Category Archives: Mazda

2010 Mazda CX9 (806)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mazda CX9 SUV. Zoom – Zoom – Zoom … That slogan make me think of many of the other memorable slogans that stick with us over the years. “See the USA in Your Chevrolet”; “Ugh, Pontiac heap good Car”; “Standard of Excellance” for the Cadillac and it is still used to explain that something is the best if it is the Cadillac of this or that.

Which others do you recall?

General Info:

Parts – 10% US / Canada, 85% Japan.

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – CX9, CX7, Mazda 3,5,6 & Speed 3, MX5 Miata, RX8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid & Truck.

Opinion:

At the current rate of decline in jobs those fortunate enough to have a job and who commute to those jobs on our freeways, must surely feel they won’t be missed. So for every bad thing that happens, something good often results.

Now if the rest of us would only employ cruise control to maintain a steady speed we can all get to our destinations with less stress and more safely. To me it should be a required feature on all cars. Some roadway signs already exist to show the time required to go from one point to another. If in California Cal Trans would post average speed to and from those points and drivers would be able to set their speed at that average everyone would get to their destinations at precisely the same time but with far less stress and danger of crashes. Get Cruise Control on your next car and if you have it now, use it.

Handling & Performance:

The CX9 provides a solid ride and is very comfortable to boot. It won’t however do that cheaply since the fuel consumption numbers are not real good. 273 hp buys you responsive power but the price is relatively high in fuel consumption.

Styling:

Well, you be the judge, but did the designers mean to make the front on view of the CX9 resemble a “comical caricature of a face” as friend and auto designer Merkel says of it?

Overall, in my view, it has clean uncomplicated lines and is rather innocuous. How can it possibly offend anyone except Merkel, of course, who tends to be super critical of any styling not of his liking. I don’t often agree with his view because it is more picky than mine. I like much of the styling of today’s Chrysler cars, for example, but Merkel’s past life as a design engineer for them during the days when Chrysler products looked pretty hokey (again – my view), relative to the more popular brands. But there was limited competition since back then there were only 3 brands.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good. These guys have this assembly stuff down as never before. In fact I think they really have to be asleep on the line to do a bad job in this area. CAD systems are so sophisticated these days it eliminates the need for a lot of muscle and hammers to make things fit well.

Cost:

A little more than I expected, but it is competitive being at the lower end of pricing in class.

Conveniences and comfort:

The navigation option reminds me that manufacturers could provide a much less expensive system but it is apparent people are willing to pay nearly $2,000 for this feature. Granted it is on the top of my list of “Must Have” features but as voice control is improved, turn by turn instructions are more valuable than looking at a colorful map. Voice commands and instructions make their use safer since there is less distraction. GM has that in their On Star Turn by Turn Navigation.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda CX9 $29-34,000, Acura MDX $42-54,000, BMW X5 $48-86,000, Buick Enclave $36-44,000, Chevrolet Traverse $29-40,000, Dodge Journey $20-30,000, Ford Flex $29-39,000, GMC Acadia $32-42,000, Honda Pilot $28-40,000, Hyundai Veracruz $28-36,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $31-43,000, Kia Borego $26-40,000, Lexus RX 350 $38-39,000, Lincoln MKX $39-41,000, Mitsubishi Endeavor $28-31,000, Nissan Murano $28-38,000, Subaru Tribeca $30-36,000, Toyota Highlander $26-35,000.

Good News:

Nice styling, comfortable solid ride, all wheel drive and other safety features and priced well.

Bad News:

Only average fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.7 liter 273 hp V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel vented ABS disc brakes, 20” aluminum alloy wheels, auto Xenon headlights, fog lights, heated power mirrors, 7-passenger leather trimmed seating, leather wrapped shift knob and tilt and telescoping steering wheel, front side and side curtain airbags, roll over protection with roll stability control, active torque split all wheel drive system, rain sensing wipers, audio with CD, Bluetooth, power windows, 3-12 volt outlets, climate control in 3-zones, keyless entry and start system, LATCH child safety seat anchors, tire pressure monitoring, anti theft engine immobilizer and perimeter alarm and dynamic stability and traction control.

Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. April 3 ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

15 City and 21 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $34,045.

2010 Mazda CX-7 i Sport FWD (792)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mazda CX-7 Sport FWD SUV. I have a family relation who is into badges… Porsche, BMW ($90K priced cars) Toyota Sequoia (top model) and yet… when he asked what car was I driving this week it was after saying “that is a nice looking SUV”. . . right after buying a Sequoia Platinum.

Others also made similar comments… and “what a beeauuuutiful car”, says my doctor neighbor Miguel. I agree Miguel. This is a very nice option for SUV buyers. I was fortunate to be able to schedule this SUV at this time of year since it carried my Christmas tree to my home 50 miles away. I needed to put the 6’ tree ‘inside’ the car because of the long drive. And of course it was needed to tote gifts hither dither and yon… without reindeer I might add.

General Info:

Parts – Japan 95%

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class: – SUV

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5, 6, MazdaSpeed3, MX-5 Miata, RX 8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid             and Truck.

Opinion:

In this Christmas season I was reminded how money moves too many of us which is especially true with some states on the verge of bankruptcy because they don’t know how to manage.

Many families tell me it is a season tradition to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. There we observe George Bailey’s life with and without character and care for the other guy.

I was traveling home after our family Christmas celebration when I was reminded of the world we live in as I observed the heavy hand of  the CHP out in force to raise taxes. Dick always tells me “the thirst which is unquenchable is the thirst when the well is fullest”.  No matter how much tax our wasteful government exacts from us they can never have enough. You can bet the CHP passed out its own kind of ‘stocking stuffers’ this ‘holiday season’.

