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What is "wrong" with these new subcompacts?

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,876
    Of course, none of the AC on those foreign cars worked worth a damn, but that's another topic :P Basically you got some extra weight for traction, in the form of a noisy complex device that blew 75 degree air on you, if you were lucky. I was tempted to label my Saab AC vent "tropical breeze".

    having SAID that, the AC on my Scion is nothing to write home about but if you hit RECIRC and drive 90 mph for a while, it's pretty good.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    having SAID that, the AC on my Scion is nothing to write home about but if you hit RECIRC and drive 90 mph for a while, it's pretty good.

    The few times I've driven my uncle's '03 Corolla this year, I thought the ac was pretty weak, but I was thinking it was more the fan than the actual cooling ability. It seems like the highest fan setting got you about the same amount of airflow as putting the setting on the next-to-highest on the domestics I've had experience with. I've never had a chance to drive it in gruelling hot weather, though.

    Have air conditioners gotten to the point yet where they can cool as well as the old R12 units could? I do remember that when I got my 2000 Intrepid, while it was more than adequate, it was nowhere in the league of my '89 Gran Fury or Grandma's '85 LeSabre. My buddy's 2006 Xterra seems strong enough, but the LeSabre and Gran Fury are long gone, so I can't use them as a reference point anymore, and none of the a/c units in the old mastodons I still own work anymore. :sick:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,876
    The "high" fan setting helps a lot with the AC on the Scion, but it is so freakin' noisy I have to crank the stereo way up.

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  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    Once I moved towards a AWD and decided to consult my wife there are no sub compacts that can fit the bill. We will be getting something that can pull a small travel trailer, 19 to 21 feet. Fuel mileage is still a consideration but 20 MPG seems to be the very top. I am now sorry I got rid of the F-250 diesel. About the only 4 cylinder that can tow anything is the Honda Element and the look on my wife’s face when I mentioned that vehicle assured me that its practicality will never overcome its homeliness. So it will be something with at least a V-6 and more than likely something about the size of a liberty. I don’t know if I will keep the Focus or not and right now I am not sure if I will buy a new or used vehicle. I sort of wish I could get the little jeep diesel in our state but it seems as if that isn’t going to happen before I am ready to buy anyway.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    So it will be something with at least a V-6 and more than likely something about the size of a liberty. I don’t know if I will keep the Focus or not and right now I am not sure if I will buy a new or used vehicle. I sort of wish I could get the little jeep diesel in our state but it seems as if that isn’t going to happen before I am ready to buy anyway.


    Yeah, and unfortunately with SUVs, at least truck-based ones, you often run into a problem where the big, burly V-8's really don't suck up any more fuel than the smaller 6-cyl models. My buddy's '06 Xterra 4wd is rated at something like 16/21. We took it on a trip out to Cedar Point in Ohio back in August, and averaged maybe 20 mpg on that trip. I'd imagine that one of GM's full-sized V-8 SUVs would get about that kind of economy these days, if not better, and be better at towing, roomier, etc.

    I remember even back in the late 90's, it seemed like something like a full-sized Tahoe, Yukon, or Expedition really wasn't much thirstier than an Explorer or S-10 Blazer.
  • You know, partially its a cultural thing. In Japan, they set the AC so that the temperature is tolerable, in the US they set it so its comfortable. I remember the Contour's AC was always better than the Accord, and even the Escort was pretty good. The AC in my friend's Corolla was worthless.
    I have never been in a European car during hot weather that had working AC.
  • About the only 4 cylinder that can tow anything is the Honda Element and the look on my wife’s face when I mentioned that vehicle assured me that its practicality will never overcome its homeliness.

    Our Legacy is rated at 2700 lbs, the Element at 1500. Neither of those are going to get a 20' travel trailer to move though. The Legacy did okay with a small pop-up or a cargo trailer, but not dragging a house behind it.

