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Karl's Daily Log Book



  • editor_karleditor_karl Posts: 418
    I just thought that was amazing, from a vehicle much, much larger, heavier, bigger inside, and 10 grand less. Any comments?

    The SRT-8 is an amazing vehicle. The single biggest surprise is how well it handles, as the car's appearance, curb weight and ride quality suggest a cumbersome behavior on twisty roads. Not true! When I took it on my favorite driving route the car floored me with its near BMW-like handling demeanor.

    For the record, small differences in slalom speed represent large differences in actual handling behavior. For instance, even an SUV might get as high as 62 or 63 mph, where a full-on sports sedan, like the new 3 Series, would probably score around 68. It's only 5 mph, but it represents a wide gulf in performance regarding the average speed through a 600-foot slalom.

    That said, the SRT-8 is a hell of a car, and for anyone wanting near 3 Series/5 Series driving dynamics for less money (and with far more interior space) the Chrysler represents a great buy.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    That said, the SRT-8 is a hell of a car, and for anyone wanting near 3 Series/5 Series driving dynamics for less money (and with far more interior space) the Chrysler represents a great buy.

    The 300C SRT-8 with moonroof and gas guzzler tax has an MSRP of 43.5k!

    An e90 330i with sport, leather (xenons, moon are standard), and metallic paint is $40,500. You can order it ED to save 4-5k; BMWCCA membership is another $500 off. Regardless, even at sticker it's $3000 cheaper than a SRT-8. And it gets 30 mpg on the freeway (easily). Better mileage and 4 years free maintenance too.

    Where's the cheaper part come into this? :D
  • kevm14kevm14 Posts: 423
    For the record, small differences in slalom speed represent large differences in actual handling behavior. For instance, even an SUV might get as high as 62 or 63 mph, where a full-on sports sedan, like the new 3 Series, would probably score around 68. It's only 5 mph, but it represents a wide gulf in performance regarding the average speed through a 600-foot slalom.

    I agree that small differences translate into noticable differences on the road, but I don't agree that an SUV is going to be in the 60s. According to some stats I dug out, you managed 62.6 out of a 2001 Z06! I have driven a 2001 Z06 - it's a fine handling machine. Even a 2002 WRX managed 64.5. To refresh others, these are being compared to the SRT-8's 65.2mph. Typically big, heavy cars may be capable of high lateral acceleration, but show their weight in the slalom. That's why I'm making a big deal out of this, because the car appears to be slaloming with much smaller, lighter, more dedicated sports cars.
    Were there slalom course differences in years past?
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    A funny thing happened on the way to buying a G35...on a test drive of the 6 speed the back of the car lifted off the ground on a corner while cresting a hill at 80 mph. My stomach came out of my throat and my search continued for a car in the class.

    Call me an old fart or a stick-in-the-mud, but driving a car on a what I assume is a 2-lane road at 80 mph on curve/hillcrest is irresponsible if not reckless. Plus this is a test drive, so you're not even familiar yet with the car.

    How would you have felt if you had lost control and killed someone in an oncomng car?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,880
    Okay.. you asked for it..

    Old fart ;)


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257

    I have no desire to justify my driving style, skill level or familiarity with the area. No point in defending something I did 2 years ago. Furthermore, the conversation would be moot as you obviously feel you're right and I was in the wrong.

    Have a good day, :D
  • denver5357denver5357 Posts: 319
    Karl, our family wants to trade in a 2001 Pathfinder LE and its premium fuel for something smaller that will get better mileage, have AWD or 4WD, let us fold down the back seats if need be or otherwise carry two small children back there. And we are hoping for something that is $20K or so. I was pondering the Toyota Matrix but wondered what you thought? We want to keep the car 10 yearas or more. Thanks.
  • bigdaddycoatsbigdaddycoats Posts: 1,058
    Karl -

    I noticed in the 2006 Saab 9-3 Aero first drive -

    that Saab estimates 0-60 times for the auto at 7.9 sec.

    Edmunds pulled off a 0-60 time of 8.1 sec. with an auto on the Linear models.

