Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby Swerve » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:19 am

I have an idea that may either lead to a realisation that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Or it may make you hate your lot in life - hard to know for sure at this stage...
Anywho, rate your current car/s against on a scale of 1 to 10 using the following criteria. Then rate the best/favourite car you have ever driven according to the same metrics. You may be surprised (or, as disclaimered above, saddened) by the outcome.

1. Exterior (what do you love about the car and how close does it come to a perfect 10?)
2. Interior (aesthetics, ergonomics, quality of materials)
3. Engine (torquey, revving etc.)
4. Gearbox (ease of use, tactility, speed, intuitive etc.)
5. Handling (on/off-road, confidence inspiring, steering feel etc.)
5. Practicalities (fuel efficient, seating/luggage capacity)
6. Value (vs. comparable cars, the wider market etc.)

As ratings would be both circumstantial and subjective, I think it will be interesting to see AFers ratings for particular cars. And also whether their experience with the "best" cars they've driven actually result in higher overall scores for those cars than the ones owned, given the criteria.
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Re: Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby JaysonAych » Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:13 am

Swerve wrote:I have an idea that may either lead to a realisation that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Or it may make you hate your lot in life - hard to know for sure at this stage...
Anywho, rate your current car/s against on a scale of 1 to 10 using the following criteria. Then rate the best/favourite car you have ever driven according to the same metrics. You may be surprised (or, as disclaimered above, saddened) by the outcome.

1. Exterior (what do you love about the car and how close does it come to a perfect 10?)
2. Interior (aesthetics, ergonomics, quality of materials)
3. Engine (torquey, revving etc.)
4. Gearbox (ease of use, tactility, speed, intuitive etc.)
5. Handling (on/off-road, confidence inspiring, steering feel etc.)
5. Practicalities (fuel efficient, seating/luggage capacity)
6. Value (vs. comparable cars, the wider market etc.)

As ratings would be both circumstantial and subjective, I think it will be interesting to see AFers ratings for particular cars. And also whether their experience with the "best" cars they've driven actually result in higher overall scores for those cars than the ones owned, given the criteria.


Love this post. This is tricky for me because while I've driven a lot of cars, I not really driven many cars specifically geared for driving excitement or engagement. Most of them were grocery-getters, with a few exceptions. Whittling the list down took me a while.

First I'll get to my current car, the 2013 Ford Focus hatchback:

