The Grand Caravan is more enticing when gas prices lean closer to $2 than $3 for two reasons: The tank holds 20 gallons, for a $20 spread between the tabs for a fill, and at a rating of 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway you have to cover the spread a lot.
Honda offered the first hybrid in the U.S., the Insight, which bowed in December 1999.
Insight is back for 2010, arriving in showrooms now. It soon will have competition from the next-generation 2010 Toyota Prius, the hybrid sales leader.
With crossover and station wagon DNA, Elantra Touring isn't the fastest or highest-mileage or most stylish vehicle in the market. Rather than stand out in a category or two, Elantra Touring simply does a lot of things very well, with almost no shortcomings.
Q. A reader suggested General Motors and Ford consider moving their headquarters to a more "edgy" city like Los Angeles. He also said Detroit's performance cars contributed to the decline of the Big Three.
To some, like the politically correct police, an eight-passenger Chevy Suburban or Ford Expedition SUV is too big.
But to others, like cable TV's Jon and Kate, even a Suburban or Expedition is too small to hold their brood of eight.
The gas/electric version of the full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup is the brainchild of Rick Wagoner, the General Motors chief executive deposed in the Obama administration's restructuring of the company.
When putting fuel-efficient vehicles on a shopping list, most wouldn't mark down any BMWs, which are better known for 0-to-60-mph performance than for sipping liquid energy.
Take the newest member of the family: the 2009 335 sedan. It takes only 6 seconds to go from standing start to 60, thanks to its 3-liter, 265-horsepower, twin-turbo inline 6 with six-speed automatic.
Q. I felt extremely impressed with this year's auto show. American manufacturers have made an impressive effort to create great answers to the foreign automakers. In particular, I liked a few models on display by a small company called Tricar. Though very bare-bones vehicles, they're extremely practical, and with their high fuel economy seem like great vehicles for the price.
Q. While the new Camaro is eye-catching and probably fun to drive, it's precisely cars like this that contribute to Detroit's decline. In terms of nationwide sales numbers, the retro muscle cars are little more than a novelty act. Despite the quote at the end of your column that "not everyone wants to drive a Prius," the majority of Americans will continue to buy hybrid Civics, Camrys and Prius.
For the Detroit Three to survive, they need to get out of Detroit, where they are mired in the past and have lost touch with the tastes of the rest of America. If GM and Ford corporate offices were based in L.A., New York or Atlanta, you might see a cutting-edge American hybrid able to honestly compete with Prius.
K.K., Batavia, Ill.
Tired of all the dreary news?
Then slip behind the wheel of a 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera for a little R&R.
We briefly felt guilty about enjoying a high-performance sports car at a time when some are losing sleep over conserving an ounce of fuel, until we pulled the ruby-red Porsche into a mall lot as a bumblebee-yellow Smart was pulling out.
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