About: Autolove

Joe Mavilia is a syndicated columnist with more than 35 years in the automotive industry. He is a member of the Motor Press Guild and Automotive Press Association. His reviews have been published in print media including the Los Angeles Times, The Golden Transcript - Colorado, La Feria News - Texas, The Pasadena Weekly - California, and others around the country, including www.theweekenddrive.com where he is the West Coast Editor. Reviews and Opinion Columns may also be seen in Sunnews.org and The Country Journal every week in the Antelope Valley, CA. I hope they are helpful

Recent Posts by Autolove

1998 Mazda Millenia S (184)


This week I got practical in the Mazda Millenia S, 4-door sedan. After a series of racy sports cars like the BMW Z3 and the Porsche Boxster, it’s important to get my feet back on the ground and then into a car for more than two people. Too much excitement is not healthy. In any case, you really have to buy the car that fits your present need and mother would approve of this 5 passenger car.

In the sports cars it was, \”Sorry mom, I have this real little car and can’t take you with us to Tahoe. Maybe next time\”. If you have a family and the kids have to bring a friend, there are some tradeoffs you have to adjust to. Trade in the Boxster and get real. Then you can tell your mother-in-law the car is big enough but there are too many people going. Maybe next time.

Last year I tested the 5 passenger, 4-door Mazda Protégé and was impressed with it especially for a car that only costs fifteen grand. Sure it was basic, but for a young family with the need for reliable day to day transportation and with a limited budget, it was great. Ilona thought it was noisy but you can buy ear plugs, or for another $20K you can upgrade to the Millenia.

Good news: I

t’s practical, reliable, smooth ride, quiet and I couldn’t find anything to bitch about.

Bad News:

Plain, unexciting.

Some of the competition

Acura TL ($33K), Audi A4 ($30K), Buick Park Avenue ($35K), Cadillac Catera ($30K), Infiniti I30 ($31K), Lexus ES 300 ($30K), Mercedes-Benz C-Class ($35K), Saab 900 ($42K), Toyota Avalon ($28K), Mitsubishi Diamante ($32K), and the Volvo S70 ($34K).

Standard Equipment:

2.3 liter 210 horsepower V6 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, power rack & pinion steering, power 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, cruise control, dual airbags, keyless entry with anti-theft system, traction control, leather, power front seats, climate control, stereo with CD player, tilt steering column, power windows and door locks, power moonroof and power side mirrors.

Gas Stats:

EPA numbers are 20 City and 28 Highway MPG.


MSRP is $36,595.

1998 Porsche Boxster (183)


Automobile is from the Greek autos, “self” and Latin mobilis, “movable”. But this weeks Porsche Boxster (from the “boxer” engine design and “roadster” from the open, two-seat design) comes to us from Stuttgart, in the south of Germany. Just a hop-skip-and-jump over the Alps into Italy. Kind of like driving to Vegas for the weekend. Unfortunately I didn’t have the good fortune to test it there. But I did give it the Crest Test. Wow. It’s better than sky diving guys, so leave your honey at home and live on the edge. Slide your tush into this, made for the rebel in you, Por-sha for a natural high. If you want elegant speed go for the Lexus SC 400, but if you want to get real loose, $40 grand will put you in a great ride with this Boxster. The ’98 model is the same as ’97 with the exception of the inclusion of standard front and side air bags for ’98.

Friend Merkel didn’t like the front and back MacPherson-type strut suspension that is old technology, dating all the way back to the ‘70’s. Oh well. Even so, Merkel I have to tell you, I didn’t sense any real loss of handling. I did agree with his praise of the Acura NSX’s unique double wishbone suspension and did notice the fantastic handling over the Crest. But at $90 grand the NSX should have some trick stuff, right?

For those who were disappointed with the BMW Z3 with an underpowered Miata style 4-banger, you’ll be pleased with the performance from this 2.5-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine. It puts out 201 horsepower and does 0-60 in just 6.9 seconds. They indicate a top speed of 149, but I didn’t feel close to lift off at 130.

Cool: It’s new. Everyone just has to look because it’s definitely different. It’s a Porsche that’s not a 914 attempt at affordable. Great mid-engine performance. Snuggles up with you for a comfortable mix of man and machine. Convertible top tucks away neatly, automatically, effortlessly. His and her trunks for longer distance travel storage space, even with the top down. Flat out fun to drive.

