Round 4 was possibly the hardest to judge. The Subaru Legacy GT made it in easily because of how fast it was, the AWD and much improved interior materials and exterior lines. It's definitely a compromise car where the husband (or wife) can get something fast and not feel like they're giving up any utility or style. That is a huge accomplishment.
Then I had to step back and think what of the other four vehicles really impressed me. That made picking the Pontiac G6 pretty easy. Pontiac has made a tremendous leap in design (even if it isn?t totally original) and interior quality (even though there are still areas of improvement). The only thing holding GM back from really succeeding these days is their array of powertrains and transmissions that seem to be a generation behind everyone else. If they create a lasting design aesthetic and durable platforms then the engines should be next in line.
The third pick was literally a free for all. How could I choose between the able and I?m sure crowd pleasing Buick LaCrosse (crowd being 50+), wonderfully designed economy car Suzuki Reno and the new Nissan Pathfinder. They all do their jobs well and would be solid buys for folks in the market for any of those types of vehicles. In the end it again came down to how impressed I was. The Suzuki just made me wonder why all the other low-end economy cars (Kia, Hyundai) can?t come up with a decent interior or quiet ride. The Reno was silent on the highway and for a small hatchback that?s really astounding. Handling was quite nice but the wimpy engine and mushy shifter left room for improvement. If both were ratcheted up a notch you?d have a segment buster.
So now we?re on to the championship. The final contestants are: Mazda RX-8, Dodge Neon SRT-4, Chrysler PT Crusier Convertible GT, Chrysler 300C, Volvo S40, Scion xB, Mustang GT, Cadillac CTS-V, Acura RSX and the newcomers Subaru Legacy GT, Pontiac G6 and Suzuki Reno.
I?m not sure how I?ll break down the ultimate winners yet but maybe it?ll be a nice long rambling essay. Regardless, if you?re shopping for a new car all of these are officially recommendations.