    I thought the Jeep diesel was really cool until I started reading about some of the issues they were having with it. I would imagine all of those have been rectified by now though. You might want to check out the Dodge Sprinter or something also, and that might weight enough to get around the CA diesel issue. Hardly a sub-compact.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,726
    having SAID that, the AC on my Scion is nothing to write home about but if you hit RECIRC and drive 90 mph for a while, it's pretty good.

    If I did that with my Elantra it would soon snow. The funny thing is that the air seems cooler if I have the fan at the speed 1 less than high.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    If I did that with my Elantra it would soon snow. The funny thing is that the air seems cooler if I have the fan at the speed 1 less than high.

    Maybe if you have the fan set too high it dilutes the cold air, or something like that?

    Nowadays, don't they tend to size the a/c compressors accordingly to the size of the car they go into? I dunno if they did that back in the day or not, but the V-2 air compressor in my '69 Dart slant six looked every bit as massive as the one that was in my '67 Newport 383. In a case like that, I'd think that the a/c would actually work better in the Dart, seeing how it has a smaller interior.

    I remember the a/c in my buddy's 1998 Tracker convertible was just strong enough to get it a few degrees cooler than the outside temp on really hot days, so it would sort of fake you out into believing that it was working. I guess something like a Tracker, with all that canvas and no insulation, and the large windows, would be hard to keep cool. And with its tiny 1.6L 4-cyl, I'm sure it didn't have a very big compressor.
  • dave8697dave8697 Posts: 1,498
    An 8.2 Litre Eldorado came up alongside me on my 450cc bike, looked at me and then swerved into my lane. I went into the sugar sand median of I-95 at 70+ mph. I sold the thing and got a V8 right after that. I accidently hit a 4 cyl car head on in that V8 a few years later. I wasn't wearing my seat belt and I didn't even hit the windshield. The windshield had a single crack in it but I had no mark on my head so I won the argument with the cop that I had my seatbelt on. They had to cut the poor guy out of the 4 cyl. It was as though my V8 obliterated his car, sending his engine into him, through his firewall. My car was totally intact from the front of the engine back. I once hit a dodge dart too. I was doing 55 mph and the ~'72 Dart was doing 25 on the interstate. I hit it without my brakes on and bounced off. I only put a bb gun shot dent in the panel just above the rear bumper of the Dart. I somehow didn't bend any exterior sheetmetal on my '84 Camaro. I only had to repaint the front bumper rubber cover and straighten some underhood brackets on the Camaro. Once again I wasn't wearing my seatbelt and that time my knee hit the hard dash and hurt for a few months. My head hit the sun visor which was flipped down. I got a skin scuff on my forhead and the skin was stuck on my visor about the size of a quarter where my head hit. It didn't bleed though. That Camaro was the smallest car I ever owned since. It was good for 25 average mpg to work and 30 on trips, at 3200 lbs and early 80's carbed tech. Now I'm considering sub compacts for the first time in 25 years. Gas keeps creeping up and I drive very far. I will weigh survival against gas savings. My smallest engine out of 6 engines I currently own is a 3.8 V6. I split 94 mile a day minimum driving between a 4.3 and the 3.8 averaging in the high 20's for mileage but feel pretty safe. The cars around me are shrinking as time goes on. The pickups have mostly disappeared and these little things are appearing all the time. There is a move from V8's to new and old foreign 4 cyl's. I guess that makes me safer and safer as time goes on. I will either move closer or get a 4 cyl or keep paying more. Moving closer may be the best choice because my safety risk will go down by less miles of exposure, less fatigue with the shorter drive, and I can use the 4.3L truck affordably.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,876
    You'd be surprised that the relationship between size and safety is very very questionable...it's more about weight and strength of materials than size. I'd much rather take a hit in a subcompact than a 1984 Camaro personally but I'd also rather hit another modern subcompact than an F350 dually. As for an old Dodge Dart, that's a death trap. Also depends who is hitting whom, and how it happens. If you rear-end someone, that's probably best for you, worst for them. If someone t-boned you in your older cars, you'd be dead no doubt. If it was in your truck, they might hit the frame rail and you'd be fine.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    As for an old Dodge Dart, that's a death trap. Also depends who is hitting whom, and how it happens. If you rear-end someone, that's probably best for you, worst for them. If someone t-boned you in your older cars, you'd be dead no doubt. If it was in your truck, they might hit the frame rail and you'd be fine.

