It’s safe to say there’s some baggage with Nissan’s attempts at mainstream minivans. The first and second-generation Quests, widely considered underpowered also-rans among people carriers, rode on a platform shared with the Mercury Villager. After a two-year hiatus, the nameplate returned on a bulbous, Nissan-specific van known for its otherworldly interior with center-mounted instruments and jarring exterior lines. For its idiosyncrasies, however, the Quest never rose to the top of the segment.
The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan is a refreshed model for this year. For 2012 the Tiguan has received a revised exterior and upgraded transmission bits that help it look more like the rest of its family and remain competitive in the pile of little SUVs. In a word, the little VW is adorable. The Tiguan wins the award for the car that I have driven that garnered the most approving looks from the women that it encountered. The Tiguan is easily likable, but like a lot of things little and adorable, it can do things that make you want to scold it and put it in a corner.
The same friend who first introduced me into the thrills of high-school hoonage—in a late 1970s Chevy Monza—recently bought this 1996 Volkswagen Golf Harlequin, and I was lucky enough to get some time behind the wheel. For those who haven’t read the head Savant’s own piece on the car, from 2009, the Golf Harlequin actually came that way right from the factory.
“Wouldn’t you really rather drive a Buick?”
For years, the answer to the question posed by this decades-old tagline for most people younger than 70 would have probably been “no thank you.” When my wife and I were shopping over four years ago for a new family hauler, I had my eye on the then-new Enclave, and she was less-than-eager to be seen as a Buick driver. After all, her Grandma was still driving a late-80s A-body Century at the time. We didn’t end up buying the Enclave, not because of its image, but because it was more expensive than the minivan that we settled on.
Nissan stunned the world earlier this year when its European engineering department developed and built the Juke-R, the worlds first and currently sole super crossover vehicle. This unusual version of the Juke was created by shoehorning the all-wheel drive system, 3.8 liter V6, and the stout six speed dual clutch transmission from the GT-R super car into a modified and reworked Juke body and chassis.