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Fine automobiles and a few words about them

1999 BMW 323i

The new 323i luxury sport sedan is a member of the family hailed by many to be the best handling cars in the world. It represents the strongest value of the 3 series. With a $26,970 base price, it trails the 328i by 23 horsepower and $6K.

1999 Volvo V70

Car and Driver claims, "The V70 R would be our choice as an almost perfect all-around vehicle." I would describe the wagon as elegant, capable, and practical, albeit a bit pricey. The car comes in five trim levels, with all wheel drive available, between 162 and 246 horsepower on tap, a full complement of safety features, and a price range of $29K-$42K and upwards.

1999 Honda Prelude

Honda's sporty Prelude is set apart by its sub-$30K price and its front wheel drive (FWD cars do not usually handle as well as RWD cars). It boasts 200 hp from a 16 valve, DOHC 2.2L 4-inline, made possible in part by variable valve timing that maximizes the amount of power available at any given rpm. The SH suffix designates those Preludes with Honda's ATTS system (applies more power to the outside wheel during cornering to reduce understeer), and it adds $2500 to the $23,865 base price.

1999 Ford F150

I've had the opportunity to drive several trucks through my job, and the F150 impressed me the most. The Dodge Ram looks great, but it seems imposing inside and the feel of the controls is reminiscent of the old Dodge. I haven't had a chance to try the new Chevy Silverado, but my parents have two GM vehicles and I've heard several S10 horror stories (nuff said). However, the Ford feels and looks great inside and out, and Ford's full-size trucks have a reputation for quality. And doesn't this particular example look like Darth Vader's personal transportation?