BOOMER checks out our favorite new domestic cars
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT STANTON
It wasn’t long ago that the American automobile industry was down and nearly out. But with a much ballyhooed rebound – symbolized by Chrysler’s audacious “Imported from Detroit” marketing campaign – American cars have roared back. So BOOMER staff members, given a hypothetical $45,000 each, set out to test-drive a few new models to see what all the fuss is about.
We’re far from auto experts, but here is each staffer’s pick — along with why it was chosen.
THE 300 IS CHRYSLER COOL
2012 Chrysler 300S Mopar ’12, 75th anniversary edition. Driven at Whitten Brothers on Midlothian Turnpike.
BY DANIEL JONES, editorial assistant
Chrysler sedans top my list as the coolest – and best – American cars.
After test-driving the 300 Mopar ’12 series, I left the dealership a little sad to part ways.
Fully loaded, the car had functions and features I’d never known existed. (The base version is just under $40,000; the one I drove came in at a little under $53,000.) I appreciated the speed control, the for- ward-collision warning and the rear back-up camera the most.
Sleek, safe and powerful (she’s got a 5.7 liter, V-8 Hemi, you know), it has everything I want in day-to-day transportation. No one wants to drive an ugly, dangerous vehicle to work – and the power just feels right.
Besides, driving this beauty was timeless.
I would most certainly buy this car, and I would advise anyone looking for an extra pep in their daily commute to get one, too.
EVEN McQUEEN WOULD LIKE THE MUSTANG 5.0
2013 Mustang 5.0, California Special package. Driven at Sheehy Ford on Midlothian Turnpike. Salesman Rex Dir.
BY RAY McALLISTER, editor
My parents were always solidly General Motors. They were, that is, until one fine day they showed up with a bronze 1968 Mustang. How cool was that? (The Mustang, you know, was introduced in James Bond’s Goldfinger and actually starred in Steve McQueen’s Bullitt. You recall any Oldsmobiles doing that?) My first car, years later, was a used ’70 Mustang. Decades later, I bought a classic ’65.
So how does a 2013 shape up? Ford has been doing retro Mustangs since 1994, so the look still evokes the classics. But it’s a plusher, more high-tech, more comfortable car. (They start at $22,000; this one is $38,000.) And, boy, does the 5.0 version thunder up the road. If I had the money, would I buy one? Absolutely, though I might drop down to the 6-cylinder version, which would be plenty. … Or maybe, I’d buy two of those old ’68s.
VOLTING INTO THE FUTURE
2012 Chevrolet Volt. Driven at Royal Chevrolet on West Broad Street.
BY LORI ROSS, publisher
I wanted to test-drive the Chevy Volt to measure the car itself, not the politics surrounding it.
I liked the exterior styling much more than the Prius and loved the cool factor of the shiny white center instrument panel. Driving on electricity was extremely quiet. The car drove nicely on street and highway with enough pickup to feel safe. I was comfortable as the driver, though the back seats were tight.
I liked playing a game. On the instrument panel sits what looks like a vertical level gauge, and the goal is to keep the bubble in the middle while accelerating or braking. It’s a training mechanism to maximize driving efficiency. Once battery power is used up, the Volt switches to gasoline, delivering 37 MPG, according to GM.
If you have around a 40-mile daily driving habit, can plug it in every night and can afford it, this car is worth consideration. The base model is nearly $40,000 – this version was about $45,000 – but it benefits from a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Volt’s battery is warranted for 100,000 miles.
Oh, and if you like getting attention, I got a thumbs up from another driver at a red light for simply driving the car.
FORD’S EURO-CARS ESCAPE BACK TO AMERICA
2013 Ford Escape Titanium. Driven at Sheehy Ford on Midlothian Turnpike. Salesman Rex Dir.
BY MATT STANTON, art director
I have long been a fan of Euro Fords.
For years, I (along with many others, it seems) have read overseas car magazines and wished that I could enjoy the same Fords on these shores that Europe had long had the pleasure of driving.
Now it seems that those wishes are being granted. Over the last few years Ford has been doing away with the US-only versions of some of its models and making their lineup more “global.”
Europe previously knew the Escape as the Kuga, but until now they looked like totally different vehicles. Fortunately for us “Yanks,” that is no longer the case. We have the chance to buy what the rest of the world has been buying for years. (The base price here is just over $30,000; the Titanium version I drove goes for a little over $37,000.) And I, for one, could not be happier.
I guess I should take it for a spin around the block, then, shouldn’t I?
LACROSSE IS TRÈS CHIC
Buick LaCrosse 2012, Driven at Haley Buick GMC on Midlothian Turnpike
BY JOYCE THOMPSON, advertising coordinator
Once again, Buick has convinced me they are ahead of the game when it comes to exterior design. Smooth, sleek lines inspire a subtle sexiness about this car that, in my opinion, rivals its Japan- ese equivalent, the Lexus ES350 – minus the hefty price tag.
Fully loaded, the model I test-drove was sticker-priced at $43K, while LaCrosse’s base price is typically around $30K.
The LaCrosse’s luxuriously appointed interior did not disap- point. It was roomy (both front and back) and comfortable, giving me the feeling of a taller ride, as if I were in a small SUV. There was also enough tech to make it compelling without being overwhelming. LaCrosse offers both a four-cylinder and a V6-engine version. This was a V6, and the swift acceleration and dreamy ride were exceptional.
I would definitely buy this car, because it is — and makes me feel — beautiful.