I remind you to be cautious and keep the speed down because these tax collectors ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND.

Handling & Performance:

Positive pulling is from a Front Wheel Drive system… if you like that. I prefer rear wheel drive but more prefer All Wheel Drive. In any case the Mazda CX-7 is sure footed and has adequate power. Perhaps that fact is why I think it should do better in the fuel consumption category.

Styling:

The interior from the drivers view reminds me of an airplane cockpit. So not only is Saab influenced by their parent an aircraft company. This Mazda has great styling with beautiful lines. You gotta love this pretty car.

Fit and Finish:

Outstanding

Cost:

Even better. There is a truly a lot of value for the money in this CX-7. I’m continually amazed at what great cars can be produced this inexpensively.

Conveniences and comfort:

As priced this Mazda CX-7 includes everything I would want on my car because after 18 years of testing new cars I have become accustomed to certain features. As to the options I would toss the Moon Roof as I consider it a waste of money. I would add only one item and that would be a Navigation system but NOT a factory item. I would buy a Magellan Maestro for about $300; Garmin with many models under $300 or even a Tom Tom generally priced less but now with several models similarly priced.

Consumer Recommendation:

There are 23 competitors listed and this Mazda is in some pretty expensive company. All the better to compete with for this Mazda. It is arguably the best of the lower priced options and equal to the task when pitted against the more pricey badges to boot. Definitely you will need to include this as a top contender when doing your comparison.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda CX-7 $22-33,000, Acura RDX $33-38,000, Audi Q5 $37,350, BMW X3 $39,700, Cadillac SRX $33-48,000, Chevrolet Equinox $22-30,000, Dodge Journey $20-29,000, Dodge Nitro $22-25,000, Ford Edge $27-36,000, Honda Accord Crosstour $30-36,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $22-31,000, Infiniti EX $34-37,000, Land Rover LR2 $35,375, Lexus RX 350 $37-39,000, Lincoln MKX $33-48,000, Mercedes Benz GLK $35-36,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $21-26,000, Nissan Murano $28-37,000, Subaru Outback $23-31,000, Suzuki XL7 $26-30,000, Toyota Highlander $26-35,000 Toyota Highlander Hyrbid $35-41,000, Volkswagen Tiguan $23-31,000.

Good News:

Well priced, a top contender.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 161 horsepower I4-cylinder engine, anti-theft engine immobilizer, 5-speed automatic transmission, front wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, dynamic stability control, traction control, power rack & pinion steering, front & rear stabilizers, front strut independent & rear multi-link suspension, power mirrors, power windows and locks, air conditioning, front & rear armrests, front, side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, AM/FM with CD audio system, steering wheel mounted audio, cruise & Bluetooth controls, tilt & telescopic leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, remote keyless entry, 17” aluminum alloy wheels, cloth seating, 6-way manual adjustable driver seat, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, LATCH child safety seat, .

Options: Sirius satellite radio, fog lights, power moon roof, heated front seats – $2,775.

Gas Stats:

$2.85/ Gal avg. December 28 ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

20 City and 28 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,340, with options $25,115.

2010 Mazda 3 Touring 4-door Sedan (791)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mazda 3 Touring 4-door Sedan. Boy, this is a really difficult field to pick from in a very numerous Compact class. I’ve tested them all albeit not all 2009 or 2010 model years and I have to say I like them all. I fall in love too easily… as the song goes.

I would however be wary of those noted below with more high priced badges as I mentioned where they include high end luxury models in their lineup. It has been my experience that those brands tend to more expensive to maintain and repair.

General Info:

Parts – Japan 95%

Assembly – Houfu, Japan

Class:  – Compact

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5, 6, MazdaSpeed3, MX-5 Miata, RX 8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid and Truck.

Handling & Performance:

Very good indeed. Front wheel drive isn’t my favorite but they do hug the road in the curves better than rear wheel drive.

I’m always amazed at how responsive a car can be with only 148 horsepower, because we in America have grown up with cars that had to have muscle or your weren’t cool. I think that image is not as important today in part because even cars like this Mazda with 148 hp will do 0-60 in 6-7 seconds.

One thing was a bit annoying to me and that was the sensitive or touchy brake and accelerator pedals. Not a deal breaker because in time I would get used to them but it needs attention Mazda.

Styling:

It is easy to like, for me, but colleague and friend Merkel is put off by the big smiling face from the front view. Kind of like a Halloween Pumpkin. Well we all see things differently and Merkel is a picky car designer and to those guys no styling is as good as theirs.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. The plastic doesn’t look plastic. And I didn’t hear rattle or squeak one.

Cost:

Good value in a Compact commuter car because it is also a competent family sedan. It wouldn’t work for son Mike with 4 kids, but for an average family it is a good value.

Conveniences and comfort:

My test vehicle, equipped as it was, with the standard things listed below priced out right at $18,000 and it included everything I would want on my car. I can live without a moon roof and I don’t like to pay for radio any more than I think I should pay for a toll road anywhere, so I would opt out of the Sirius radio.

Consumer Recommendation:

And they say the auto industry is in trouble? Take a good look at all the brands in this compact class and keep in mind that we’ve come to expect a car for all seasons and all reasons. The lineup of affordable cars to pick from in class borders on ‘overkill’. What it tells me is that there is a large demand and second it is a profitable model for the car makers.

From the inside the driving experience isn’t magnitudes less than cars twice the price and it is important to remember that when you think you need to spend big bucks for transportation. Compact is beginning to take on a whole new meaning.  I haven’t driven some of these in a while, but if this Mazda 3 is any indication of where this class has come to you have to be impressed. The fact of the matter is that the differences are smaller and smaller as you climb the price ladder.

