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A classy car for a classy lady...

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DEAR TOM AND RAY:
IN THE NEAR FUTURE, I MUST PURCHASE A NEW CAR. I'M A 56 YEAR OLD WOMAN WHO NEEDS A DEPENDABLE, SAFE, 4-DOOR SEDAN. I'M LEANING TOWARD THE HONDA ACCORD. WHAT DO YOU THINK? ALSO, WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF STICK VS. AUTOMATIC. I'VE DRIVEN BOTH AND I DON'T MIND SHIFTING.
ANITA

TOM: WELL, ANITA, IF YOU WERE 20 YEARS YOUNGER, I'D SUGGEST A NISSAN MAXIMA. IF YOU WERE 20 YEARS OLDER, I'D SAY YOU'RE READY FOR A CHRYSLER NEW YORKER. BUT GIVEN YOUR REQUIREMENTS, AND THAT YOU STILL HAVE SOME SPORTIN' BLOOD IN YOU, THE ACCORD IS A GOOD CHOICE.

RAY: THE ACCORD WAS THE BEST SELLING CAR IN THE UNITED STATES LAST YEAR, AND FOR GOOD REASON. IT'S PRACTICAL, RELIABLE, SPORTY, AND WELL-ENGINEERED. THEY HAVEN'T MADE ANY DRAMATIC CHANGES IN IT OVER THE YEARS, BUT THEY HAVE STEADILY IMPROVED IT, MAKING IT BIGGER, HEAVIER, MORE COMFORTABLE, MORE POWERFUL, AND MORE REFINED. YOU REALLY CAN'T GO WRONG WITH THE ACCORD.

TOM: BUT BEFORE YOU GO OUT AND INCREASE THE TRADE DEFICIT, YOU SHOULD ALSO LOOK AT THE FORD TAURUS. THE TAURUS IS LESS SPORTY THAN THE ACCORD, BUT IT'S MORE COMFORTABLE, QUIETER, AND BECAUSE IT'S HEAVIER, IT'S SAFER. IN TERMS OF RELIABILITY, WE THINK IT'S ALMOST AS GOOD AS HONDA AND TOYOTA. AND UNLIKE THE ACCORD, YOU CAN GET AN AIRBAG IN THE TAURUS. THE ACCORD ONLY COMES WITH THOSE MOTORIZED "ATTACK" SEATBELTS THAT WE HATE.

RAY: AS FOR STICK VS. AUTOMATIC, IT'S REALLY A MATTER OF PERSONAL PREFERENCE. THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD KNOW IS THAT YOU DON'T NECESSARILY SAVE ANY MONEY BY DRIVING A STICK. ANY SAVINGS ON GAS MILEAGE ARE MORE THAN EATEN UP BY THE INEVITABLE CLUTCH REPLACEMENT(S). ALSO, SOME CARS ARE BETTER GEARED TOWARD ONE OR THE OTHER. THE ACCORD COMES WITH A VERY SMOOTH STICK SHIFT, BUT YOU MAY FIND IT UNDERPOWERED WITH AN AUTOMATIC, ESPECIALLY IF YOU CARRY A LOT OF PASSENGERS. ON THE OTHER HAND, I WOULDN'T DREAM OF GETTING A TAURUS WITH A STICK SHIFT, AND THE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION WITH OVERDRIVE IS GREAT.

TOM: IF YOU'RE USED TO A STICK, TRY AN AUTOMATIC. YOU'LL BE AMAZED AT WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH THAT FREE RIGHT HAND. YOU CAN ADJUST THE AIR CONDITIONING, CHANGE RADIO STATIONS, EVEN FISH AROUND IN THE GLOVE BOX FOR YOUR FAVORITE WAYNE NEWTON TAPE--ALL BETWEEN RED LIGHTS!
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