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Thread: V-8 "rollers" are back!

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    V-8 "rollers" are back!

    American V-8 rollers are back: Big sedans, big V-8s -- not so big prices
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    For awhile, it looked like big American sedans with big V-8s were becoming things of the past -- for average people, anyhow. But the traditional (and affordable) V-8 "roller" is making a big comeback -- $3 per gallon gas notwithstanding.

    Here are three of the standouts, all of them packing a V-8 punch and costing less than $35k:

    * 2007 Buick Lucerne CXL ($30,460) -- GM's 48 valve, DOHC 4.6 liter Northstar V-8 used to be a Cadillac-only exclusive -- and Cadillac pricey. No more. To jump-start Buick's appeal to prospects whose next car won't be their last car, Buick now offers the same basic engine you'd find in a DTS or XLR in the much less expensive CXL -- a comfortable and attractively styled 5-passenger cruiser that also comes with rain-sensing wipers, leather seats and heated outside mirrors. Heated and cooled seats are available, as is Park Assist, heated windshield washer fluid jar and keyless entry with remote start. The Lucerne is the second-least-expensive V-8 powered large car you can buy right now -- and the most powerful in the $30k and under category.

    Of course, size isn't everything -- and bigger isn't necessarily better. It certainly wouldn't matter if the Lucerne were just another boozy starter casket with a fake convertible top, cheesy Mattel plastic inside, dated chassis and the driving dynamics of a well-worn rental car.

    But like its DTS cousin, the Lucerne's underpinnings, like the car's exterior styling, are fully up-to-date -- including hydroformed frame rails (for close tolerance/high-precision "one-piece" construction), a double-isolated engine/transaxle cradle, and the extensive use of GM's propriety "quiet steel" laminates to keep drivetrain and road noise from intruding into the passenger cabin. Lightweight "structural foam" is even injected into hollow portions of the stampings to add strength and quiet without adding weight.

    Like its DTS cousin, the Lucerne offers some pretty impressive ride and handling technology to complement the basic soundness of its chassis -- including the same Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system that first appeared on the XLR roadster and then the Corvette. This is probably the first Buick since the '80s-era Regal Grand National that doesn't fear curves like Dracula fears garlic.

    The CXL V-8 is arguably one of the best power-for-the-dollar deals in the entry luxury segment you can lay your hands on at the moment -- with its only obvious weakness being the absence of a GPS navigation system. But this can easily be rectified with the addition of an aftermarket unit -- while it'd be much harder to swap a V-8 into one of the Lucerne's six-cylinder competitors.

    * 2007 Ford Crown Victoria ($24,510) -- It doesn't get more traditionally American than the six-passenger, rear-drive, full-frame and V-8 powered 'Vic. For the price of a typical mid-sized, V-6 powered and front-wheel-drive sedan, you can live large the way we used to -- when cars like the 'Vic were the family car standard. It has more room on the inside than a Mercedes E-Class or BMW 5-Series, a 20.6 cubic foot that could almost swallow up both of them and a classic American V-8 that has the highway patrol's seal of approval -- since more cops use Crown Vics to chase down scofflaws than any other make of car.

    And it's not just the power delivery of the 4.6 liter, 224-hp V-8 that appeals to the law -- and ought to appeal to you, too. Unlike smaller, lighter-duty cars that can't take much of a hit, the body-on-frame Crown Vic is capable of absorbing serious punishment -- whether it's popping curbs at 40 mph while in hot pursuit to getting t-boned by a minivan-driving cell phone Chatty Kathy. The 'Vic has consistently earned the highest possible scores/ratings for occupant safety in government and insurance industry crash testing -- in both frontal and side-impact types of wrecks.
    In addition to its built-in crashworthiness, the 'Vic also comes standard with safety enhancements like four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist, as well as dual-stage air bags with seat-position sensors.

    To make the most of the Crown Vic, order up the optional sport and handling package -- which will outfit your 'Vic with most of the same equipment that comes in police cars, including high-performance dual exhaust (upping engine output to 239-hp), performance calibrated torque converter for the 4-speed automatic transmission, more aggressive 3.27 final drive ratio and performance tires/suspension settings.

    Granted, it isn't flashy and lacks "bling" -- and it's not as current in style as competitors like the Chrysler 300. Its bigness can also be intimidating in close quarters -- and it will definitely fill up your garage.

