- Aug 5, 2014
Autoblog readers come clean with their own controversial automotive beliefs
You Shared Your Unpopular Opinions And We Respond
The comments were so good, in fact, that we have gathered a bunch of the most interesting ones and are sharing them here (occasionally corrected for grammar, style, etc.), giving their authors their just reward for taking the time and effort to write out their thoughts. Scroll below to see some more unpopular opinions as well as our reaction to your thoughts. Perhaps you'll find you aren't so alone in thinking the Chrysler PT Cruiser wasn't all bad, or that the Nissan GT-R is overrated. Perhaps.
Chrysler PT Cruiser Love Admitted
I like the way first-gen PT Cruisers look. I wish they were built better and didn't have a stupid name.
Despite its popularity when new, the PT Cruiser has emerged as one of recent history's most universally loathed cars, often mentioned in the same breath as the Pontiac Aztek and Hummer H2. The greatest focus of people's ire is generally on the car's aesthetics, which was a combination of retro design, compact size and, far too often, aftermarket fake wood or flame decals.
P.Z. Dawkins, it's a bold move coming out and professing your love for Chrysler's throwback econobox like that – we appreciate your chutzpah. The Autoblog staff is famously split on how it feels about the PT – some deride its looks and the way it drives, while others find merit in its space efficiency, low price and very different looks.
Here's a fun fact: The PT Cruiser was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best New Cars list in 2001.
Rear-Wheel Drive Is Overhyped
RWD isn't all that. It has its place, but the larger the car (trucks are a different story), the less it matters, and that pretty much leaves out full-size luxury sedans and probably most mid-size one as well. These vehicles by definition are designed to be comfortable for both driver and passenger and (action movies notwithstanding) are simply are not called upon or particularly adept at being driven in a manner where the advantages of rear-wheel drive come to play.
Indeed, technology advances have made front-wheel-drive, fullsize cars less of an understeering, nose-heavy mess than they used to be – the advent of things like traction control, torque vectoring and downsized, lighter engines have upped their handling quotients tremendously. In that, you've got a point, Jonathan.
But for our money, there's still something to be said for rear-wheel drive. That's true even when you aren't driving a car very hard, with benefits that include better steering feel, reduced torque steer, superior weight distribution and the improved turning circle generally offered by a north-south engine orientation (the latter being particularly important in a full-size car). It's also a heck of a lot easier to get gobs of horsepower to the ground, not to mention more fun.
The Bugatti Veyron Is Among The World's Ugliest Cars
One of mine that always gets flamed is when I mention the Veyron being just about the ugliest car for sale. Technology will only get you so far. Maybe it looks better at 2am after a few dozen beers and it's time to pair up?
This is certainly controversial in the sense that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We're pretty sure we wouldn't call the Bugatti the ugliest car on the market, but we're not sure how many of us would call it pretty, either, and it's rather dated at this point. A hybrid successor to the Veyron is rumored to be in the works, but it's far too early to say if looks are going to be a dramatic departure from what we're used to seeing.
Let's be real here, though. If it's 2:00 AM and you're rolling up in this car, neither a dozen beers nor the car's looks are going to be necessary to help you find a companion for the evening. All you need is that badge, baby.
I Heart Continuously Variable Transmissions
There's been something I need to say and I know I'm going to get downvoted for this. Oh well, I'm just going to say it. I own a 2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i with a CVT and I like the CVT in it. I actually like the way a CVT drives and I love how fuel-efficient my Outback is. Now, I own a 1970 Datsun 240Z to keep me sane with manuals. But for me, I like the CVT in my Subaru.
Don't worry MN_Mavrik. There are at least a few of us on staff that don't hate the best modern CVTs. No, they're clearly not as engaging as a traditional slushbox – let alone a manual – but man, it's hard to argue with their real-world fuel efficiency.
Subaru is one automaker that seems to have nailed the CVT. We thought they were losing their minds over there when we heard one was going in the WRX, but, upon driving it, we were pleasantly surprised at how much of an improvement it is over the old four-speed automatic. Still, though, our choice is the manual.
I Hate Godzilla
I hate the R35 GT-R. I will admit the car is an absolute monster, but it just doesn't do it for me. I've been a fan of the Skyline GT-R since they debuted, but the R35 was a turnoff. The car is God awful ugly and it is more a computer than anything else. I prefer a more pure drivers car without the computers to save your butt when you screw up. The car makes a novice driver look great and that bothers me. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I like the days where you had to have skill to drive a car fast and near its limits, the kind of car that you need balls the size of grapefruit to push hard (i.e. older Vipers).
Godzilla haters tend to be few and far between, so we applaud you for your bravery in coming clean with your belief, Turbo_S60. We see your point: you need that lingering fear of death while behind the wheel to get a true sports car experience.