1. Exterior : 7 - I like the styling quite a bit, better than the facelift that just came out. It's about the best-looking compact economy car on the American market, save the Mazda3. It's got a good stance (mine seems to be a bit lower than other Foci that I've seen, even STs), the styling is sharp and has good crisp lines where it needs them without too much gaudy frippery that some cars get to dress them up to look more upscale. While I'd rather a "hatchback" be more of a fastback or even a hidden-hatch style, I think it looks better than the full-on wagon in the Euro market. The wheels are pretty nice, the metallic paint job really shines in the sun, but there are some hints of cheapness. The plastic in the grille is dull, the roof drains look and feel quite cheap, and my particular example, there are some small paint defects on the front bumper that didn't manifest themselves until 1,000 miles after the paint warranty ran out.
2. Interior : 6 - The dash is well-styled and buttons and switches are easy to get to, and the switchgear mostly feels good, except for the circular selector buttons on the wheel; I can't easily control them with my thumbs due to how they angle in toward the instrument panel. The steering wheel is a perfect size and feels great in my hands, and there's lots of good materials on the dash, on the wheel, on the shifter, and on the console. However, as expected on a car in this price range, cost-cutting is evident. The door panels are a hard plastic and the door pulls have a bit of twist in them, as if the grade of plastic on them isn't quite up to the task. The front doors have a nice patch of fabric on them to help them out, but the rear doors have no fabric and are about as cheap as you can get. Supposedly-metallic-looking plastic trim is not at all convincing, but fortunately sparse. I'm currently awaiting a new 12v power adapter (under warranty) due to the fact that it twisted in its housing and broke. The seats are among the best of I've ever sat in with good support all throughout and good bolstering, though I'd like just a touch more lumbar. However, the center stack protrudes into the footwell too much and my knee rests awkwardly on its hard plastic surface at times; that could have been designed better.
3. Engine : 6 - For this class of car, the engine is strong and the powerband is useful throughout. The car accelerates well and I've never had problems getting up to speed or passing anyone, and it moves about as well as the V6 I had in the Stratus. However, with just 140 lb-ft of torque, it could use more grunt when I really peg it, though having the manual helps it hustle. It can idle rough, both sounding and feeling sick, which is a fact of life with a lot of 4-bangers, but I've seen 4-cylinder motors with better refinement. It can get thrashy at higher RPMs.
4. Gearbox : 7 -- Shifting is great. The throws are short, and gears just snick right into place when I'm feeling spirited. The clutch movement could be smoother, but I'm not sure how much of that is the clutch or the driver. I can move briskly through the gears and keep the revs under 2,000 without any problems. The car desperately needs a 6th gear, though. On rural freeways, it pushes 3,000 RPM at 70 MPH, which makes for loud and inefficient motoring on the open road.
5. Practicalities: 7 -- Being a small car, it's a bit tight, but still pretty good for front seat passengers. The rear seats are acceptable for this class of car, but I'm glad I don't have to ride back there. 2 adults can ride in adequate comfort back there, but if someone tall is in the passenger seat, the footwell is going to be cramped. The cargo area is a bit snug due to the rake of the rear seatbacks, but the seats fold down nearly flat and give a lot of extra space. However, the headrests have to be removed and it's a bit of a pain to get them out, and the tonneau cover is hard to remove if you don't fold the seats down first. But you can haul a lot of stuff with the seats folded down, the cover removed, and the front passenger seat folded up. Fuel economy is good (I generally get 26 MPG in town, about 35 on the highway, overall average around 28.2, which is good considering my lead foot), but due to the aforementioned lack of a 6th gear, fuel economy starts dropping precipitously over 65 MPH. The SYNC system options menus are not very intuitive, but general day-to-day usage of the stereo controls and phone controls are excellent. It can get irritating though when it decides to not immediately recognize my USB stick when I start up the car and I've had to pull the fuse for the SYNC system once to clear things out when it started getting really bad at not picking up the USB, but I can't imagine having another car without voice-activated stereo and phone controls. The LCD screens however offer good trip computing and mileage information, as well as a full array of system alerts for the car. Handling overall on the car is great; it's really fun to drive and dig into corners. It didn't sacrifice any ride quality to make it fun, which is a pretty noteworthy achievement. It ridess smooth and handles bumps quite well.
6. Value: 8 -- Considering the combination of price, power, comfort and convenience, styling, handling, and utility, the car is hard to beat in its segment. Nearly all of its competition got out of the wagon and hatch market, and much of the economy sedan market has other shortcomings that I think the Focus overcomes. IMHO, only the Mazda3 truly competes, and while the 3 seems to be a better overall car, it's also a bit pricier, though you do get what you pay for. The Focus is a fine choice, however. Going smaller (e.g. Fiesta, Fit, Yaris) you might find something comparable, but once you option those cars up, they may or may not offer the same utility and power that you'd get out of the Focus, but that's going to depend on what features are most important. The Focus, I think, really hits a sweet spot when everything is considered.

So now to the car I thought was "the best." I had a time whittling this down...

3rd - Dad's '73 Oldsmobile Cutlass
2nd - My last car, '02 the Dodge Stratus

Overall, I picked Mom's old '86 Chrysler Laser as the top choice, but all three of them are very different cars, but the Laser is the one I remember the most fondly, and one I wish I could have back. And I also consider my Focus to be very close to the Laser in terms of the type of vehicle, overall fun, and general purpose, so I think comparing the two is a neat exercise.

