Many thanks for the informative coverage, "Finding the Best Car for You" [October 15].
I am in the market for a new car. I find your research more dependable, and it avoids any narrow or favored direction. I noticed, in your online version [usnews.rankingsandreviews.com], that some of the reviews are based on factors that may be inapplicable to 2008 models. The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, in which I am interested, is much changed from the reviewed 2007 model. Will you be updating the reviews soon?
Editor 's note: The data used were the latest available when the rankings were published. As new models and reviews become available, the rankings are updated on usnews.rankingsandreviews.com.
Your review of affordable sports cars online missed it big time. The Mazda Miata over the Mazda rx-8? No way. Your comment "its power plant's constant need of maintenance" must be based on the rx-7. I drove an rx-7 for 16 years before replacing it with the rx-8. I checked the oil level regularly and still do but rarely have to add oil. Check with an owner the next time you survey.
Rather than discuss advances in hybrid technology, the upcoming release of the Tesla Roadster, or spotlighting the cars that your readers should be buying to promote a sane energy policy and help save the planet, you summarize comments from USA Today, Car and Driver, and Motor Trend. Recent breakthroughs in battery technologies weren't mentioned, references to the Toyota Prius's mpg were negative, and there were no hybrids included in any of the magazine's sidebar reviews. The low point was the No. 1 ranking given to the Chevrolet Tahoe, despite its 15-mpg rating in city driving. The Boston Globe called it "Chevrolet's best suv yet," so I guess we should do our patriotic duty and buy one.
The luxury and affordable midsize SUV categories were of special interest to me. You ranked Lexus rx 350 as No. 1 in the luxury suvs and Honda Pilot as No. 1 in the affordable suv category. I have had a Lexus suv, an excellent car; however, I now have a Subaru Tribeca, which I think is at least as good as the Lexus. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the top model Tribeca is about $3,000 less than the Lexus and only about $200 more than the Honda. The Tribeca also has a five-star crash rating.
Glenn F. Kennedy
"Finally, MPG Numbers You Can Believe" downplayed the Toyota Prius EPA rating of 60 mpg in city driving even though most users got real-world mileage in the 40s. The best of the five cars rated was the Audi A4 getting 24 mpg, and yet the Prius mileage is substantially greater than the Audi. Every car has a speedometer that encourages faster driving. Every new car should have a conveniently located electronic screen showing instantaneous mpg and average gas consumption each five minutes for the previous 30 minutes as a driving aid to get better gas mileage. Drivers need to improve their fuel usage by driving efficiently at slower speeds.
You state that theToyota Prius's actual gas mileage is lower than advertised: 60 mpg in city driving revised to 48 mpg. Last summer I drove four people on Interstate 90 at the speed limit (and above) across the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges, air conditioner blasting, to Big Sky, Mont., and back in a Prius. We had so much baggage I couldn't use the rearview mirror. Truly terrible conditions for gas mileage, yet after 1,000 miles, the Prius managed 50.1 mpg.
"Your mileage may vary" is the whole idea, and the numbers were not bunk in my experience. My highway mileage on several cars over many years has always been just about what the epa numbers indicated, frequently even a bit higher; ditto city mileage. My wife, on the other hand, seldom achieves the epa numbers but doesn't fail by much. A lead foot will pay an even greater mpg penalty. If miles per gallon are a concern, buy an efficient car and drive it in an efficient manner.
Flat Rock, N.C.
I noted most of your recommendations were for Japanese and German makes and models. I see no mention of the new Saturn models that are winning praise and awards. I just leased a 2008 Chevrolet Impala ltz that is as nicely equipped and fun to drive as cars costing a lot more. The Impala can run on E85 as well as regular gas and has more extras. I worked for General Motors for 31 years and, yes, they've made some real clunkers, but the current vehicles measure up to the best these foreign companies have to offer.
Only five of the 30 vehicles you recommend (about 17 percent) are made by U.S. companies. I'm still waiting for Detroit to match the design, fit, finish, quality, and reliability of my past three Japanese cars.