Top
Bottom
Top

Car Corner
New Car List

August 1, 2006
By Scott Lewis

I thought it was time to revisit the list of new cars I am considering come early 2008. A few months ago I took a look at gas mileage in regards to new cars, which opened the door to a lot of cars. I also attended my second Auto Show In Motion put on by General Motors and went to the New York International Auto Show. All of these things have conspired to influence the new cars I will think about when I go shopping.

This month I would like to list every car that is on my mind for a new car. You will see a lot of cars below. One of the reasons for this list was that I needed to research how to create a collapsible list of text within a web page. I did not want a collapsible menu, just text. To expand the text below simply click on the name of the cars. You can click on them again to collapse the text. Depending on how your browser is setup you may get a warning about Active Content. I believe this is because the collapsing feature uses JavaScript. It is safe to allow this content. There is nothing unusual going on here. I apologize for this minor inconvenience. It works differently for me depending on what computer I am on, so I am sure it is a security setting.

Since I was having fun researching the vehicles I decided to price each one out on their respective manufacturer's web site. The prices listed were the prices as configured on the day I did the research for each car. I started this list a while ago so some of the dates are old. The prices are not a big deal. I am trying to get a feel for the overall price range of vehicles and how their consideration will be impacted by my budget.

A couple of cars were not yet available while working on this list. BMW 330Ci & VW Eos. The Bimmer is basically my dream car. If I had plenty of money I would just buy it. There may be cars out there that perform better, or have more luxury, but I think this car really is my Ultimate Driving Machine. I wanted to use the 330Ci as a price limit. Since the new 330Ci is not available I used the 330i (sedan) as my price ceiling. I expect to have a budget right around $35K. The 330i is out of range. I doubt I will be able to get it. But setting a price range in the low $40K made this a fun exercise. The VW Eos is a retractable hardtop convertible that will go toe-to-toe with the Pontiac G6 convertible which is listed below. I also heard Chrysler is planning to make both a soft top and retractable hard top of the Sebring convertible. Obviously this is becoming a cool thing. I tried to think of every single car I would consider. No, I am not going to cross shop a Pontiac Solstice against a BMW 330i.

I listed some comments with each car. I also gave a very short pros and cons list. These are the pros and cons for me. Enjoy, and remember I did this more to get a collapsible section of text working than to really look at the cars. Since I love cars it gave me an excuse to look at a bunch of cars while working on this web project.

+ Mini Cooper

Pros: Relatively Cheap, Cute, Great Gas Mileage.
Cons: Slow.
Bottom Line: The power to weight ratio of this cute car is about the same as my old 1989 Honda CRX Si. In that regard it is like taking a step backward. At this price I could get a Chevy Cobalt SS with a 200 horsepower supercharged engine. However, if gas prices continue to climb this will look better and better. Since I fully intend to keep my 93 Z28 I am wondering if I could give up on performance with this car. Also, by getting a car this low in price I may be opening the door to buying an old project car. Although I don't know where I will be able to store that many cars. This could also make a good car to pass onto my kids when they reach driving age. With the rear seats folder down hopefully this car can hold all the camping gear I need when I go camping with one of my sons.

Base MSRP$17,450
Destination & Handling$550
Astro Black Body Color$450
Convenience Package$400
      Universal Garage Door Opener
      Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
      Rain Sensor and Auto Headlamps
Sport Seats$300
Leather: Lapis Blue$1,300
Automatic AC$300
3-Spoke w/Cruise and Multifunction$250
8-Spkr. Harman Kardon Sound System$550
Center Arm Rest$200
Int. Surface "Seven" Piano Black$200
Total (as of 6/5/2006)$21,950

+ Mini Cooper (Loaded)

Pros: Relatively Cheap, Cute, Great Gas Mileage.
Cons: Slow.
Bottom Line: I think of the Mini Cooper as the smallest luxury car on the market. Let's just see how luxury we can get it. I decided to load up a Mini to see just how far I can push the luxury envelope. I left out the Premium Package because I don't want a panoramic sunroof to heat up my car everyday. I also skipped on the Sport Package because the most expensive thing in it was the Dynamic Stability Control which I don't really care for.

