If Window Shop had gone to Uncle Ben’s school of common notions, the theme of today’s show would have been, “With greatly understressed engines comes great reliability.” Since it’s much easier to answer a challenge than moral obligations, the command was to find the most reliable car on sale with a budget of $10,000.

Road & Track senior editor John Pearley Huffman took a trip in The Internet Wayback Machine—or to an estate sale—for a 1992 Toyota Camry. The XV10 has never enjoyed such hyperbole, being compared to the Lexus LS400, Toyota’s winning GTP race cars, overbuilt Mercedes engineering, and the Platonic Form of Toyotas. Shame about those potentially dried seals, though.

Pearley “Thunder-stealer” Huffman had chosen the exact Camry that senior editor Joey Capparella planned to present. Capparella switched tabs to his Plan B, a second-gen Lexus GS300 powered by Toyota’s legendary 2JZ. Despite concerns about an ugly steering wheel cover, a propensity for foggy taillamps, and Capparella’s insider trading by choosing a version of his own car, the GS won reserved praise.

Contributor Jonathon Ramsey asked, “What’s the point of a reliable car I don’t want to be seen in?” The answer took him first to a Land Cruiser in Ontario disqualified for being too awesome. He settled on a 2008 Subaru Outback in excellent condition. Others noted the risk of a blown head gasket being antithetical to reliability, proving Ramsey might never relinquish his mantra that it’s better to look good than to get where you’re going.

Executive editor K.C. Colwell rolled up in the kind of unexpected gem he’s known for, a Honda Element with a manual transmission. The banter immediately turned to the seating arrangements, the cupholders, the cleanliness of the intake manifold, and how come no one ever sees the Honda Element anymore. At no time did anyone discuss or even mention the Element’s reliability.

Editor-in-chief Tony Quiroga thought he could carry off the win in a Lexus GX470. He answered every challenge to its four-wheel-drive complexity, Walmart service history, and supposedly missing lug nut with, “It will never break.” Considering the source, used GX prices should be headed to nosebleed heights and Lexus should sell every GX it can make as soon as this show airs. But would TQ be headed to a win?

Power and reliability live in inverse proportions, the same relationship reliability has with joy, adventure, and excitement. However, this episode of Window Shop proves boring cars are directly proportional to the chances of a crossfire gabfest.

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