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Acura MDX | www.acuracars.com
Based on the Honda’s leading Odyssey minivan, the Acura MDX solves the dilemma of those who really need the minivan but desire the look and feel of an SUV.
A 240-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine supplies smooth and ample power for service in a luxury vehicle. The interior is attractive and functional. It is filled with gadgets that prove both useful and entertaining. Starting in the mid-$30,000 range, expect one with a satellite navigation system and “touring package” to hit in the upper-$30,000 range. For that price you’ll find the MDX more comfortable, easier to handle, and functionally superior to nearly any truck-based SUV.
Audi TT Roadster | www.audicars.com
Audi’s TT is a solid hit in the marketplace. Dealers can’t keep them in stock, and buyers really enjoy the detailed and engaging styling features.
For that reason, the company recently added two versions: the quattro all-wheel-drive TT and the Roadster. Best of all, you can get a Roadster quattro, making this the only top-down, all-wheel-drive car you can buy without paying an exotic car price. While the TT starts out at a genteel $32,000, the full-boat, open-air model adds about 10 grand to the package.
You only get seating for two and a tiny trunk, but your troubles will drift off into the breeze when you apply the 1.8-liter turbo engine’s 225 horsepower. The TT Roadster is a delight whether you drive it or just look at it.
BMW 3 Series | www.bmwcars.com
Every model year it seems BMW brings out new and more interesting iterations of its compact car. At the tail end of the 2000 model year, the new convertible arrived to breathe fresh air into the mix. A sport wagon also made its debut, for those who prefer more function with the fun of a performance car. With sedans starting in the high-$20,000 range, this is a relatively affordable way to obtain this much sophistication. By the time you take off the top and load it with options, you’ll push well into the $40,000 range.
Regardless of which 3 Series your budget and fancy allow, it’s nice to know this is a car filled with performance, safety, and panache. It’s also the one everybody else wants to mimic.
Chevrolet Corvette | www.chevroletcars.com
The Corvette manages to provide a level of sophistication that is not readily apparent. After all, this is one of the largest cars built that will hold just two. Of course, the engine remains as ferocious as always, with a thundering 350 horsepower available from the 5.7-liter V8. Not enough? Try the Z06 with another 35 ponies ready to gallop.
Those not thoroughly trained in motor sports will have a difficult time taming this unwieldy beast. But Chevrolet intends to sell Corvettes to anyone with the $40,000 to $50,000 required. To keep things from getting out of hand, the active handling system combines traction with stability control. It uses electronic throttle and brake overrides to help prevent sudden loss of control.
Chrysler PT Cruiser | www.chryslercars.com
Is there anyone who isn’t in love with this little economy wagon? The surprise