I can understand why small crossovers are becoming so popular.

mmcartalk

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For many years, I was a big fan of sedans....I generally liked the way they rode, handled, seating-comfort, driving characteristics, ease of washing the roof, etc.....

I've owned many different sedans over the years, from small subcompacts (Toyota Tercel) to large full-size luxury models (Chrysler, Buick)....I generally liked the big Buick sedans the most for their comfort, quietness, smoothness of operation, and generally decent reliability, though not quite in say, the reliability-class of a Lexus LS.

So, not surprisingly, I was quite angry a few years ago when both GM and Ford decided they were going to dump most of their conventional domestic sedans in favor of more crossovers, hybrid/battery-elecric vehicles, and small trucks. And I was not alone in my view.....at the time, the UAW also rebelled at that policy, and hit GM with the largest, most costly, and most widespread strike since 1970 (I also remember that strike quite well, though I was only 18 years old in high school).

But, when one forgets one's own personal desires/wishes, and looks at the larger picture, it's becoming more and more apparent why crossovers, particularly those of the compact (C-class) and subcompact (B-Class) are becoming so popular, selling in the huge numbers that they do, and why the auto companies are having to concentrate on them with what available factory/production space they have...or will have in the near future. In many parts of the country (particularly this notoriously-overcrowded D.C. area), traffic-volume, smaller/narrower parking-spaces than in the past, difficult-maneuvering at close-quarters in parking-lots, drive-up-ramps at banks/fast-food places, etc... have made it much more difficult to maneuver and park a relatively large sedan like my former Lacrosse...or, for that matter, even larger SUVs and crossovers. I simply got to the point where, enough was enough. I also had a minor parking-lot incident.......(NOT an accident).......which cost me a new tire, an On-Star road-assistance, and convinced me that it was time to get something smaller and more maneuverable.

Many of you know the story of how I got my new Encore GX, so I won't repeat the details here. I have really fallen in love with it as a da-to-day driver. It's not quite as plush-comfortable as a highway-cruiser as my Lacrosse was, but probably 98% of my driving is not that type...it is suburban stop-and-go, with tight-maneuvering in and out of malls/parking-lots. And, even so, being a Buick product, it has a fair amount of the Buick Quiet-Tuning and plushness for something its small size (on the border between a B-Class and C-class), and its 3-cylinder turbo powerplant is far smoother and more quiet (except around 1500 RPM, the torque-peak) than the small Ecoboost turbo-threes from Ford. It rides more smoothly than one would expect of a crossover that size......far more so than, say, a Honda HR-V or Kia Seltos, both of which I found, in comparison, felt harsh and cramped. IMO it is a pleasure to drive, particularly in close-quarters.

But, over and above the Encore GX, as for this whole class of vehicles, I can see why they sell in such huge numbers. Yes, the higher roofs on them are more difficult to wash and wax than lower-stance sedans, but that that is just about where the disadvantages end. The standard or optional AWD makes them all-weather machines. The hatch-lid and rear-end make carrying bulky items much easier than sedans/coupes, the high rooflines means big guys like me (and Mikeavelli) aren't bumping our heads on the ceiling (although I may have lost about an inch or so of height over the last 10-15 years with age/bone loss). The higher ground-clearance and gray/black lower-body cladding give you more protection in parking lots from those pesky concrete stops that can damage lower-body components, and from the effects of winter salt/abrasives on the road tossed up from rolling-tires. And, on my Encore GX, the right-front seat folds flat so, with that and the rear-seat folded down, one can carry long/narrow items up to eight feet long....in a vehicle not all that much longer than that.

This is not necessarily my first foray into non-sedans/coupes. I did own a Subaru Outback for six years....with Subaru's excellent AWD system, but that vehicle was actually more of a Legacy station-wagon with a slightly-raised suspension than a true crossover or SUV. The Encore GX is my first true small crossover.....but it may not be my last. 😉
 
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Will1991

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I also think there’s some correlation to R&D, brands invest more money on small SUV’s/crossovers, because people still look for a well design and properly built sedan.
Case in point, it’s the 3.5IS, Lexus managed to improve it almost to perfection, and it shows on well it sells.
In my opinion, the compact sports sedan still is the most perfect car segment.
 

mmcartalk

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Case in point, it’s the 3.5IS, Lexus managed to improve it almost to perfection, and it shows on well it sells.

In my opinion, the compact sports sedan still is the most perfect car segment.

