Thursday, 12th of May, 2011
Good For: More civilized off-roading. I spent some time with a rental Liberty of the previous generation a couple years ago, and the interior of the new KK Liberty is noticeable step up from the utilitarian KJ. Interior details now have more considerations for daily commuting - the spare wheel is even off the rear access door.
Compromises: The rear hatch configuration I loved in the previous Liberty is gone. In fact, the way the hatch glass is built into the lift gate makes for a uselessly small opening for putting bags and things into the back.
Overall Reaction - Thumb up to Jeep for making the Liberty more civil without compromising the capabilities underneath - the RWD configuration with Command-Trac 4x4 is still there when the road runs out. Gas mileage is extremely good for an off-roader. Even with a lead foot I was getting 4-cylinder economy on the highway, but enjoying the torque of the V6. The unique configurations are gone though - there is no more 6-speed manual, and I still smile every time I hear a turbo whistling from a KJ Liberty equipped with the common rail diesel motor. But the Liberty is probably not supposed to be the platform to showcase the best of Jeep technology anyway - enthusiasts will insist on the Wrangler Unlimited. The Liberty is an alternative for people who have to think about things like, "is it irresponsible to transport my family in a vehicle with removable doors and roof panels?"
Thursday, 5th of May, 2011
Good For: Experiencing Mitubishi's De-evolution. The turn of the 21st century somehow caused Mitsubishi to completely lose their mind. They used to offer some of the most exciting cars in the market - VR-4s and the GSX comes to mind. But then they decided to develop a platform catered to the American market, which is apparently versatile enough to support the Eclipse sports coupe, a mid-sized sedan, and a mid-sized SUV. Fast forward to 2011, and we still have this old Galant design, which also somehow lost it's V6 option over the last 8 years.
Compromises: So what we have left is a heavy sedan (3395 pounds) powered by a 160 hp 4-banger, still mated to a 4-speed automatic of course. There was a time in history when this was acceptable - in an Oldsmobile. What happened to the wagon and the 5-speed manual?
Overall reaction - Thumb down to Mitsubishi for making a car worse over time. At least they put the handbrake where it should be, probably because it wasn't fashionable to have a pedal back in 2003. The one unique thing it does offer is quite a lot of value in the SE trim - navigation, rear-view camera, sunroof, bluetooth, climate control, and heated seats for $24k. Add leather for another $1k. But that doesn't change the fact that this is a slow, heavy car. In spite of the unique packaging, it will do nothing to pressure other automakers into better value in options.