WWRD? – The Second Batch from The Oven

2009 Toyota Camry 1
Photo by Randy Stern

The first batch was fun, wasn't it? I bet you're ready for more…

To review, WWRD? works via V&R's social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, where I will ask the question for submissions on what I would drive. These submissions are compiled and delivered with just three vehicles as called out by YOU.

On your end, just give me a vehicle – any car, truck, SUV/crossover, van of any make, model and year. What I do is compile what I know of said vehicle and give you an answer why or why not I would drive it. I'll also explain why.

Here's another three submissions for WWRD? Keep sending in your ideas and I'll put them on here…

TOYOTA CAMRY: This midsized sedan is the best selling passenger car since they became worthy enough to be sold in those numbers. It is a solid automobile in many respects. Yet, over the course of 25 years, they either put a smile on my face or utterly disappointed me.

I go back to the second generation, the 1987 model, where its 2.2litre engine revved like an MR2, yet was put to use in a modern family sedan. Then, the tooth got soft. Every generation since, I hoped for improvements – mainly on the braking action. I received that in a 2006 SE sedan. It was an absolute joy! However, it all went downhill from there.

I shouldn't talk down about the Camry since a few of my friends have them…and my brother is on his second one. In all, they love their Camrys. Is that really enough, though? I wonder…

WOULD RANDY DRIVE IT? There is a new 2012 Camry out and it packs plenty of promise. One may find fault in the evolutionary design, but some details are quite attractive. I'm also glad they're offering more equipment and value into the new Camry. The reader who suggested this offered up one in beige. Before I can "yes," to the Camry itself, I'm not felling the beige (though, I know a few who have theirs in such a color). A new Camry in red, gray or blue works much better for me – make it a SE, XLE or Hybrid, though.

HUMMER: When the U.S. Department of Defense changed out of the standard Jeep to a larger field vehicle, they never thought it would catch on with the general public. Under the guidance of AM General and through some merging and diverging amongst military contracting companies, it appeared – the H1. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the first ones to own this monster.

Then, General Motors got involved to try to civilize the Hummer. While keeping the H1 to placate extra capacity at LTV/AM General's Mishawaka, Indiana plant, GM decided to graft the H1's design onto a more accessible product that was dropped onto the same frame as the Chevrolet Tahoe – the H2. While the H1 ran a huge GM diesel under the hood, GM figured the H2 would do with a 6.2litre VORTEC petrol engine. The result was a mixed bag between hip-hop stars rolling in customized versions of this beast to environmentalists calling for its demise. Only under Dubya would this thing be given any credence or life.

To find a middle ground, GM plunked an even smaller Hummer body onto its popular midsized SUVs and the smaller pickups it sold through Chevrolet and GMC. The H3 was considered a better Hummer overall. It wasn't. The glass area was rather small for a mid-sized SUV creating an almost suffocating atmosphere inside the cabin. Frankly, the H3 was a charming idea that was not executed well.

As the country went into a recession and fuel prices shot up, Hummers languished on their lots. When GM filed for bankruptcy, they politely put Hummer onto the Old GM asset list to never see the light of day at Renaissance Center.

WOULD RANDY DRIVE IT? I'm glad I never had the chance to drive one. A few sittings over the course of their existence gave me a feeling of dread, guilt and disgust with every Hummer I touched. In short, the answer is no. They continue to be simply wrong…even in death.

YUGO GV/ZASTAVA KORAL: At the time when Hyundai Motor America opened their doors to USA consumers with the sub-$5,000 Excel compact, Malcolm Bricklin unleashed something that would attempt to undercut the popular Korean. His track record stated it would be a potential hit. After all, Bricklin brought Subaru over here.

What Bricklin brought over was a car based on another Eastern Bloc deal by the Agnelli family to be built in a country that did not have much of an automotive legacy – Yugoslavia. To be more specific, Serbia. Zastava was all too happy to build their versions of popular Fiat vehicles for the Soviet Bloc and beyond. One particular model drew the attention of Bricklin: The Zastava Yugo 45. The subcompact hatchback seemed right for the time and Bricklin brought them over stateside at price under $4,000.

In the run that lasted until 1991, Bricklin sold over 141,000 Yugo GVs. They peaked at just over 48,000 units in 1987. But, we remember them as one of the worst vehicles ever sold in this country. Simply put, if you had one, you were a butt of many jokes by everyone around you.

WOULD RANDY DRIVE IT? With the many issues the Yugo GV had even when it was sold in the USA, there's no way you'd get me behind the wheel of one. It's one point of futility I'd rather not experience.

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