    Those old Darts were actually pretty sturdy cars for their time, although naturally, they're not going to compare with modern cars and their airbags, improved crumple zones, better crash padding, etc. I got cut off back in 1992, while in my '69 Dart GT, and wiped out and hit a traffic light pole sideways. Probably punched in the passenger side about a foot, but those doors were so thick that it only penetrated the passenger cabin maybe 4-5 inches. The impact knocked the traffic light off its base. And those bolts didn't just snap like they're supposedly designed to...they pulled right out of the concrete!

    Probably the biggest detriment to this car was the fact that it was a hardtop, with no B-pillar. If I had been in a 4- or 2-door sedan, it would have held up much better. Still, had I been in a lighter, "softer" car, chances are it would have simply wrapped around that pole, with me inside it, instead of knocking it off its base and giving me another 20 feet or so to decelerate.

    I've seen enough Darts wrecked in the junkyard (local junkyard specializes in old Mopars, so they tend to hang onto them longer) to realize that they actually did design crumple zones into them. Now again, a modern car will crumple better, but the Dart/Valiant, when whacked from up front, tends to do most of its crumpling ahead of the firewall, unlike many body-on-frame cars where the shock of the impact would often pass right through the front clip, leaving it relatively intact, but then the passenger compartment itself would buckle.

    As for rear-end collisions, I don't know who's better off these days. It used to be that the car in back would usually nosedive under the car in front, and as a result the car in back would take most of the damage. But with rear-ends designed to fold up these days, often the car in front will take more damage these days.

    However, last year when I got rear-ended in my pickup, I'd say I took the worse injury. I was rear-ended by a 2000 Infiniti I30. Her car was a wreck compared to mine. It took about $350 to repair my truck, whereas her car was easily $4-5,000. However, she saw the impact coming, and was ready to brace for it. In contrast, it happened so fast for me that I didn't realize I'd been hit until suddenly my head whacked against the rear window and my truck was pitching forward, heading towards the wrong side of the road!

    Years ago, I rear-ended a '55 DeSoto, with a '57. Yeah, I guess only I could claim something like that! :blush: I had a friend in the car with me. Of the three people involved, I was the only one who didnt' get hurt. The driver of the '55 was achy for a few days, as was my friend. He saw we were going to hit and panicked and froze up, whereas I saw what was about to happen and was too busy trying to make it NOT happen, so maybe in not freezing up, that helped me?

    I'll say this much though...I'd rather get rear-ended in an xA than a Pinto!

    Oh, and I would NOT want to get t-boned in a 1984 Camaro! There was a lady at work who had a 1994 and she got t-boned by an Explorer. Totaled the Camaro and messed her up pretty good. I think it got bloodstains on the Explorer's bumper, and that was about it. What's at play here is more height mis-match than anything else. However, just about any car these days is going to be screwed if it gets t-boned by a decent-sized SUV...unless you have side curtain airbags.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    but I'd also rather hit another modern subcompact than an F350 dually.

    If you're in the modern subcompact and the one doing the hitting, I don't think it really much matters what you hit. Except for the fact that an F350 will sit up higher and you might go up under it. But still, if you're in a 2000 lb car and rear-end another 2000 lb car, I don't think the result would be much different than if you rear-ended a 4000 pound car. The key here is that the force is the same...your 2000 pound car multiplied by however fast you're going.

    However, if the situation is reversed, a 4000 pound car will do MUCH more damage to you than a 2000 pound car at any given speed, because you're getting hit with a greater force.
  • andre - Nope, A/C was standard on all trims in 1985, including the base 900 which I bought in April 1985, and it's still a daily driver. I would be happy to fax you the Moroney Sticker. The last item in the "Standard Equipment List" on the sticker is A/C. A/C was an option in 1984 - perhaps the editorial deadline of the Consumer Guide closed before they were informed that A/C was made standard for 1985.