Base MSRP$17,450
Destination & Handling$550
Astro Black Body Color$450
Convenience Package$400
      Universal Garage Door Opener
      Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
      Rain Sensor and Auto Headlamps
      Dynamic Stability Control
Front Fog Lamps $150
Xenon Headlamps w/Power Wash $550
Sport Seats $300
Chrome Line Interior $200
Automatic AC $300
On-Board Computer $200
3-Spoke w/Cruise and Multifunction $250
8-Spkr. Harman Kardon Sound System $550
Center Arm Rest $200
Leather: English Panther Black $1700
Int. Surface "Seven" Piano Black $200
Rear Spoiler (Painted)$270
Sport Exhaust $675
Cupholder Accessory $50
Sun Shade $48
Panther Leather Shift Knob $45
Panther Leather Hand Brake Cover $84
Black Carpet Floor Mats (4)$95
Auxiliary Audio Input $40
Hands Free Phone w/Bluetooth $450
Total (as of 6/5/2006)$25,207

+ Mini Cooper Convertible (Loaded)

Pros: Cute & Topless, Gas Mileage.
Cons: Not So Cheap, Slow.
Bottom Line: Again, this might be too slow for me, but it is reasonably priced for a loaded luxury convertible. Gas mileage is a huge plus for this car. My kids will probably love it.

Base MSRP$21,950
Destination & Handling$550
Astro Black Body Color$450
Black TopSTD
Body Color MirrorsSTD
Cold Weather Package$300
      Heated Front Seats
      Heated Side Mirrors and Washer Jets
Convenience Package$400
      Universal Garage Door Opener
      Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
      Rain Sensor and Auto Headlamps
Premium Package$1,400
      Chrome Line Interior
      Automatic AC
      On-Board Computer
      3-Spoke w/Cruise and Multifunction
      8-Spkr. Harman Kardon Sound System
      Center Arm Rest
5-Speed Getrag ManualSTD
15" 5-Star RocketsSTD
Front Fog Lamps$150
Xenon Headlamps w/Power Wash$550
Sport Seats$300
Leather: Cordoba Beige$1,300
Cupholder Accessory $50
Sun Shade $48
Beige Carpet Floor Mats (4)$95
Auxiliary Audio Input $40
Hands Free Phone w/Bluetooth $450
Total (as of 6/5/2006)$28,033

+ Mini Cooper S (Loaded)

Pros: Price, Cute, Luxury, Gas Mileage.
Cons: Possibly too slow.
Bottom Line: I love this car. It is very high on my real list. I am still a little concerned with the lack of low end torque with this car. After all, I currently drive a 275 hp V-8. One more time I loaded up on the luxury items. After all I expect to have at least $30K to spend.

Base MSRP$20,900
Destination & Handling$550
Astro Black Body Color$450
Body Color Roof/MirrorsSTD
Convenience Package$400
      Universal Garage Door Opener
      Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
      Rain Sensor and Auto Headlamps
Sport Suspension PlusSTD
16" V-SpokesSTD
Front Fog Lamps$150
Xenon Headlamps w/Power Wash$550
Limited Slip Differential$500
6-Speed Getrag ManualSTD
Sport SeatsSTD
Leather: Lapis Blue$1,300
Chrome Line Interior $200
Automatic AC$300
On-Board Computer $200
3-Spoke w/Cruise and Multifunction$250
8-Spkr. Harman Kardon Sound System$550
Center Arm Rest$200
Int. Surface "Seven" Piano Black$200
Total (as of 5/18/2006)$26,700

+ Mini Cooper S Convertible

Pros: Cute, Cool, Topless, Gas Mileage.
Cons: Price.
Bottom Line: Well, we can no longer tout the price of the Mini Cooper when this version is over 30 grand. Ouch! In fact, the price is the only thing stopping me. There are quite a few cars on the market that are real nice in the $30K range, such as the Mustang GT, Charger R/T, Acura TL, Honda S2000, Audi A3 and even a nice used G35 Coupe.

Base MSRP$25,400
Destination & Handling$550
Astro Black Body Color$450
Black TopSTD
Body Color MirrorsSTD
Cold Weather Package$300
      Heated Front Seats
      Heated Side Mirrors and Washer Jets
Convenience Package$400
      Universal Garage Door Opener
      Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
      Rain Sensor and Auto Headlamps
Premium Package$1,400
      Chrome Line Interior
      Automatic AC
      On-Board Computer
      3-Spoke w/Cruise and Multifunction
      8-Spkr. Harman Kardon Sound System
      Center Arm Rest
Sport SuspensionSTD
Limited Slip Differential$500
16" 7-Fins (Performance)STD
6-Speed Getrag ManualSTD
Sport SeatsSTD
Leather: Cordoba Beige$1,300
Int. Surface Alloy PatinaSTD
Park Distance ControlSTD
Total (as of 5/18/2006)$30,300

+ Honda Accord Coupe EX-L

Pros: Gas Mileage, Reliability.
Cons: Price, Boring Design, Performance.
Bottom Line: I like the Accord Coupe, but it is a bit bland. I have driven the Accord sedan with cloth interior as well as the upscale Acura CL Coupe with leather. The CL is no longer available, but I liked it a lot. I need to test drive a 4 cylinder, manual transmission equipped coupe with leather. If its performance is good enough I might enjoy getting 34 mpg on the highway with enough luxury for the coming decade. At over twenty six thousand this is getting expensive for an economical commuter. Does it have more luxury than a well optioned Mini Cooper?

