Spring Auto Guide, 1999

Our picks of the best vehicles this season

than double torsional rigidity to further enhance handling prowess.
Why build an oddly styled small hatchback that can seat only two? BMW is making a statement here: they want to continue to endear themselves to the hardcore motoring enthusiast. An interior with tight-fitting bucket seats and chrome-surrounded instruments harkens to an era of purity in sports cars. Although this is a car that may have limited appeal, that special cadre will find this $41,800 mighty mite of a car to be the ultimate of a genre. In fact, this could just be the most fun, street-legal, passenger car you can buy.

Buick LeSabre
www.buick.com
The LeSabre’s status as the best-selling full-size car in America looks to be quite safe in the immediate future. Sibling Oldsmobile Eighty Eight is gone and there are fewer competitors than ever. So when Buick decided to give the car a complete make-over for 2000, it changed only enough to keep LeSabre owners happy. Styling, interior room and even the drivetrain won’t be much different.
But that’s not to say improvements won’t be noticed. A new platform is said to be much more rigid. Side airbags are an important addition to these safety-conscious buyers. The interior gets a badly needed update with larger and more modern-looking gauges. There is a trunk pass-through for longer objects, but it cannot be locked, leaving a bit of a lapse in security for small objects in the trunk. The rugged 3.8-liter V-6 produces a smooth and pleasant 200 horsepower.
Pricing will change little from 1999, ranging from around $23,000 to about $30,000. The idea is an affordable way to provide 6-passenger comfort and extra luxury without breaking the bank.

Chevrolet Silverado Pickup
www.chevrolet.com
It has been more than a decade since Chevrolet gave its full-size pickup truck a major revision. Although rivals Dodge and Ford did the same earlier this decade (1994 and 1997 respectively), Chevrolet took a far more conservative route when it came to styling. Instead of the more modern-looking Ford or aggressive Dodge, Chevrolet kept its straightforward and a bit pedestrian styling. It’s worth noting that this vehicle serves as the platform for GM’s SUVs, from the Suburban to the Cadillac Escalade. Those vehicles will be adopting this new platform during the next two years.
A more rigid frame provides much improved ride and handling. All-new engines are a bit smaller, but retain most of the torque with increased horsepower. The truck itself is larger with more room inside the cab. Unfortunately, passenger-side foot room is severely compromised by ventilation ducting that seems ill-placed. Prices begin at $19,758, but can grow to nearly $40,000, an unfathomable sum for a pickup truck a few years ago.

Ford Mustang
www.fordvehicles.com
With an ancient platform that dates to the 1970s, the Mustang remains the most popular car of its kind. For 1999, it gets another notable update that puts some creases in the sheet metal for a smart new look. Following Ford’s “new edge” theme that began with the Mercury Cougar, the Mustang gains a more racy demeanor.
Appearances are backed up beneath

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