• It's rare that you find a company playing all ends of the market. Typically a brand will focus on one segment (think of Porsche, creating only exclusive cars with a sporting edge and, of course, high prices). But there are a few manufacturers creating a wide range of products, with inexpensive city cars that everyone can buy all the way up to exclusive sports cars or luxury SUVs. We take a look at the brands that play both ends of the market.
  • 2010 Chevrolet Aveo
    • Image Credit: General Motors

    2010 Chevrolet Aveo

    MSRP: $11,965 - $15,365

    Fuel Economy: 34 mpg Hwy, 27 mpg City

    The Chevrolet Aveo sedan and Aveo 5 hatchback combine a fuel efficient engine, seating for five, ample cargo space and a host of optional features.

    The front-wheel drive Aveo and Aveo 5 are available in three trims. The LS comes standard with power steering, body-colored mirrors, 14-inch wheels, front cloth bucket seats and an AM/FM radio. The 1LT trim adds carpeted front and rear floor mats, air conditioning and a CD player. The 2LT trim further adds 15-inch wheels, satellite radio, cruise control, and power mirrors, windows and door locks with remote keyless entry. All trims come standard with a 108-hp 1.6-liter engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Safety features include front driver and passenger airbags with dual-stage deployment and seat-mounted side airbags for the front row occupants.

    For 2010, the Aveo receives minor equipment changes.
  • 2009 Nissan Versa
    • Image Credit: Nissan

    2009 Nissan Versa

    MSRP: $9,990 - $16,330

    Fuel Economy: 31 mpg Hwy, 26 mpg City

    The Versa is Nissan's entry-level car with the intention of attracting economy-minded buyers with its mileage, price and larger size than most other vehicles in its class.

    In keeping with its positioning as Nissan's entry-level car, the Versa lineup is pretty straightforward. It is available as a hatchback or sedan in two trim levels, S and SL. All models are powered by the same 122-hp, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels. Both S trims as well as SL hatches come standard with a six-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional on the S trims and standard on the SL sedan, while an advanced Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) is optional on SL hatches. Safety comes from six standard airbags, while anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are optional.

    Effective in April 2009, the Versa hatchback will offer an FE+ 1.8SL trim featuring a 1MPG improvement to both city and highway ratings.
  • 2010 Nissan GT-R
    • Image Credit: Nissan

    2010 Nissan GT-R

    MSRP: $80,790 - $83,040

    Fuel Economy: 21 mpg Hwy, 16 mpg City

    The Nissan GT-R is the fifth generation of this venerable Japanese supercar, but this is the first generation available to North American enthusiasts. Well known to video gamers in this part of the world as forbidden fruit, the GT-R brings new levels of performance and technology to Nissan's line-up.

    Powered by a hand-built 485-hp twin-turbo 3.8-liter V6, the GT-R makes good use of all that thrust through a paddle-shifted, rear mounted six-speed dual clutch sequential gearbox and electronic all-wheel drive. Roads and racetracks are handled by an electronically controlled independent suspension that adjusts itself to changing conditions, or allows the driver to chose a preferred setting. Handling is also assisted by 20" forged alloy wheels surrounding 15" cross-drilled Brembo brakes at all four corners. The interior features performance bucket seats, a console mounted starter button and a centrally mounted video screen that can display several pages of mechanical and driving information as well as navigation and audio.

    For 2010, the GT-R gains 5-hp, the braking system has been updated, the shocks have been redesigned and spring and damper rates have been revised. As well, the non-Premium trim now has standard side and curtain airbags.
  • 2009 Dodge Caliber
    • Image Credit: Dodge

    2009 Dodge Caliber

    MSRP: $16,460 - $24,840

    Fuel Economy: 30 mpg Hwy, 24 mpg City

    The Dodge Caliber is a fun, well-rounded package, combining the versatility of a sport utility vehicle with the value and fuel-efficiency of a compact car.

    The Caliber offers a choice of four front-wheel drive trim levels: SE, SXT, R/T and SRT4. The SE and SXT trims are equipped with a 148-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine; a 158-hp 2.0-liter engine is also available. The R/T is driven by a powerful 172-hp 2.4-liter engine. All are available with a 5-speed manual transmission or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The SRT4 boasts a 285-hp 2.4-liter turbocharged engine, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Standard safety features include multi-stage front airbags, an inflatable driver knee blocker and side curtain airbags for front and rear occupants; an electronic stability control system is standard on the SRT4 and optional on SXT and R/T trims.

    For 2009, the Dodge Caliber carries over with minimal changes. All trims get upgraded standard audio systems with MP3 playback; R/T and SRT4 trims are further equipped with a 6-disc CD player and DVD-audio capability, and the MyGIG multimedia system with navigation is now available as an option. Additionally, the R/T trim is no longer offered in an all-wheel drive configuration.
  • 2010 Ford Focus
    • Image Credit: Ford

    2010 Ford Focus

    MSRP: $15,995 - $18,485

    Fuel Economy: 35 mpg Hwy, 24 mpg City

    Small, economical, and fun, the Ford Focus is a smart choice for those looking for a compact car.

    Available as a coupe or sedan the Focus includes only minor changes for 2010. The engine is a 140-hp 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder available with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The interior features an available SYNC system that allows the driver to synchronize mobile electronic devices such as mp3 players and cell phones. Four airbags are standard, and rear seats include headrests. Ford offers two series on the coupe, the SE and SES; and four on the sedan, the S, SE, sporty SES, and luxury SEL. New for 2010, Ford's MyKey, Message Center, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, remote keyless entry and power door locks are standard on all series.

    The 2010 Ford Focus is a carryover from 2009.
  • 2009 Toyota Yaris
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    2009 Toyota Yaris

    MSRP: 12,205 - $15,125

    Fuel Economy: 36 mpg Hwy, 29 mpg City

    The Toyota Yaris manages to combine a well-tailored, roomy interior with agile performance and a fuel efficient engine in an entry-level car.

    The front-wheel drive Yaris is available as a hatchback (three-door or five-door) or a four-door sedan; all are offered in either Base or S trim. The Yaris is powered by a 106 horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The five-door hatchback comes equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission. The three-door hatchback and sedan come standard with a five-speed manual transmission; the four-speed automatic is optional. The hatchback and sedan were designed separately and have subtle interior and exterior differences but have similar standard content. The base trim comes standard with P175/65R14 tires on steel wheels, cloth bucket seats, and manual tilting steering wheel. The S trim adds P185/60R15 tires and an AM/FM stereo radio with a single CD player.

    For 2009, the five-door hatchback is introduced. Also, anti-lock brakes and side curtain airbags are standard equipment and some exterior features have been updated.
  • 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    2009 Toyota Land Cruiser

    MSRP: $64,755 - $64,755

    Fuel Economy: 18 mpg Hwy, 13 mpg City

    The Toyota Land Cruiser remains at the top of the class when it comes to luxury and off-road capability. It provides legendary durability and reliability thanks to Toyota's impressive level of quality control.

    Redesigned for 2008 the Land Cruiser can seat up to eight passengers, and shares the Tundra's 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is standard. The Land Cruiser has a new feature from Toyota called "Crawl Control". Driving at low speeds on rough or steep terrain, the Crawl Control system automatically controls the vehicle's engine and brakes so that the driver can focus on steering. The Land Cruiser boasts ten airbags and comes standard with four-wheel anti-lock brakes, brake assist, active traction control, tire-pressure monitoring system, vehicle stability control, and active front headrests for whiplash protection.
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