    But if you simply want the largest, safest, most comfortable large sedan your $25-$30k can buy, there's really no contest.

    * 2007 Dodge Charger R/T ($30,030) -- Anyone with "Vanishing Point" or "Bullitt" fantasies must make an appointment for a test drive. Don't let the four doors fool you; the new Charger R/T's 350-hp 5.7 liter Hemi V-8 is more than a match for the 440 Magnum used in the classic-era Chargers of the 1960s and early '70s.

    Stand on the brake and ease into the gas (traction control off, naturally). You'll feel the Hemi's torque (nearly 400 lbs.-ft.) assault the holding power of the rear discs, which very quickly give up the fight. Now it's up to you how long you want to smoke the tires -- because the Hemi has the grunt to shred them to their cases if you want to, digging little ruts into the road to mark the event, enshrouding you in a mushroom cloud of smoke. That's lots of fun -- but you'll save on tire replacement costs (and achieve the best 0-60 time) if you hold the engine against the brakes for just a moment before hammering the pedal to the floor, then side-stepping the brakes. Hold on tight as that long hood raises up and weight transfer does its thing; the rear wheels bite into the asphalt and the car surges forward accompanied by the bellowing fury of that Big Kahuna of an engine.

    Less than six seconds later, you are at 60 mph -- which is quicker, by the way, than most of the two-door Chargers of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bo and Luke might just consider trading up.

    Keep your foot in it and quarter mile is done with in about 14.5 seconds -- again, as good or better performance than its muscle car forbears.

    Both the R/T Performance Group and Daytona package also get more supportive sport buckets and other interior cosmetic and exterior enhancements.

    So effective is all this at ginning up the mystical muscle car ambiance that you almost forget the new Charger is a four-door sedan. It doesn't feel like one -- and it sure doesn't drive like one. And insofar as how it looks, Dodge has done amazing work here, too. The hunky lines and angry brow up front say "don't mess with me, city boy" as effectively as the absence of an extra pair of doors might on a lesser performance car.

    And yet it does have four doors -- so it can serve as a family car -- something few other "attitude cars" can manage. Usually, it's either-or. You take your pick -- and you live with the compromises.

    Not here.

    * 2007 Chrysler 300C ($34,055) -- Drive this car and its 1958 again; the sky is sunny and America's number one, we feel great about ourselves. Vietnam, OPEC -- and crappy little front-wheel-drive cars -- are still years away. Savor the cushy seats; the expansive dashboard and long hood. The reassuring feel of heavy doors that slam shut like the doors of a man's car ought to slam shut. That sense of limitless power and confidence -- a letterman striding down the hall, lesser humans making way -- pretty cheerleaders batting their eyes.

    In addition to the heroic 340 horsepower Hemi engine -- which also features fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology that improves gas mileage by as much as 10-20 percent -- your easy-to-finance/finagle $33k also gets you 18-inch spoked alloy wheels, five-speed automatic transmission with semi-manual shift function, impressive high-capacity brakes (13.6 inch discs up front, 12.6-inch discs out back), dual zone auto climate control, heated driver and front passenger seats, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, leather seats -- and instead of the usual fake wood, some really interesting semi-translucent tortoise-shell steering wheel trim and interior accents.

    For another $1,300 and change ($34,750) you can add a full-time all-wheel-drive system to the Hemi-equipped C.

    Now, the 300C is not everyone -- just as the similarly aggressive, in-your-face "letter series" cars of the 1950s and '60s weren't for everyone, either. Not everyone needs or wants a Hemi; some might find the 300's street heavy styling a bit intimidating.

    But if you agree with Machiavelli (and Don Corleone ) that it is better to be feared than loved, you'll almost certainly love the swagger of the newly annointed caporegime of large sedans.

    * 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP ($27,330) -- In the '60s, big Pontiacs with big V-8s like the Catalina and Bonneville ruled the far left lane. Triple deuce (three Rochester two-barrel carburetor) 389s and Super Duty 421s pushed the hawkish beaks of these proud tin Indians effortlessly through traffic -- and gave them a satisfying muscle car rumpety-rump exhaust note at the curb. You'll find the same endearing qualities in the V-8 powered Grand Prix GXP -- Pontiac's first eight-cylinder-equipped sedan in more than 20 years.

