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The TACH Report: Some New Models . . . What's Hot and What's Luke Warm.

26 March 1998


1998 NISSAN PATHFINDER LE

Here is a very popular Sport Utility--count 'em the next time you are
at a stoplight.  It seems to have everything but lags in the "scat"
department.

Neat features include: heated seats, leather, cruise, alloy wheels,
distinctive paint scheme, power antenna, 5000 lb. towing capacity,
glass sunroof, and a fairly smooth ride.  Suspect features include the
$34,538 price-tag, 15 mpg city, torque off the line, and running
boards that look real nice--if they were on a Lincoln Navigator where
they are needed, that would be fine--on the Pathfinder they are a
chrome accessory, and not very functional.

1998 JAGUAR  XJR

What can you say about a 70 grand luxury four door that has the
performance of a Corvette and handling of an Aston Martin?  The car
with its distinguished mesh grill facade has a supercharged motor
putting out 370 horse power, 387 foot pounds of torque, and sports a
five-speed automatic trans with normal sport mode.  It has four wheel
disc brakes, big alloy wheels, plus sport tuned shocks and springs.
This 4,100 pound four door will hit 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, and that's
hauling.

Our main gripe is the treatment of instrument gauge numbers: they
cannot be read in sunlight, and even when illuminated they are really
too small.  If they want visibility, Jag should look at the big analog
gauges on the Nissan products. After all, who has the bread to buy a
supercharged Jaguar? Older people with poor vision.

NISSAN 240SX SE

At $23,267 this a bunch of car.  Even though it's a four-banger, the
coupe has plenty of performance from its 16 valve 2.4 liter engine. It
has power windows, digital clock, rear AND side window defrosters, and
the big white faced analog style gauges.  For a moderately priced
coupe, it sports remote trunk and gas releases, fold down rear seat,
and even has a $700 ABS system.  At 22 city and 28 highway, it makes
sense.  If we have any gripe, its the cramped rear seat--but you gotta
realize, it is a coupe.

1998 VOLVO CROSS COUNTRY STATION WAGON

People constantly ask us what kind of car should I/we buy, and we
always say you should figure out exactly what you want to use the car
for and how much dough you have to blow on personal/family
transportation.  If you have a ton of money and are prone to showing
off, buy an Aston Martin for $160,000--while the car is really a
modern antique/neanthradal, it will make you look and feel good.  The
Jaguar XJR is for people with the wherewithal who crave performance
and luxury.  The Nissan 240SX is a personal sporty car, and the
Pathfinder is for "Soccer Moms" who think minivans are for old folks.

Volvo hasn't gotten around to making a minivan or sport ute, but the
company is getting sporty with the C70 Coupe (coming up on TACH next
month), and it is introducing a C70 convertible to the automotive
media "A" list.

Volvo's Cross Country V70 AWD four door is one of those wagons that
sort of makes you think you're driving a sporty car with a pretty neat
cargo capacity.  This vehicle has front and rear traction control, and
four wheel disc brakes.  Its five cylinder engine develops 190 HP
@5,200 rpm.

True to Volvo tradition the wagon has all the safety features you
could hope for: dual air bags, side impact bags.  Because it is from
Volvo-land, it has heated front seats.  Gripes? Time to start rounding
off the edges design and styling-wise, like the company did on the C70
coupe.  We think station wagons are still hot, and Volvo is proving
it. The Cross Country can be in your garage for $35,595.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel