2000 Spring Auto Guide

The best vehicles for this season

four-cylinder turbo or the 2.8-liter V6, acceleration could leave the performance
enthusiast yawning.
No more. The S4 is basically the A4 treated to a slightly smaller 2.7-liter V6, but with twin turbochargers. The net result is 250 horsepower and, even more thrilling, 258 lbs. ft. of torque that arrives at a low 1,850 rpm. Translation? Step on the throttle and you go 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds. Thanks to Audi’s renowned standard Quattro IV all-wheel-drive system, the S4 is surefooted in nearly any weather. A firmer suspension and grippy 17-inch tires help complete the performance package. A five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is standard, as are most amenities. Starting at $37,900, this is the Audi that’s ready to tangle with the best from BMW. And when the weather turns sour, the smart money bets Audi.

Although BMW would prefer you call the X5 something other than an SUV, it does fall firmly into that category. It reigns at the upper end, with a starting price of $49,970, and can reach beyond $60,000 when fully equipped. For that, you get a powerful V8 engine, a full-time four-wheel-drive system and a road-conquering suspension. The X5 is also equipped with a host of electronic goodies that will keep you in line during exuberant cornering, assist you in low-traction situations and even take much of the fear out of descending very steep inclines.
Interior dimensions may fall a bit shy of those of similarly priced competitors, but the ride and handling are very much at the head of the class. Other than the tall seating height, the driving experience is that of a thoroughbred BMW sedan but with extra traction and ground clearance. The company makes no off-road
ability claims, pitching the X5 for “any road, any time.”
For secure driving in nasty conditions, the X5 is a pleasant choice. Coming soon will be a six-cylinder model that may be less powerful, but will be sold at a more reasonable price.

Chevrolet Tahoe
An all-new Tahoe arrives for the 2000 model year. Don’t, however, confuse it with the Tahoe Classic, a carryover model that will remain available for a brief time. On the outside, the latest version looks like a Classic with little more than a facelift, but the underpinnings are new. The Tahoe gains a more rigid, better riding structure and more powerful brakes. New V8 engines are slightly downsized at either 4.8 or 5.3 liters, but the refined automatic transmission takes good advantage of either 275 or 285 horsepower, respectively. A new option is a third row of seats that’s suitable for children.
For a starting price of $25,604 in rear-wheel drive and $28,520 with Autotrac four-wheel drive, the Tahoe is a roomy, comfortable and very capable-handling
full-size SUV. Expect to see several thousand dollars in options added to most.
GM’s vague-feeling Magnasteer system and excessive ventilation ducting in the passengers’ foot well are the only significant flaws. Otherwise, the Tahoe is
functionally superior to most of its similarly priced competitors.

Dodge Dakota Quad Cab
As pickup trucks gain in

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