    Standard equipment in this model is a 5.3 liter V-8 with 303 horsepower feeding into a sport-calibrated 4-speed automatic transmission with manual and automatic shifting modes. With the traction control turned off, Dale Earnhardt-style smoky burnout launches are just a foot stomp away -- but the main attraction is the car's torquey forward rush from a low-speed roll-on. While that kid in the next lane is running his rice rocket to redline in second, you're steamrolling ahead of him without even trying too hard. If the kid's got something quick, just ease a little deeper into the pedal and let the wonder of cubic inches do its thing. There truly is no replacement for displacement.

    But while underhood potency is shared in common with its 389 and 421 forbears, the new GXP also has the goods to track fast around a corner -- something the old lead sleds never managed especially well. Eighteen-inch aluminum wheels replace the pretty but skinny eight-lug rims used on classic Pontiac road kings -- while four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS are far more suited to panic stops than four-wheel finned drums. The GXP also comes standard with a performance-calibrated version of GM's StabilTrak active handling traction/stability control system; it is programmed with higher limits before the computer begins to intervene -- allowing the driver more control during spirited cornering.

    Another cool feature that comes with the GXP is heads-up display (HUD). Derived from jet fighter applications, the HUD projects data such as your current speed in the form of a holographic image that appears to float in the air just above the hood and directly in your line of sight. The idea is to keep you informed without your having to take your eye off the road. Adding to the jet fighter ambiance are red-backlit gauges tucked into a hooded central nacelle, with the center stack canted toward the driver -- just like it was in the old Grand Prix SJ of the classic era.

    * 2007 Chevy Impala SS ($27,780) -- Chevy had a winner in the Corvette-powered, Caprice Classic-based Impala SS of the mid-late 1990s. But that model was dropped so GM could churn out more trucks and SUVs at the plant in Arlington, Texas, instead. Bad move. When the old Impala SS disappeared, so did Chevy's last credible performance sedan. V-6 Luminas were two cylinders too short -- and all the NASCAR-style marketing couldn't hide the deficit under the hood.

    That's no longer an issue -- and the SS is back. Four doors, six passengers -- and like the old Caprice-based Impala of the '90s, this one also features a Corvette-derived small-block V-8 to get all that moving. The big difference between then and now is the horses drive the front wheels instead of the rears. This is a "pro" in slick weather, though -- conditions that are to a rear-drive muscle machine what a lump of Kryptonite is to the man of steel. Power's not much help if all you're doing is spinning your wheels, after all. And in dry weather, the new SS's front-drive layout's not the hobble it would have been 10 or 20 years ago, when too much engine and front-wheel-drive led to herky-jerky torque steer (and often, premature CV joint and axle/half-shaft failures due to the excessive loads put on these parts). The new SS launches hard and steady, the steering wheel unperturbed and no need for violent counter-steering to keep the beast on course.

    SS versions of the Impala are visually discrete, too -- with minimal exterior ornamentation to give the game away to competitors (or cops). It's great for discrete high-speed cruising under the radar. And the V-8 features gas-saving Displacement on Demand technology, which shuts down four of the eight cylinders when they're not needed -- saving as much as 10 percent on annual gas bills and boosting mileage to a very respectable (for 303-hp) 28 mpg highway fuel economy capability.

    END

  2. #2
    jillsuncle
    Guest

    Re: V-8 "rollers" are back!

    A Buick Lucerne - A handsome comfy, car that offers good value. Amenities galore. Does that V-8 make this car either fast or economical? I belive it has a V-6 option. For the sedate crowd that need a car like this, that is probably plenty.

    You see GM lied to us. Oldsmobile is still manufacturing cars.

  3. #3
    JohnB
    Guest

    Re: V-8 "rollers" are back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ....
    * 2007 Ford Crown Victoria.....
    We have now done 2 trips to Northern California on the new Grand Marquis and we find it just as confortable as the Lincoln we had before. Cruising at 80 is like sitting on your living room sofa and just as quiet and that trunk.... man, you can put at least 3 bodies in there! (and their luggage<g>)

    The 4.6 L engine is smooth and delivers ample power for passing while doing 25-26 MPG. Not bad for a full size, 4 door car...

    Only complain is that the steering wheel doesn't tilt down as much as it did on the Mark.

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: V-8 "rollers" are back!

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ....
    * 2007 Ford Crown Victoria.....
    We have now done 2 trips to Northern California on the new Grand Marquis and we find it just as confortable as the Lincoln we had before. Cruising at 80 is like sitting on your living room sofa and just as quiet and that trunk.... man, you can put at least 3 bodies in there! (and their luggage<g>)

    The 4.6 L engine is smooth and delivers ample power for passing while doing 25-26 MPG. Not bad for a full size, 4 door car...