Base MSRP$24,250
Destination & Handling$550
Fog Lights$330
Full Nose Mask$155
Rear-Wing Spoiler$499
Front Under Spoiler$355
Premium Floor Mats$79
Leather Steering Wheel Cover$59
Leather Shift Knob$58
Total (as of 10/10/2005)$26,335

+ Honda Accord Coupe EX V-6 6MT

Pros: Performance, Reliability.
Cons: Price, Boring Design.
Bottom Line: This is as close to the discontinued Acura CL 3.2 Type-S as we can get anymore. I test drove the Acura and liked it a lot. At that time I expected to consider the CL for my next car. I need to test drive the Honda version and see if the luxury is high enough. Pushing 30 grand puts this in tough company though. Plus it just doesn't look exciting.

Base MSRP$27,400
Destination & Handling$550
Fog Lights$330
Full Nose Mask$155
Rear-Wing Spoiler$499
Front Under Spoiler$355
Premium Floor Mats$79
Leather Shift Knob$58
Total (as of 10/10/2005)$29,426

+ VW New Beetle Convertible 2.5

Pros: Cute, Cute, Cute.
Cons: Slow, Slow, Slow.
Bottom Line: I like the looks of the New Beetle. They are cute. My biggest concern is performance. This car will not be a performance car... ever, especially now that they dropped the Turbo engine which had power potential with aftermarket parts. Do I want cute? The Mini Cooper provides cute, but with more performance.

Base MSRP$21,920
Destination Fe$615
Package #2 (Required for Leather Seating)$3,030
      Semi-Auto Power Operated Cloth Convertible Top
      Premium Sound System
      Cold Weather Package
      Heatable Front Seats
      Heated Front Windshield Washer Nozzles
      Clear Lens Halogen Front Fog Lights
      Automatic Wiper Speed Control Rain Sensor
      Self-Dimming Rearview Mirror w/Switch
      HomeLink
      3-Spoke Padded Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
      Leather Shift Knob
      Ski Sack
Total (as of 10/10/2005)$25,565

+ VW New Beetle TDI (Diesel)

Pros: Cute, Cheap, Great Gas Mileage
Cons: Performance.
Bottom Line: Now we're talking great gas mileage. This is the mileage champ at 46 mpg highway. I have a friend that owns a Jetta Wagon with the diesel. He gets mileage in the 40s regularly. He also says it performs fine. I would have to drive one myself before I would believe it. As gas prices continue to go up this car will continue to rise up on my new car list. Why don't they offer the convertible with the diesel engine?

Base MSRP$18,390
Destination Fe$615
Package #2 (Required for Leather Seating)$3,145
      Power Glass Sunroof w/Tilt/Slide/PreSelect
      Premium Sound System
      Cold Weather Package
      Heatable Front Seats
      Heated Front Windshield Washer Nozzles
      Clear Lens Halogen Front Fog Lights
      Automatic Wiper Speed Control Rain Sensor
      Self-Dimming Rearview Mirror w/Switch
      HomeLink
      3-Spoke Padded Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
      Leather Shift Knob
Total (as of 10/10/2005)$22,150

+ Pontiac Solstice

Pros: Style, Style, Style.
Cons: Manual Top, Lack of Luggage Space, Rough Around The Edges.
Bottom Line: I really like the styling of this car. But having driven one briefly I am not thrilled. If I can swing a two seater I will still consider this car. However, the Miata is supposed to be more refined and may be the better choice. I don't like the new Miata's styling though. The manual top on this car gives me nightmares. The lack of storage will probably be an issue. This is a car to be seen in. You buy it for style... which can't be beat for the money. More important is the upcoming GXP version of the Solstice which will be packing 260 horsepower for a 0-60 run in 5.5 seconds.

