Volkswagen New Beetle
Since its 1998 introduction, the New Beetle has received only a bare minimum of changes adding up to some new engines and minor styling tweaks. Despite its lengthy run, the New Beetle's age doesn't even compare to that of the original Bug. That car had a 35-year production run, selling outside of the U.S. as recently as 2003. An all-new replacement for the current model is expected by 2011, meaning the New Beetle will have had a thirteen-year life.
When we first reviewed the Saab 9-5 in our October 1997 issue, we wondered if General Motors would be able to properly nurture the eclectic Swedish automaker. The fact that this model is just leaving us twelve years later seems to provide a crystal clear answer. Front-wheel drive and a nineteen-year-old four-cylinder motor (even one that has received some upgrades) don't go very far in today's luxury-sedan market.
A new 9-5, based on a stretched version of the Epsilon platform that underpins the 9-3, is due for 2011. By that point, if everything goes as planned, Saab will be under the ownership of Swedish sports car builder Koenigsegg.
We know-the Elise has only been here for four years. But those lucky dogs in Europe have been driving the lightweight roadster since 1996. For nine long years, U.S. crash safety requirements kept Lotus from importing the car. The model we drive today has received several enhancements, including a revised front fascia, a 1.8-liter Toyota (versus Rover) four-cylinder, and, of course, airbags and other safety gear, but is still largely connected to the original Elise.
Chevrolet Express/GMC Savanna
Full-size, body-on-frame vans have been out of fashion among mainstream consumers for twenty-five years, which probably explains why they don't receive many updates. General Motors' full-size vans were last redesigned in 1996. Nevertheless, they continue to offer no less than five engine choices and several body and wheelbase configurations.