    Yes, the base 900 has no sunroof, no cruise, and no power windows or power mirrors - everything is manual, including the 5-speed gearbox on my car. The optional 3-speed automatic was the venerable Type 35 Borg-Warner. The warranty was 12 months/unlimited mileage.

    I've been a SAAB owner since 1968, starting with a 96, then a 99E, 900 (the one I still have), a 900S, and a 16-valve 900 Turbo. The 1985 900 Turbo that you read about in Consumer Guide was the 8-valve engine with the Turbo with APC (Automatic Performance Control). The APC system automatically adjusted the turbo boost based upon the octane of the fuel.

    The 900 Turbo was a nice car, and fast.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,876
    The "5 door" Saab turbo hatchback was almost the perfect car (not mechanically, but in terms of size and versatility). Even today, people are restoring them at great expense, not for collectibility (they aren't worth much at all) but for their usefulness and great driving qualities. And once restored, many of the original faults of the car's mechanics can be corrected or at least improved.

    I think 99% of all Americans could fulfill all their needs with a car of this type and configuration. It's that huge hatch + the four doors. So much room inside that car and yet it isn't very large.

    But it's no subcompact, so hey, I'm off topic!!! :cry:

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  • texasestexases Posts: 5,577
    One more minor excursion - Saab lost their way when they stopped the hatchback - what better decribes a Saab?
  • Eh I would say the same could be said for a Chevy Citation. While not commenting on the driving of the car itself, the amount of cargo capacity and flexibility of the hatchback was great. Even the Nova hatchback had a lot of room.
    The Malibu Maxx I think tried to follow that tradition but seemed to be a nitch vehicle.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    Eh I would say the same could be said for a Chevy Citation. While not commenting on the driving of the car itself, the amount of cargo capacity and flexibility of the hatchback was great. Even the Nova hatchback had a lot of room.
    The Malibu Maxx I think tried to follow that tradition but seemed to be a nitch vehicle.


    I looked up the specs for the Saab 900 at www.fueleconomy.gov, and its interior volume is rated at 87 interior/14 cargo. Of course, that cargo is with the back seat up. Fold it down and you have about 56 cubic feet, which is probably in the league with some small wagons of the era.

    The Citation's actually bigger inside and more space efficient than the Saab. IIRC, the Citation was around 176" long, about 10" shorter than the Saab. The EPA lists interior volume at 94 cubic feet interior/13 cubic feet cargo. The Citation got most of its added interior volume with shoulder room.

    Of course, back in those days, the most space-efficient designs also tended to have the most paper-thin doors, so I guess that's not always something to brag about!

    As I recall, the '75-79 Nova was down to 13 cubic feet of cargo space, probably because of the way the trunk sloped off so sharply. The coupe versions of these cars were practically a fastback anyway, so offering a hatchback option was a really good idea, as it freed up all that otherwise wasted space under the rear window. So they were probably a lot more versatile than that 13 cubic feet would suggest.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    I realize that as a young driver you take pretty much what you can get. Sub compacts or full sized cars don’t make much difference as long as it is yours and it runs. But when you start working and making your own money things look different. If you are doing anything besides going to school and working your vehicle may say more about your hobbies than you think.

    If you own a dirt bike most often a sub compact won’t do unless you can get some friend to haul your bike for you. With a Jet Ski or snow mobile you might get by with a sub compact but it isn’t something you see very often. In boating the smallest thing I have ever seen is an Outback with a Canoe on top.

    When I first downsized from a SUV I didn’t do much else but go to work and spend the weekends at home. We dropped down to a Saturn SL-2 and for about six months it seemed fine. But we started doing things on the weekends and with two dogs and the stuff we wanted to take with us a Saturn was simply too small. We got the PT because it held lots more of our things when we went anywhere. We got the F-250 to haul our rock crawlers and we got the Focus so my wife and her friends could go places together. When I stopped commuting I decide to cut back once more. But now we have more free time and the Focus simply will not fit our needs. I belong to a world percussion music group and you can not get my hand drums and my kit drums in a Focus. You sure couldn’t get them in a sub compact if you planned on taking another human with you.