Base MSRP$19,995
Convenience Package$465
      Cruise control
      Driver Information Center
      Fog lamps
      Steering Wheel Controls
Power PackageE$625
      Power Windows
      Power Door Locks
      Remote Keyless Entry
      Power Outside Mirrors
Premium Package$690
      Leather-wrapped 3-Spoke Steering wheel
      Steering wheel accessory controls
      Leather-wrapped Shift Knob
      Steel/Sand leather seating surfaces
Brakes, 4-wheel antilock$400
Limited Slip Rear Differential$195
Air conditioning, front, manual$960
Floormats, carpeted, front$60
ETR AM/FM stereo with 6-disc CD player/MP3 playback$495
Wheels, 18" (45.7 cm), aluminum, chromed$795
Total (as of 10/10/2005)$25,075

+ Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring

Pros: Light, Nimble, Quick Enough.
Cons: Boring next to Solstice.
Bottom Line: I have read the reviews, but I can't help really liking the Solstice. I would not buy a Solstice without test driving both cars. By the time I am ready to buy Pontiac will have the Solstice GXP with a 260 horsepower engine. Also the Saturn Sky Redline will be out. Plus Mazda plans a Mazdaspeed version of the Miata... uh, I mean MX-5. This could all change drastically in the next year and a half. I understand the Solstice is the better highway cruiser. Since I drive a lot of highway miles everyday I really need a lengthy test drive in each car. If I decide to do the sports car thing this will be a tough choice.

Base MSRP$24,435
Destination Fee$560
Suspension Package$500
In-Dash 6-Disc CD Changer$500
Total (as of 11/02/2005)$25,995

+ Ford Mustang

Pros: Style, Style, Style.
Cons: A Little Cheap Feeling. Solid Rear Axle.
Bottom Line: My brother-in-law bought a 2005 Mustang Convertible. Having driven the V-6 with a manual transmission I can say without hesitation that this car is quick enough to keep me entertained for the next decade. I love the styling, so it will come down to Chevrolet's ability to sway me with a new Camaro or Dodge's with a new Challenger.

Base MSRP$20,090
Destination$695
V6 Pony Package$1,195
      Unique Pony Grille with Chrome Bezel and Fog Lamps
      Lower Door Tape Stripe, Available in Black, White or Pearl Gold
      Anti-Lock Brakes w/Traction Control
      17" Premium Painted Cast Aluminum Wheels
      Pony Front Fender Badges
      Rear Spoiler
      Pony Lower Door Tape Stripe in All 2006MY Colors
      Carpeted Front Floor Mats with Unique Brushed Chrome
           "MUSTANG" Badge in 2006MY Interior Colors
Interior Upgrade Package$450
      Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel with Satin Aluminum Spokes
      Bright Polished Register Rings and Bright Shift Knob
      Satin Aluminum-Plated Door Handles
      Satin Aluminum Door Sill Scuff Plate with Bright MUSTANG Lettering Insert
      Dark Charcoal Aberdeen Pattern Front Door Panel Inserts
      Satin Aluminum Finish Instrument Panel Appliqué - Ribbed Pattern
      Special New Bright Polished Six-Gauge Cluster with MyColor Feature and Message Center
Verona Grain Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats$695
Active Anti-Theft System (Incl. Perimeter Inclination & Intrusion Alarms)$295
Total (as of 10/13/2005)$23,420

+ Ford Mustang Convertible

Pros: Style, Style, Style.
Cons: No Pony Package, Solid Rear Axle.
Bottom Line: My brother-in-law bought a 2005 Mustang Convertible and I like it enough I could easily live with one. The vinyl top looks a bit cheap, but then the price is very reasonable. If I ultimately decide to look at convertibles, this car will be high on the list... even with the V-6.

Base MSRP$24,915
Destination$695
Interior Upgrade Package$450
      Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel with Satin Aluminum Spokes
      Bright Polished Register Rings and Bright Shift Knob
      Satin Aluminum-Plated Door Handles
      Satin Aluminum Door Sill Scuff Plate with Bright MUSTANG Lettering Insert
      Dark Charcoal Aberdeen Pattern Front Door Panel Inserts
      Satin Aluminum Finish Instrument Panel Appliqué - Ribbed Pattern
      Special New Bright Polished Six-Gauge Cluster with MyColor Feature and Message Center
Verona Grain Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats$695
Active Anti-Theft System (Incl. Perimeter Inclination & Intrusion Alarms)$295
Convertible Soft Boot$160
Total (as of 10/13/2005)$27,210