    I find the numbers with the new turbo 2.8 to be very disappointing. With 250hp and 285 lb-ft of torque I would have expected better times.

    Not that you know, but doesn't this seem like not much of an improvement???
  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212
    ...I'm sure Car and Driver could do better by destroying the clutch, but in terms on real-world acceleration that sounds about right. It's about what my Maxima does, and it's a FWD with 255HP.
  • editor_karleditor_karl Posts: 418
    I should have been more specific.

    The first comment regarding the SRT-8 versus BMW referred specifically to the car's performance and how close it was to the M3.

    From post 611 So I looked up some numbers for sporty cars and discovered that this slalom speed is within 1.4mph of an M3!!! And it was better in 60-0 braking. It even had a 1/4 mile trap speed within 0.3mph (which is useful for comparing power to weight ratios).

    So my response was basically "yes, the SRT-8 does almost equate to the M3 in terms of performance, and it does so for less money." It also offers greater interior and trunk space, more comfortable rear seating, and a look that, at least right now, it considered pretty cool.

    But I digress. When I said, "near 3/5 Series driving dynamics" I meant exactly that -- driving dynamics. Gas mileage and service contract length were not part of my comment or my point. The 3 Series (non M3) is certainly cheaper...though not by much if you load it up. And the 5 Series is definitely more expensive than an SRT-8 (I guess a stripped 525 starts at a lower price, and how many leave the showroom for under $45K?). And the SRT-8 will smoke either of those vehicles in every performance category. You have to go "M" from BMW to catch the SRT-8, and going "M" will cost you more.

    That said, I'm still a huge BMW fan and realize that while the SRT-8 is in the same zip code as a 3 or 5 Series in terms of driving dynamics, it's not on the same block (especially with the new 3 Series, which is astonishing, even by BMW standards).
  • editor_karleditor_karl Posts: 418
    I agree that small differences translate into noticable differences on the road, but I don't agree that an SUV is going to be in the 60s.

    Again, I should have been more specific. A performance SUV will get into the low 60s. For example:
    2004 Porsche Cayenne full test:
    Slalom speed: 63.5

    2005 BMW X5 4.6ix Follow-Up test:
    Slalom speed: 62.3

    There was no variation in the slalom set-up between the Z06, WRX and SRT-8, but the Z06 and WRX were slalomed by our former road test coordinator. He was good and...well, I'm not prepared to say I'm better, but I did get the SRT-8 through quicker. Seriously, I credit that speed more to the car's abilities than mine. As I said in my road test, once I drove the car on my favorite set of twisties I realized that Chrysler (or should I say Mercedes, since it's really an E-Class platform?) definitely nailed the suspension tuning, thus making it handle like a much smaller/lighter car.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257

    That said, I'm still a huge BMW fan and realize that while the SRT-8 is in the same zip code as a 3 or 5 Series in terms of driving dynamics, it's not on the same block (especially with the new 3 Series, which is astonishing, even by BMW standards).

    Gotcha. My bad for not getting you meant M3 levels of performance.

    And yes, the e90 was eye opening for me. If everything goes as planned, I hope to replace my e46 330i performance package with a e90 sports package. I felt so at home behind the wheel of the test car I briefly considered absconding with it. But Jim, my SA, knows where I live. :(
  • 14871487 Posts: 2,407

    Are you guys going to test a G6 GTP with 6 speed manual anytime soon? It always seems like you guys take a while to test GM products. Is that because you have no control over when you get the test cars or is that because interest in their products is so low there is no rush to test them?
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    I drove my sister's boyfriend's pretty new WRX STi. He's in high school, I just got my masters' in structural engineering from Berkeley last week, and his car cost 100 times what mine did. I will soon do something about that (gonna wait a few months though, I have some more important things to do first). But anyway, here are the impressions that an STi gives someone who's never driven a "nice" car. Can't wait to read what Karl has to say in his upcoming comparo.

    (This isn't "review style"... more of how my thoughts were flowing throughout the experience.)

    It's huge! Feels like a tank. You sit very high up and you see and feel its bulk all around you. The hood scoop and box wing add a lot to that feeling, but I'm immature enough to love them (especially the scoop, though the wing fits the car better than the low WRX wing, and balances out the scoop).