Un-cool: Poor visibility to the side and rear mostly due to roll bars and nature of convertibles in general. Loosy-goosy. That is, it’s not as solid and smooth as it could be. The clear plastic rear wind deflector rattles if you leave it in and the purpose is to cut air buffeting and quieter operation with the top down. Left side ignition key switch. Yes, I know it’s a tradition, but it’s also annoying unless you’re a southpaw. Parking brake must be set to put the top down.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 201 horsepower six cylinder (water cooled) mid-engine, 5-speed manual transmission, power steering, 4-wheel anti-lock 4-piston disc brakes, power top and windows, front and side air bags, anti-theft remote locking system, fog lights, climate control, heated power side mirrors and cassette stereo.

Gas Stats:

19 city and 27 highway mpg.


MSRP for is $39,980. The sport package adds $3,235.

1998 BMW Z3 Roadster (Convertible) (181)


This week I had the opportunity to revisit a man’s Miata, the BMW Z3. I drove the first year (1996) model and it looks pretty much the same. Not so surprising for cars that come to us from Europe. I’ve driven most of what BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) has to offer and I suspect I love BMW partly because they retain the same look and feel from year to year plus they are different from other cars on the road. Jag has that same quality. Cars like this stand out in our memories because they are faithfully recognizable. Like an old friend or your favorite slippers, sweats or dog spot sitting next to that couch potato you call your spouse. They are tried and true.

The changes since ’96 have been refinements mostly except the 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine that was sorely needed. The larger engine is accompanied by a 2.5-inch wider rear track and 3.4 inch wider body stance. The 1.9-liter engine just didn’t put it in the performance class it needed to be in, and thus the comparison with the Miata. Some of the other refinements for ’98 include roll bars, power soft top or removable hard top options and improved seats.

You know, life can be boring enough without settling for “cookie cutter cars” that all blend together and are all too abundant on America’s roads. Think about it. You simply can’t miss a Mercedes Benz, BMW or a Jag coming down the road. Unique and exciting cars like Acura’s NSX and the new Porsche Boxster renew my hope for sports car enthusiasts. I have to say I’ve warmed up to this Z3 since I contrasted the ’96 model to the Mazda Miata. American consumers obviously did too as they bought a whopping 29,000 of them, since 1996. They were manufactured in Spartanburg, South Carolina…say what? Yep, right here in America, and 70% of that facilities production was exported in the same period. Hold on here – does that mean wages are less here than in Europe. Moving right along, this time I found myself comparing the Z3 to the NSX and Boxster. This maturing Z3 is more than an upscale Miata. Handling characteristics of these three emerging competitors is unmistakably similar and I expect BMW will push even harder to be a player in this portion of their market. My opinion changed mostly because of the Boxster where the comparison was especially apparent on the demanding conditions of Angeles Crest Highway and Willow Springs racetrack. The Z3 stood proud at the end of the road.

Ilona wonders why I drive the way I do. I don’t know Ilona. Perhaps it’s because guys have different genes than women. They have that age-old need to perform. They have deeper voices, grow hair where they shouldn’t, grunt, spit and scratch in places gals only do in private. Perhaps I just love driving and I especially love driving BMW’s because they are great performers. They love to handle the curves as much as I do.


Distinctive styling, recognizable badge, classy, great performance, comfortable, lots of features and fun to drive.


Past history of high frequency of needed repairs and higher cost of parts than logic would dictate, high price tag for that badge and I just can’t warm up to the red instrumentation.

Standard Equipment

Most everything is standard and the same on both the 1.9-liter 4-cylinder and 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine. 5-speed manual trans, anti-lock braking system, dual airbags, 4-wheel power disc brakes, theft protection, central locking system, engine speed sensitive variable assist rack and pinion power steering, cruise control, foglights, air conditioning, anti-theft AM/FM stereo cassette radio, 4-way driver and 2-way passenger power seats, power windows and outside mirrors.

Gas Stats:

23/19 city and 32/26 highway mpg on the 1.9 and 2.8 liter engines, respectively.