+ Pontiac G6 Convertible GTP

Pros: Rear Seat Room, Retractible Hardtop.
Cons: Quality & Reliability.
Bottom Line: I saw this car up on a rotating stand at the New York Auto Show. It was a really cool blue color. Hopefully that is the same Electric Blue Metallic I selected from Pontiac's web site. I think this car is an automatic only. I guess they figure people don't want to shift for themelves while driving with the top down. That's a shame. However, when I went through the gallery they had a picture of the shifter with a caption "6-Speed Manual Transmission (Available on GTP)." It is the picture from the Coupe section as well. Oh well! I drove the GTP Coupe at the Auto Show In Motion... with an automatic... and it was very nice. The rear seat room in the coupe was the largest I have seen in a two door in a long time. I checked the specification and the rear seat in the convertible loses 7" in shoulder room, loses 4" in hip room and loses 1.5" in leg room. Leg room should not be a problem, but adults might have to get cozy back there rubbing shoulders. I will also have to compare this car with the new VW Eos... which was not available for pricing on their web site when I did this.

Base MSRP$29,990
Electric Blue MetallicSTD
Premium value package$1,615
      Leather appointed seating
      Heated front seats
      Leather wrapped steering wheel
      Steering wheel radio control
      Leather wrapped shift knob and park brake handle
      AM/FM stereo 6 disc CD player
      18" 5 spoke alloy ultra-bright wheels
Total (as of 5/18/2006)$31,605

+ Ford Mustang GT

Pros: Style, Performace, Future Collectibility.
Cons: Gas Mileage, Solid Rear Axle.
Bottom Line: Gas Mileage starts to come up when going from one V-8 Pony car (93 Camaro Z28) to another. But performance will not be an issue. I just have to decide if I really want another Modern Muscle Car. A bigger concern really comes from GM and Chrylser having both introduced concept Pony cars (Camaro and Challenger, respectively). We'll see.

Base MSRP$26,320
Destination$695
Interior Upgrade Package$450
      Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel with Satin Aluminum Spokes
      Bright Polished Register Rings and Bright Shift Knob
      Satin Aluminum-Plated Door Handles
      Satin Aluminum Door Sill Scuff Plate with Bright MUSTANG Lettering Insert
      Dark Charcoal Aberdeen Pattern Front Door Panel Inserts
      Satin Aluminum Finish Instrument Panel Appliqué - Ribbed Pattern
      Special New Bright Polished Six-Gauge Cluster with MyColor Feature and Message Center
18" Polished Aluminum Wheels$825
Active Anti-Theft System (Incl. Perimeter Inclination & Intrusion Alarms)$295
Total (as of 10/13/2005)$28,585

+ Dodge Charger R/T

Pros: Hemi, Hemi, Hemi
Cons: Automatic, Gas Mileage, Cheap Interior.
Bottom Line: The second car that only comes in an automatic. Yuck! Also, there is the issue of style. This car doesn't look that good. That Hemi should take care of that. I have driven a Charger SRT8 with the 425 hp version of the Hemi. It was a big, powerful car. However, even this car with 340 horsepower should be faster than my Camaro. I need a good test drive of this to be sure it is fast enough to justify paying at the pump for another V-8. I think of this car as a grown-up's car. Do I want to grow up?

Base MSRP$29,320
Destination$675
AM/FM Radio with Cassette, CD, 6-Disc Changer & MP3$400
UConnect Hands-Free Communication$360
Road/Track Performance Group$1,600
Charger GT Sport Package 06$1,259
Total (as of 10/13/2005)$33,614

+ Chrysler 300C Heritage Edition

Pros: Hemi, Hemi, Hemi
Cons: Automatic, Gas Mileage, Price
Bottom Line: Like the Dodge, this also comes in an automatic. I believe I sat in one of these at the New York Auto Show. (archive/cars200605.html) If you look at that article you will see a picture of one. It has the same emblems on it that I saw on Chrysler's web site when I priced this car. The regular 300C is not available in red. This is my big luxury cruiser. Clearly I will have "grown up" if I buy this car. I don't even think I would want a manual transmission in this car. The gas mileage is the one thing that really bothers me. I am concerned with the interior color on this car. The web site left me with gray. The show car had a light cream color that I really liked. I want the cream color.
Base MSRP$33,725
Destination$675
Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat$225
300C Heritage Edition R Pkg.$1,995
      Leather-Trimmed Performance Bucket Seats
      AM/FM Stereo w/Cassette, 6-Disc CD and MP3 Players
      7 Boston Acoustics Speakers/Subwoofer
      Chrome Bodyside Molding with Badge
      Headlamp Washer
      High-Intensity Discharge Headlamps
      Leather-Wrapped Shift Knob
      Performance Exhaust/Steering/Shift Program
      Performance Steering
      Power Adjustable Pedals with Memory
      Translucent Steering Wheel and Door Pulls
      Trunklid Spoiler
      368-Watt Digital Amplifier
      Heritage Edition Group
      SmartBeam(TM) Headlamps
UConnect Hands-Free Communication$275
Total (as of 6/5/2005)$36,895

