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Pick a Ride

New Yorkers tend not to drive everywhere—they use their cars for very specific purposes. So here, we select the models that satisfy the particular needs of the modern urban driver.


Illustration by Roderick Mills; photographs courtesy of the car manufacturers.  


1. Driving through monster potholes without feeling a thing.
Land Rover LR2.
The new LR2’s unique Terrain Response System makes easy work of New York’s gnarliest pavement. A four-way switch instantly optimizes suspension, throttle, and stability for monster-truck confidence amid urban obstacles. Three more settings ready the vehicle for specific terrains such as snow, sand, and ruts (potholes). No other SUV in the class has anything like it. Nearly every conceivable safety feature comes standard, as do form-fitting heated and cooled leather seats and a rear park distance control.

2. Working weekends on a gut rehab of a farmhouse in the Catskills.
Toyota Tundra Crewmax.
About $35,000 loaded.
Toyota’s serious, full-size pickup is the smart guy’s Ford F150. The most powerful pickup V-8 available, it’ll handily tow over five tons and carry a full ton of construction supplies in its capacious bed. Clever features that no one else offers include a hydraulically assisted tailgate you raise and lower with two fingers, a six-speed automatic (most competitors still have four speeds), more interior space than anybody else, and rear seats that fold flat in two-row models.

3. Harming the Earth as little as possible and transporting five passengers, while having enough pickup to accelerate past a swarm of buses.
Lexus GS 450h.
About $55,000.
Here’s a luxury sport-sedan hybrid—the latest automotive mash-up. The 3.5-liter V-6 is bundled with a high-output electric motor for a combined 340 hp, which impressively jumps up to 60 mph in under six seconds. The electric motor recharges the battery as you decelerate, and the gas engine shuts off at stoplights, saving more fuel. Bear in mind: This hybrid looks like a gas guzzler, but it’s not (27 mpg city, 28 or 29 highway). For a green machine that looks the part, buy a Toyota Prius ($22,795), which averages 60 mpg in the city, 51 mpg on the highway. For ’07, you can get side-curtain airbags and jazzy sixteen-inch wheels.

4. Rocking the daily power commute from the distant burbs.
Porsche Cayman S.
If you squint, the Porsche Cayman S almost looks like a 911—and the 295-hp Cayman S is nearly as quick, but it costs $14,000 less. It’s perfect for dive-bombing your favorite back-road shortcuts and sweeping along undetected in the right lane on Route 287, just under the radar. There’s room for briefcases and presentation gear behind its commuter-friendly front buckets. Mpg is a decent 20 city/28 highway. Equip your Cayman S in winter with Bridgestone Blizzaks and nothing can stop you.

5. Weekend excursions to Costco, Ikea, and Fairway.
Honda Element.
Starting at $18,900.
You can pack an entire Ikea living room in this little cube-car. With its rear seats folded, the Element’s hefty 77 cubic feet of usable space rivals that of most mid-size SUVs. Fold the front passenger seat and you can haul an eight-foot ladder from Home Depot (or a surfboard). It’s versatile and very cute.

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