1. Exterior : 8 -- As we go through this, keep in mind this is a 30-year old design now, and plenty has changed in the car market during that time. However, the 80's fastback hatch coupe shape is one that I still love, and I thought the Laser was a fine example. It was well-proportioned, sleek, and looked fast standing still. It sat on attractive 8-spoke wheels and the deck spoiler looked better than the integrated spoiler than its Daytona twin sported. Like the Focus, it was black, though the Laser also featured a nice red pin-stripe going through the door trim, and it looked great with the T-tops. Its angular shape was definitely a product of the times, but it was crisply styled.
2. Interior : 6 -- It featured the latest in 80's electronic gadgetry, including a complex trip computer and digital gauges. The dash and center console featured a lot of cheap plastic, but the door panels were well-appointed and featured generous amounts of cloth detailing. The seats probably wouldn't have been as comfortable for larger adults, but for me, they were great; well-supported and well-bolstered, and with air bladders to adjust firmness. The interior was lively but still restrained; the cloth on the seats and doors was white with grey seatbacks and carpeting, and the dash was black and grey. The dashboard was impressive when all lit up, it was still largely a bunch of squares and rectangles on square and rectangular panels, emphasizing how function trumped form in a lot of areas for cash-strapped Chrysler. You could do worse, for sure, but it wasn't going to win any styling awards. Visibility was very good all around, and it was fun having the sunlight come in from above, though it got hot on summer days.
3. Engine : 6 -- It featured the 2.2 Turbo 1, and it didn't have as much weight to hustle around as a comparable car of today would, so it was good fit for this car. It took some time for the turbo to spool up, but once it did, it could haul pretty well. I think the manual Focus, however, can out-hustle it to 60.
4. Gearbox: 6 -- Mom's Laser had a slushbox, and at the time, I'd not yet been introduced to manual transmissions. I don't recall anything bad about the way it shifted but it was short on gears compared to a modern car. It sometimes hunted for the right gear in lower speeds, but it didn't seem to be any worse than anything else of the era.
5. Practicalities: 6 -- It was more truthful than the Focus for its rear-seat capabilities; there were only two seats back there, period, and adults riding in the back did not have a fun time. Front seat passengers had good amounts of shoulder room and decent head room (though taller occupants might have had a hard time). Taking out the T-tops made fun drives all the better, but it was a chore taking them out, stowing them in the back, then putting them back in. I don't recall them ever leaking, though, which is a plus. Despite the fastback profile, you could still haul quite a bit in the cargo area. I'm *pretty sure* the rear seats folded down, as I remember hauling lots of big things in that car. I don't remember fuel economy numbers, but I don't think it got as good as the Focus does, but it was still very economical for the day. Handling in this car was great. I drove fast through a lot of back roads in it and it was great to tear around in. The computers offered all kinds of quaint ways to compute trip information and fuel economy as well as the infamous voice alert system. It was a good party piece, but constantly hearing about how low your washer fluid is when your washer fluid bottle has a leak in it gets tiresome.
6. Value: 5 -- Do we compare this to other cars of the day? If so, this car was not much of a standout. The market for this type of car was far bigger, and included a vast array of econo-box minded hatchbacks, as well as sporty offerings. These things were pricey when they first came out. If I'm right, I think with options it stickered for around $14,000 USD when new, closer to $30,000 in today's dollars. The pony cars that it strove to compete with offered rear-wheel-drive and V-8s and the Laser/Daytona was never much of a threat to them, but the Laser also offered an alternative for buyers looking for a daily driver car that was stylish, reasonably-quick, and useful, so it had appeal to a broad range of buyers. In a sea of Omnis, Citations, and Escorts, it might have been worth it to someone who wasn't afraid to throw down some extra coin to stand out and drive something fun that could be used every day, but had limited appeal to those who were more performance-minded and were cross-shopping Firebirds, Mustangs, or even 200SX's. So I think in the era, it would have some value but there were lots of other alternatives. If this car was on sale today for 30 grand, even with modern safety equipment and engineering, it would have no takers.

So what have we (or rather, I) learned? With the exception of exterior styling, the car that I have right now is better in nearly all measurable ways to the car I wish I could have back the most. If Ford would get around to offering a Focus coupe with T-tops and slant that hatch back a little more, I'd want for nothing else. :D
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Re: Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby Talon » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:57 pm

This is kind of tough because, even though I’ve driven a fair amount of cars, nothing really in the same class as the Evo… at least extensively.

1) Exterior: 8.5. I’ve always loved the jagged-edged look of the Evo. Being a child of the 80s and crediting the 88 Countach as the car that got me into cars, I think you can see why. I think it’s very aggressive, and I like the FMIC from the factory. The big, red Brembos and BBS wheels don’t hurt either. The exposed carbon fiber on the rear wing is also really cool. To top it all off, the Electric Pearl Blue is the best color ever and the fact this car is that color makes it even more stunning. I think I’ve only ever seen one other EPB Evo 8/9 ever. In 03 & 04, the blue was different called Blue By You. It was lighter and more of a matte. The EPB is darker with the flakes and everything. Love it.

I don’t really like the ass end view of the car. I think it’s pretty plane-Jane. I also hate the white-out tail lights. Wish it came with just regular red lights, but not worth the $$$ to replace them. I used to really dig the wing but as I get older I do wish it were smaller. I am liking the looks of the small ‘trunk-bump’ style more. But, again, the wing does serve a purpose and I am not going to pay to get rid of it. And, again, the exposed carbon fiber center and sides (internally) is cool.

