James Raia

Honda CR-V, 2005: The Weekly Driver Car Review

HondaCRV1Several years ago, a friend loaned my wife and me a front-porch bench. It’s made of iron and wood and it’s heavy and awkward to carry. On a recent weekend, it was time to return the bench. Its owner, once a neighbor, now lives nearly 100 miles away. With remarkable ease, my wife reconfigured the back seat arrangement of the new-look, more spacious 2005 Honda CR-V, and the cargo area opened flat and cavernous.

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Volkswagen Touareg, 2004: The Weekly Driver Car Review

It’s named after a nomadic, hearty Saharan tribe with the unusual-sounding name, TOUR-egg.  Literally translated, the word means “free folk.” So what better way to test drive the Touareg is the first SUV offered by Volkswagen — than during an open-road, 400-mile round-trip journey to the famed Monterey Peninsula?

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Cadillac SRX, 2004: The Weekly Driver Car Review

2004srxThe naming of new cars must be a curious process. Animals are popular choices for various makes and models, and those selections often make sense But in recent years it seems manufacturers have one only criteria — the more obscure the name, the better. Volkswagen has its Touareg and Phaeton. Toyota has the Prius. Pontiac has the Vibe. Oldsmobile has the Alero.

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Acura SRX, 2004: The Weekly Driver Car Review

As Acura’s entry-level vehicle, the RSX is positioned in the sporty coupe class. It’s perfectly categorized. With its stylish, contoured exterior, firm contouring seats, tight-shifting, six-speed manual (Type-S) transmission and compact racing steering wheel, the RSX is an economically priced sports car that’s fun to drive and grabs its share of attention on the road.

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Buick Rainier, 2004: The Weekly Driver Car Review

I pulled into an angled side street parking spot and two gardeners began to stare at my vehicle with puzzled looks. Did I park over the line? Did I not see a fire hydrant? Did I miss some other restricted parking designation? “Hey guys, anything wrong?” I asked. “No, nothing,” one replied. “I just haven’t seen that car before. That’s Tiger Woods car, isn’t it? It’s really a great-looking S.U.V.”

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Mitsubish Endeavor, 2004: The Weekly Driver Car Review

With the popularity of sports utility vehicles ever increasing, Mitsubishi now has nearly every use for SUVs covered — off-road jaunts to around-town sportiness, family transportation to large commercial loads. The Endeavor joins Mitsubishi’s offerings in 2003 as a mid-sized V6 with a 3.8-liter engine built on the pending 2004 Galant’s chassis.

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Suzuki Verona, 2004: The Weekly Driver Car Review

The midsize economy sedan is among the most popular car divisions. Honda (Accord), Hyundai (Sonata), Kia (Optima), Mitsubishi (Gallant), Nissan (Altima), Toyota (Camry) and Volkswagen (Jetta) all have models marketed for a large share of the consumer market. The Suzuki Verona joins the fraternity in 2004 as the Korean manufacturer’s biggest, highest-priced, most well-appointed vehicle.

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