Def cab for cutie.

Reviews of cars, trucks, and other autos.
July 7 2004 9:50 AM

Def Cab for Cutie

Toyota's subversive anti-car.

My excuse

Trend Watch: Cars with noses.  The sporty little Mercedes SLK now features an obnoxious central prong. And check out the schnozzles on the new Audi A6  and on the Mercedes/McLaren supercar. When girls at my high school had a nose like that, they got it fixed! ... P.S.: See also the Alfa Visconti. If Ben Kingsley were a car, he'd look like this. ...  Even the European version of the Toyota Corolla has an embryonic proboscis.  ... 

Why Front-Drive Sucks II: Csaba Csere, engineer and editor of Car and Driver, adds a reason to hate front-drive  that I left out of my diatribe of a year ago. Call it Sudden Steering Death. In his July column, Csere notes:

In corners, particularly slow ones, many front-drive cars lose self-centering under power. The driver can't easily tell whether this is a front-drive effect or an impending loss of grip.

P.S.: The big rear-drive Chrysler 300 seems to be an initial sales success, despite the tacky plastic-chrome details criticized earlier in this space. Or is it because of those tacky chrome details? That's the horrifying possibility suggested by this New York Times piece on the car's appeal to hip-hop stars, as well as the more ominous news that many 300 customers are paying dealers thousands extra to fit out their 300s with schlocky vinyl roofs  despite attempts by appalled Chrysler executives (including design chief Trevor Creed) to discourage the unsophisticated practice. ... Live by the bling, die by the bling. Gearbox will persist in claiming that the 300 is selling because of its rear-drive rather than its tacky hip-hopularity until that becomes completely untenable. ... P.P.S.: I hate the bling! My used Nissan 300ZX came with fashionable, shiny after-market chromed wheels, and my tire guy just told me that the chroming ruins the durability of the wheel. The wheels are essentially worthless, he said; if they hadn't been chromed they'd last "forever." Hey, at least they look cheesy. ...