NOT LOONY: At first glance, the VW Phaeton should deserve a spot in our loony limo gallery, but the stretch limousine is more likely to make you mad instead of laugh. The quality of VWs has plummeted since the German automaker peaked in the U.S. in 1998-2000 with its VW Jettas and Passats. I know from personal experience that a Passat is not a reliable vehicle, incurring all kinds of maintenance problems and repairs well before old age. I finally got rid of it at 53,000 miles. So it's rather pathetic to see a VW Phaeton limousine feigning livery luxury and reliability. We didn't even know there was such a thing. The Phaeton was VW's response to the BMW 7-series and other high-profile luxury sedans in the $85,000 to $120,000 range. It sold so poorly in the U.S.during the early 2000s that dealerships yanked it. VW should stay out of livery; it's not a car associated with reliable, classy chauffeured transportation. -- M.R.
BTW/FYI: A Phaeton limo carrying an Austrian governor, Joerg Haider, crashed at 88 mph Saturday night in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, kiling the Neo-Nazi sympathizer. No mourning needed for the vehicle or its occupant.
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