2000 Winter Auto Guide

Reviews of 16 new vehicles

trio of models: base, high-luxury and touring. Prices should remain in the same $40,000-and-up bracket. A new technology introduced in this car is Night Vision, an infrared system designed to provide a look beyond the headlamps at the road ahead.

The Impala name returns to the Chevrolet lineup, although this time the model has a front-wheel drive platform with a V6 engine rather than the rear-wheel drive with a V8 that had been its legacy. This time the car is closely related to the also new Monte Carlo. With a starting price of $19,265, which can climb to a little over $25,000 when the car is fully loaded, the Impala is a full-size family sedan with interior room at a relatively reasonable price.

All Impalas include at least moderate levels of equipment, such as air conditioning, power door locks, AM/FM stereo, power windows and 4-wheel disc brakes. The LS is the upper trim level, and includes such features as side impact airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control.

There are two engine choices, a 3.4- or 3.8-liter V6, providing either adequate or decent power. The car is intended to give buyers a step up from the Lumina, a car which will soon be discontinued.

The Focus was originally intended to replace the Escort. Ford, however, is reluctant to put all of its small-car apples in one barrel, so the Escort got a late reprieve and remains on the market for at least one more model year.

The Focus was primarily designed for and first went on sale in Europe. Its tall, boxy shape-the car is 3 inches higher than an Escort-may look a bit odd, but Ford is not the only automaker to predict that this will be the shape of many small cars in the future. This “shrunken minivan” style provides greater interior room with a smaller footprint, a factor that is more of an issue in Europe than in the U.S.

The Focus will be offered in three body styles, a two-door hatchback, a four-door sedan and a station wagon. There are two engine choices (110 and 130 horsepower), both with 2.0-liter 4-cylinder powerplants. Prices begin at $12,280 for the base hatchback and $15,580, before options, for the top sedan.

Vying for the title King of Grins, the S2000 is pure sports car. Representing the first rear-drive Honda automobile since the S800 of 1973, this 240-horsepower thrill ride is easily among the most pure pleasure machines on the road. Technical credentials are impressive. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder VTEC engine produces more horsepower per liter than any other normally aspirated car engine. The X-bone design supplies the stiffest, most unshakable open top chassis on the market. A truly race car-inspired suspension design, massive brakes and Formula 1-style instruments give this car phenomenal performance credentials.

Despite the racing lineage, there’s more than enough luxury for a $30,000 two-seater. The power top goes up or down in six seconds. Leather upholstery, climate control, HID headlamps and CD audio system are all standard. Even the ride is quite tolerable by sports

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