not been kind. The VW Beetle is cuter and every Japanese brand name provides better quality. Interior room is still reasonable and the rounded shape provides even rear-seat passengers with good head room. However, the rear windows roll down barely far enough to slide a compact disc through. The interior is well laid out with instruments and controls easy to find. In all, the Neon scoots around rather nicely with good handling and decent brakes.
When looking for an affordable, yet fun and reliable small car, the Honda Civic is a must on any shopping list. Whether you want a two-door hatchback, four-door sedan or small coupe, there’s a Civic that fits the bill. Prices range from about $11,000 to $18,000.
Although all are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, horse
power can vary: 106, 115 or 127. None are overly slow and the EX models with the most potent power plants are snappy, with the slick-shifting manual transmission.
There’s plenty of glass area for a bright and cheerful interior. For 1999, a mild face-lift updates the appearance. But the basics of the quintessential little car remain. At its most economical, you can get up to 44 mpg on the highway and you can expect 28 mpg overall from the worst of the lot. The ride may not be as quiet and calm as the best in this class, but a Civic isn’t far behind. And for all but the cheapest models (with their tiny tires), handling is among the very best. There’s a whole subculture that loves to hop up these little cars to turn them into high-performance cars. The fact that this is even possible lets you know that Honda has built something special here. . www.honda.com
When actress Kim Fields was looking to buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee a few years ago, she decided she wanted to buy from a black dealer. Not sure where to find one, she called BLACK ENTERPRISE to find out if we had such a list. While we referred her to the BE AUTO DEALER 100, the best place to get a list of black dealers is the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD).
There are currently 700 minority and women-owned auto dealerships across the country, and 451 of them are members of NAMAD. A dealer directory that’s broken down by state, this list can be obtained complete with dealership name, address, phone number and proprietor’s name. You can get the list by contacting: NAMAD, 1111 14th St. NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20005; or www.namad.com. If you want specific information on the models sold at individual dealerships, you can call the NAMAD office at 202-789-3140 or e-mail them at NAMAD-DC@ e-mail.msn.com to find dealers that can service you. –Marjorie Whigham-Desir
Mazda has surprised us with an all-new Protege for 1999. Although the company says pricing will change little, if at all, from the current $12,000 to $16,000 range, the car itself has the look and feel of a more expensive automobile. It loses a