Economical American Compacts From 1982


Our recent Rare Rides coverage of the Chevrolet Citation made one thing very clear: We need more Citation content. Today’s 1982 Buy/Drive/Burn lineup was suggested by commenter eng_alvarado90, who would like to see all of you struggle. Citation, Aries, Escort, all in their most utilitarian formats. Let’s go.

Chevrolet Citation

The Citation is in its third model year for 1982, and sales have already fallen far from their initial peak of 800,000. The bloom is off this rose, but GM is still on track for six-digit sales this year. Sticking firmly to economy and utility, today’s Citation is a five-door hatchback equipped with the 2.5-liter Iron Duke inline-four and paired to a four-speed manual. Throttle-body injection is new this year and means 90 horses are underfoot. There’s also a new horizontal slats grille.

Dodge Aries K

The Dodge Aries is still new and is in its second model year for 1982. Chrysler started out strong last year with over 300,000 sales, and will likely reach that number again in ’82. Today’s Aries is the four-door wagon, as Chrysler does not offer a hatchback K-car at this level. Underhood is the base 2.2-liter Chrysler inline-four, which uses a two-barrel carb. Eighty-four horses are at the driver’s command, shifted through a four-speed manual. New this year: rear windows roll down on sedans and wagons, replacing the fixed glass.

Ford Escort

Ford’s Escort is also in its second model year for 1982. The American market Escort was supposed to be very similar to the European one for parts sharing purposes. However the respective design teams each headed their own direction, and the two cars share only an engine and transmission. Today’s five-door Escort hatchback is new for ’82, along with a new grille and presence of the familiar Ford Blue Oval. The base 1.6-liter CVH engine gets a high output version this year, which increases power by about 10 horses, to 80. Power is delivered to the front via a four-speed Ford MTX manual.

Economy and cheap driving are available to you, and they’ll probably hold up for at least three years before falling apart. Which gets the Buy?

[Images: GM, Chrysler, Ford]

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