Pick a Ride

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.

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

6. Recovering from years of station-wagon fatigue now that your kids have finally left home.
BMW 335i convertible.
About $53,000, with several nice options included.
BMW’s latest has a folding steel hardtop, so you get two cars in one—a cozy sports car and a playful, open-top cruiser to compensate for years of minivan duty. Another treat: the twin-turbo, 300-hp engine that goes from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds. There are lovely German details like BMW’s superb rack-and-pinion steering (not too firm, never loose) and a new “sun reflective” technology option, which magically reduces the surface temperature on dark leather seats by up to 68 degrees.

7. Blowing your Wall Street bonus while showing you’ve got money and taste.
Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano.
About $280,000.
Ferrari’s latest trophy car evokes the classic, long-hood styling of the brand’s storied 250 GTO road-racing cars. With a whopping 611-hp 6-liter V-12, four-second zero-to-60 sprints, and a top speed of over 200 mph, nobody on the road from Wall Street to Westchester will catch you. Ferrari’s easy paddle-shifted six-speed electromechanical transmission shifts more expertly than even a race driver can. And it’s quick to learn if you’ve lost your skills to corporate Town Car service.

8. Fighting your way out to the Hamptons on the L.I.E. with screaming infant twins.
Mazda CX-7.
Under $30,000.
In this stylish and agile sport utility vehicle, Mazda emphasizes the sport. Surprisingly spacious for children and their gear, it’s fun to drive, even on the L.I.E. There’s a turbocharged and intercooled 244-hp, sixteen-valve I-4 with manual and automatic shifting, so you can burn up East Hampton in top gear. With the optional technology package, you get navigation, a quality Bose AM-FM-CD, power sunroof, and more.

9. On-street parking, in a reasonably safe neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Ford Edge.
From $25,995.
Ford’s Edge is a nearly perfect city car. It brings sport-utility functionality to a svelte urban silhouette. It has a husky, 265-hp V-6, anti-skid control, and front, side, and curtain-side airbags. Gridlock regulars will appreciate the interior air filter (you’ll avoid exhaust fumes), heated leather seats with lumbar adjustment, a theft-deterrent system, and an AM-FM-CD-MP3 player with digital-media connection.

10. Taking your kids to Little League games on Randalls Island.
Dodge Nitro R/T.
About $30,000 well equipped (with MyGIG option).
This well-powered family SUV has the bells and whistles to keep the whole gang happy. The optional MyGIG computer system comes preloaded with onboard navigation, Sirius satellite radio (with a free one-year subscription), a 6.5-inch color screen, and a USB port that can download and store 1,600 songs on a twenty-gig hard drive. A nifty rear slide-out tray makes packing bulky items and all the kids’ sports gear a snap. the everything guide to: carsthe everything guide to:the everything guide to: carsthe everything guide to: cars

Pick a Ride