MSRP for is $29,425 for the 1.9 and $35,900 for the 2.8 liter. What do you get for the extra six grand? 6-cylinder engine, 3.4 inch wider rear body, 4-way power passenger seat, leather, upgraded radio, ventilated front discs, limited slip differential and front spoiler with grid air intake. Let’s see, $6 K over 36 months…..


Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2006 – An Automotive Love Affair

1998 Toyota Supra (178)

This week’s Toyota Supra was a quick trip back to the Mitsubishi 3000 GT we did a few weeks ago. These two cars are very similar, not only in looks, but in features and performance. Both are exciting cars to drive which reminds me that life is too short for boring. Cars like this will put starch in your shorts. Know what I mean. I do have one bitch even though I liked this Supra. First impressions are very important and I think Supra goofed by not improving the sound quality when you close the doors. A little thing like that can cause you to get turned off and fall out of love. Simply put, the doors sounded tinny and hollow, and that quality is probably the second thing you notice right after eye appeal. The designer’s must have been twins because both cars look great, like two blondes in the same jumpsuit from Frederick’s of Hollywood. You can picture “Slick Willie” in either. Wait, I didn’t mean it that way. On the other hand, if the shoe fits….!

Price wise the two cars are pretty close too. Base models are $31K for Supra and $28K for the GT. The turbo models are $40K and $46K respectively. You may recall the GT has a unique 4-wheel steering design for (some say) better handling. That could explain some of the cost difference.

Even though the Supra and Mitsubishi 3000GT are very close matches, three American cars need to be included in your comparison. The Chevrolet Camaro $16-27 K, Ford Mustang $15-28 K and Pontiac Firebird $18-29 K are very worthy competitors. For the price differences you have to admit these American challengers get real attractive. And don’t be mesmerized by the foreign car mystique. American cars are perhaps the best buys pound for pound and dollar for dollar, in today’s market. American car manufacturers were beat up pretty bad in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, but the humbling experience made them better companies and thus they now put out better products.

Aunt Pate swore by the Supra she owned about 10 years ago but now she drives a Mercedes Benz. I think she’s long forgotten the days of her sports car Supra and also how often our men in blue stopped her. Do you think cops pick on racy looking cars or do drivers of racy looking cars draw more attention to themselves?

Anyway, once I got settled and forgot the tinny doors, I enjoyed Supra’s performance and probably drove faster than I should have. Just ask Ilona about my heavy foot. She keeps reminding me to slow down, and when I have a turbo model I really get carried away. I think I love the feeling of acceleration as much as sex. However this Supra is powered by a normally aspirated in-line 6-cylinder 225 horsepower engine, so acceleration was a little disappointing. I tested the turbo model on the racetrack and wet my pants. It puts out nearly 100 horsepower more, at 320 and although you can live without it, I recommend you consider the turbo strongly. I found the extra boost (arguably) a necessity for freeway driving and in passing situations.

On the 3000 GT review, I nit-picked the fact that the rear spoiler obstructed rear view visibility since it falls “smack dab” in the middle of the rear window. That is not the case with the Supra. The arch of the spoiler on the Supra outlines the contour of the rear window and thus it is barely noticeable. There is good news and bad news regarding seating, which is rated a 4-seater on both. The bad news is the rear seats are too small for adults. The good news is you don’t have to worry about back seat drivers. Oh no, I’ll probably hear about that comment from Ilona.

The cockpit is ‘driver friendly’ in that everything cants toward you. It seems to make a definite statement that the driver should be separated from the passenger. When you think about it, most cars today either have center consoles or split seats that separate folks in the front seat. Some cars have fold down armrests to do the same thing in the rear seat. Do you ever wonder why this separation has become so popular over the years? Remember when cars had bench seats and seat belts weren’t yet the law, and when you went around a corner the passenger would slide over right next to the driver. Pretty romantic, eh… in an automotive sort of way. If you’re not old enough, can you imagine life before seat belts on cars or helmets for motorcycles, bicycles and roller skates? I suspect it won’t be long before you won’t dare strap on your skis or snowboard without a helmet. Perhaps one day the law will require that you don’t leave the house without a full body suit of armor. That would cover it all. No more danger from drive-by shootings, slip and fall lawsuits, etc. ad nauseum.

