I'm not the biggest fan of the Roadmaster styling myself, I prefer the older box style Chevy and Ford wagons, and of course the older classic wagons too.
However a lot of people actually like the styling, and these cars hold very good resale value, especially for an early 1990's domestic car. They are not cheap to buy, as a lot of collectors especially like the ones that came with the LT1 350 TBI, which is a Corvette derived engine.
As for quality, these are great cars. I have ridden in them before, and they are called "Roadmaster" for a reason. Very reliable and known to run to very high mileage, over 300k.
It's basically a car built like a truck, with the towing capacity to match.
You just cannot beat a V-8 powered rear wheel drive full size car for a long road trip, and for general riding comfort.
I personally only drive full size Chevy or Ford land yachts from the 80's, as they are inexpensive to purchase, require almost no servicing, and are extremely reliable.
Not to mention comfort that cannot be found in any new car under 20k.
Even though the Roadmaster styling is questionable, it is still a classic, as it was one of the last wagons made as the family market had mostly changed to minivans and SUVs by that time. The last of an American classic, the family station wagon!
I'd still take a modern body on frame car such as a Grand Marquis or a Town Car over some unibody junk any day. These cars vs a 2011 Explorer? Give me a Crown Vic or the other two mentioned above, which are basically a lowered truck, not some unibody on stilts.
Aesthetic and design is nice, but engineering wins the day.
You dismiss the Roadie because the interior is 'plasticy'. Not exactly a crushing indictment, but OK. Whatever. Looks about the same as everything else coming off the line here in the year 2011.
All anecdotes about your aunt's Roadmaster or your 1955 truck aside, you will notice that there is little (to no) meaningful criticism about this model from a long term reliability standpoint. As I type this, I have open another window of someone selling a Roadie Wagon with 285K miles on the clock... and still running like a top (or, at least that's what they say in the ad). I've seen tired, old Roadmaster warhorses in parts yards with 200k, 250k, 300k on the OD (and those are miles, not kilometers).
If you don't like the "looks" of the car, no worries. Move along to something else that 'looks good' to you. If you want a vehicle that offers damn near everything else, and will run deep into the 200K and beyond range with proper care, this is it. Considering you can still find very well maintained sub 100K examples in the $3K or $4K price range that may have another 10 years left in them, one could do *a lot* worse in an inexpensive used car.
And just out of curiosity, are there any other cars here on Carsurvey that have pretty much UNIVERSAL positive reviews like the Roadie does? Disregarding those that only have one or two reviews... I mean, even the reviews with the little :| or :( faces are still pretty much glowing.
The consumer feedback record of the Roadies speaks for itself. All 'theories' or blowhard ideas aside, what you see here on Carsurvey under the Roadmaster heading says everything that needs to be said about this car.
The last? Not hardly. You can buy a brand-new Cadillac CTS Wagon. They make it in a CTS-V model with a V8 too. Lastly - it's actually an attractive car too and not some old people-mobile.
We live in interesting times in regards to cars and engines. The fact is that there are now a lot of V6 engines on the market that deliver more horsepower and torque than V8's from 10 years ago. I've driven a number of newer V6 and 4 cylinder cars lately - including the Cruze and honestly - they're impressive. A lot of the newer engines use direct-injection, and thus you get the more immediate power and torque of a diesel, plus better fuel economy. Given that gas is around $4 a gallon, it hardly makes sense to buy a V8 when you can get the same performance out of a V6. Then again - it's not my money, and people can choose to waste it as they so choose.
Lastly - let's put the "unibody junk" comments to rest, shall we? There's no truth in that logic because it's simply untrue. There's an old line of thinking - in other words, the thinking that the Big 3 followed forever when they built shoddy, uninspiring products, and the new line of thinking that the Big 3 and many import brands now adhere to - which is to make attractive, higher performance, more reliable vehicles.
The argument modern body on frame v unibody is irrelevant regards safety. Take a look at RIP very much loved Princess Diana and her untimely death. The car she was travelling in had no expense spared as regards safety features, even if it was a 2 decade+ unibody design. When your time is up, your time is up, especially when excess speed comes into the equation.
I drive an old unibody M-body Chrysler Fifth Avenue, and like the square boxy styles of that era, including the larger Ford and GMs, all had side impact beams, safety crumple zones, and nearly all last few years produced model were equipped with driver side airbags. Apart from the better brake systems and more airbags of modern cars, we are still driving in a tin box, like it or not, no matter what gadgetry features are installed. I firmly believe the longer hood and trunk is a plus in safety compared to the modern safety illusion of big wheel arches accommodating 16"+ tires, making the modern car look beefier and more solid. Like the song goes, "well I don't believe in miracles anymore, it's an illusion, just an illusion".
According to the latest safety research (not to mention the laws of physics) the safest vehicles on the road are large body-on-frame SUV's. You are 3 times more likely to die in a crash in a smaller unibody vehicle than in a crash or roll over in a large SUV. This was published in the national news media recently. Of course anyone actually having witnessed a crash between a large SUV (or body on frame car) and a unibody car knows this. We have had two vehicles total themselves against the rear of our big SUV's. In one case a tail light was broken and the hatch dented. In the other case we just buffed the paint of the other car off, and were good as new.