Beginning with cars with a full back seat, a reasonable trunk, and all the creature comforts the lines become very blurred between this and other more expensive options. I suggest as a rule of thumb you stay away from the luxury ‘badges’ – that is, brands that have very expensive models in their lineups. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz tend to be more expensive to service at the dealerships. And cars today are being made that ‘make’ you go back to the dealer for even simple things. Lights and bells and whistles go off to tell you it is time for service or repairs may be needed. And to turn off those warning lights you ‘have’ to go to the dealer. Tag, you’re it!

Recognized Competition:

Mazda 3 $15-22,000, Audi A3 $27-31,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15-25,000, Chevrolet HHR $19-26,000, Dodge Caliber $16-25,000, Ford Focus $16-18,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24-27,000, Hyundai Elantra $14-18,000, Hyundai Elantra Touring $16-20,000,  Kia Forte $14-17,000, Kia Forte Koup $17-18,000, Kia Spectra $14-16,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $15-27,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $19-28,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Pontiac G5 $17-20,000, Pontiac Vibe $16-21,000, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Scion tC $17-18,000, Subaru Impreza $17-27,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $16-19,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $13-18,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000 Toyota Matrix $17-22,000, Volkswagen Golf  $17-23,000, Volkswagen Rabbit $16-19,000 and Volkswagen R32 $32,990.

Good News:

Very good fuel economy and it is priced well. I like the styling Merkel even if you don’t.

Bad News:

Touchy brake and accelerator pedals.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 148 horsepower I4-cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, front wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes with electronic brake distribution, dynamic stability control, traction control, variable assist power steering, front & rear stabilizers, independent suspension, power mirrors, power windows and locks, air conditioning, front & rear armrests, front, side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, AM/FM with CD / MP3 & 6 speaker audio system, steering wheel mounted audio, cruise & Bluetooth controls, tilt & telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, remote keyless entry, 16” alloy wheels, cloth seating, 60/40 split fold down rear seat.

Options: Sirius satellite radio, power moon roof, Bose package upgrade, pearl paint – $2,025.

Gas Stats:

$2.79/ Gal avg. December 20 ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

24 City and 33 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $18,350, with options $20,375.

2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata (788)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata two seater convertible sport car.

First I have to tell you I have always liked this little car that is a limited use car as you expect from a sport car. My major complaint is the tinny sound from closing doors, hood and trunk lid. The hood and trunk lid are most noticeably tinny in part because they are aluminum. However, you’ll pay dearly to get a more solid sound from others in class noted below. It is what it is, and the price is right for this car. I’ve tested all those listed here and found the Solstice and Sky to be a little more solid sounding doors etc., but one has to wonder if those cars will be around when Miata moves forward into the future.

I have great memories when the Miata took Ilona and me on a short vacation jaunt to Lake Tahoe with all our bags. True there wasn’t an inch of room to spare but if memory serves me, prior year models had more trunk space. Driving through mountain roads is a delight however and when you’re in love the car becomes a part of the experience. Thanks Miata.

General Info:

Parts – Japan 95%

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class:  – Two Seater

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5, 6, MazdaSpeed3, MX-5 Miata, RX 8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid and Truck.

Opinion:

Most people hate to be told what to do especially when your response would be daaaaah – any idiot knows that – so to the Cal Trans folks who put up the signs for our safety “Click it or Ticket” I say stuff it.

Handling & Performance:

Fun fun fun… road hugging handling and although the trunk clangs a little when you close it, there is no significant tinny-ness in the driving experience. It is a solid performer and the 167 hp 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine is perfect for the car and it will surprise you with 0-60 mph in just 7 seconds.

Styling:

Identifiably consistent design is the look you get while keeping up with the times. There’s a lot to be said for design that can look fresh but still look like the car you first fell in love with.

Design wise I don’t know what they could do better for the size … it is just small. It was, for example, impossible for two of us to get to the airport even with baggage designed for airplane overhead compartments. If there were, however, better access to the small space behind the seats I could have made the trip. The designers might give that some consideration!

Fit and Finish:

Consistently good and not unlike those noted below that are closest in price.

Cost:

Mazda Miata is in some pretty rich company but since there is little to choose from in this small sport car class the most closely aligned is either the Saturn Sky or the Pontiac Solstice. Even the Honda S2000 for much more money doesn’t raise the bar all that much.

Conveniences and comfort:

If you travel light and simply want a fun to drive sport car Mazda Miata is hard to beat. The good news and the bad news is that everything is at your finger tips and well within reach.

You have to love the simple convertible top operation that you can literally put it down while sitting in the car. I didn’t try putting it down while driving but you could at slower speeds without blowing the top into the lane behind you. Definitely not recommended even if the road police are not around.

Consumer Recommendation:

Most folks I talk with about Miata feel it is a Chick Car. No comment.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda MX-5 Miata $22-28,000, Audi TT $35-48,000, BMW Z4 $46-52,000, Lotus Elise $47-55,000, Honda S2000 $35-38,000, Mercedes-Benz SLK $47-67,000, MINI Cooper $20-29,000, Pontiac Solstice $24-30,000, Porsche Boxster $47-57,000, Saturn Sky $28-34,000.

Good News:

Fun, fast, road hugging performance, good fuel economy and ultra simple top operation.

Bad News:

Small, light weight – tinny sound closing doors, trunk and hood, bumpy ride on all but ultra smooth roads, rough entry and exit for older dogs – Definitely a younger people’s car.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter dual overhead cam16 valve 167 hp 4-cylinder engine, 6 speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, front disc brakes with rear disc brakes with aluminum calipers, 17” Alloy wheels, power mirrors, air conditioning, power windows & locks, remote keyless entry, heated leather seats and shift knob and hand brake, aluminum engine frame, front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, cloth convertible top, aluminum hood and trunk lid,

Gas Stats:

$2.78/ Gal avg. November 27, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 28 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,410.