I wouldn't be surprised if 99.9% of the people out there driving, have no idea what an Evo is when they see me on the streets.

2) Interior: 4. Let’s face it, the $30k this car cost went into everything but the interior. The Recaro seats are amazing but that’s pretty much where it ends. Otherwise a very Spartan, utilitarian interior with no cruise control. Thankfully, I don’t give a fuck.

3) Engine: 9.5. The 4G63T needs no praise from me. I do wish it was a little torqueier down low than it is, but that’s the price you pay for having 2.0l and a decent size turbo. I am surprised the Evo X wasn’t a 2.3 or bigger since they redesigned an engine for that car. That being said, I am glad the 8s had the 4G63T. Acceleration in the Evo is also very violent. It goes from Jeckle to Hyde almost instantaneously… and I love it.

4) Gearbox: 9. Gave it a nine because it’s never done me wrong. I do wish it had another gear for freeway use… shorten up 5th a littler and make a taller 6th.

5) Handling: 10. Can’t say enough about this car’s handling. The steering is pin-point and the car just goes where you point it. It’s very confident building. It doesn’t plow like most Subarus and even if you come into a corner way too hot, give it some gas and it’ll pull you right where you want to go. Even when the tail comes loose, a quick counter steer and she’s straight again; you don’t even need to let off the throttle.

One of the biggest impressions this car left on me is when I went to an AutoX and it began to rain. I put the ACD in Gravel (Rain) setting, and was able to drive in the wet just as aggressively as the dry. Other drivers were working like mad to get good laps, whereas the Evo would just go. And that’s the thing about this car: the harder you push it the better it responds. It’s easy to see why Clarkson was able to out-handle a Murcielago in an Evo.

6) Practicality: 9. Even with all the sportiness of the car, it’s also extremely practical. It has four doors, AWD, four cylinder (low 20s mpg, but it could do better) and a decent size trunk. There is plenty of leg room for rear passengers and a baby seat fits in the back much better than my Subaru. My only issue is that the rear seats don’t fold down (but they don’t fold down on my Impreza either).

7) Value: 9.5. You seriously can’t beat this car for price, performance, and practically. Sure, there are cars faster, cheaper, and bigger, but not in the same car. I challenge you to name one, sold in North America, than can do it all better than the Evo (and don’t say WRX, basically the same thing as far as this criteria is concerned).

8) In conclusion, you have to want to drive an Evo to drive an Evo. It’s acceleration is violent, it’s loud, and it’s bumpy. All of these things can be viewed as a negative, which is why I think the STI is/was outselling the Evo: the STI is a more watered down counterpart, that’s got more gizmos inside, a smoother ride, and a smoother power curve. However, to me, all the aforementioned things about the Evo are what make it a real driver’s car.
Last edited by Talon on Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby Arthur Dent » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:06 pm

This is a bit hard for mine. I've driven and owned a lot of cars but most of them have been crap and usually at the end of their life span. My current car (Mazda 2) isn't an enthusiast car but our second family car / commuter. I'll evaluate it in that role

1. Exterior

Image

7.5/10

I love the green colour. Still the nicest of the metallic greens that have come out.

The rear angle is nice for a small hatchback. The front has too much front over hang however. This is mostly crash worthiness related.

2. Interior

7/10

Bare bones but I like it that way. Logical controls, attractive to look at. Materials are good for the class except for the driver's seat which is wearing faster than expected.


3. Engine

8/10

100hp isn't a lot. But engine is very willing. Super easy to work on. It isn't a super car but its a lovely motor for an economy car.

4. Gearbox

8/10

Gearbox is brilliant. One of the best ever for a fwd car. I prefer it over my mother's 6spd TSX. The clutch is merely ok. Suffers from lousy clutch cushioning system that makes it easier for amateurs to drive. Most modern clutches I've driven are similarly crappy to various degrees.

5. Handling

Image

8/10

Weight is similar to a first gen Miata but with fwd. With a little less body roll it would be hard to fault.

5. Practicalities

7/10

Cheap to run, excellent in city mileage. Highway mileage held back a little by aerodynamics (short) and gearing (also short - a little busy). A little too tight for our family of 5 but that is why the wife has her giant vehicle.

6. Value

8/10 cheap to buy, super cheap to run. Can do an oil change without jacking it up. Hard to fault it here. I've run cheaper used cars (my LeBaron for example).
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Re: Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby Swerve » Fri May 01, 2015 12:22 pm

Ever since you posted this, I've been noticing green Mazda 2s everywhere!
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Re: Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby Arthur Dent » Fri May 01, 2015 1:56 pm

Swerve wrote:Ever since you posted this, I've been noticing green Mazda 2s everywhere!