    The AC blows very cold - too cold, on whatever setting my sister's boyfriend had it on. The stereo's very good at the lower volumes that I had it on. The seats are pleasantly firm and kinda big (I'm 5' 6"). I reach for the pedals and they quickly notice how little wiggle room there is down there... any heel-and-toeing will have to be done without actually using my toes and heel (I'm shoe size 10). I try the clutch and the gearshift... and I can't find 5th and 6th. I've never actually HAD a 5th and 6th gear before, but this shifter doesn't help. I honestly didn't like it, the lever never slid right in to any gear.

    Then I turned it on backed out. Woah! This is what power steering feels like! The STi has a very fast steering ratio, which takes me some getting used to. How are you supposed to feel anything this way? I take a sharp but clear turn at 25mph - unsettling in my Sentra. The car just turns, and that was kinda boring. I pick another turn that's safe to take quickly and do so, and hey, no problems. I get the feeling that I'll only hear tire squeal once it's too late and I'm rolling over into a house at 60mph... not gonna try it. There's no good place for me to try to show myself what makes AWD feel different from FWD, other than the increased grip (which the tires and suspension could explain anyway).

    Meanwhile I notice that on these suburban roads, the ride is quite smooth. The bumps in the road aren't hidden from you, but the car doesn't crash around on them. My passengers have been putting up with worse for years - this would be a big step up. But there's something rattling from the passenger door/mirror/wiper area, and I hear a clunk from the middle of the car (behind me) sometimes when I shift. The differential? It's not a reassuring sound. Meanwhile the engine noise is perfect. Loud when you want it, quiet when you shift up. And you can shift up one extra and still have enough power.

    Finally I reach an open road with a 45mph speed limit. First thing I want to experience is turbo lag, so I shift to 4th gear at 25mph and hit the throttle. Normal acceleration... normal acceleration... hey it's going faster... woah it's really going now! It was a smoother transition than I expected, even when I tried feeling turbo lag in other situations. It's surprisingly very similar to when I come out of a stop in 1st gear with my Sentra... nothing initially then it pulls.

    I turn around and take it from 5 to 50 pretty quickly, but without redlining. Oh. My. Gods. No wonder people like drag racing! It's more fun than when an airliner takes off! I push the intercooler sprayer just to feel cool. And I do.

    The End.

    Overall it was awesome, but when I got into my bucket o' bolts later and drove to the market, I had a newfound appreciation for it. I like sitting low - when I was little all my daydreams were of flying just above the clouds or strafing the battlefields in a Messerschmitt Bf 109, and I think that established my desires in a car. Experiencing g's in a turn is fun, but so's the feeling that your angle of attack is too aggressive and you're going to stall (in the aviation sense of the word). I guess I liken that to understeer, which is only a challenge if you can get there without reaching vehicular-manslaughter speeds. And that STi was just so darn big.

    So now I know for sure that I'm not the same kind of drive as the guys writing Sport Compact Car, or maybe even I think the perfect car for me would be an early-90s base Civic (no power steering) with a Civic type-R engine and transmission swap. Tercels and Civics without power steering have much better steering than my Sentra, and better transmissions too. The Tercel has some other downsides that the Civic CX from that era dealt with better. Unfortunately I'm reaching that point in my life where safety is moving up to Priority Number Two (up from Three or Four) so I don't think I'd actually do that.

    Sorry about all the autobiographical stuff; didn't know where else to put it :P . I just don't think I'll be here quite so often now that I'm out of school... going to Taiwan for two weeks, then going up and down Cali for a month, then I start my real job. In any case I will be back in two weeks, even if it becomes only occasional. (You don't all write here when you're at work, right?)
  • denver5357denver5357 Posts: 319
    Are my posts visible only to me? Seriously. I have asked twice in a month in this thread for advice from Karl (and expected anyone else to chime in) on a car that fits specific needs for our family, and while I see post after post about mundane technical details regarding acceleration and other specs for "performance cars" there are no answers to my post. So am I the only one who can see them? Is there a policy about avoiding posts asking for advice, even if it is simply asking for various alternatives? Maybe this thread should be called "Performance cars blog by Karl"?
  • bryanbryan Northern VAPosts: 217
    I can read your post, so no, I don't think you are invisible :shades: You might want to post your question on another Edmund's thread called "Any Questions for A Car Dealer". There is also one called "Chronic Car Buyers Anonymous". Folks on both sides of the car buying process will weigh in on this type of question. I've never seen a shortage of opinions in either of these threads.
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    well I'm pretty literal, so if you asked for Karl's advice, I'm not going to chime in.