Hell, I think I’ll buy a Ford Model T, another Harley and move to Colorado and go skiing through the trees. Oh for the simple life. I wish Jim Laris would do a Cigar Smoke column on protecting us from ourselves. He’s old enough to appreciate the good old days, if he can still remember them. Just kidding Jim.

Standard Equipment: 
3.0 liter in-line 6-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual trans, speed sensing power rack and pinion steering, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, dual air bags, aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, power mirrors, tinted glass, power windows and door locks, tilt wheel, cruise control, climate control, stereo with cassette player, theft deterrent system, leather wrapped steering wheel and carpeted floor mats.

Gas Stats:
18 City / 23 Highway MPG.

Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $29,500.

For the dealer nearest you call 1 800 331 4331.

1998 Audi A-6 (176)


This week’s Audi A-6 is a triumph over much of the past product put out by the company. Like the BMW, Audi’s were just too expensive to maintain. Brother John’s experience from running a foreign car repair service business for many years was my barometer for the cars to stay away from. Right there with BMW and Jaguar was the Audi. High maintenance cars were good for John albeit not so good for the owners. John was honest, to a fault, and I’m sure his long time customers miss him, even though they probably have dumped their old Audi’s by now. John used to remind me that he didn’t build ‘em, but only fixed ‘em. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Funny though how the mechanic often times takes the heat for poorly designed and manufactured cars.

Audi also got some bad press along the way. Many think they were unfairly maligned in the media for braking problems some years ago. I don’t know how true those reports were, but my race-driving partner, Price Cobb, did some personal testing back then and here’s what he has to say. “60 Minutes did an expose on the Audi saying that these cars had a run-away problem and that somehow the car went berserk and gave itself tons of power and made the brakes inoperative at the same time. So I took a new car off the showroom floor onto the highway and accelerated up to the speed limit, THEN I floored the gas pedal AND applied the brake and still brought the car to a halt! In all the hoopla, the saddest of all was that ‘60 Minutes’ almost cost the Audi Company their business with no apologies to AUDI for what were considered botched tests.”

Few companies can come back from that kind of bad press. And right or wrong, if folks don’t vote for a product with their dollars, it will surely die. Somehow Audi got its act together and survived an almost sure death. This new generation of their car is a whole ‘nuther story and a very impressive car that appears to have overcome its poor image. My brother-in-law, who used to own Porsche and Audi dealerships said, “when I was in that business you couldn’t give either of them away”. Today, Mark drives a Porsche and after driving this A-6 he told me how impressed he was. Ok Mark; see we do agree on more than one thing.

Business, of course, is a numbers game and one need only look at Audi sales figures to get a picture of how people changed their minds about Audi over the years. Audi began selling cars in America in 1969 with unit sales of 7,691 and they grew steadily peaking out at annual sales of 74,061 units in 1985. From there sales plummeted to a low of 12,528 units in 1993. Sales are back up with annual unit sales of 27,379 in 1996.

My first impression of the A-6 muffled my initial bias that it would be a dog even though friends in the industry had been telling me what a great car it was. I was determined to keep an open mind, so I suppressed the vision of shit falling off as I drove. But I also had flashbacks to my experience on the autobahns of Germany. The fast lane was almost exclusively populated by Mercedes, BMW and Audi, in that order. Obviously the Germans think highly of this new generation Audi automobile.

Competition for the Audi A-6 includes the Acura TL, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac Catera, Infiniti I30, Lexus GS 300/400, Mazda Millenia, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Saab 9000, Volvo S70.

Personally I don’t like the red instrumentation, and prefer the softer colors like white or green that are easier on the eyes, but overall I have to give this A-6 a high recommendation for your test drive line-up.

Standard Equipment:

2.8 liter 200 horsepower V6 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes that are vented in the front and solid in the rear, alloy wheels, speed sensitive power steering, front and side air bags in front seat, anti-theft alarm with remote keyless entry, fog lights, dual power mirrors, climate control, power widows, tilt and telescopic steering column, wood trim and AM/FM stereo with cassette.

Gas Stats:
17 City / 28 Highway MPG.


Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $33,750 and the model I tested included a 6-disc CD changer upgraded audio package for $1,300, Cold weather package for $750, glass power / tilt and slide sunroof, memory outside mirrors and driver seat and auto dimming inside rearview mirror for $1,500 and leather upholstery for $1,550. After destination charges of $500 the total came to $39,350.

For the dealer nearest you call 1 800 822-2834.

1998 Mitsubishi Diamante ES (175)


This week’s Mitsubishi Diamante ES is a mid-size 5-passenger sedan that is obviously in the hunt and eagerly competing in this market. Mitsubishi has only been in the American market since 1982.

My first impressions were that it was nicely elegant. It reminded me of the Lexus LS400, even though the published competition from Lexus is the ES300. Diamante is spacious, comfortable and well appointed inside. It has lots of power with a 3.5 liter V6 and I really liked this car. It was a surprise as was the performance with 0-60 mph acceleration of 8.5 seconds, 1/4-mile performance is 16.5 seconds and it has a top speed of 137 mph.

A few interesting side notes are that more that half of the parts and the final assembly is Adelaide, Australia. Demographically, buyers are about equally split between men & women with median age of 51, 90% are married and 56% are HS grads and household income is about $64,000 per year.

Others competitors you may look at to compare the Diamante include the Acura TL ($30,700 – $33,150), Audi A4 ($23,790 – $30,040), Buick Park Avenue ($30,675 – $35,550), Cadillac Catera ($29,995), Infiniti I30 ($28,900 – $31,500), Lexus ES 300 ($30,790), Mazda Millenia ($28,995 – $36,595), Mercedes-Benz C-Class ($30,450 – $35,400), Saab 900 ($24,500 – $42,195), Toyota Avalon ($24,278 – $28,128) and the Volvo S70 ($26,985 – $34,010). I’ve driven all but a couple of the above and would agree that they are all very close in performance as well as pricing.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter V6 210 horsepower engine, 4-speed auto trans, power rack & pinion steering, 4-wheel power anti-locking disc brakes, stainless steel exhaust, climate control, cruise control, security system with keyless entry, power windows and door locks, 6-way adjustable driver seat, velour seats, AM/FM stereo cassette, height adjustable steering column, remote fuel and trunk release, dual air bags, power door mirrors, auto-off headlights and power antenna.

Gas Stats:

18 City / 24 Highway MPG.


Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $27,650 and the model I drove included a 10 disc CD autochanger for $797, the premium package that upgraded the wheels and tires, leather seats and wrapped steering wheel, wood trim, fog lights, power driver seat 2-position memory, tilt front headrests for $2700 and a power sunroof for $963. After destination charges of $470 the total was only $32,580.

For the dealer nearest you call 1 800 222 0037.

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 (174)


This week’s Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 is a car I’ve been wanting to test for a long time. Finally I get to drive it and it falls on my birthday. Boy did I feel my mortality when I noticed it is becoming a little harder to get in and out of small places. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not that old, but sports cars are more for the young…er guys and gals.

The sweep of the windshield brings the top closer to your head than I would like and the thought occurred to me that this is not for real big people. I have a keen sense of the obvious and you too will notice the tight feeling if you’re six feet or over. However, it was comfortable, when I got the seat adjusted, and once you’re in, the ride is wonderful.

This model is rated as a sub-compact and noted as a 2+2-seating car. In a pinch a medium sized person can sit in the back, but better for little people at best.

On the racetrack or for life in the fast lane the performance of this car is impressive. Don’t let the 3.0 liter V6 fool you. This car, on the track or on the streets will make driving fun and fast if that’s your thing. It is an all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering marvel of engineering. There are three GT’s to choose from and all are basically the same with the exception of the powertrain. Based on the same V6 engine, you can go from 161 horsepower for the base model, 218 horsepower for the SL model or the top of the line twin-turbocharged, all-wheel drive cranks out an impressive 320 horsepower in the VR-4 that I had the pleasure of testing.