Shhh ... we are slowing taking over the world!
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Re: Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby thewalrus » Fri May 01, 2015 2:48 pm

VW TDI. I was going to do the MGB too - but I quickly realized I'd be giving in low grades in everything but exterior styling. Of course that's also not why you buy an MGB...

1. Exterior: 7/10

I like the styling of the Golf. It's got crisp lines, nicely styled headlights that don't look comically angry or cute. Good visibility out all windows. And generally is nicely proportioned. It also isn't stunning. It's a 5 door, you can only do so much with the styling. But I think VW has done it well. Not the nicest looking car I've driven, but certainly above average.

2. Interior: 9/10

I love VW interiors. Well laid out. Well constructed. Compared very favorably to the Audi I test drove a few years back. For obvious reasons. There isn't a lot to it, but it's high quality. Soft touch plastics. Good fit, good finish. Dash lighting is great - and that's important in Edmonton, where it's dark out for a good portion of the day, at least half the year. Honestly, I'd say it, along with the GTI were the nicest interiors of any car I've driven for significant time.

3. Engine: 8/10

This is a tough one. In some ways, the classics - the 289 in the Mustang I drove. The Flat 6 in the 911 I took around the block once. The twin cam in the Alfa Spider. Deserve more praise from an emotional / historical standpoint - even if they do less with more. And of course other engines - Miller's STi, my own GTI, and the I4 in the Miata were better engines from a performance stand point. From an auditory one, too. But I give a lot of credit to the TDI engine. It gets fantastic gas mileage. Touching 60 mpg on the highway, at speed. It provides a huge amount of torque. And it's a nice performer around town when you put your foot into it. The environmentalist in me wants to rate the TDI as a 9. Even a 10. The car enthusiast in me gives it a 6 or a 7. I'll average it to an 8. For it's purpose, as a daily driving, highway cruising, engine...the TDI is fantastic.

4. Gearbox: 6/10

It's not a manual. And no matter what people say, it doesn't impart the same feel. It does it's job. And it does it well. But compared to the gearboxes I had in the GTI, the Miata, even the Civic and CRZ, it comes up short. If I HAVE to have an automatic, I suppose this is as good as any. But it can't compete with the best ones I've driven.

5. Handling: 8/10

The Golf chassis and suspension is wonderful. Especially for what the car is - ie. it isn't sports car. Sporty, responsive. Composed in the snow and on the wet. Compared to the worst cars I've driven, the VW feels almost miraculous. Compared to the best handling cars I've driven - it still feels predictable, well sorted, and nicely balanced. If not quite as finely tuned as, say, the Miata, the GTI, or the Mini Cooper S.

6. Practicalities: 9.5/10

This car has a ton of room - my wife and I took it, along with two road bikes, a weekends worth of clothing and food, camera gear and camping stuff for weekends in the mountains. Took it all in. Now that we have a hitch for two bikes on the back, we can bring two other people along too. It's amazing how much stuff you can get in the car when you need to. And I think that's also what makes it such a nice all round car. The next most practical car that I've driven - would be the GTI. Followed by the wally-wagon. Sure, you can get something with more storage room - but it comes at the expense of maneuverability, fuel economy and performance. And I suppose if I was being honest, the most practical vehicles I've driven - things like the RAV 4 or Lexus RX would rank slightly higher - and push this car into the 8/10 territory. But they were also bigger, wallow-y , vehicles that lacked the agility of the VW Golfs. And I think that that agility around town counts for something in this section. The only car, I can think of, that ranked higher than this on the practicality scale would have been the Subaru Forester. And I only test drove that - so its tough to say how much better it would have been on a day to day basis.

7. Value: 7/10

You pay for the VW name plate - a little. And you certainly pay on servicing. For pure value, I think, Honda or Toyota are tough to beat. At the same time, you get an awful lot with this car. And I don't mind paying a bit of a premium if I like the intangibles that a car brings.
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Re: Rate Your Car vs. The Best/Favourite Car You've Driven

Postby ryguy79 » Fri May 01, 2015 9:49 pm

Not even going to bother. The FJ is in no way a fun car except that its a manual. It its easy to haul kayaks, bikes, music gear, camper, etc. And fun to wheel when I get the chance but that's like 1% of my driving.
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