2007 Orange County Auto Show – Media Day (Part 3 of 3)

By Joel Arellano | October 17, 2006
For my last visit to the OC Auto Show, I took along Rick, a buddy of mine.Unlike me, Rick’s not an enthusiast. Instead, he represents what dealers probably love and hate: a possible customer who wants to buy his car quickly. Unfortunately, he’s smart, savvy, and knows what he wants in a vehicle. I’ve learned that the chances of pushing him into a purchase are slim to none. So it was interesting to get his take on cars. In that, he’s similar to enthusiast, having no truck in SUVs or other such vehicles. Our visit primarily consisted of checking out the upper end vehicles. Our “gold” standard among the luxury brands is the Jaguar. We find the brand, much maligned by the press and enthusiast magazines, to have both the name and vehicle designs that separate it from competitors like BMW and Mercedes Benz. However, I have to agree with reviewers that, at six feet tall, I found rear headspace of the S-Type to be a bit tight. I encountered the same issue with the Buick Lacrosse. In the S-Type's driver’s seat, though, I’d agree with the term “cozy”, reminding me of the Mazda6. We both agreed that the German automaker interiors were some of the best. Aesthetically, though, they were quite dark and dreary and conveyed “luxury” only if you’re into goth. We found, interestingly enough, the Cadillac interiors to be pleasant in sitting for hours on end, a far cry from their predecessors. However, I recommend any potential buyer to check out fit and finish: one STS had unacceptable warping of dash panels while another was near perfectly aligned. I didn’t see as many issues issues with the German and Japanese vehicles. We were not impressed with the latter vehicles. The Lexus vehicles, from the IS to the LS flagship, were technically perfect. Same with the Acuras. But for the first time, after discussing the cars with Rick, did I realize what reviewers meant by the vehicles having no soul. There was nothing, from exterior sheet metal to interior colors and makeup, that separated them from each other. I withhold full judgment (and pocket book), though, until I have a chance to test-drive the vehicles. Enthusiasts have different criteria on measuring what they consider is an excellent driving vehicle (i.e., handling, speed) than a consumer (i.e., comfort on long stretches of road, quietness, etc.)
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Interior of the Dodge Caliber. Plastic everywhere and I'm not to sure it's appropriate even at the CUV's low price. Love the nifty storage unit, though. Have yet to see one with the "cooler" unit for drinks.
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Interior of the Honda CR-V. Similar to the Civic, especially the steering wheel. Fit and finish, soft plastics, etc., appropriate for (low) price range.
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Interior of the Acura RDX. Very German meaning lots of fake-looking "metal" and black, black, black.
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Interior of the Saturn Sky. Infinitely superior to the Pontiac Solstice. But in terms of the exterior, Rick and I (and, apparently, most enthusiasts) take different roads: the Solstice makes my heart go faster while the majorityswoon at the sight of Sky. Personally, I think it's Pontiac's brand name that tears a lot of folks.
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Interior of Jaguar XK. Beautiful. Plenty of wood, soothing colors, and modern stylin'. I was surprised I didn't "fall" into the driver's seat.
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Interior of the new Chrysler Sebring. Soft plastics and other interior markers appropriate for this price bracket. I find the exterior, though, something else. We ended the autos show checking out the “underground” custom displays on the basement level.
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Custom Honda Civic coupe. Ugh.
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A custom Infiniti G35 coupe. Sweet.
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A custom Nissan 350Z. I once saw a Mercedes Benz M-Class with similar colors. Wrong choices on both vehicles.
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A custom Toyota Celica.
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A...BMW 7-Series. I think.
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A Dodge Charger convertible. Really.
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Pontiac G6 GXP Concept. I want one. Now.
 
1 comments
jarellano
jarellano

Hmmm. Good points. Many lux buyers tend to lease their vehicles and thus not appreciate them long-term.

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