Drive To The Top

Looking for the best car to meet your needs? Stop here for direction.

met do they consider other attributes. Sports cars may be beautiful, but if you need to transport heavy loads, they aren’t very practical. That doesn’t mean functional vehicles have to be an eyesore or lack in performance. Some people find the side cladding on Chevrolet’s new Avalanche to be rather — to put it politely — unattractive. Yet love or hate the looks, this is a vehicle that sets new standards for versatility. It can be reconfigured into a pickup, an SUV, or both, and it offers a 4WD option, holds up to six people, and tows hefty trailers. This is a big truck that fits big needs.

At the other end of the function scale is the small, efficient transport. A no-frills Honda Civic gets where you need to go for minimal cost and isn’t a bad ride. If you require more cargo space, the midsize sedan models, the largest automotive, segment offer room, comfort, and economy.

For carrying the most people comfortably, you can’t beat the minivan. While SUVs are more stylish, none can equal the usefulness of a Honda Odyssey. Nor, can any SUV match a Mazda MPV for easy handling even with seven people aboard. Bottom line here: the functionality of a car depends on the needs of the driver. Decide what you need in a car before getting behind the wheel.

From the thrill of acceleration in a Mustang GT to the precise cornering of a Mazda Miata, high performance often means specialization. Any all-wheel-drive Subaru will outperform that powerful Mustang in the snow, while carrying more cargo than the Miata.

Although it’s hard to replace the thrills of driving a specialized vehicle, the most practical cars are multi-dimensional. Subaru’s WRX has a turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive road grip, yet it is affordable and well-rounded. If you’re seeking additional luxury, Audi’s A4 or BMW’s 3 series puts smiles on the faces of the well-heeled. Whenever automobile companies unveil a sports sedan, it is inevitably compared to the BMW 3 series — and with good reason. With great performance for the money, it is the epitome of the sports sedan.

It’s possible to get great handling, acceleration, and comfort all in one in a luxury sedan. Luxury sedans and big engines go hand in hand. From Cadillac’s DeVille and Lexus’ LS 430 to the big BMW and Mercedes-Benz sedans, these are cars that do everything well — except fit into a tight budget.

SUVs rarely offer much performance, unless you’re an off-road enthusiast. Most lack swiftness on the road. They may be big and have powerful engines, but their size and weight offer more commotion than effective motion.

Stretching a buck is important to just about everybody. That’s why top value is found in the most popular cars. Competition is merciless when you’re trying to sell more than 300,000 of anything. Cars such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord — two automobiles that continually battle for the title of “best seller” — are excellent automobiles that can be purchased at bargain prices. This year, however, there’s another

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