So I've had the XR for a couple days now. I bought the truck used with 92,000 miles on it. Initially, I just wanted to get a beater truck as a second vehicle. But the more I read about the XRunner, the more I didn't want to settle for something that drove like a beater truck. I had to give up my sports car when I got married. I used to drive a Honda S2000 that just drove and handled like a dream. And since then, I've been driving around in a very practical Honda Element. But practical isn't very fun. So the idea of getting a reliable but sporty truck like the XRunner was a good fit for me.
And let me tell you ... I love this truck. I mean, I LOVE this truck. The engine in this thing, even at 92,000 miles, feels so solid and strong. And it runs like a top. The six speed manual transmission took a little getting used to. And it's not nearly as quick to shift as the S2000, obviously. But it's just rock solid and shifting is very easy. The engine has so much torque that I barely have to give it any extra gas when letting out the clutch in first gear. It just grabs and pulls like a horse. Same with each gear. The engine and transmission just inspires confidence. It's rock solid, and even now, I just want to leave my office and go drive it around.
Again, coming from the S2000 with a 9000 rpm redline, this is very different when it comes to launching at a red light. The S2000 would launch with very little wheel spin since it was much lighter and had most of it's power at higher rpms. I got a chirp pretty easy out of the XR. It's a torquey little bugger. Feels like I'm driving a Camaro or Vette in a way. I'm not used to that, but I'm having a lot of fun with it (all legal, of course).
Ok, so lets talk handling. One of the things I used to love about my S2000 was the feeling that it was running on rails through corners. If you did get any tire slip, it was predictable if you didn't do anything stupid. I haven't pushed the XR hard in any corners yet. I'm still getting a feel for it, since I know it has more weight and all of that weight is up front instead of spread out evenly like in a proper sports car. With that in mind, though, I have been experimenting a little with the cornering. And I must say that I'm very impressed. The suspension does hold up nicely through the apex of the corner and I haven't felt any slippage yet. And that engine really wants to pull you out of the corners. So far, I can say that I feel very confident on dry surfaces in this truck. It rides the rail very well. I would love to take this out to an autocross event someday and see how it does in the cones. But we'll see if I go that route or not. In the meantime, while other trucks lumber through the corners, I'm on the gas and accelerating through them. And man is that fun to be able to do that again.
The one thing that I will say on the negative side is that I'm still trying to find the right gearing in the corners. It's probably just me getting used to the power band on the truck. I'm used to entering a corner at or around 6000 rpm. And with the XR, I don't know, just doesn't feel like I'm doing it right yet. I'm probably driving it timidly, and that's the problem. But I'm on city streets, so no need to get silly, yet. I'm still worried about that back end coming loose. So I think I'll keep it tame for a while until I can get it on a track and learn the truck a little better.
The only real negative I've seen so far is the brakes and I've got a bit of the steering wheel shake that I've read about on these forums. I'm hoping that I can get the shake resolved with a wheel balance, per the recommendations on this site. And the brakes ... well ... I can live with that for daily use.
Overall, I have serious man-love for this truck. Never thought I'd be a truck guy. But with a truck like the XR, anything is possible.