Yes, the attraction to sports-sedans is shared by many car-enthusiasts...particularly those with families and/or who need four doors and a back seat. Though single, I once owned a yellow 2001 IS300 myself...the first-generation model (actually, a redone Toyota Altezza). When I first saw it at the D.C. Auto Show, I was mesmerized with the very high built quality, sun-yellow paint, butter-smooth in-line 6, chronograph instrument cluster, and real polished-chrome-ball shifter. It was a unique vehicle.....something totally different from what Lexus had done in the 1990s. The only remorse I had with it was that, even with all season tires, snow-mode for the transmission which limits engine-torque, and electronic traction control (no VSC system on that car yet), the RWD just didn't cut it on really slick road conditions. What it really needed was AWD...which the IS did not get until the redesigned 2Gen model. The IS250AWD, though slow and sluggish especially by sport-sedan standards, then sold like hotcakes in my area (D.C. suburbs)
 

Sulu

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Mike, did you compare the Encore GX with compact hatchbacks, such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Mazda 3? If so, how do they compare?
 

mmcartalk

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Mike, did you compare the Encore GX with compact hatchbacks, such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Mazda 3? If so, how do they compare?


Thanks for asking. Yes I did....although the hatchbacks that you mentioned (Corolla, Civic, Mazda3, etc.....) are sedan/coupe-based vehicles, and not true competitors to the Encore GX like the B-class crossovers.

Compared to them, the GX has several advantages....more ground clearance, easier entry/exit height for someone my size, and better winter traction (with the on/off-selectable-AWD option), higher roof for better passenger/cargo space-efficiency. Being a Buick product, the Quiet-Tuning feature really helps with noise and isolation, and the relatively soft suspension and high-sidewall tires help the ride comfort, particularly in hot weather when the rubber in the tires and hydraulic-fluid in the shocks get softer. The three-banger turbo runs smoothly and quietly (for a three-banger) most of the time, but is somewhat unrefined in the lower gears around 1500 RPM or so.....there, the conventional four in the competitors does have somewhat of an advantage. IMO, Buick should have used a conventional non-turbo-4 in this vehicle, but did not. It will be interesting to see what the new Second-Generation Buick Encore (NOT the GX), shown in orange in the image below, will sport under the hood when it debuts in a year or two. Initially, GM said this platform was going to be limited to the Chinese market and not coming to the U.S., but, with the exploding popularity of these small crossovers in the U.S., has apparently reversed course on that policy.

2020-Buick-Encore-exterior-China-001-1024x683.jpeg
 
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Yes, the attraction to sports-sedans is shared by many car-enthusiasts...particularly those with families and/or who need four doors and a back seat. Though single, I once owned a yellow 2001 IS300 myself...the first-generation model (actually, a redone Toyota Altezza). When I first saw it at the D.C. Auto Show, I was mesmerized with the very high built quality, sun-yellow paint, butter-smooth in-line 6, chronograph instrument cluster, and real polished-chrome-ball shifter. It was a unique vehicle.....something totally different from what Lexus had done in the 1990s. The only remorse I had with it was that, even with all season tires, snow-mode for the transmission which limits engine-torque, and electronic traction control (no VSC system on that car yet), the RWD just didn't cut it on really slick road conditions. What it really needed was AWD...which the IS did not get until the redesigned 2Gen model. The IS250AWD, though slow and sluggish especially by sport-sedan standards, then sold like hotcakes in my area (D.C. suburbs)

Just a quick correction, the Altezza was the rebadged Lexus. The IS was specifically meant for Lexus first, Toyota then called it the Altezza for the Japanese market.
 

Sulu

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Thanks for asking. Yes I did....although the hatchbacks that you mentioned (Corolla, Civic, Mazda3, etc.....) are sedan/coupe-based vehicles, and not true competitors to the Encore GX like the B-class crossovers.

Compared to them, the GX has several advantages....more ground clearance, easier entry/exit height for someone my size, and better winter traction (with the on/off-selectable-AWD option), higher roof for better passenger/cargo space-efficiency. Being a Buick product, the Quiet-Tuning feature really helps with noise and isolation, and the relatively soft suspension and high-sidewall tires help the ride comfort, particularly in hot weather when the rubber in the tires and hydraulic-fluid in the shocks get softer. The three-banger turbo runs smoothly and quietly (for a three-banger) most of the time, but is somewhat unrefined in the lower gears around 1500 RPM or so.....there, the conventional four in the competitors does have somewhat of an advantage. IMO, Buick should have used a conventional non-turbo-4 in this vehicle, but did not. It will be interesting to see what the new Second-Generation Buick Encore (NOT the GX), shown in orange in the image below, will sport under the hood when it debuts in a year or two. Initially, GM said this platform was going to be limited to the Chinese market and not coming to the U.S., but, with the exploding popularity of these small crossovers in the U.S., has apparently reversed course on that policy.

2020-Buick-Encore-exterior-China-001-1024x683.jpeg
Thanks. I am curious how small, lifted hatchbacks -- otherwise known as crossovers -- compare with the original template, the subcompact and compact hatchback.
 

mmcartalk

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Just a quick correction, the Altezza was the rebadged Lexus. The IS was specifically meant for Lexus first, Toyota then called it the Altezza for the Japanese market.

OK, Thanks.....I might stand partially-corrected on that one. As I understood it, the overseas-market Altezza spun the U.S.-market IS300, but, as you note, it might have been the other way around.
 

mmcartalk

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Thanks. I am curious how small, lifted hatchbacks -- otherwise known as crossovers -- compare with the original template, the subcompact and compact hatchback.

