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BoldRide fully understands that there are enthusiasts, and people who look at their cars like they do any other household appliance. In recent years, many manufacturers have gone over and above to make cars that were once excruciatingly dull a lot more interesting. Yet, there are still a handful that you’ll have to stifle a yawn to look at in the driveway.
Jeep has made incredible strides in the last couple of years. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the finest SUVs at any price, and the upcoming Cherokee (despite the furor over its looks) is going to shake up the compact SUV market.
The Patriot, on the other hand, is an achingly boring vehicle. It’s boring to drive, boring to sit in, and boring to look at, with relatively few redeeming qualities other than its bargain-basement price tag.
I was shocked to learn that Lincoln still sells the Navigator. Its current platform is based on the F-series trucks, and it dates back to 2007. Full-size luxury SUVs obviously took a haymaker to the breadbasket during the economic downturn, and not a whole lot has been invested in any of the vehicles that make up this class, but the Navigator feels crusty and tired at this point.
Lincoln is on the verge of either being great or folding up, based on what it does in the next three to five years. The MKZ is a great start. Hiring Mark LaNeve doubles down on that future. If Lincoln would sunset the Navigator and start coming up with names, rather than confusing letter combinations, it would point the way toward a brighter future.
Tie: Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa
The Yaris and Versa both had a brief moment in the sun when fuel prices were high and the economy was in the dumper. Now, the economy seems to be slowly recovering and we’ve gotten a bit more used to paying $3.55 at the pump, and penalizing yourself with driving a Yaris or a Versa seems like something only a masochist would do.
It’s not really fair to pick on the cheapest car in any manufacturer’s lineup (or the cheapest car in America), but surprisingly, Toyota has gone a long way toward making the cars that used to by synonymous with “boring” (Camry, Corolla) a whole lot nicer to drive. One step up to the Nissan Sentra nets a much nicer vehicle from Nissan, too. With great cars like the Ford Fiesta and the Hyundai Elantra on the market, there’s no excuse to drive a boring car, even if it is cheap.
When Audi introduced the Allroad in 1999, it was a quasi-off-road, yet still performance-oriented version of the A6 with a whole lot of suspension technology and a low-range that allowed it to actually perform fairly well in the muck. Now it’s a plastic-cladded, big-tired replacement for the A4 Avant. Ugh. Why do we continuously fall for this nonsense?
Thanks to the fact that it has a whole lot more ground clearance than the A4 Avant, it has a lot more body roll than the sporty wagon ever did. While it has that typical German attention to detail inside, save yourself $17,500 and buy an Outback.
Subaru XV Crosstrek
While we’re on the topic of Subarus, let’s talk about the XV Crosstrek. It replaces the Impreza hatchback, which at the time of its introduction in 2007 felt like a well-designed, more reliable take on the Volkswagen Golf with the all-wheel drive system essentially thrown in for free.
The XV Crosstrek is way higher off the ground and attempts to capture the glory once held by the Outback as a pseudo-off-roader, but misses the mark with weird, almost Aztek-ish styling, a 148hp engine lashed to a flaccid CVT, and one of the worst audio interfaces in the business when you opt for the navigation system.
What it does have going for it is some fairly surprising off-road ability, so if you live in Vermont during Mud Season, the XV Crosstrek might actually make some sense.