    I'd say the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix would be a good choice for mileage concerns.

    Also the Subaru Impreza and Honda Element come to mind as possibly being able to fit your criteria. Oh, I think Suzuki's little hatchback is available in AWD as well. Sorry, I'm not a big AWD fan so I tend not to keep up on which cars have it.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 10,143 goes.

    Can't add much to what's already been recommended. RAV4 ( don't know if you can get one under $20K, though....check with TMV here at Edmunds). Element is another possibility.

    I've got a Vibe that I use for "daily duty". It's not AWD or 4WD, though. While it's perfect for what I use it for, my understanding is that the added weight of AWD does nothing for already sluggish acceleration. That said, my FWD model is comfy, handles well (for what it is....a small wagon), and gets good MPG. Back seats fold down for hauling bigger stuff. The Matrix is a virtual twin with the exception of some styling cues. After rebates last year (mine's an '04 model), I got one all loaded up with sunroof, upgraded stereo, power everything, alloy wheels, cruise, etc for about $15K. For that kind of money, I considered it a raging bargain and it was cheaper than a Matrix that had less equipment.

    If you aren't all hung up about AWD or 4WD, I'd also take a look at a Scion xB. Those are well equipped....has good roominess and gets good MPG, too. Price is certainly a draw (less than $15K).

    You might want to look at a Ford Escape, too. You should be able to get relatively close to $20K with any incentives and some bargaining. I think it's Mazda twin, the Tribute, might have more incentives than the Escape. Plus, Mazda offers a longer warranty.

    You can research all of the above here at Edmunds....including reviews and pricing.

    The research of the above should tell you volumes to help you narrow down your choices and give you a better understanding of what can/can't be had at your price point.
    2018 Acura TLX SH AWD ASpec
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Congrats on school. As for cars and the "low slung" feeling, I understand where you're coming from. Many of today's newer cars have an odd seating position that's more La-z-boy level than F1 racer. One newer car that might appeal to your low, under the radar approach: RSX S-type. They're pretty cheap, have great power, you sit snug and low and the car flat out handles. The old Celica was similar and the new Scion TC kinda approaches that too - a supercharger kit will liven one of those up fast. VW's upcoming GTI also offers a kinda low, boy-racer position and it'll spring to 60 in the mid 6s.

    If RWD is to your liking, two makes spring to mind. Lexus IS300 is all about low, fast, quick, driver-centric car design. It'll last forever, even used ones are kinda pricey and the car is all about boy racer fun. They're also pretty tunable as your post suggests you like the idea of modding. I also suggest you try an e36, e46 or e90 3 series. Those who haven't driven them often don't "get" that the car and the seating position are much more sports car than sedan. You don't sit high in an e46 like one does in say a G35 or even an Imprezza STi. Used e36s can be a bargain and now that e90s are out, the e46's value is tanking. Take'em for a spin and don't worry about the BMW stigma. Once you can get past that, you just might find ya like it.
  • navigator89navigator89 Posts: 1,080
    response to post 622

    You say you want to trade in a 2001 Nissan Pathfinder LE for a smaller vehicle that has the ability to fold the back seats and seat two children? Fortunately there are many choices out there for you, and I'll be happy to recommend my personal picks.

    1) Honda Element - If you want some really cool styling, along with some really cool options, just go ahead and get this vehicle. It can seat 4, carrys bikes, and it's seats are made of a special material so they don't dirty. If you don't like they styling, then move on to another one of my picks.