    So the sub compact seems to be for people starting out or people that live a very simple life style that doesn’t sound much like the average Southern Californian. Unless those same people have two cars and the sub compact is the second car.

    My lifestyle has moved me away from the target group the sub compacts are aimed at and I may even be moving away from cars all together. After much research into AWD vehicles that can tow anything I believe a Crew Cab or Quad cab Tacoma or Ranger may be the best bang for my buck I can buy. The Pacifica and the T&C AWD seem nice but they are a lot more expensive than a small truck. A crossover is not out of the question but my hobbies will and pastimes will have more effect on what I get than maximum fuel mileage or size. I have to wonder if most people aren’t effected the same way? Where I live the smart car would have no advantage over a Motorcycle for commuting. For that kind of money I would get a Harley or a Gold wing.
  • I saw one of those old SAABs about a week ago with a full sized sea kayak in it. Not on top of the roof but inside the car. A couple of feet of one end was hanging out the back of the hatch and a couple of feet of the other end were sticking out the sunroof.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    Must have been quite a sight. Not a sub compact by the definition we now have because that would be a lot bigger than a Mini Cooper
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    I just had a conversation with one of my friends, a guy who's even more of a big car nut than I am...if that's possible. :blush: His first car was a 1977 or so Cordoba, followed by a '78 Newport, an '82 Cutlass Supreme sedan (the runt of the litter), a '95 Grand Marquis, and now a 2004 Crown Vic. He mentioned something about getting, of all things, a hybrid next time around!

    So I'm guessing that gas prices are finally getting to him, or he's realizing that he just doesn't need that much bulk. FWIW, he's only like 5'7", so he can't even use the excuse that I do, at 6'3", that I just feel more comfortable in a roomier car. Although I guess no matter how tall you are, if you're comfortable with a certain thing, it's hard to change your ways. Still, I can't imagine him trying to pilot roughly 230 inches of Newport around! I can just picture him, barely being able to peek over the top of the dashboard! :P
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    Some of us drive to get somewhere and don't see the driving part as anything but getting you from point A to point B. If we do want to make that part of the fun factor we tend to get second vehicles for that job. Others seem to like driving as much as getting there.

    The car I like driving to San Francisco from LA is nothing like the one I would like driving by myself to Big Bear from Lake Arrowhead. My friend Nippon can make the trip from the Bay area to San Diego in his Echo and he says he enjoys it. In his car I would need a nap as soon as I got there. In a Buick or even an Accord or Lexus I might be able to spend the day at Sea World before the nap.

    Everything we do is some form of compromise and for many here it is totally subjective. Burning up a canyon road in a RSX may seem sporty till you are passed while at nine tenths by a Z06 or 911 with one hand draped over the wheel. when that happens you realize you are in a family car not a sports car and the charm slips slightly. It comes back I agree but you know you have made a compromise. If I want the joy of the open twisty road there is nothing like a Motorcycle. But then where I live rain isn't a big issue.

    Our public highways aren't designed for fun driving and the protectors of those highways aren't tolerant of us attempting anything other than driving from point A to point B. Admittingly we can push it a bit but short of taking it to the track we are limited by signs and road conditions. It is so much easier to measure comfort than handling feel. Most or our padding where we sit prefers not to be numb during our road trips so cars like the Camry and Accord are designed to meet that expectation. That is one reason I feel things will have to get a lot more like Blade runner before sub compacts make any real inroads in American buying styles.

    If we are going to be stuck in traffic commuting 5 days a week we have a choice of cars with a softer suspension and a good sound system and several cup holders or a short wheel based little car that feels every road joint but gets 40 MPG. Sure we would like both but we have to make a choice. With the exception of the Mini Cooper sub compacts seem more sporty than they are so I believe as long as the American economy can afford it mid sized cars will hold the lions share of the market. If the new crop of Sub Compacts hope to last this time rather than fade as the people get used to fuel prices as they have in the past they will have to get bigger or get more power or both. Scion looks to already be adding a bit more power so how long will the rest hold out? Didn't the Mini already give the base engine a bump in power?

