WWRD? A Year Later…

2013 MINI Paceman
All photos by Randy Stern

It's baaaaack!

Last year, I began a series called WWRD? – or, "What Would Randy Drive?" This gives you, dear reader, the opportunity to engage with me by asking me if I would drive a certain vehicle via V&R's social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. The submissions are compiled and delivered with three vehicles at a time per piece.

After you give me a vehicle – any car, truck, SUV/crossover, van of any make, model and year – I compile what I know of said vehicle and give you an answer why or why not I would drive it. I will also explain why.

So far, I have compiled more than enough to kick this thing off. Keep sending in your ideas and I will put them on here…

A new year…and some new WWRD? submissions! Are you ready? I am.

2014 MINI PACEMAN COOPER S AWD: The original "new" MINI is a sensational car. It gave us the notion that with light weight, a lower center of gravity, the right power-to-weight ratio and enough room for a big person to drive, fun is expected at every turn. Over the past several years, the BMW-run British car brand had been expanding into classes and sizes that just seem…ehem…wrong. In my case, I stopped at the Clubman. The Paceman takes the most un-MINI product, the Coutryman, lops off two doors, shorten the wheelbase and body and thinks we could be fooled in driving a crossover that looks like an original MINI Hardtop on a gainer binge.

WWRD? Um…MINIs are great driving cars to begin with. However, the Paceman is a compromise: It looks like the Hardtop with the Countryman's underpinnings. I will drive it – for a winter rally event. As for being seen in it outside of a competition…not so sure.

2013 TOYOTA 4RUNNER: In the 1980s, we were blessed by this capable and rugged two row SUV. Built off of the Hi-Lux pickup, the original 4Runner was simply a page out of General Motors' playbook by creating a fun truck-based off-roader with a removable top. It was Toyota’s K-5 Blazer! Since then, the 4Runner became civilized while retaining its off-road roots. Today’s 4Runner is a steroidal shell of itself. It still rides on the Hi-Lux platform, but has a compromise of its rugged DNA and some luxe. It is currently one of four true off-road Toyotas in the lineup – a company including the Land Cruiser, Tacoma 4WD and FJ Cruiser.

WWRD? How would say "no" to driving one? The object of doing so is to follow a Jeep Grand Cherokee off the hghway. The goal is to follow it all the way until it stops. I believe the 4Runner is still a good "going to the cabin" vehicle that has been largely ignored by the status quo. So, of course I would.

2014 Chevrolet Impala 2

2014 CHEVROLET IMPALA: The old rental car "comfort food" big Chevy is done. In its wake is an upscaled biggun on the extended version of the Epsilon II platform. The result is an Impala looking to play with the Ford Taurus, Chrysler 300, Hyundai Azera, Kia Cadenza, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon. The promise will be to offer a Buick LaCrosse at a slight discount. However, the new Impala is looking fantastic, offers plenty of space and luxury – even more so than it stopped being its top model in 1965. From every angle, inside and out, it puts the last two generations to shame.

WWRD? My mission, if I were to get one in for a drive, is to see how much improvement the 2014 has over the last two Impalas. What measurements were used to ensure the Impala's rise into a new class of car? Plus, does it fulfill the promise of its new class assignment? It is obvious that the answer is "yes." And, this Impala better be damn good.

PEEL P-50: There is one fact about the Peel – it is the smallest gasoline powered passenger vehicle in the world. For one episode of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson took one inside BBC Television’s offices. I often wonder if he actually fit inside of that thing. The Peel is a quirky British product designed for motorized transport. It does not seem practical or even spacious for someone wider than The Clarkson.

WWRD? I am wider than Clarkson. There is no way you will see me in that thing. So, I have to say "no."

2013 LEXUS GS 350 F SPORT: In case everyone forgot, I did review the GS 350 recently. I liked it very much. What I had was one of the more luxurious packages with the right amount of power and comfort to affirm the GS's new promise. The F-Sport is still a GS 350, but with specific grille, rims, interior trim and a few tweaks in the suspension. It seems that S SPORT+ would be the norm for the F Sport, but I probably do not know for sure. Then again, it would be just a trim option with all fo the suspension settings in the regular GS 350 in tact.

WWRD? Of course! "Yes!"

2012 Hyundai Veloster 2

HYUNDAI VELOSTER: Two years ago, everyone went crazy over this small three-door hatchback coupe. The cool factor gave it leverage for discussions that continue today. The addition of the Turbo keeps the quirky little Veloster on everyone's table topics. Since the little wonder showed up on the showroom floor, a couple of friends took delivery of one. They obviously love theirs. Me? I like how the theme of cool is melded onto a platform shared with the Accent and kept is concept car looks.

WWRD? I would like to. The Turbo would be ideal, but the standard model would be more attainable. Either way, my concern would be rearward vision and if any compromises were given to the production model from the concept. So, sure, why not?

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