The 3000GT was introduced in 1991 and today has very little competition with the departure of the Nissan 300ZX and the Mazda RX-7 from this market. I really liked the twin turbo Nissan 300ZX in particular and was sad they pulled it from the market. Oh well. The only real competition left is the Toyota Supra at $30,918 – $40,308, and the Turbo is the closest with specs that are almost identical. Two insignificant differences are the engine, which is an in-line 6-cylinder instead of the V6 and the sunroof is not available on the Supra. Other cars that are considered competition include the Acura NSX at $84,000 – $88,000 (not even close), the Chevrolet Camaro at $16,625 – $27,450, Pontiac Firebird at $18,015 – $29,715 and the Ford Mustang at $15,970 – $28,430, (not quite), Dodge Avenger at $14,930 – $17,310 and Honda Prelude at $23,200 – $25,700 (haven’t driven them).

An area where I have to nit-pick the 3000GT is with the rear spoiler. I don’t think people need the downward force on the rear wheels provided by the spoiler nearly as much as they need good visibility. That damn thing falls smack dab in the middle of the rear window, obstructing the rear view. But to end on a positive note, the good news is that at night the aggravating glare of headlights are blocked as well.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter twin turbo intercooled V6 engine, 6-speed manual trans, climate controlled air conditioning, power windows and door locks and sideview mirrors, cruise control and height adjustable leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, dual airbags, power 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, full-time all wheel drive, four wheel steering, stainless steel exhaust, security system with keyless entry, 7-way adjustable driver seat, leather seats, 50/50 split folding rear seat, AM/FM stereo cassette / CD / 8-speaker sound system, auto-off headlights, cargo cover, performance rated tires on 18″ chrome plated alloy wheels, rear wiper / washer, power antenna and power sunroof .

Gas Stats:

18 City / 24 Highway MPG.


Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $46,230 and the model I drove added a CD changer for $675 and after those dreaded destination charges of $470 the total comes to $47,375.

For the dealer nearest you call 1 800 222 0037.

1997 Volkswagen Passat GLS Sedan (169)


Two years ago I drove the VW Passat and was impressed. Today it’s even better, which goes to show you that we do learn from history, contrary to popular belief. I found this newer evolved Passat to be a wonderful mid-sized 5 passenger family car. It not only has nice European styling; it has the toughness of German built cars for the autobahn.

I didn’t drive a VW on the autobahn, but they are a definite presence there. I suspect that is why they come standard with a turbo-charger. As you may recall, the difference between a Super-charger and Turbo-charger is that the Super-charger is belt driven, which is better off the line since it give instant boost. The Turbo-charger is more efficient because it is “exhaust driven”, but as you can imagine it takes longer for the exhaust to build up Rpm’s in the turbine.

I have to admit, I’m a little biased toward the VW because I cut my teeth on the old one’s while in college. I also had a Volkswagen Carmen Ghia. Bought it new for about $2,500. Ok, you figure the year and I’ll pay for a years subscription to the Pasadena Weekly. Those were simpler days and the cars were simple too. Most features were mechanical and with the VW Bug air conditioning meant you opened the wind wings real wide. I was well served by the VW and those impressions are lasting. We never wanted for things in those days, and that is probably, in part due to the efficient VW’s that we drove. Today, they have matured and put on a new face…and a new window sticker. They have streamlined styling and lots of high tech stuff today because that’s what we demand.

The 60’s are long gone and this generation doesn’t get excited about seeing how many bodies you can stuff into a phone booth or a V-dub. Remember those days. Remember when phone booths looked like phone booths. Boy, times have changed and I have to smile when I think of Steve Reeves’ portrayal of Superman looking for a phone booth to change into his tights and cape.

Well, even though the original VW’s were short on features, the model I drove this week was a little too long on options. I could have lived without the moonroof and didn’t find a need for the Tiptronic transmission and leather trim. I felt I could really find another use for the $3,300 bucks you’d have to pay for those features. In any case, this car has enough standard stuff that is more important. For example, 4-wheel disc brakes and a well balanced engine for economy and the availability of turbo-charged power. It also has a solid feeling that you usually only get from more expensive cars. Volkswagen pays a lot of attention to detail. When you go to see this new Passat, take a look at how close and even the joints and seams are, and you’ll see what I mean.