    That was a long post, guess I don't need more coffee. :)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,691
    "If we are going to be stuck in traffic commuting 5 days a week we have a choice of cars with a softer suspension and a good sound system and several cup holders or a short wheel based little car that feels every road joint but gets 40 MPG"

    For me, this choice isn't hypothetical, as I am currently lumbered with a used Camry because a deal with a friend fell through. It has a soft suspension with a pleasant ride, many many cupholders (and yes I do appreciate cupholders), and a very fancy aftermarket sound system. Give me the choice between this car and my Echo, and I will take the Echo seven days a week, and twice on Sunday. Choose between the two? Puh-leeze! There's no contest, which is why the Camry is currently for sale.

    And yes, I do commute to work 5 days a week. It's one of the things the Echo is really good at. And contrary to popular myth, the Echo does not bounce and crash over every road joint, as you so elegantly implied. ;-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    And yes, I do commute to work 5 days a week. It's one of the things the Echo is really good at. And contrary to popular myth, the Echo does not bounce and crash over every road joint, as you so elegantly implied.

    If you're used to a bigger car though, or just a different vehicle (not necessarily bigger, but different handling/feeling), then an Echo might feel like it crashes and bounces over every road joint. Just like how small car drivers are usually going to say that a bigger car just feels wallowy and cumbersome...but if you're used to the way that wallowy, cumbersome car handles, you might not notice it.

    I have driven an '07 Camry though, and I swear it's about as wallowy and cumbersome as a modern car can get. It actually handled okay, but the feedback from the steering just seemed disconnected, like the way they used to try to isolate you from the road back in the old days.
  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    If you own a dirt bike most often a sub compact won’t do unless you can get some friend to haul your bike for you. With a Jet Ski or snow mobile you might get by with a sub compact but it isn’t something you see very often. In boating the smallest thing I have ever seen is an Outback with a Canoe on top.

    Hey does putting a 22' Sea Kayak, a Looksha IV (kevlar layup) count? :D
    Talk about overhang tho and I've drive really far with that 2 hours or more. Still it was legal. I had red flags in front and back so people could see it and yes i drove that setup on the highways as well.
  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    So I'm guessing that gas prices are finally getting to him, or he's realizing that he just doesn't need that much bulk. FWIW, he's only like 5'7", so he can't even use the excuse that I do, at 6'3", that I just feel more comfortable in a roomier car. Although I guess no matter how tall you are, if you're comfortable with a certain thing, it's hard to change your ways. Still, I can't imagine him trying to pilot roughly 230 inches of Newport around! I can just picture him, barely being able to peek over the top of the dashboard!

    Hey I'm 5'7" and I've owned as many big cars as small ones. Think 1968 Buick Electra 225, and quite a few other big (but cheap) cars.
    You tall guys think you're superior but you're not. Big deal you're 6'3" I can drive any car as big as you and I've owned the older Big Caddy's and can see over the dash just fine thanks. :mad:
    It was nice when none of you tall guys could fit in the small cars like the older MG's, endless whingeling about how you were to tall. Funny to hear!
    But don't rag on guys because they are short, you don' need an excuse to drive a big or small car, you just drive what you like.
  • As I recall, the '75-79 Nova was down to 13 cubic feet of cargo space, probably because of the way the trunk sloped off so sharply. The coupe versions of these cars were practically a fastback anyway, so offering a hatchback option was a really good idea, as it freed up all that otherwise wasted space under the rear window. So they were probably a lot more versatile than that 13 cubic feet would suggest.

    I have memories of my dad trying to get his brand new Apple II+, monitor, 2 5 1/4" floppy drives, and 13" monochrome monitor into the trunk. They ended up tying the trunk-lid down. I remember him saying to my mother they should've gotten the hatchback version. I also remember not being able to get the G4/400 tower in the back of the Contour, trunk or back seat.

