by Matt Lewis, Driveway
With winter still hitting some northern regions of the country, it seems only right to highlight some of the lesser-known AWD vehicles from our automotive past.
Completely by accident, this list starts with attractive vehicles, and it is downhill from there!
Toyota Celica GT-Four All-Trac Turbo
One of my favorite lesser-known AWD vehicles, the Toyota Celica GT-Four All-Trac Turbo, was not only attractive but packed a punch compared to the standard Celica seen in many high school parking lots. The intercooled turbo four-cylinder engine was capable of producing over 200 hp and 200 lb-ft. Plenty of power for helping you through some snow drifts on your way to work, or getting air over some crests in a rally stage.
Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
Sitting on top of the Galant line, this Evolution predecessor was limited in the USDM to only 3,000 units reaching our shore from 1991-1992. Any owner of the Galant VR-4 will proudly show you the production number plate on the dash. While the stock 237 hp from the factory is nothing to be ashamed of, the tuner favorite 4G63T engine is capable of making this an alarming sleeper car.
Honda Civic Wagovan AWD
I don’t know which I love more — the prospect of an AWD Civic (I’m a fan) or the fact that they named this the Wagovan. While you won’t be passing any other car on this list while driving one, you will get a fair number of people commenting, “I’ve never seen one of these.”
AMC Eagle Kammback
Any list of odd AWD vehicles is going to include the Eagle wagon. But if you want to get even weirder, here is the Kammback. Utilizing the aerodynamics derived from Wunibald Kamm, the Eagle Kammback was available for two whole years. AMC dropped the Kammback in 1983 due to slow sales after only 6,123 made it to the streets.
Toyota Previa S/C AWD
Okay, this is not a car, it’s a van but it’s undeniably cool. Toyota decided to produce a jellybean, then super charge it and push the power to all four wheels. The Roots-type supercharger provided 6psi through the air-to-air intercooler pushing the 2.4-litre four cylinder to an “impressive” 160 hp.
Pontiac 6000 STE AWD
For a whole two years Pontiac offered the 6000 STE that could turn all four wheels. The standard 3.1-litre V-6 had 135 hp. Not a crazy amount, but still enough to get you down the road in 1988. With hopes to compete with BMW and Audi, the Special Touring Edition fell short in multiple categories.
*Matt Lewis writes for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca.
You can buy fun cars for under 30 grand.
A few weeks ago, I recommended five fun coupes for singles, whose base prices didn’t start with a three. Readers demanded more so here are five more cars that are a little easier on the wallet in purchase and operation.
Disclaimer, you don’t have to be single and willing to mingle to fall in love with these vehicles. In fact, some of them are family friendly. No really, they are.
Ford Focus ST – $29,999
Hot hatch? I think so.
Ford’s Focus ST (ST meaning Sports Technologies) is quite the exciting ride.
As soon as you sit inside the Ford Focus ST cabin, you’re embraced by Recaro sport seats that hug you and don’t let go. There’s a six-speed manual gearbox that’s then connected to a 2.0L High-Output EcoBoost I-4 engine.
The high-output engine puts out 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Yes, that’s a herd of horses under the hood, but driving this sport-tuned version of ST is actually quite agreeable in the city.
Chevrolet Sonic RS – $23,995
The Sonic RS Hatchback might not be the first choice of “performance” vehicle on your list, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be added.
This five-door has some cool features like: a unique RS liftgate-mounted rear spoiler, 17-inch Midnight Silver painted-aluminum wheels, Lane Departure Warning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with contrasting stitching and flat-bottom design, and leather-appointed seating surfaces with ‘sueded’ microfibre inserts.
That’s on top of seating for five and a powerplant comprised of a 1.4L, turbocharged 4-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque.
Fiat 500 Abarth – $20,995
Anytime you see a scorpion on something – or in real life – you can count on there being some sort of sting. The Fiat 500 Abarth is no different, except this sting makes you smile.
This pint-sized two-door might look somewhat cutesy, but the terrestrial arachnid badging denotes otherwise.
Turn the ignition on and the rumble of the dual exhaust comes to life. It’s anything but tame in tone. Put the five-speed, heavy duty manual transmission into gear and hopefully you’ll be able to make good use of the 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. That’s the kind of power being generated from its 1.4L, MultiAir turbocharged engine.
Along with a performance tuned-suspension, performance brakes and 16-inch wheels, this Fiat might be small, but makes up any “size matters” issues with its dynamic performance.
Honda Civic SI (Coupe/Sedan) – $26,245/$26,250
Take the exceptional reliability of Honda, its popular-selling Civic coupe/sedan, lace it with a potent engine and some cool gadgetry and you have the SI trim.
Up until only a few years ago, the Civic SI was only offered in coupe format, but that changed in 2007. Those who wanted performance and practicality would be granted access to such pleasures of life.
Setting it apart from its tamer siblings is a 2.4-litre engine producing 201 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft of torque. It also comes standard with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels and a rear spoiler. Not to mention a 6-speed manual transmission.
Whether opting for two or four doors, you can’t go wrong.
Scion FR-S – $26,450
The return of the fun-to-drive rear-wheel drive sports coupe that’s priced under $30K can be linked to the Scion FR-S. You could also say it is linked with the Subaru BRZ as these four-seater, two-door vehicles were a joint venture product between the two Japanese brands.
The FR-S features a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder boxer engine, developed in collaboration with Subaru. It combines Subaru’s horizontally opposed engine and Toyota’s D-4S injection system. The result is 200 naturally aspirated horses and 151 lb-ft of torque and can be matched with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
The back seats might not be incredibly comfortable for rear passengers but all the festivities are happening up front anyway.
From fuel economy to reliability, resale value, cost of ownership and sportiness the 2014 Honda Civic is a good choice… (more…)
Looking into my automotive crystal ball, I see a number of reasonably priced Japanese cars with the potential to go up in value, not down.
And while you wait for their price to rise, these collector cars of the future should give you endless driving pleasure – that is, until you sell! (more…)