    Only complain is that the steering wheel doesn't tilt down as much as it did on the Mark.

    I like this car, too - just could use a blower and maybe some bigger tires. Oh yeah... and a set of Flowmasters!

  5. #5
    JohnB
    Guest

    Re: V-8 "rollers" are back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ....
    * 2007 Ford Crown Victoria.....
    We have now done 2 trips to Northern California on the new Grand Marquis and we find it just as confortable as the Lincoln we had before. Cruising at 80 is like sitting on your living room sofa and just as quiet and that trunk.... man, you can put at least 3 bodies in there! (and their luggage<g>)

    The 4.6 L engine is smooth and delivers ample power for passing while doing 25-26 MPG. Not bad for a full size, 4 door car...

    Only complain is that the steering wheel doesn't tilt down as much as it did on the Mark.
    I like this car, too - just could use a blower and maybe some bigger tires. Oh yeah... and a set of Flowmasters!
    There's room enough under the hood for a small blower, unlike the cramped Mark 8. The true dual exahust from the "handling package" option flows pretty good as it is. Removing the intake air silencer cone allows better breathing at WOT. (done already) I got the next larger size tires and stiffer shocks as part of the package too.

    There are a couple of mods I want to do to the trans, but I'll wait until further down the road to do them. I do like the mongo brakes on the front and rear. The rears are almost as big as the ones on the front of the Mark and the front ones are dual piston calipers.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Re: V-8 "rollers" are back!

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ....
    * 2007 Ford Crown Victoria.....
    We have now done 2 trips to Northern California on the new Grand Marquis and we find it just as confortable as the Lincoln we had before. Cruising at 80 is like sitting on your living room sofa and just as quiet and that trunk.... man, you can put at least 3 bodies in there! (and their luggage<g>)

    The 4.6 L engine is smooth and delivers ample power for passing while doing 25-26 MPG. Not bad for a full size, 4 door car...

    Only complain is that the steering wheel doesn't tilt down as much as it did on the Mark.
    I like this car, too - just could use a blower and maybe some bigger tires. Oh yeah... and a set of Flowmasters!
    There's room enough under the hood for a small blower, unlike the cramped Mark 8. The true dual exahust from the "handling package" option flows pretty good as it is. Removing the intake air silencer cone allows better breathing at WOT. (done already) I got the next larger size tires and stiffer shocks as part of the package too.

    There are a couple of mods I want to do to the trans, but I'll wait until further down the road to do them. I do like the mongo brakes on the front and rear. The rears are almost as big as the ones on the front of the Mark and the front ones are dual piston calipers.
    And more room inside, too. Plus if you hit almsot anything - except a freight train or a tree - you will win!

  7. #7
    JohnB
    Guest

    Re: V-8 "rollers" are back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ....
    * 2007 Ford Crown Victoria.....
    We have now done 2 trips to Northern California on the new Grand Marquis and we find it just as confortable as the Lincoln we had before. Cruising at 80 is like sitting on your living room sofa and just as quiet and that trunk.... man, you can put at least 3 bodies in there! (and their luggage<g>)

    The 4.6 L engine is smooth and delivers ample power for passing while doing 25-26 MPG. Not bad for a full size, 4 door car...

    Only complain is that the steering wheel doesn't tilt down as much as it did on the Mark.
    I like this car, too - just could use a blower and maybe some bigger tires. Oh yeah... and a set of Flowmasters!
    There's room enough under the hood for a small blower, unlike the cramped Mark 8. The true dual exahust from the "handling package" option flows pretty good as it is. Removing the intake air silencer cone allows better breathing at WOT. (done already) I got the next larger size tires and stiffer shocks as part of the package too.

    There are a couple of mods I want to do to the trans, but I'll wait until further down the road to do them. I do like the mongo brakes on the front and rear. The rears are almost as big as the ones on the front of the Mark and the front ones are dual piston calipers.
    And more room inside, too. Plus if you hit almsot anything - except a freight train or a tree - you will win!
    I have seen some CV PD cruisers that have hit trees and the occupants came out OK, banged up a bit but walking.
    Dunno about a freight train though...<G> Somewhere I have some pictures of those cars that were involved in the North Hollywood-LAPD shoot out a few years ago.

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