+ Acura TL 6-Speed Manual with High Performance Tires

Pros: Luxury and Performance.
Cons: Stiff Ride, Front Wheel Drive.
Bottom Line: My brother-in-law use to have a TL Type-S when it had 260 horsepower. He said it let every bump though and was a bit annoying over time. I expect that could still be an issue here. A test drive could settle that issue. My biggest problem is that this car goes head to head with rear wheel drive cars... which I want. At this price I should be able to find a rear wheel drive car instead.

Base MSRP$33,525
Destination$615
Total (as of 10/13/2005)$34,140

+ Infiniti G35 6MT

Pros: Performance.
Cons: Styling.
Bottom Line: Here is the car that buries the Acura TL. For slightly over a grand more as configured (virtually a tie) this car is the rear wheel drive car the TL needs to be. I just think this car is a little boring in the style department, but that may not be an issue with the new model coming. Overall, I get the vibe this car lacks the feeling of being special, which I see as a problem at $35K.

Base MSRP$31,050
Destination$650
Premium Package A$3150
      Bose premium audio AM/FM in-dash 6-disc CD with MP3
      Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System
      Power sliding tinted glass sunroof
      Manual reclining rear seatbacks
      2-position memory system for driver's seat and steering wheel
      Dual-zone Automatic Temperature Control
      Automatic on/off headlights
      HomeLink Universal Transceiver
      Automatic anti-glare rearview mirror
      One-touch open/close rear windows
      Power tilt and telescoping steering wheel
Aero Package$550
      Rear spoiler
      Rear side air diffusers
Total (as of 10/13/2005)$35,400

+ Infiniti G35 Coupe 6MT

Pros: Luxury, Performance.
Cons: Price.
Bottom Line: I love these. They are just so expensive. This car gets mighty close in price to the BMW 3 series in coupe format. We'll have to wait and see what the all new 330Ci will be priced at to be sure. This is a car better suited to the used car market to save a bunch on depreciation.

Base MSRP$34,300
Destination$650
Premium Package A$2850
      Bose premium audio AM/FM?Cassette in-dash 6-disc CD
      Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System
      Power sliding tinted glass sunroof
      Manual reclining rear seatbacks
      2-position memory system for driver's seat and steering wheel
      Dual-zone Automatic Temperature Control
      Automatic on/off headlights
      HomeLink Universal Transceiver
      Automatic anti-glare rearview mirror
      One-touch open/close rear windows
      Power tilt and telescoping steering wheel
Aero Package$550
      Rear spoiler
      Rear side air diffusers
Total (as of 10/13/2005)$37,700

+ Honda S2000

Pros: Performance.
Cons: Rev Happy Engine, Too Hard Core
Bottom Line: I don't kow if I am ready for a super high revving engine. I suspect it will get tiring on my long drives to and from work everyday. But this is a great, if a bit pricey, sports car if I can give up a back seat. I need to test drive one.

Base MSRP$33,150
Destination & Handling$550
Total (as of 10/18/2005)$33,700

+ Audi A4 2.0 T 6-speed manual FrontTrak

Pros: Luxury, Refinement.
Cons: Not Enough Performance, Front Wheel Drive.
Bottom Line: I really like the A4. I loaded up the options on this A4, but made sure it was below the BMWs. I expect the aftermarket will be all over this new turbo motor that any lack of performance can be taken care of the day the warrantee runs out. I would really prefer rear wheel drive in this price range.

Base MSRP$27,640
Destination Charge$720
Sunroof package (includes leather interior)$1,400
Premium package$1,850
      Homelink
      Auto-dimming and folding exterior mirrors
      Auto-dimming interior mirror w/ compass
      Rain sensor with "coming home" feature
      Power passenger seat
      Heated front seats
      17-inch alloy wheels with 235/45 R17 all-season tires
S line sport package$3,000
      Sport suspension
      Front grill and rear side moldings with S line badge
      Aluminum interior door sills with S line logo
      S line front and rear bumbers
      Brushed aluminum trim
      S line steering wheel
      18-inch GmbH wheels with 235/40 R18 high performance tires
      20mm lower ride height
Bose premium sound system with AudioPilot noise compensation$1,000
Total (as of 10/18/2005)$36,360

