Spring Time Cars

By The Car Family

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Spring is decision time. What types of bulbs to plant, new outfits to cover winter tummies, or when to put the winter wear away put us into a state of quasi-procrastination. Perhaps the most difficult decision to replace that rust scarred, gas-guzzler for a new set of wheels knowing that the high fuel prices are here to stay. With that in mind, The Car Family found some vehicles that may appeal to the iconoclastic as well as the practical. Thus, the PT Cruiser convertible, Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV, Honda Element, Ford Fusion, Mazda Speed 6, Isuzu i-280 pick-up, and Suzuki Aerio SX were driven hard and put away salt spray covered. As diverse as the wide pallet of vehicles is they have one common thread and that is good value. Ranging in price for about $16,000 for the handy Suzuki to $30,000 for the all wheel drive Mariner SUV and hotted up Mazda Speed 6.

Mom’s view: I looked for female friendly transportation with a touch of class. To my surprise, the PT Cruiser convertible was my favorite. It is as cute as your own grandchild, gets good gas mileage, and if you order wisely can be parked at the beach for a little over $20,000. It holds four adults, is fun to drive, and had good crash scores. The Ford Fusion is quite good, but the interior was too drab. Try its sisters, the Lincoln Zephyr or the Mercury Milan. The biggest bargain was the Isuzu pick-up. It got over 24 mpg, and had a four-door cab and was priced near $16,000.

Dad’s view: Every spring my dad would list of things to do around the house. By fall the list had grown as fast as the dandelions and the only items crossed off were those that could be fixed with aerosol spray. With that tradition in mind I was looking for handiness and reliability. Good shoppers can purchase the Honda Element for well under $20,000 and a couple of grand more for all wheel drive versions. It is good running, gets 22 mpg, and allows you to carry most everything. The backdoors open clam style to allow easy access. The Isuzu pick-up stole my heart. It ran well, rode excellent on the expressway, and had easy to load five-foot bed. The PT Cruiser convertible was solid and the rear seats folded down for room. The Aerio was very good. It had sufficient power, maximized its interior with a high ceiling, and was peppy. However, they depreciate rapidly even with an extraordinary warranty. The Ford Fusion is an exciting new car. The Mariner gave us 27 mpg, which is excellent for such a compact SUV. The Mazda Speed 6 was too expensive, although on paper it looked like a world-beater.

Young working woman’s view: Okay, forget the Isuzu, the Suzuki, and the Mazda. I need reinforcing attention when I drive, not derision. Thus I loved the practical and versatile PT Cruiser convertible. I absolutely adored the interior and exterior, too. The Ford Fusion was quite good looking and a runner and averaged 25 mpg on the road. As for the Mainer, it was too high for me to load easily and I just don’t’ travel in traffic enough to justify the added cost. The sleeper of the bunch was the Element. It has a strange interior layout and I found myself almost feeling like I was floating in all the space due to the high roof. If you shop a lot, haul odds and ends, have trouble parking in tight spots, or just want to disappoint your future mother-in-law this is a great car.

College going male’s view: My favorite would depend on where I drove. If I went into NYC I would take the Element or the Aerio because they park anywhere and are invisible. If I ventured to the beach it would be the Cruiser. It I wanted to visit relatives’ unoccupied mountain cabin the great handling Mazda would do. Since I am in college, now in my sixth year and nearly a junior (eat your hearts out 8 to 5 junior execs), I need a truck to move damsels in space denial to larger abodes. Thus the Isuzu would be a babe magnet. The Mercury is just too expensive and the Ford Fusion doesn’t say starving college student enough to gain sympathy points from friends who think I subsist on matzos and peanut butter.

Family conference: Something for everyone, these models just might spark an interest in looking for something different for the summer and provide for a great weekend of test drives.Best of all they speak for those who value value, the iconoclast. For a complete list of vehicle websites for to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.