Hey LaLD! Today I’ve decided to try a new theme day. As you’ve probably noticed, a large portion of my 1:64 scale collection revolves around the delightfully mundane and everyday; thus, I propose that we have Suburban Sundays! This will be a showcase of all the cars that are average enough to be not particularly nationalistic (thus not suitable for Teutonic Tuesdays, Thursdays on the Thames, French Fridays, etc.), and are not quite characterful enough to be celebrated on their own. In fact, today’s selection couldn’t really qualify for country theme days anyways since several represent more than one nationality! So, without further ado, I bring to you the first Suburban Sunday!
Today’s selection of suburbanite vehicles include three brown CUVs which have all existed in the USDM realm in one form or another. Despite this initial similarity, they are rather disparate in many other regards. Two wear American badges stateside but sit on European platforms, two are also Korean influenced and manufactured (if not for the US market), and two more offer up to seven row seating (as opposed to one’s five).
The first two that wear American badges stateside are the Ford Explorer and the Opel Antara aka Chevrolet Captiva Sport/Saturn Vue. While the first is a wholly American product largely intended for the US market, the latter is a throwback to the Saturn/Opel years where the nouveau American brand leeched off mediocre offerings from Europe. After Saturn’s demise, the Vue/Antara became the rental-fleet-only Captiva Sport that we all know and love. Despite the Vue/Antara/Captiva’s clear European underpinnings, the Explorer too has a bit of European lineage as its D4 platform is a distant derivative of Volvo’s new-for-1999 P2.
Moving on, the Antara and Sorento are both influenced by Korea; the latter obviously because it’s a Kia, but the former because of GM’s ownership of Daewoo which meant that the Antara/Captiva/Vue was also badged as the Daewoo Winstorm MaXX while also providing additional production capacity at Daewoo’s Bupyeong plant. Interestingly enough, in some markets (particularly Chile) the German-made Antara competed directly against the identical Korean-made Captiva. This is all a bit irrelevant to us Americans, though, as our rental-grade Captivas are all made in Mexico.
Finally, the Sorento and Explorer are both spacious, American family-oriented seven seat behemoths ready to haul families and trailers across the country with their respective 3.3 and 3.5 litre V6s. The Captiva really competes more against the Escape and Sportage (or would if it was sold to citizens) where its 3L V6 is somewhat outdated though still plenty powerful.
It’s funny how the most incompetent, outdated, and mediocre car here, the Opel Antara/Captiva/Vue, is the most interesting because of GM’s corporate jumbling and confounding. The Sorento and Explorer are positively boring in comparison, yet are likely infinitely better vehicles designed from the ground up for a specific purpose, mission, and market in mind.
I suppose the lesson we can take from this first Suburban Sunday is that to be historically interesting, a car must first be painfully mediocre. This has been proven time and time again with things like the Opel Kadett/Daewoo Racer/Pontiac Le Mans, etc., the Hillman Hunter/Rootes Arrow/Paykan, and literally anything ever made by British Leyland. Perhaps these icons of corporate hubris and incompetence are meant to serve as reminders that though things like the Sorento and Explorer may be boring, at least they’re quality made, engineered, and designed, and for most consumers, that’s enough. Thanks for reading and have a great Father’s Day!