibly bland, my dads actually go alot of compliments -mostly on how clean and luxurious it was (not sure where people got the idea that a fwd wagon is luxury but whatever). It also made quite a few people laugh in disbelief or simply gawk when their ricer with all their autozone bolt ons got stomped on by a stock bland looking wagon. the interior seating was a bit of a disappointment (car didnt have a long enough wheelbase to seat 5 comfortably for a several hundred mile road trip- another foot of wheelbase would have been really nice for the 2nd row passengers). the rear jump seat had 2 extra seats which were never used because you literally sat on the floor of the footwell and your knees were at the level of your chest. it might have been ok for a 5 year old, but not for adults. overall it was a fun and sporty mini wagon that got good mileage and had respectable performance, but I sure wouldnt have bought it for use by more than 2 people on a full time basis.

Jesda
06-20-11, 01:27 AM
I'll have to concede that the 2000 Catera was indeed underrated. The 98 with its mechanical issues and its botched launch soured the badge, but by 2000 it was a dependable car and retained its sharp handling and quality interior.

I actually saw one here in Thailand, the Opel Omega. Closest I'll probably ever get to personally seeing a Cadillac in SE Asia.

gdwriter
06-20-11, 02:37 AM
I've driven more Altimas than I care to think about, but I don't think they're unusually coarse. I wonder if the one you had wasn't abused (rental) or was in need of maintenance.I think it had ~11,000 miles on it. Not likely abused. There was no obvious vibration, it was just loud.

Once you reached cruising speed, you didn't hear anything from the engine, but step on the gas, and the cacophony resumed. I think I've become extra sensitive to that 4-cylinder drone.

Playdrv4me
06-20-11, 02:43 AM
The Catera was OK, and by '01 it had some cool features (Xenon headlights and FULL LED tail lights on the Sport model), but it was by no means a BETTER handler than the Lincoln LS.

brandondeleo
06-20-11, 09:00 AM
Not to mention, the Lincoln LS held much better styling than the Catera in my opinion. I've always liked the look of the LS. The Catera, not so much. Lol

concorso
06-20-11, 03:10 PM
The catera was a good car, but it did nothing better then any competitor.

Id like to throw the Milennia name on this list.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
06-20-11, 07:14 PM
Maximas. Always a good car, but nobody really talks about them much and they don't sell like the Altimas do, and all of their competition (from a price point) is RWD or AWD but much smaller.

Aron9000
06-21-11, 02:10 AM
I've known a few people with 90's Maximas(both the OLD 89-94 and 95-99 styles), all of them had 150k+ miles and ran great, never gave them much trouble. The interiors on those cars were really well made as well. The 5 speed manual models were downright quick and an absolute blast to drive as well.

Playdrv4me
06-21-11, 06:53 AM
Maxima is a great one for this list... though I don't know how under-rated they actually are. Except for the last couple of sub-par generations, everyone I've ever known that has driven one has had glowing things to say about the ol' 4DSC (4 Door Sports Car).

Not to mention that up to the generations I mentioned, each previous gen had a little special sauce baked in... Be it that kitchy talking computer, the very early RWD layout, or the buttery smoothness and performance of the model that ended in 2003.

Stingroo
06-21-11, 08:12 AM
Id like to throw the Milennia name on this list.


Yes. I love those. Driven a few, and each one has been excellent. Just stay away from the Milennia S with that POS Miller-Cycle and you're good to go.

ben.gators
06-21-11, 08:23 AM
+1 for Maxima.... 4 years ago I almost purchased a 97 Maxima. It was a very clean car with 170k miles on the clock and believe it or not the car was flawless... However at the last moment I changed my mind... The mileage was horrifying, although the car was in really good shape.

Stingroo
06-21-11, 08:55 AM
I used to be like that. I thought mileage was everything. Now I wouldn't hesitate to purchase a higher mileage car if the body/frame were in good shape, and suspension looked maintained.

Live and learn I guess.

Stoneage_Caddy
06-21-11, 09:20 AM
Under-rated cars

Id have to say right now for me its the old spirit sitting in the driveway right now ....

Granted i have had bowel movements get to 60 mph faster its still a great little car

450,000 miles , my girlfreind trys to kill it every day , it has been up to the bottom of the windshield in water , driven 20 miles with no waterpump , she drives it witht he gas pedal on the floor all day long and it comes back for more while returning 28-30 mpg ...The best part is it gets driven so my caddy can sit and not have some moron try to run into it with a camry

I just wish it was a R/T i miss my old turbo lebaron ....

I~LUV~Caddys8792
06-22-11, 12:46 AM
One of my accounts has a pretty nice '90 Mazda 626 on their used car lot. It's a DX model just like dad's was. I wanna drive it just for the hell of it.

orconn
06-22-11, 12:56 AM
Maxima is a great one for this list... though I don't know how under-rated they actually are. Except for the last couple of sub-par generations, everyone I've ever known that has driven one has had glowing things to say about the ol' 4DSC (4 Door Sports Car).

Not to mention that up to the generations I mentioned, each previous gen had a little special sauce baked in... Be it that kitchy talking computer, the very early RWD layout, or the buttery smoothness and performance of the model that ended in 2003.

I would also have to question how "underated" Maximas were or are. Back in the mid-nineties Maximas were considered "hot cars." I know in Los Angeles the Maxima was considered to be a desirable car for car savvy "up and comers."

Stingroo
06-22-11, 01:00 AM
Also thinking about Mazda, I'd classify our old '93 929 as an underrated little car. Well... mid-size. It was decently quick, handled well, RWD, nice inside (once you looked past the FL sun damage) and actually fun to drive. The only problem though, if you're over 5 foot 6, you can't really fit into it well... and parts are impossible to find.

Sad. I actually liked that car.

ben.gators
06-22-11, 01:42 AM
I used to be like that. I thought mileage was everything. Now I wouldn't hesitate to purchase a higher mileage car if the body/frame were in good shape, and suspension looked maintained.

Live and learn I guess.

I understand what you say and I partially agree with you.... But the age and mileage will show itself in terms of normal wear and tear and much more important Fatigue Failure. Generally speaking, a high mileage car is more prone to fail.... The car can be in a very good shape, but tomorrow morning the water pump may seize...