Standard Equipment:

150 horsepower 1.8 liter 4-cylinder turbo-charged engine, (later in 1998 the Passat will introduce a 190 horsepower V6 TDI for Turbo Direct Injection engine), front wheel drive, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, power rack and pinion steering, front and side airbags, air conditioning, cruise control, power locks, power windows, power mirrors, adjustable steering wheel, AM/FM stereo with cassette, trip computer and anti-theft system.

Gas Stats:

21 City / 31 Highway MPG.


Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $ 20,750 and with the addition of a glass sunroof for $1,000 and a 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission for $1,075, partial leather interior for $950 and a CD changer for $280 the total came to $24,555.

Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS 2WD (163)


This week I was off to Dallas to test the Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS 2WD utility vehicle. It was a wonderful trip and in general this utility car is a strong competitor to all the others out there. But I have to digress a bit and tell you a little story. I did something I’ve never done before in my life.

I locked the keys in the car. But not to worry, I left them in the ignition. Better yet, I left the damn thing running. Surely they wouldn’t manufacturer a car that would let me do all that. Right…guess again. You can do that. Since this was a new experience for me, I got real nervous. What if it heats up, catches on fire, or some such disaster? Should I break the window now or wait for smoke? I checked my purse to see if I had another set of keys. Just kidding…. Press cars only come with one set of keys. If they can put a man on the moon you’d think they could find a way to keep dummies like me from doing this. How could they allow the door to be locked with the keys in the ignition, engine running and me not be in the car?

Also, why do they make these cars so damn quiet? I didn’t even find out it was still running until the guy came with the “Slim-Jim” break in tools. You can imagine how relieved I felt when I learned the parking facility had the tools, but there’s good news and bad news. It was good they had the tools, but it was bad when they couldn’t get past some new stuff Mitsubishi put in the doors to prevent such break-ins. The guy quit trying after a half hour and called a professional criminal. You know, the guys the car companies are protecting us against. You guessed it; the new gadgets slowed the criminal down for about 30 seconds. Just kidding about the criminal. It was actually an Auto Club guy that came out after about an hour (stuck in traffic) and when I turned the engine off it had been more than an hour. No smoke, no fire and no sweat–I had left the air conditioning on too. In fact the engine temperature gauge didn’t move at all…but you know the gas gauge did.

Well, after that little fiasco I was madder at me than at Mitsubishi. I hope the Congress doesn’t read this. They might want to pass another law. No locking your keys in the car, or manufacturers must prevent dummies like me from doing that.

The Montero Sport is a smaller version of the original Montero and is offered in four models; the ES 2WD 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine, the LS 2WD, the LS 4WD and the XLS 4WD which are powered by the 3.0 liter V6 engine. It is a five-passenger utility that competes with the Nissan Pathfinder (that I liked a lot), the Toyota 4Runner, Honda Passport (I haven’t driven it), Isuzu Rodeo, Chevrolet Blazer (one of my favorites) and the Jeep Cherokee (the granddaddy of them all). I got a good feeling from this sport utility and recommend you keep it in your line-up if you’re looking for one of these very versatile vehicles.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 Liter 24 Valve V6 engine, 4-speed automatic trans, power steering, front disc and rear drum brakes, dual air bags, child protected rear door locks, AM/FM stereo cassette with 6 speakers, 60/40 split fold rear seat, full cabin carpeting, adj. steering column, dual vanity mirrors, 2-12 V outlets, overhead console and 5,000 lb. tow capacity.

Gas Stats:

19 City/ 22 Highway


Manufacturers suggested retail price is $21,820. The model I tested included the following options: Anti-lock braking system for $610; premium package including 15 inch alloy wheels, chrome grille, fender flares and side steps, leather wrapped steering wheel, upgraded audio system, and power sunroof for $3,070; power windows, door locks, mirrors and cruise control for $829; 10-disc CD changer for $675; air conditioning, floor mats and cargo net and wheel locks for $1,087 that brought the total to $28,536.

For the dealer nearest you, call 800/222-0037. u

Joe Mavilia is a syndicated columnist with more than 30 years in the automotive industry. He is a member of the Motor Press Guild, Automotive Press Association and Colorado Press Association.

