2000 Spring Auto Guide

The best vehicles for this season

conservative. It looks more sophisticated, but will blend into traffic too readily. With a choice of a 126-horsepower 1.8-liter base engine or 145-horsepower 2.0-liter in the sporty SE, the Sentra can now be fun to drive. Californians who are environmentally sensitive may opt for the Sentra-CA, which has emissions so low it receives some of the same
government credits as an electric car, a major technological feat.

Pontiac Bonneville
Appealing to the buyer who enjoys a full-size sedan with a bit of ostentatious sportiness, the Bonneville is fun and practical. Styling would be a bit over the top for most brands, yet Ponti
ac insists its buyers are just the right audience.
You can’t tell by looking, but Bonneville is closely related to the conservative Buick LeSabre. Extensive suspension tuning gives the Bonneville a more sporty feel. At its upper level, the SSEi also features a supercharger. This boosts power from 205 horsepower in the “vanilla” trim level to 240, a figure made more resounding by the addition of low-rpm torque. Prices start at $24,295 and climb to the mid-$30,000 range when the car is fully equipped. Pontiac is aiming this car at the same buyers who gravitate toward Chrysler’s handsome and sporty 300M.
Except for the video-game-like steering in the supercharged model, the Bonneville does a commendable job of mating full-size room with sports
sedan athleticism.

Toyota MR2 Spyder
Those who think Toyota builds only stodgy, boring cars haven’t seen this one. And those who believe Toyotas tend to be more expensive than the competition also need to take a look. The MR2 Spyder is the first car to square off in both performance and value against Mazda’s vaunted Miata. At a meager $23,553, the MR2 Spyder is within a thousand bucks of the Miata’s base price, then adds much more standard equipment. In fact, with a CD player, air conditioning, ABS, alloy wheels and leather-wrapped steering wheel, there are no factory options.
Styling is also another surprise from Toyota. The MR2 Spyder looks like the offspring of a Porsche Boxster and Ferrari 348. It looks like fun and it is. The engine’s in back for a true mid-engine thrill. With fewer than 2,200 pounds to propel, the 138-horsepower 1.8-liter engine is more than enough for kicks.
The convertible top drops easily for that true roadster experience. The chink in the armor is a lack of luggage space. The MR2 Spyder’s trunk even falls short of the Miata’s. But there is plenty of room for immense fun.

Toyota Camry Solara Convertible
Continuing to spice up the line, Toyota is airing out the Camry. The Camry Solara is the sleek and sporty coupe version of the company’s staid sedan. But it’s time to move the needle just a little further toward the frivolity end of the scale. In this case, that means cutting off the top and letting the wind flow.
The fun doesn’t preclude a bit of luxury. The power folding top features a full headliner, automatic-down power rear windows and a large glass rear window. It takes about

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