2010 Mazda 6i Touring Sedan (787)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mazda 6i (4-door) Touring Sedan. If the surprise of those I came in contact with while testing the car is any indication, there has been a noticeable (perceived) change in Mazda in recent years.

“Wow that’s a Mazda?” speaks volumes and echo’s my feeling as well. The only Mazda that ever tickled my fun zone is the MX-5 Miata. I’ve always liked the little car because I have always had fun driving it. Most all other Mazda’s have always been pretty commonplace. Good cars but nothing to stir the imagination and excite the driving experience. I expect for most that has not changed but this Sedan is somewhat of a departure in my view. Simply a very nice automobile.

It is assembled in Michigan, USA and half the parts are from the US – now that excites me.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canada 45% Japan 35%. Engine Mexico & Japan, Transmission Japan.

Assembly – Flat Rock, Michigan USA

Class:  – Midsize Car

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5, 6, MazdaSpeed3, MX-5 Miata, RX 8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid     and Truck.

Opinion:

This is more information than opinion. For those folks in the high desert in Southern California, USA who do not commute to Los Angeles via Angeles Crest Highway likely do not know that route is closed for up to a year. The recent fires have made the road impassable. For those who do occasion to use the Crest it is a real bummer. Why – because it is the only other route. For the folks who choose to take highway 14 south you have a lot more friends to share the misery of commuting. Opinion – I believe there is a good reason to step up the repairs. While they are at it why not put a hole through the mountain to make it a 5 minute drive?

Handling & Performance:

Mazda is always a solid performer. You seldom hear horror stories about Mazda’s. This Mazda 6i delivers a smooth and comfortable ride and is much faster than you’d expect – for a 2.5 liter 170 hp engine. Any less would be too little any more would be unnecessary. A midsize car is meant to carry folks in comfort under normal road conditions. It does that just fine.

Styling:

Clean lines and the best effort from Mazda ever. Mazda has always, in my mind, been . . . well, just another car. It has always been a ‘plain jane’, just get the job done kinda car. We all know ‘glitz’ sells and sexy is important to catch your eye. Mazda however produces simply no-nonsense transportation passenger vehicles and one truck. I think it is breaking out of the plain wrap mold and the Mazda 6i signals the way.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

The 18 competitors listed below are very close in pricing. Generally, as far as passenger cars go, this is a nice grouping in class and I like them all in varying degrees. I was particularly impressed with what you get for the money with this Mazda 6i. It is in the top few for best pricing in my mind.

Another note about cost that just blows my mind. I spent a day touring Daimler’s Western Star Truck manufacturing plant in Portland, Oregon this past week. Daimler also manufactures Freightliner trucks (in Mexico now), and after it sold off Chrysler the Mercedes-Benz brand remains its primary product Daimler is known for.

The point of my comment here is that I will never again consider car prices a good deal. The magnitude of building an 18 wheel truck has to make it the best buy on the planet at around $90-110,000 generally. When you consider you can easily pay that for a car in today’s world trucks are inexpensive by comparison. Moreover a car is a liability (costs you money) and a truck is an asset (it makes you money). And unless you’re a taxi cab driver your car makes you nothing. In any case the tour helped me to put value of such vehicles in perspective.

You’ll often hear stories about the owner of a trucking company who complains about the cost of trucks for his fleet but then goes out and steps into his $100,000 Porsche. Go figure the human sense of priority.

Conveniences and comfort:

This Mazda is at the top of the list for comfort. In a world of electronic gadgets for any and everything all manufacturers have lots to choose from to make our travels easier.

Consumer Recommendation:

There is a lot of competition in this class which will make your selection a real chore. Mazda is a must see in your search. It’s not on my Christmas list but it is near the top of my contender list.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda 6i $18-28,000, Audi A4 $31-34,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22-27,000, Chrysler Sebring $20-22,000, Dodge Avenger $20-22,000, Dodge Charger $24-38,000, Ford Fusion $20-28,000, Honda Accord $21-31,000, Hyundai Sonata $19-27,000, Kia Optima $17-22,000, Mercury Milan $22-28,000, Mitsubishi Galant $21-28,000, Nissan Altima $20-29,000, Pontiac G6 $19-32,000, Saturn Aura $23-27,000, Subaru Legacy $20-30,000, Toyota Camry $19-29,000, Volkswagen Jetta $18-23,000.

Good News:

Well priced, good fuel economy, lots of convenience stuff, inclusion of the important mechanical safety features like disc brakes and stability control and plenty of power.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 170 hp 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, anti-theft engine immobilizer, 17” alloy wheels, tire pressure monitoring system, variable intermittent wipers, cloth seats, front and side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child safety seat anchors, 8-way power driver seat, air conditioning, 60/40 split folding rear seats, AM/FM 6-speaker stereo system with 6-disc CD changer, MP-3 playback, front & rear stabilizer bars, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with Traction control and dynamic stability control, fog lights, power mirrors, trip computer, leather wrapped tilt & telescopic steering wheel with controls for radio and cruise control, map lights, center console, rear seat armrest, power windows and locks and remote keyless entry.

Gas Stats:

$2.85/ Gal avg. November 19, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

20 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $20,900.

2008 Mazda RX-8 (723)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Mazda RX-8. As the demand for economical cars heats up the more people want to know what their options are. Obviously every class from top to middle to large will downsize from the recent past that bigger was better somehow. Years ago while I was in Japan smaller, efficient and practical was simply a way of life. By necessity or choice small vehicles hauled amazing loads and of course roads didn’t allow for large vehicles anyway. Well, it was their collective need and now it is becoming a need here in America as well.