1997 Acura 2.2CL 2-Door Premium (91)


Yes, this weeks car is a 1997 and it’s not a typo. The Acura 2.2 CL is a bit more up-scale from the cheap football jerseys cars reviewed over the last couple of weeks, (Hyundai and Saturn in the $14,000 range) at $23,000 plus. If this is in your price range this, new to the market car, is worth test driving.

I think in many ways buying a car is like choosing a mate…very personal, but if you make a bad choice, you can sell the car. And since first impressions are lasting (in both cases), I can say this car reminds me a lot of a previous love, the Toyota Camry. This Acura is definitely a nice automobile and one you can fall in “like” with. When I fall in “love” it takes something faster and with more curve handling, like the Ferrari or Porsche, et al. More sexy, know what I mean. Anyway, after two compacts, this sub-compact provided a little more luxury, but I’m still wondering if there is $10,000 more in features, and ego puffing to justify the added cost.

Standard Equipment:

Well, everything is standard, so Kudos to Honda. And they’ve included lots of stuff, beginning with their 2.2 liter single overhead cam 16 valve 4 cylinder engine, programmed fuel injection, a 5-speed manual transmission, load sensing power assisted rack and pinion steering, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes and double wishbone suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, dual air bags, keyless entry & theft deterrent system, leather appointed seats, door panels and steering wheel with tilt column, center console, wood pattern dash and door trim, dual lighted vanities, trunk pass-through with lock, remote trunk & fuel lid releases, power windows & door locks, climate control, cruise control, 6 speaker AM/FM stereo with in-dash CD player, power moonroof, 6 way power seats with adjustable lumbar support, heat rejecting glass and power door mirrors. You probably have as keen a sense of the obvious as I do, and with all the foregoing, it ain’t hard to understand the cost difference between basic and luxury Melker Karlsson cheap jersey appointed cars. Toys cost money.

Gas Stats:

EPA numbers aren’t too bad at 25 City and 31 Highway MPG.


Standard Vehicle Price (MSRP) is $23,160 for everything. What you see is what you get. What a concept…. I love it…. Listen up Detroit.

For you old dude’s out there, students of history and trivia buffs, this concept isn’t new. Four score and 7 years ago, the Andreas Athanasiou elite jersey real father of our nation’s automobile revolution, Henry Ford, brought forth on this continent a new car, conceived in his mind and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created to own a car. So when the common man bought a Ford Model ‘T’, he could have it in any color and style he wanted, as long as it was black and exactly like all others that came off the production line. They were truly clones. That was 1909 and the cost was about $850. By 1927, the last year it was in production, the cost had come down to about $300, and 15 million had been sold. That accounted for fully half of every car on the road in 1927…in the world. Way to go, Hank.

Developments in Design
Contributed by: Merkel Weiss

CARS-R-US, Maybe

The new car marketing seahawk jerseys cheap business is like a graduate study course in psychology. We (the buyers) are divided up into personality stereotypes, and each large segment gets addressed with some kind of vehicle that is targeted to be relevant to the stereotype lifestyle. Does this sound a little like “we are what we drive”? Perhaps it is the other way around. Our vehicle is a reflection of the way we want people to see us. For example: Rough and tumble bad boy – try a Dodge pickup; Sporty and young – a Toyota RAV4 or maybe a Miata; Family with values – Mercury Sable or Buick Regal; Outdoorsy – definitely a Ford Explorer or Chevy Blazer; Young executive – Lexus LS300 or Mercedes E-Class.

Many new cars seek to redefine small niches within larger ones and have great success in doing so. For example BMW has driven a wedge into the center of the lucrative sedan market, the very same marketplace that was the bread and butter for GM and Ford. In fact, it’s a market segment that never really had much in the way of European competition in the past. In doing so, BMW has created a highly successful line of sport sedans bearing the image of “the ultimate driving machine”. Marketing genius.

These new market niche strategies are not always successful however. Witness Mazda who, only several years ago, announced they would concentrate their product line on narrow niche markets. They also make a fine lineup of sport sedans. Perhaps you have already read that due to poor sales, Mazda is now owned 33% and essentially controlled by Ford, and that the RX7 is scheduled to go out of production shortly. Marketing tragedy…the bewildering truth seems to be that the strategy of the marketing team can often be more important than Sergio Rodriguez elite jersey the car itself!

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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