    My memory of the Saab 9000 (not 900) was helping someone move and putting a love-seat back there.

    While having cavernous storage areas is nice, a Yakima rack and a trailer hitch go a long way towards equalizing the cargo capabilities of vehicles.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,971
    You tall guys think you're superior but you're not. Big deal you're 6'3" I can drive any car as big as you and I've owned the older Big Caddy's and can see over the dash just fine thanks.

    Back in 1989 I bought a Dodge Dart GT, which had low bucket seats. My grandmother, who was 5'2", sat behind the wheel. She could barely see over the dash. It was kinda cute, seeing her behind the wheel, looking out through that gap between the top of the steering wheel and the top of the dash. Kinda scary too, because back in the 70's they had a Dart...a '75 Swinger. I imagine that the Swinger's bench seat was a bit higher than my GT's buckets, though.

    That car got wrecked, but I took the bucket seats out and put them in a '68 Dart 270. I remember teaching one of my friends how to drive in that car. He was 5'6". Had to sit on a phone book. At first we tried the suburbs, but he needed more height, so we tried the Metropolitan yellow pages and it fit him to a tee! :P

    In all seriousness though, most cars, even big battlecruisers back in the day, were designed to give maximum comfort to an "average" person of around 5'10". Once seats started getting more adjustments, and steering wheels began to tilt and telescope, cars could fit a wider variety of drivers, but I think they're still optimally designed for a person around 5'10".

    That seeing over the dash thing was sort of a joke, but back in the day, there were a lot of cars that probably were uncomfortable for shorter drivers. For instance, my '69 Dart fit me fine with regards to legroom and headroom, but the steering wheel was a bit close for my comfort. A person with shorter legs would have to move the seat up, and that would put the driver even closer to the steering wheel. Thankfully they didn't put airbags in Darts back in those days, or they would've been blowing holes in the chests of little old ladies on a regular basis!

    Oh, and it ain't easy being tall, either! While I don't consider 6'3" all that tall, I still have to duck when I walk under the a/c unit in a motorhome. And back in high school in the 80's, it wasn't easy finding pants that long. Remember the old ditty... "Highwaters, highwaters can't be beat...twenty fo' inches above Yo' feet!" If you're of more average height, you were probably the one singing it. If you were tall and gangly, you were the one getting it sung to! This was back in the 80's, before it became fashionable to have baggy pants that hang low off your butt. I can actually make a 32 length work these days. But back then I needed a 36, and even 34"s showed too much ankle.
  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    In all seriousness though, most cars, even big battlecruisers back in the day, were designed to give maximum comfort to an "average" person of around 5'10". Once seats started getting more adjustments, and steering wheels began to tilt and telescope, cars could fit a wider variety of drivers, but I think they're still optimally designed for a person around 5'10".

    My ex-GF was 4'10" and she had those problems in a late 80's Accord and had a cushion. Me I had lots of big cars and never had a problem with height or seeing over the wheel. I have a tall torso but the idea that the car was too small for me was never there and i drove a LOT of cars from the 1960's. Sure most were cheap crap but hey it was what I could afford. No rich daddy to buy me a car like many kids have today.
    I don't know the highwaters song, maybe it was regional???
    But I drove and owned a lot of cars and not one was ever a problem and I owned an old Dodge dart probably a 1966 or so, it had a Rat motor in it but it fit just fine.
    Guys who are 5'7" are considered short in the US but that's tall in some countries. :P
    I've never seen a guy sitting on a book or anything to drive unless they were underage playing with a junk car in the back yard.
    You are what you are but still my kids are all taller than I am and it sure seems like the growth hormones they put in food nowadays is a probable reason for that.
    Thankfully I can fit in small cars with no drama and enjoy the better economy without the problems you tall guys have fitting into a small car.
    I still like to drive big cars when I'm not paying for the Gas but only on the freeways.
    36" inseam?! Ok Stretch you might not be tall but you'd sure fool a lot of people into thinking you are. ;)
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