Welcome to the 2015 Review Round-Up, where I recount the details of every car I drove in 2015, each in a simply paragraph. Let’s get started!
2000 Toyota Echo: This car carries fond memories. It’s like a TARDIS inside, and had a compliant ride. However, turgidity made up a noticeable component of its handling, and you really had to romp on it to get any semblance of speed. The result is a car that is fun in the same way an older dog is – it’s very sweet and loyal, but surprisingly lazy. That being said, I would like to try one with decent bushings and a manual gearbox.
2006 BMW X5 4.4i: If this car was condensed into one word, it would be smooth. The brakes are progressive and confidence-inspiring, the steering isn’t overly assisted, and the power delivery is, well, smooth. But notice that I said car. It’s basically an E39 5-series with a higher center of gravity, and that makes it satisfying to drive, but gives you the feeling that there’s something more that could have been coaxed out of the vehicle’s components. The other problem is price. A 2006 X5 4.4i when loaded to the hills, is around $12,000. That’s second generation ML500 money, and I’d rather have the Mercedes.
2007 Infiniti QX56: This truck is a love song to excess. It’s more of almost everything than an X5. It’s bigger, heavier, more powerful, seats more, and goes alarmingly quickly for something so bulky. 0-60 goes by in seven seconds dead, and it feels every bit as quick as a Civic Si. Despite the insane bulk, it is surprisingly manageable, and can easily be piloted through tight suburban neighborhoods. Real world fuel economy is, as expected, absolutely abysmal. Then again, this is a real truck with real low range and a real frame, so what else would you expect?
2013 Hyundai Sonata GL: As a means of transportation, the YF Sonata isn’t bad. As a driving experience, however? It isn’t great. Steering is weirdly vague and isolated, the suspension is too stiff and under-dampened, and the brake pedal feels like someone took all the DOT 3 fluid in the master cylinder, and replaced it with yogurt. By far the most peculiar thing is the throttle programming, as it is extremely jumpy, but falls flat on its face above 3500 RPM. Not that you’d want to go much faster, of course, because it sounds like the 2.4 liter direct-injected inline four is being tasered while performing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, at least when you wind it out. Blind spots can obscure motorcyclists, and the interior feels like a weird hodgepodge of various trendy colors and textures. Still, it’s not a bad car once you get past the notion that its even remotely sporty.
Thomas Hundal is an aspiring automotive journalist, and an all-around car enthusiast. He started his obsession by learning to read via license plates, and it just grew from there. You can find more of his work on his blog, thomashundal.wordpress.com