The good news is that people tend to be emotionally closer when there is less abundance. In Japan I observed workers in a plant I visited playing softball and I thought how similar people were and I was angry at the leaders who let their hunger for power rule their lives. They were willing to sacrifice the common people to keep it. I was sad when I visited Hiroshima where this Mazda is built. I looked at the devastation and got angrier still.

Well as a result of the abundance from the spoils of war, the US people splurged after years of want from a depression and a long protracted war where sacrifice was the word of the day. Americans quickly became consumers while Germany and Japan were rebuilding with our money, of course. All World War II countries mentioned haven’t stopped consuming and have wanted for nothing, generally, for 60 years. Retired Dallas Cowboys star quarterback and then NFL TV color man on Monday Night Football “Dandy” Don Meredith at this point in the game would begin singing “The party’s over…”.

This coming period of want, which I suspect we all expect, is unlikely to continue for very long. We weathered the extended recession of about 10 years in the 90’s, and of course we came through the depression of the 1930’s even better for the experience.

Small cars will return to energize the market and car companies will simply have to shift their production lines to accommodate the needed change. Toyota, for example, shut down some product lines to retool for Prius. People will not only accept smaller cars but embrace them for lots of reasons. Once again cars will serve us instead of us being slaves to them. Perhaps then we’ll find spending less time making more money to pay for more and bigger will give way to spending more time with our families. Then we may rebuild family values and tell big government and big cars to take a hike.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 95%,

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class:  – Subcompact

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5 & 6, Mazdaspeed3 & 6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid & Truck.

Handling & Performance:

Economics is changing the mood of people and their need for small cars is sure to improve their performance. And you’ll see big cars begin to downsize as well.

The Mazda is zippy and agile… Zoom Zoom will impress you with its 232 hp rotary engine coupled with the 6-speed manual transmission that shifts perfectly. And its sporty look helps to make this a winner. I believe however it will appeal very little to drivers over 40.

Styling:

Sporty and even if not practical with a very small rear seat they did add a nice touch to make it more accessible by providing a small rear door. It really does remove the criticism for me. But I must say, because of the door design you have to slam them so they close completely. That was annoying.

In addition, they didn’t spend enough time designing the seats for comfort. I’m not all that big but the cushions felt restrictive and thus uncomfortable. The fact that I was aware of the seat meant it was poorly designed.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

More than I expected. But with today’s value of the dollar, I don’t know what I expected. Secondly it is up against some pretty expensive competition.

Features and Conveniences:

The list of features that are standard are extensive and that accounts for some of the pricey-ness noted above.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

The competition is all very capable, but some are clearly out of the price point. However from a performance to cost comparison this RX-8 does very well.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda RX-8 $26-32,000, Audi TT $35-46,000, VW R32 $32,990, Nissan 350Z $37-43,000, BMW Z4 $37-43,000, BMW 1 – Series $29-39,000, Lotus Elise $46-55,000. 2009 – Ford Mustang $20-34,000, Mercedes Benz SLK $45-64,000, Dodge Challenger $21-39,000, Honda S2000 $35-38,000.

Good News:

Small, sport car handling and 232 hp performance and thus fun to drive and the much underrated Rotary engine.

Bad News:

A bit pricey in my opinion and fuel economy is a negative and rear doors must be closed hard and that was annoying.

Standard Equipment:

1.3 liter 232 hp rotary engine, 6-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, 19” forged Alloy wheels, 4-wheel power assist ventilated disc brakes, limited slip differential, sport tuned suspension, xenon headlights, fog lights, dual power mirrors, air conditioning stereo with 6-disc CD changer, aux. Input jack, power windows and locks, front Recaro sport seats, keyless entry, tilt leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, dual front airbags and side and side curtain airbags, alarm and engine immobilizer, front and rear stabilizer bars, rear wing spoiler, rear widow defogger and antenna, variable intermittent wipers, center console with power outlet, rear trunk pass through, passenger seat one-touch walk-in feature, blue tooth hands free, traction control, and tire pressure monitoring system.

Gas Stats:

$3.50/ Gal avg. October 1, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 22 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov  or   888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $31,930.

2008 Mazda 5 Grand Touring AT (709)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Mazda 5 Grand Touring AT. And for those of you who have driven Mazda’s you likely have an interest in what Mazda is doing. There isn’t a cult following per se, but it is certain that people do come back to what has worked for them. Me, I’ve always liked the product even though it doesn’t have the “Toyota” name that is marketed well.

If you’re new to Mazda you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the overall quality and workmanship of the vehicles they produce. And although this is not my favorite look it is not ugly either. Ok a little homely. Just goes to show you what computers will do. I think we’ve over done Computer Aided Designs and left out the human touches. Chrysler is the most innovative of all the car makers today and mixes the CAD systems with real people to come up with cars like the PT Cruiser, Plymouth Prowler, Dodge Challenger, Charger and the 300. Bravo Chrysler and I hope you keep it up.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 95%,

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class:  – Minivans

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5 & 6, Mazdaspeed3 & 6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid & Truck.

Handling & Performance:

I don’t know how they managed to do it, but I felt very annoyed with the touchy accelerator and brake pedals. Otherwise the 153 hp engine is very good and the gear ratios work well at all speeds. It was comfortable and easy to drive.

Styling:

Minivans are super convenient for entry and exit because of the sliding side doors, especially for those tight parking places. This however is a compact so all has been scaled down. I can’t say I’m thrilled with the look but they appear to have concentrated on function over form.