OK.....well, there are a number of significant differences. Crossovers usually have a higher ground clearance, more protection to the underbody from speed-bumps, parking-curbs, etc....., the ability to go through deeper snow and more slippery road conditions with AWD, the ability to carry more in the rear (and give more headroom) from higher roof-lines, and easier entry/exit for some people because of the seat-height more or less matching adult human torsos. Disadvantages (all else equal) include slightly worse fuel-mileage from the prevalence of AWD and more blocky/less-aerodynamic styling, somewhat appliance-like driving-characteristics (though, in general, that doesn't bother me...I am not particularly sport-oriented), and, on the more stiffly-sprung models that are high and narrow, a tendency to bob and rock back and forth somewhat over bumps and road-irregularities, though that tendency has ben greatly subdued recently due to suspension-advancement.
 

Sulu

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OK.....well, there are a number of significant differences. Crossovers usually have a higher ground clearance, more protection to the underbody from speed-bumps, parking-curbs, etc....., the ability to go through deeper snow and more slippery road conditions with AWD, the ability to carry more in the rear (and give more headroom) from higher roof-lines, and easier entry/exit for some people because of the seat-height more or less matching adult human torsos. Disadvantages (all else equal) include slightly worse fuel-mileage from the prevalence of AWD and more blocky/less-aerodynamic styling, somewhat appliance-like driving-characteristics (though, in general, that doesn't bother me...I am not particularly sport-oriented), and, on the more stiffly-sprung models that are high and narrow, a tendency to bob and rock back and forth somewhat over bumps and road-irregularities, though that tendency has ben greatly subdued recently due to suspension-advancement.
I know what the automakers say about crossovers. I was looking for a personal comparison between the Encore GX and compact hatchbacks.

It looks like you had your mind set on the small Buick crossover and really did not cross-shop it with compact hatchbacks. That's fine.
 

mmcartalk

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I know what the automakers say about crossovers. I was looking for a personal comparison between the Encore GX and compact hatchbacks.

It looks like you had your mind set on the small Buick crossover and really did not cross-shop it with compact hatchbacks. That's fine.

Actually I did do some comparisons, at least to some extent. I've honestly tried to answer your question. I apologize if my posts were unclear or you did not grasp what I was saying.

I was looking for a personal comparison between the Encore GX and compact hatchbacks.

I'll try and explain any specific comparison you want....be it price, ride comfort, driving characteristics, versatility, value for money, etc.......
 

mikeavelli

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OK, Thanks.....I might stand partially-corrected on that one. As I understood it, the overseas-market Altezza spun the U.S.-market IS300, but, as you note, it might have been the other way around.
The IS debuted in Europe as the IS 200 first. It was for that market and had its own platform and a I-6. Toyota named it the Altezza where it got a high revving I-4. When the USA asked for it, at the time no one wanted an I-4 and the IS 200 was low on power so we got the IS 300 with the 2JZ.
 

mmcartalk

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The IS debuted in Europe as the IS 200 first. It was for that market and had its own platform and a I-6. Toyota named it the Altezza where it got a high revving I-4. When the USA asked for it, at the time no one wanted an I-4 and the IS 200 was low on power so we got the IS 300 with the 2JZ.

The (probable) main reason the IS300 got the 2JZ is that Lexus intended it to compete with the BMW 3-Series, which, at the time, was well-known for the competency of their in-line sixes. I myself chose an IS, not only because I liked the chrome-ball shifter and chronograph-gauges, but also because IMO there was no comparison between the 3-series and IS in build-quality.
 

mikeavelli

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The (probable) main reason the IS300 got the 2JZ is that Lexus intended it to compete with the BMW 3-Series, which, at the time, was well-known for the competency of their in-line sixes. I myself chose an IS, not only because I liked the chrome-ball shifter and chronograph-gauges, but also because IMO there was no comparison between the 3-series and IS in build-quality.
You had yellow right? Trying to remember.
 

mmcartalk

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You had yellow right? Trying to remember.

Yep....they called it Solar Yellow. Toyota also used it on the Celica of that period. it was bright, but not quite a Chrome-Yellow.

At the time, it was probably the most difficult IS300 color to find...not a lot of people in my area wanted it. I also liked the Auburn Sky Metallic, which would have been my second choice.

2001 Lexus IS300 | Fuel Infection



Buy used 2001 Lexus IS300 Auburn Sky Pearl Rare Auto Cold AC Clean Title No  Accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States, for US $6,500.00
 
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ssun30

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JDM Altezza came before the IS. AS200 with 1G-FE has better fuel economy and usable torque than the flagship RS200 with 3S-GE BEAMS. Both JDM Altezzas are 2.0 because of displacement tax. At that time 3.0 engines are reserved for very high-end vehicles like the Crown.

The RS200 is one of the best driving sedans of its time in the hands of capable drivers. I remember in those early 2000s Touge videos the RS200 could keep up with Tsuchiya's AE86.