    2) Mitsubishi Outlander - A small SUV loaded with features, but the brakes are weak and the engine isn't as strong as the others

    3) Toyota Matrrix/Pontiac Vibe - Small wagons, with the option of AWD, and satellite radio, plus excellent cargo room

    4) Ford Escape - It has a hybrid version too, and it's engine and interior should please you

    5) Honda CRV - Looks really boring, but the engine is refined, and the build quality is good

    6) Hyundai Tucson/Kia Sportage - Low base prices, available stability control, good engines and nice interiors

    Hope this helps. The segment that you are shopping has a lot of choices thankfully. If your brand loyalty is with Nissan however, try the Xterra, which offers class leading power and pff road skills.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I have a few to add:

    In addition to what other posters have said so far, I'm going to add:

    2004 CPO Toyota Sienna LE AWD (I don't know how much they are, but they provide plenty of room, reliability and AWD)

    Saturn VUE AWD- The prices are non-negotiable, and I don't think you can get even a stick-shift, stripped FWD model for under $20,000, but test drive it anyways and look at the CPO ones.

    Jeep Liberty Sport 4WD- if you don't mind a very truck like ride, this could be something to check out.
  • kevm14kevm14 Posts: 423
    You have to go "M" from BMW to catch the SRT-8, and going "M" will cost you more.

    Yeah, and in the case of the E39 M5, which can at least be considered in the same class as the SRT-8 (compared to the E46 M3), nearly twice as much.

    What about the SRT-8 makes it not on the same block as BMWs? Not that I expect it to feel like a BMW, or even want it to, but could you try to quantify or at least qualify that? Would you say it goes about its business in a less refined way? Camaro vs Corvette?

    I couldn't find any slalom specs for the regular 300C. I was wondering how much better the SRT-8 is at the standard performance tests.
  • kevm14kevm14 Posts: 423
    There was no variation in the slalom set-up between the Z06, WRX and SRT-8, but the Z06 and WRX were slalomed by our former road test coordinator.

    Those Bavarian SUVs certainly turn in good performance for something so tall. But who ran the M3 I was comparing to? I assume the previous road test coordinator. What are some cars you've tested that compare to the SRT-8's slalom speed? Any chance you will add lateral acceleration tests to the existing battery?

    Sorry to be so one-vehicle-minded...I just hope the resale value of these is terrible, so I can afford one in a few years. Something tells me they'll maintain value.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,864
    do you think the srt-8 will be available at msrp, considering it's a low volume item?
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,937
    Glad to see you reading and responding here . .

    You mentioned a number of posts back that you had developed over time some insight into evaluating the interior materials quality – based on experience with many test cars.

    Would you share what you now look for and how you evaluate inter quality of materials, fit and finish?

    - Ray
    Looking at a $30K MSRP car – and not expecting $50K worth of interior, but . . .
    2016 BMW 340i
  • kurtamaxxguykurtamaxxguy Posts: 677
    ...will be interesting, Karl, to see how this Dodge Charger version compares with the Chrysler SRT8.

    Also, when do you folks at Edmunds plan to test the Pontiac Solstice?
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Solstice is delayed supposedly over quality control issues (big shock). I'd bet they're not gonna get their hands on one for quite awhile. Ditto consumers.
  • navigator89navigator89 Posts: 1,080
    Editor Karl,

    It's been a while since I posted this, but WHEN do you guys plan on doing a road test of the Chevrolet Cobalt sedan? It's been out for almost 6 months and you guys still haven't tested it????!!!!!!!

    Testing exotic cars like the 2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti is nice, but remember the average guys out there who can only afford Cobalt like cars.

    Last time I made this post, you sent me a link to the Cobalt SS test. I want a sedan test, not the SS coupe.
  • denver5357denver5357 Posts: 319
    Thanks to everyone for responding! Lots of great advice and a few models I had not considered. I feel visible again! :D
  • nortsr1nortsr1 Posts: 1,060
    Go to, click on "Reviews" then, Chevrolet, then Cobalt. There is a full automotive review at that site. Hope this helps.You can also try "" or several of the other automobile magazine websites.Also, go to Google and type in Chevrolet Cobalt.
This discussion has been closed.