Fit and Finish:

Mazda good. Not spectacular but they are consistently good with obvious care that has always been a Japanese trait. I’m biased, I have to tell you, because I have experienced the exceptional work ethic of the Japanese when our Naval air Squadrons sea planes were refurbished in Japan. I was a crewmember and we’d take the planes to Japan from our base in the Philippines where we spent some time getting to know the people. Conclusion: People don’t start wars – power hungry politicians do it for profit.

Cost:

In the hunt but the competition is fierce and capable.

Features and Conveniences:

Standard stuff is very good and I’ve always found Japanese electronics to be user friendly and the exact opposite for German cars that have a need somehow to over complicate things. Again, although Nav and Satellite radio are options, I recommend buying them separately as aftermarket additions if you’re interested in saving money. In this case it will surely save about $2,000. In addition portable is just that – you can use them in any car. That even goes for Bluetooth devices that are “Really” cheap.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

I have not tested the Honda Fit at this writing but all the competition is formidable. There are too few not to drive them all. Then I’m sure fuel economy will tip the scales for you as they will increasingly for most of us as gas prices rise. Me, I like the PT Cruiser for SUV type styling and the convenience of the Mazda 5 as a small family minivan.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda 5 $18-23,000, Ford Focus Wagon $17-18,000, Chrysler PT Cruiser $15-23,000, Mazda 3 $14-20,000, Honda Fit $14-16,000, Kia Spectra5 $15,995, Kia Rondo $16-20,000.

2009 – Toyota Matrix $16-22,000, Pontiac Vibe $15-19,000, Scion xB $15,750, Chevrolet HHR $ n/a.

Good News:

Convenient design with especially easy entrance and exit, fun to drive, comfy and spacious for the smaller size minivan.

Bad News:

Touchy accelerator and brakes.

Standard Equipment:

2.3 liter 153 hp inline 4 cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, 17” Aluminum Alloy wheels, auto headlights, halogen fog lights, rain sensing wipers, 6 passenger seating, leather trimmed seats with heated front, fold flat 2nd row seats with under seat storage and fold out table, climate control, front and rear 12 V outlets, tire pressure monitoring, 4-wheel disc brakes, front and rear stabilizer bars, variable assist power steering, rear wiper washer, power heated mirrors, power windows and locks, audio with 6 disc CD changer, leather steering wheel with audio controls & leather shift knob, tilt and telescopic column, cruise control, power moon roof, Bluetooth hands free phone system, front and side airbags, rear side air curtain air bags, LATCH rear child safety anchors, anti-theft engine immobilizer.

Options: navigation system, SIRIUS satellite radio Total $2,430.

Gas Stats:

$4.59/ Gal avg. July 4, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 27 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov or  888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $22,365 – with options $24,845.

2008 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring FWD (708)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Mazda CX-7 and although I like this vehicle I was a little surprised at the engine noise. It reminded me of Tim Allen in the Santa Clause movie and the line “there rose such a clatter”.

Secondly, with all my preaching over the years people still insist on buying fuel IN-efficient cars, and mostly it has been because of their love affair with the automobile. And even though I have preached to my kids as well (they never listen), I have to defend my son buying a big Tahoe SUV. Why? Because he has 4 kids. Count them and the parents and all the car seats for the three little ones and I get tired just thinking of it. Then throw in all the gear for a trip to grandma’s house over the river and through the woods and you have to question the wisdom of large families. Well, you get the point. Oh, I forgot the boat. Can’t pull a boat with a Toyota Yaris that gets an impressive 38 mpg. To my son Mike I suggest he think about a second car that most of us can actually afford to drive.

Fight back, I say. Buy a fuel efficient car and push the manufacturers to change the emphasis from profits alone as motivation in making cars we must buy. Yes, these big gas guzzlers are profitable. Ok, so they were profitable. Now you can’t give them away. Why, because people are worried about where gas prices may go. Remember the world price of gas is over $8.00 a gallon. Helloooo!

With nearly half of every car on the road today being a truck or SUV the turn around won’t be easy or fun for anyone. However, don’t panic. Keep the SUV, park it most of the time until you really need it and buy a Yaris, Prius, Hyundai Accent or wait for the new Chevy Volt Electric car.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 10%, Japan 85%,

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class:  – Special Purpose

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5 & 6, Mazdaspeed3 & 6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid & Truck.

Observation:

Well it’s the LAW now that you must use a “Hands Free” device while talking on your cell phone driving the car. It’s a good law most would agree but it’s a pain in the neck to “HAVE” to use it. Come-on, lets face it, either way when you’re on the phone in the car you have to know most of us can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. So why do we think we can drive a car safely and carry on a conversation on the phone? Think back and try to recall where you just traveled while on the cell phone? Bet you experienced a blank spot in your memory banks.

Handling & Performance:

You’ll enjoy driving this Mazda CX-7, I’m sure, but you won’t appreciate giving up performance and not getting any better fuel economy than it delivers. It is a perfect size for mobility and agility in most driving situations, but not as good on the open highway as the CX-9.

Styling:

Of course the CX-7 is just a cut below the CX-9 but it can save $10,000 in purchase price if you don’t need the extra 2 seats. Both are great looking and the crossover has been a natural evolution from the SUV. The CX-7 provides good cargo space and seating for five with that sport look rolled into the SUV convenience. It comes in 3 trims; Sport, Touring and Grand Touring that I tested.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

In the hunt in class.

Features and Conveniences:

Good compliment of useful standard equipment and features and eliminating expensive options can reduce the price $6,000 if you can do without the voice activated Navigation system, upgraded sound and entertainment systems and a few other minor items. Reminder – buy a portable Nav system instead, and consider the kids will probably be more interested in their new iPods and game boys etc.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

Look at the Hybrid versions if you are considering an SUV/ Crossover.

Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid and coming in 2009 – Ford Escape Hybrid. Some other notables are the Mazda Tribute Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda CX-7 $22-26,000, Saturn Vue $22-29,000, Saturn Vue Green line Hybrid $25,645, Pontiac Torrent $24-30,000, Mercury Mariner $22-26,000, Chevrolet Equinox $23-30,000, Jeep Compass $17-23,000,  Dodge Nitro $20-28,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-27,000, Honda CR-V $21-28,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $21-30,000, Ford Edge $26-33,000, Ford Escape $20-27,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $20-25,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000, Kia Sorento $21-26,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $29-43,000, BMW X3 $38,600, Infiniti EX $32-37,000.

Good News:

Spacious, sporty styling and popular crossover convenience.

Bad News:

Poor fuel economy and noisy engine.

Standard Equipment:

2.3 liter 244 hp 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, 6-speed sport shift automatic transmission, front wheel drive, 16” Aluminum Alloy wheels, auto headlights, heated power mirrors, 5-passenger leather trimmed seats, 8-way power driver front heated seats, rear 60/40 split fold down seats,  tilt leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power windows, front and side airbags, stability control and traction control, LATCH child safety system, vented 4-wheel anti lock disc brakes, fog lights, variable intermittent wipers front and rear, retractable rear cargo cover, climate control, power windows and locks, rear seat armrest, 2- 12 volt outlets, tire pressure monitoring system, keyless entry, anti-theft engine immobilizer and audio with CD and 4-speakers.

Options: DVD entertainment system, SIRIUS satellite radio, technology package including 240 watt Bose 9 speaker surround sound, 6-in dash CD player, DVD navigation system touch screen with rear view camera, Start system for Keyless entry and perimeter alarm. Total options $6,275.

Gas Stats:

$4.59/ Gal avg. July 1, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

17 City and 22 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov   or    888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $26,300 – with options $32,575.

2008 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring SUV (702)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring front wheel drive SUV. This is ‘hot’ but unfortunately not ‘green’. We keep getting pushed and pulled by the acknowledgment that we must do something to cut our travel budget but we like all the comfort and gadgets available in today’s cars.

This CX-9 has a couple of neat features I got used to really fast and then felt naked when they were not on the next test vehicle. The keyless entry smart card device is like so many fobs that allow you to keep the key in your pocket or purse and get in the car, start and drive the car and then stop, exit and lock the car without ever having to reach for the key (no actual key) fob.

One time however I drove several hundred miles thinking the key was in my pocket but someone had parked the car for me and put the keys on the windshield wiper recessed beneath the hood. If the key fob had blown out of fell through the engine compartment I would have had a problem.

The second fabulous feature is the Blind Spot Monitoring System. Now this is REALLY cool and the best innovation in a while and I wouldn’t buy the car without it because it is only $200.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 10%, Japan 85%,

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class:  – Special Purpose

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5 & 6, Mazdaspeed3 & 6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid & Truck.

Observation:

Since I have the opportunity to test all cars on a race track I’m acutely aware when some highway drivers insist on using our commuting lanes for their own personal raceway. High technology solutions are not far off to curtail dangerous driving habits of the few who display inconsiderate behavior at our peril. Soon satellite tracking will be able to sense erratic and dangerous drivers, ID them and suspend their drivers license. I’m not for George Orwell’s vision of big brother watching everything I do, or fail to do but the highways are public and some things we do in private are not appropriate to do in public. What can be done on the race track has no place on our highways.

An interesting phenomenon with the race drivers I have come to know well is that they have a great respect for public highways and simply do NOT do on our highways that which they routinely do on a race track for a living. They are the most polite drivers when they get off the job.

Handling & Performance:

Noticeably smooth acceleration and braking. I really like this car and it is powerful as well. And it has to be powerful to pull the two ton plus weight. Yes, that’s what makes it everything that it is – pretty, agile, 0-60 in just 7 seconds and lots of great features. But you can’t be thrilled with the fuel consumption in today’s fuel prices fast approaching world price for gas. You get what you pay for.

Styling:

Beautifully done. It is just smashing and I could own this car if I could justify the fuel sucking that pulls at my wallet. And let’s face it, no matter how pretty she is you get tired of being sucked dry.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

A little pricey but a cool car to drive.

Features and Conveniences:

Blind Spot Monitoring System: Perhaps the most innovative adaptation in a long time is the sensors on the mirrors and audible sound when you click the turn signal. If there is a car in the intended lane change to close for a safe move you will see an icon on the mirror light up and a warning sound that the lane is occupied. Very smart. You gotta just love it. A side benefit is that it encourages you to signal before you turn. In fact it is absolutely addictive. You quickly begin to depend on the assist and confident feeling you get from that welcomed sound of impending doom if you fail to see blind spot traffic. And no matter how good the visibility is in any car there is always that nagging spot just off the rear bumper that can ruin your day.

Keyless entry smart card is a neat credit card size device that only needs to be on your person when you want to operate the car, but you need not take the device out of your pocket or purse.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

Ok, if you and I were making tons of money selling global warming to others we too could afford to drive this gas guzzler. Know what I mean Al Gore? If this is your price range and fuel cost is not a consideration today or tomorrow this is a great crossover that easily equals or exceeds the best out there in class. As I said, I could own this car over most of the competition. It is today and it is state of the art in electronics. Test it and I think you’ll agree. On the other hand I would look first at more fuel efficient cars. But that’s me.

Recognized Competition:

Hyundai Veracruz $27-36,000, Mazda CX-9 $29-35,000, Cadillac SRX $38-45,000, GMC Envoy $28-37,000, Subaru Tribeca $30-34,000, Mercury Mountaineer $27-33,000, Infiniti FX $38-50,000, Mercedes M-Class $44-87,000,  Acura MDX $40-48,000, Nissan Murano $26-36,000, Saab 9-7X $40-46,000, Lincoln MKX $36-38,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $29-43,000, BMW X5 $46-55,000, Lexus RX 350 $38-39,000, Volkswagen Touareg 2 $39-68,000.