+ Audi A3 2.0 T 6-speed manual FrontTrak

Pros: Luxury, Refinement.
Cons: Not Enough Performance, Front Wheel Drive.
Bottom Line: I listed the A3 after the A4 because I think of it as an alternative to the A4... for camping. This would be a great camping vehicle. I should be able to load it up with gear for a week long campout with my two boys while in Boy Scouts. It's a bit pricey for an entry level car... even an Audi. However, Neuspeed has a computer chip reprogramming kit for this car that boosts its horsepower from 197 to 252, and torque from 207 to 297. If I read their web site right, this is done for a mere $499. Cool! So why isn't this engine available in a Beetle. That would be Way Cool! If this seems a bit expensive I could save a few thouand dollars and eliminate a couple of door and get a VW GTI (it prices out at $25,780 with the package that gets you a leather interior).

Base MSRP$24,740
Destination Charge$720
Ocean Blue pearl effect$450
Premium package$2,0250
      17" 16 Spoke silver wheels & 225/45 R17 all-season tires
      Leather seating surfaces
      Multifunction leather 3-spoke steering wheel
      Aluminum belt line trim
      Front fog lights
      Power front driver seat
      Homelink
      Storage package
      Trip computer
      Auto-dimming interior mirror
      Rain/Light sensor
Sport Package$1,800
      17" 16 Spoke bi-color wheels & 225/45 R17 performance tires
      Leather seating surfaces
      Multifunction leather 3-spoke steering wheel
      Aluminum belt line trim
      Front fog lights
      Sport seats
      Radio button in alloy
      Roof spoiler
Bose premium sound system w/ AudioPilot noise compensation & in-dash 6 CD changer$900
Blueetooth interface phone preperation, Voice Control$435
Total (as of 10/18/2005)$29,270

+ Lexus IS 250

Pros: Luxury, Refinement, Reliability.
Cons: Not Enough Performance.
Bottom Line: The only way to get a manual transmission in the new Lexus is to get the slower IS 250. I would defintely need to test drive this combination to determine if it's a performance level I can live with for a decade. I suspect not.

Base MSRP$29,990
Delivery, Processing & Handling Fee$590
18-in Alloy Wheels with Summer Tires$720
Total (as of 10/18/2005)$31,300

+ Lexus IS 350

Pros: Performance, Luxury, Reliability.
Cons: Automatic, Not a BMW.
Bottom Line: I had high hopes for this car being able to take a serious shot at BMW and its wonderful 3 Series. But they don't even offer a manual tranmission with the best engine. Oops! It does have a lot of performace, and I read that its "manual" shift mode is one of the best there is. Maybe I need to test drive it before I right it off. This is the last of the automatics on the list.

Base MSRP$35,440
Delivery, Processing & Handling Fee$590
18-in Alloy Wheels with Summer Tires$720
Total (as of 10/18/2005)$36,750

+ BMW 325i Sedan

Pros: Luxury, Refinement.
Cons: Price, Not Enough Performance.
Bottom Line: The 325i is here because it is a good 4K less than a similarly equipped 330i. I would need to test drive both back to back to see if I need the extra power of the 330i. I also don't know if I can stretch my budget this far yet, but I suspect that I might be able to get a better "deal" on the low end 325 model. Drop the Sport package and the hokie rear sunshade and I might be able to afford this car.

Base MSRP$30,900
Destination$695
Mystic Blue Metallic$475
Sport Package$1,600
      Double Spoke alloy wheels, 17x8.0 front, 17x8.5 rear
      225/45R-17 front, 255/40R-17 rear run-flat performance tires
      8-way power front sport seats (memory for ext. mirrors and seat)
      3-spoke sport steering wheel with audio & phone controls
      Sport suspension calibration
Premium Package$2,900
      8-way power front sport seats (memory for ext. mirrors and seat)
      4-way adjustable power lumbar support for front seats
      Leather upholstery
      Interior and power-adjustable folding exterior auto-dimming mirrors
      Integrated 3-button Universal garage door opener
      BMW Assist
      Bluetooth® Wireless Technology
Comfort Access$500
Power Rear Sunshade/Rear Manual Side Window Shades$575
Premium Sound System$1,200
Total (as of 10/18/2005)$38,845

+ BMW 330i Sedan

Pros: My Dream Sedan.
Cons: Price.
Bottom Line: I want this car. It is the target. I am a car enthusiast and it pains me to see how many people drive these cars and don't have the slightest clue how great a "performance" sedan they are. Unfortunately, those very people that keep buying them without knowing how great the car is are the same people that allow BMW to raise the price to the point where I don't think I will be able to afford one when the time comes for me to buy. A true shame that a great sports sedan is seen by most as just a status symbol.

