2000 Spring Auto Guide

The best vehicles for this season

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There are plenty of other technological feats that aid performance. The only unfortunate aspect is the COMAND system for controlling the car’s functions, which is difficult to use. Yet the CL500 will reward those who have the $85,500 to $90,920 (including gas-guzzler taxes) to invest and the time to learn its complexities with incredible performance and style.

Mercury Sable
Along with its nearly identical twin, the Ford Taurus, the Mercury Sable gets a near-complete makeover for 2000. The look grows more conservative, a change required to regain some of the cabin space lost with the previous generation’s more avant-garde appearance. Head room is improved so passengers no longer need to duck inward.
New options abound. Power adjustable brake and throttle pedals mean drivers with short inseams no longer need to sit too close to the steering wheel. Side impact airbags are a new option, and a traction control system is available for the first time-as long as you also opt for the anti-lock brakes.
Engines remain essentially unchanged. There is a handful of additional horsepower in the base 3.0-liter V6. An engine upgrade keeps the same displacement, but horsepower moves from 153 to 200 via such tricks as more valves. Pricing starts at $19,395 and can reach the mid-$20,000 range.
Aimed at the conservative buyer, there is no sporty version of the Sable. Handling is sedate, with heavy steering and a plush ride.

Mitsubishi Montero Sport
11The Montero Sport has played an important role in Mitsubishi’s recent financial recovery. For 2000, changes are being made to continue the momentum. A facelift keeps the car’s look rugged yet civilized. A change more important to SUV buyers these days is the softer rear suspension. By moving to coil springs instead of leaf springs, the on-road ride is more gentle.
Eliminated because of lack of customer interest are the four-cylinder model and the manual transmission. There are now four trim levels, ranging from $22,982 to $31,812. The uppermost level (the Limited) gets a larger engine: a 3.5-liter rather than a 3.0-liter V6. All but the lowest-price ES level are available with part-time four-wheel drive.
The Montero Sport competes in the compact SUV segment with the likes of Toyota 4Runner. Mitsubishi succeeds with attractive exterior styling and a cheerful interior. A limited option list keeps the choices simple, and even the most basic model includes such amenities as CD player, air conditioning and power windows.

Nissan Sentra
12In recent years, Nissan has skirted the main competition by offering cars that were in between the popular sizes others offered. Well, things have changed. The company now intends to go head-to-head with the best, and it is starting with its most affordable offering, the Sentra. An all-new 2000 Sentra is larger in nearly every dimension. It gets more power and more standard features than before. Yet Nissan is also lowering the price. Final prices aren’t set at this writing, but the forecast puts the starting level below $12,000 and the peak still under $17,000.
The new car is more roomy and comfortable. Styling remains perhaps too

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