July is Anti-Boredom Month: 10 Cars Baptized in the Temple of Boredom
When most Americans think of July, they think fireworks, baseball, and hot dogs. When we think of July, we think "new models arriving soon." Joking aside, we dig the traditional July festivities as much as the next guy. But July is more than just barbeques, bottle rockets and beer. It's also National Anti-Boredom Month, and to burst your bumbling summer blues, we're celebrating with a baseball-themed lineup of cars that promise excitement, but deliver yawns. It's not that these cars are actually bad, nor are all of them ugly. But make no mistake: Like the entire Lexus lineup, all of them were baptized in the Temple of Boredom.Leading off is the Honda CR-Z, a car that completely missed the consumer mark. The CR-Z isn't as fun as it looks and it isn't as miserly as other hybrids. And if it's not a modern CRX and not an Insight, what is it? Nothing more than a light-hitting middle-infielder that needs to muscle up if it expects to stay in the big leagues. The Volkswagen Jetta still looks like a star. But on closer inspection, the cheap, plastic interior spoils the generous space, and despite shedding a few pounds, the carryover engines deliver worse performance. An offseason conditioning program (the upcoming GLI) would help, but the Jetta feels as though it's constantly looking over its shoulder toward the young upstart usurping its game.Third in the lineup is a Legend in Japan--the Acura RL, a steady and aging right fielder devoid of pizzazz. While it was once the brand's flagship, it's now the forgotten and unloved holdover. It has decent power and an advanced all-wheel drive system, but its vanilla design is offensive even to Camry lovers. The cleanup batter should be the team's best run-producer, and at first glance, the Dodge Challenger SE looks the part. That is to say, it is a bloated designated hitter. Unfortunately, with a V-6 engine, it's little more than a homer-Hemi wannabe, a muscle-less musclecar that needs to go back to the gym to stay in the game.A great lineup usually features a five-hole hitter as dangerous as the cleanup batter. In our lineup, we're stuck with the Lincoln MKS, a rebadged Ford Taurus. It's the classic bad free-agent signing: too much money for rapidly diminishing returns. Sixth in our lineup is the Mitsubishi Eclipse, a tubby primadona on the verge of getting axed. It makes our list for overstaying its welcome, having lost its way 10 years ago and never living up to its glorious past.The Lexus IS C fills the hole created by the SC convertible's retirement in 2010. Unfortunately, IS C is the free agent that showed up to camp bigger and heavier than the year before. It's a capable but rarely inspiring underachiever, encouraging its fans to look to the future. Very little ever comes from the eight-hole, and much of what does is based on defensive value alone. Every non-turbocharged vehicle in Subaru's showroom fits the bill here. Gutless econo-boxes with standard all-wheel drive sound like a good idea. But you know what we love more than a no-stick, all-glove catcher with a great team attitude? A turbocharged homerun.The Nissan Sentra is the old guy at the bottom of the lineup, the clubhouse veteran that hangs around, collects a paycheck, and recounts the glory days. With no pop and a lowball interior, there are better options available. On the hill is the over-the-hill Chevrolet HHR. This watered-down nostalgia-driven wagon is a marketing gimmick devised to cash in on Baby Boomers' pensions. It's not a looker, doesn't drive well, and the only great thing about it is that it can be filled with scrap more boring than itself.
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