I was originally going to write this post about one car in particular but since seeing said car there have been a few others that caught my eye that I had never heard of, and I fancy myself a person who likes to stay in the automotive loop.
But apparently these all slipped right by me and perhaps you, too. Let’s start things off with this post’s inspiration.
When Hyundai first entered the American market, they did it with a bang by offering their base model Excel for the incredibly low price of $4,999. While it did get them attention and helped them sell a plethora of Excels, most consumers (myself included) who remember their early days still equate Hyundai vehicles as being cheap because of their original low price point.
That stigma is probably why you don’t see many Equus models on the road. The Signature trim level starts at $59,250 and the Ultimate, $66,250. A nice car, yes, but at those prices the average consumer who has that kind of money to spend on a vehicle has many, many more familiar and proven options available to them.
I saw one of these on the freeway and figured it was just the last-gen Saturn VUE because that’s exactly what it looked like. But as I inched closer to the vehicle I noticed that I was wrong: the badging read Chevrolet Captiva.
Then I figured it was either from Mexico or Canada as those are completely different vehicle markets and it’s not unusual to see cars from either place around here. (For example, Nissan still makes the older US Sentra model for Mexico but it is called the Tsuru.) After some research, I discovered how wrong I was.
This crossover was introduced in 2011 but not in your local showroom: it’s strictly a fleet vehicle or in other words, a rental. And unlike other vehicles that share the same platform and undergo cosmetic changes, it looks as though GM had a bunch of leftover VUEs and only swapped out Chevy logos for Saturn and changed the grille. For proof, here’s how the last-gen VUE looks when compared to a Captiva:
Now you understand my confusion and why I did a double-take when I saw one. Not even one tweak cosmetic, GM? Wow.
The average person probably isn’t even aware that outside of ATVs, Suzuki offers anything with four wheels. But they do.
In fact Suzuki has a whole lineup of vehicles that have four wheels, including the Kizashi whose name sounds more like a brand of organic breakfast cereal than a sedan. But it was the Equator that threw me for a loop when I saw it since I had no flippin’ idea they offered a truck and while it’s branded as a Suzuki, it’s actually just a Nissan Frontier.
The Equator is such an unknown in the car world that this article pokes fun at the number of vehicles that were involved in a 2011 recall – all 73 of them. At least the Kizashi had a relatively decent amount of vehicles for its 2010 recall: 5,107.
What scares me is that 5,107 people even knew what the hell a Kizashi was.
By the way, getting back to the Nissan Tsuru I mentioned above. I had a 1991 Sentra four-speed that lasted me 10 years and 120k miles. It had no radio, manual everything (including transmission) and no A/C but I managed to drive that thing for 10 years and make multiple trips to Las Vegas in it – without the convenience of air conditioning. Despite it all, it was without a doubt the most fun-to-drive car I’ve ever owned.
Hmmm. An MSRP of $118800 MXN is about $9085 USD. I wonder if this thing would pass the CA smog or safety test…