Base MSRP$36,600
Destination$695
Sport Package$1,600
      Star Spoke alloy wheels, 18x8.0 front, 18x8.5 rear
      225/40R-18 front, 255/35R-18 rear run-flat performance tires
      8-way power front sport seats
      3-spoke sport steering wheel with audio & phone controls
      Sport suspension calibration
Premium Package$2,900
      4-way adjustable power lumbar support for front seats
      Leather upholstery
      Interior and power-adjustable folding exterior auto-dimming mirrors
      Integrated 3-button Universal garage door opener
      BMW Assist
      Bluetooth® Wireless Technology
Comfort Access$500
Power Rear Sunshade/Rear Manual Side Window Shades$575
Total (as of 10/18/2005)$42,170

Recap

What a list. I would like to comment on a few items of interest:

Mini Cooper - Yea, I know, I have the Mini Cooper listed with 5 configurations. I think of the Mini Cooper as the smallest (and most economical) luxury car on the market. I priced a basic Mini Cooper with just enough options for me to enjoy everyday. At $21,950 it is truely affordable, and if I can convince my wife to let me get a project car at the same time I will be totally cool with this car for a daily driver.

The other versions were based on the fact that I will easily be able to fit a pretty loaded Mini Cooper into my budget. However, I did cheap out on the options for the Cooper S Convertible since it went over 30 grand with just the basic packages. Ouch, we are no longer talking about an affordable little car.

Ford Mustang - Notice that when I priced the Mustang Convertible I did not include the V6 Pony Package. That's because getting the V6 Pony Package in the convertible forces you to get an automatic transmission with traction control. This drove the price up more than $2,000... and I want a manual transmission. Again, I really like the Mustang so I priced it in a number of configurations.

Another issue with the Mustang is the possibility of Chevrolet making a Camaro and Dodge making a Challenger. Dodge just announced at the Pepsi Cola 400 at Daytona that they will build the Challenger and it will be available as a 2008 model. I can hardly wait to see it in all its variations.

Dodge Charger - I previously read that the Road/Track option on the Charger R/T got you a free flowing exhaust worth 10 hp and some other extras like a slightly firmer suspension and chrome wheels. When I optioned the Charger on their web site I never saw a Road/Track option. However, there was an option called "Perf. Seats w/Preferred Suede & Accent Stitching" and if I added that it showed up on the summary page as the Road/Track option. Also, there was a GT Sport Performance package that seemed to have all the things I thought would be in the Road/Track package. Whatever. If those seats are the same ones in the SRT8 (which I have driven) then I am all over that.

Audi A4 - The Audi offered a Technology Package that included Bi-Xenon headlights, Adaptive front lighting system, Memory for drivers seat and exterior mirror position, color trip computer & Bluetooth interface phone preparation. All I care about is the Bluetooth interface, but I couldn't see paying $1,775 to get it. Oh well. Are you wondering why I included the "lower" end Audi with the turbo 4 cylinder and not the V-6 version of the A4 that compares with the 330i? The V-6 only comes with Quattro all wheel drive (which is not a problem), but also only comes with an automatic. Oops!

BMW 330i - If money were less of a concern I would seriously consider BMW's Active Cruise Control. $2,200 was just a bit too much for me to include it. However, I did try to include a Phone Docking Cradle for a mere $130, but the site would not let me. I think it is because it wanted the Bluetooth and BMW Assist options. Well, both of those are in the Premium Package which I did list as an option. I'm sure this could be dealt with easily by the dealer. I also didn't see a Premium Sound System on the 330i (it was available on the 325i). I am assuming that the 330i gets a better stereo than the 325i as standard equipment. Again, check with your dealer.

You will notice that I was not completely consistent in all the options on the cars. Initially I tried to stay consistent, but it became tedious to do so. The major options are consistent, like sunroofs... I generally don't care for sunroofs and avoided them unless another option I really want can only be had with a sunroof as part of a package. Conclusion It is too early to decide exactly what I want. I need to nail down my budget, which won't happen for a while. I am really leaning toward a Mini Cooper S or a Mini Cooper Convertible. They fit any budget I might have. They are cute and fun to drive, and I really like them. Then again the Mustang and its future competition are very tempting. I also love the idea of a Hemi. Plus Dodge just announced it will build the Challenger. I'm getting goose bumps just thinking about it. We are about a year and a half away. We'll see.

Bottom