Good News:

Handles well with smooth controls, comfortable, nice styling, quality finish and great feature innovation.

Bad News:

Poor fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.7 liter 270 hp V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 20” Aluminum Alloy wheels, auto headlights, leather heated 8-way power front seats w/3 position memory, tilt & telescope leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power windows, front and side airbags, rear side air curtain air bags, stability control and traction control, vented 4-wheel anti lock disc brakes, fog lights, rain sensing wipers, heated power mirrors, Bluetooth hands free operation, 3-12 volt outlets, audio with CD player, climate control, 7 passenger seating, LATCH rear child safety anchors, tire pressure monitoring system, keyless entry smart card and anti-theft engine immobilizer.

Options: Blind spot monitoring system -$200, pearl paint $200, moon roof, Bose 6-CD package -$1,750, DVD navigation system with rear view camera, power hatch – $2,500, Total $4,660.

Gas Stats:

$3.73/ Gal avg. May 18, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 22 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov  or  888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $33,355 – with options $38,015.

2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata (700)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata that has grown up nicely over the past several years. It has always been one of my favorite little affordable sport cars. I always felt it to be a “chick” car and demographics tell us half of all Miata’s are owned by women.

Consumers, generally, give it a high rating for style which I believe is because it is middle of the road and safe. More radical lines are typical of all the other competitors noted below.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 95%

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan

Class:  – two seat sport car.

Cars: – CX-7, CX-9, Mazda 3, 5 & 6, Mazdaspeed3 & 6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Tribute, Tribute Hybrid & Truck.

Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan I stood at Ground Zero in 1960 where the first A-Bomb was dropped. It was a moving experience and you can’t help but have compassion for these common folk irrespective of their governments attack on Pearl Harbor. No one wins in War … ok, so Japan won economically. Our tax dollars at work, eh?

Observation:

As gas prices rise you will see consumers avoiding travel to several stores to do their shopping and that is already apparent in the growth of Superstores where one stop shopping eliminates the need to jump from store to store. And since gas prices will NOT go down this trend will continue to be even more important. The only thing that can change this need to save on fuel will depend on some huge breakthroughs in new energy sources. Not likely in your lifetime. If you are inclined to bet ace’s, straights and cinches you will look closely at fuel consumption in everything you buy – and miles per gallon will be the overwhelming factor in your automobile decision making process.

Handling & Performance:

Men usually want heavier and more powerful performers but this MX-5 is no slouch. More importantly the raw power of a big V8 Vette, for example, gains little in the handling experience. Taking the curves in the Miata is quite good and was totally impressive as it hugged a mountain road testing course I like to use. It is not geared as well as it could be to compensate for the smaller engine and you’ll notice, as I did, that it runs at 3500 rpm more than it could.

If you want to cruise effortlessly at 1200 rpm quiet operation over those same mountain roads you’ll want to look at the Vette. Of course that is if double the money doesn’t bother you. If 4 second 0-60 performance is your thing, indeed the Vette is the answer and this MX-5 probably won’t be for you.

Styling:

Miata has been styled consistently and identifiably over the years. Simple but good enough to be copied by the likes of BMW.

Fit and Finish:

Mazda Miata is better every time I drive it. Early on it was a bit tinny but that is no longer the case, surely never truer than with this 2008 model.

Cost:

Mazda is beginning to push the price limits for the Miata in my opinion, but demand pushes price as much or more than increased cost of upgrading quality and features. I would have to say it is more a factor of acceptance of the consumer. And Mazda made a conscious decision NOT to ramp up the car to be more like the BMW Z4 or even the Honda S2000.

Features and Conveniences:

Improved much over the years, but with that has come a marked increase in selling price. There is a small trunk that is good for such a small car because of the smart storage of the top apart from the trunk space.

You’ll find limited convenient storage spaces which needs improvement to remove that frustration.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

Some very interesting competitors that make this a tough decision, but the process is quite simple. Drive each if you’re in the market for a small car. If price is a major factor you’ll do well to limit your test driving to Miata, Sky, Solstice, Eclipse and New Beetle. All very nice. Sky and Solstice will be hard to beat and Beetle is separate and unique.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda MX-5 Miata $21-27,000, Audi TT $35-46,000, Nissan 350Z $29-41,000, Ford Mustang $20-32,000, Saturn Sky $26-31,000, Pontiac Solstice $22-32,000, MINI Cooper $18-25,000, Chrysler Crossfire $35-39,000, Mitsubishi Eclipse $20-28,000, Honda S2000 $34-37,000, Volkswagen New Beetle $17-26,000, Volkswagen Eos $29-38,000.

Good News:

Fun to drive.

Bad News:

A bit more pricy than I expected, pea-popper engine to some, road noisy enough to remove ability to use blue tooth hands free devices and loud running gear sounds.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 166 horsepower I 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, 17” aluminum alloy wheels, manual convertible top, glass rear window with defogger, fog lights, air conditioning, power windows and locks, heated leather seats, leather door trim and shift knob and steering wheel with tilt and audio controls, tire pressure monitoring system, anti theft alarm and engine immobilizer system, double wishbone suspension and rear multilink suspension, stabilizer bars, limited slip differential, power mirrors, Bose audio with 6 disc CD player, keyless entry, dual front and side airbags.

Gas Stats:

$3.84/ Gal avg. May 3, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 28 Highway MPG   www.safercar.gov  or   888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $26,590.