Concerned About RWD

I have a concern about the apparent move back to rear-wheel-drive platforms that I haven't seen addressed anywhere. For those of us who live in areas where snow and ice are a real concern for a good part of the year, front-wheel drive was a godsend. How are the manufacturers that are so hot to return to RWD planning to address this?

I have a 20-mile (32-km) rural commute to work every day, and I believe that my FWD Bonneville handles just as well if not better on the snow than my 4-wheel-drive Chevy Silverado. I doubt that a RWD platform can ever be made as sure-footed, even with technology such as traction control. While I agree that RWD does have advantages, I doubt I will ever buy a RWD daily-driver as long as I live north of Texas.
Jared J. Birk
Design Engineer
Sioux Center, IA

More Best Engines Data

You left out a significant statistic on your Best Engines comparisons. Total weight and weight per horsepower, particularly in this age of efficiency evaluations, are important.
Dave Ege
Kansas City, MO

Another Big Three Critic

I agree wholeheartedly with what R. Matthew Brach of Granger, IN, had to say about the Big Three (see WAW — Dec. '03, p.9). But it goes much deeper. I agree that since the 1960s, American auto makers have been on a slow but steady fall to the bottom of the pit, mostly due to quality problems. When one of the Big Three sees something catching the public's eye from overseas, they are quick to jump on the bandwagon with the same technology. But this is usually done with haste, relating to significant quality problems because the “new design” was not tested adequately.
M. Roberts
Milton, WI

Minivan Debate Rages On

As your definition of a minivan didn't fit Mr. Otterbein's classification of the Volkswagen (see Letters, WAW — Dec. '03, p.9), this still doesn't leave Chrysler as the producer of the first “small car-based family van that could fit in a garage.”

A few years ago, historian Patrick Foster presented the Grumman Kubvan as the earliest minivan. Based around the drivetrain of the Volkswagen Rabbit, the 1983 Kubvan was introduced the year before the Chrysler minivans.
Sam Fiorani
Society of Automotive Historians
Douglassville, PA

Opel's Lack of Leadership

You quoted Opel Design Director Martin Smith as saying “he wants to regain the styling leadership Opel had in the 1970s in Europe, but lost to Audi AG” (see WAW — Nov, '03, p.23).

Mr. Smith seems to be completely out of touch. Opel ever was miles away from something like design leadership. In the last 40 years Opel cars were known for their plain and simple design. Sorry to tell the truth, but there is nothing to “regain” for Opel.
Name withheld
Peoria, IL

SUVs Resemble Wagons

Isn't it interesting that a lot of the SUVs are starting to look like the station wagons of the 1980s and early 1990s? Oh, the games the feds make the auto makers play to meet CAFE standards!
Dwight Bare, Retired
GM Desert Proving Grounds
Mesa, AZ

Escort Running Strong

I was impressed by what Drew Winter said about the Ford 2.3L Enviromental engine (PZEV rated) in the Focus (see WAW — Jan.'04, p.46). I own a '94 Escort with a 1.9L engine, which I believe is the predecessor to the 2.3L. The engine has run faithfully for 150,000 miles (241,395 km), and I have no doubt it has at least another 50,000 miles (80,465 km) of life left.

I do all my own maintenance — oil change, spark plugs and wires — and wish I could do more, but the cars today are too hard to work on. The day of the “Alley Mechanic” is gone! I check mileage often, and it always falls within 29 to 32 mpg (7.9 to 8.1L/100 km) even with 150,000 miles! I always pass the pollution check, so it is environmentally friendly.
Ted Boone (Ret.)
Navistar-International
Melrose Park, IL

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