It's quite clear that the current GT-R's styling isn't for everyone, nor is the way it realizes its spectacular performance. It's true that it's an easier car to drive quickly than nearly everything else on the market thanks to its prodigious computing power, so we can see why its ability to flatter greenhorns bothers you. Even so, most of the Autoblog staff finds the GT-R's unique brand of performance thrilling just the same.
Cars Are Too Cheap To Buy And Run
Here's my controversial automotive belief: cars are too cheap to purchase, own and operate. There are too many cars on the road as a result. Cars should be subject to expensive, rigorous, yearly inspections before they can be licensed. I'm sick of following an Expedition with a collapsed driver-side rear suspension in the fast lane. The cost of the inspection must go to maintaining surface streets. Driver's tests should be rigorous and, let's say, biennial. The elderly will have to arrange other transportation. That's it.
Wow, trill.trill, you've given us a lot of ground to cover on this one. Kudos for your honesty in bringing up what are some very polarizing viewpoints. Though there are a lot of issues brought up in this statement, the general point you seem to be making is that we've become a culture that treats driving and car ownership as a right, not as a responsibility and privilege. We certainly are on board with that. We're also in favor of more rigorous driver training and stricter licensure standards.
Diehard Car Nut Who Can't Wait For Autonomous Vehicles
I'm a huge car fan. I love manual transmissions, manual steering and I love watching F1, LeMans and Tudor United. I drive a Lotus Exige that I often track, as well as a Mercedes wagon. But I CANNOT WAIT for FULLY AUTONOMOUS CARS. That's my dark secret. I hate traffic and, living in congested area, I think most drivers stink and cause the traffic. Humans driving cars will be like the horse – used on the weekends and driven on track. I've come clean.
This is a really interesting comment, Shahul_X. We, too, love driving almost more than life itself, but if autonomous cars deliver on the safety and efficiency their designers are promising, it's going to be difficult argue against their usage. It's a true auto enthusiast conundrum that we may have to come to terms with sooner than later. Can we really debate saving 30,000 lives per year because not going the self-driving route is more fun?
Our real fear is that eventually, as they become more and more common, it will become increasingly hard to find places where it's legal to drive non-autonomous cars. There's probably a screenplay for an underground racing movie set in a Dystopian future in there somewhere, but it's not a world we're eager to live in.
Toyota's Corolla S Is 'The Best-Looking Small Car'
The new Corolla S is probably the best-looking small car on the market. No, I won't ever test drive one and the fender gap is ridiculous, but so many automakers are trying to be overly swoopy and the Corolla strikes a balance between hard lines and gentle curves. It is conservative in a good way. People tout up the Mazda3 for its design for good reason, but its concept car aspirations can't be applied to a vehicle with short profit margins and shouldn't need to. Being conservative doesn't equate to boring, and just because something has a Toyota badge doesn't mean it is instantly a stupid and ugly car - in fact they make a few decent-looking vehicles.
A certain Autoblogger by the name of Steven J. Ewing would take exception to your view of the Corolla. Toyota gets a lot of hate for its designs – the brand certainly has more than its share of vanilla offerings – but it's easy to point to sales numbers in order to trump almost all criticism. Of course having a Toyota badge doesn't mean a car is stupid or ugly – more often than not, it's exactly the opposite. That said, we're going to have to agree to disagree on the whole Corolla S as "best-looking small car thing," okay?
Using Turbos To Improve MPG Is Stupid
Using turbochargers to improve fuel economy is stupid. They're very expensive and only improve economy when they're off boost. Variable valve timing works in a similar way, coming with better fuel economy and less power when you don't need it, but variable cams don't cost $2,000+. Also, as Ford is finding out, few people drive efficiently enough to actually keep those turbos off boost, which leads to far worse fuel economy.
Considering the dramatic improvements that companies like Mazda have made in fuel efficiency without using turbochargers, there are certainly other ways to realize improvements in the almighty mpg, Bandit5317. A controversial statement nonetheless, however, considering the big bets placed on them from automakers worldwide.
Our take? We've had real trouble getting advertised fuel economy ratings from many of these new-generation downsized turbo gasoline engines – there seems to be something in the EPA test cycle that favors them. Still, we've driven small turbos that do get their promised figures, and it's hard to argue with their impressive torque curves for improving performance metrics other than fuel economy.
Some Additional Controversial Opinions From Readers Of Few Words:
The answer is not always Miata.
I like the last-gen Pontiac GTO.
The Lexus spindle grille has grown on me...
Dan Roth segues are the best in the industry. Brilliant actually.
If I'm not racing it, I don't want to have to bother shifting it.
I like riding my bike to work as much as I like driving my Miata on the weekends.
I kind of like the Fiat 500L's looks, especially in Trekking form.