Great economy and beginners four wheel drive car
My sister ran the original engine out of oil.
The body sat for 2 years.
Carburetor needed rebuilding.
Well, I base performance not on acceleration or maximum speed, but on the capabilities of its total self.
The car is truly a masterpiece of Japanese engineering. Simple, yet durable. There is nothing fancy about this car. There is no traction control, there are no power windows, power locks... There is no fancy European leather, nor a fantastic turbo-charged engine. This is truly a simple machine.
This vehicle operates on a under-inspired, but over-engineered power plant. It is a 4 cylinder, 1.5L Overhead Cam engine pushing out around 62 horsepower.
The transmission is a 6-speed manual with a Shift-On-The-Fly 4wd transfer case. It is full-time FWD.
The suspension/drivetrain components consist of a solid live axle with 5-link setup in the rear supported by coil springs and shocks, and an independent forward suspension utilizing McPherson struts. Both systems include a stabilization (sway) bar.
While being a stationwagon, it handles remarkably well. The chief restriction is the tire size. It simply loosens right up. With proper coils, struts/shocks, bushings, and the likes, it has very little body roll.
Though being simple, the 4wd will move you through a variety of situations with relative ease.
Being a mid-aged teen, I can admit to this car being less than attractive. Oh well. A Jeep isn't as pretty as a McLaren F1, but it is more utilitarian. I am capable of fixing most problems in my driveway. In fact, I swapped a 1986 engine with the sames miles as the 1984 body in my front yard with a set of wrenches and a borrowed engine hoist.
For a first car, I would highly recommend this. It can teach a respect for older economy cars, it runs well (with the rebuilt carburetor I have it gets 26 to 34 mpg) with little fuel consumption. A very important factor for the younger crowd is the max speed of 82mph level and 89 mph on a 1% downgrade. 82 mph in a crash of carelessness is far less harmful than 150mph in an aluminum box of modern days.
This car is pre-aluminum. Only the cylinder head and transmission are aluminum. The body is stamped steel.
A classmate with one of these hit a Jeep that ran a light broadside at 50mph, and though he suffered a minor concussion from hitting the steering wheel and some bruising, he was fine. The Tercel had a bruised front end, whereas the Jeep had its side pushed in 8 inches. He was able to rebend the front and it ran fine again.
I personally lost control on an icy road and flew into a ditch at 30mph. I went down into the 4 foot deep rock-lined ditch and bounced out the other side. I suffered a slight gash in the front passenger door, but everything else remained perfectly fine.
Recently, I have been rallying it, and taking it off jumps and getting in excess of 3 feet of air. All on the original factory springs and struts/shocks.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 31st August, 2005