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Dear Tom and Ray:



Hi, guys. I figured you might have an answer to my dilemma: I am moving to Turkey (that's the country, not the bird) and have to decide what kind of car to buy there. The options are a pickup truck, like a Nissan Frontier crew cab, versus a compact car, like a VW Golf. 2004 models of these two cost around the same: about 35-40 billion Turkish Lira (which translates to about $30,000 U.S.). The pickup has a diesel engine, which is much cheaper to run (gas costs about three times more in Europe than here). And my folks have a vineyard in Turkey, so I would be able to use the pickup for jobs on the farm, too. But I'm also concerned about safety and comfort (the vineyard is about three hours from where I'll live). Some highways in Turkey are not divided, and the drivers there put Italian drivers to shame when it comes to obeying rules, so I have nightmares of having a head-on collision in this pickup truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives high marks for the Golf, but not for the Nissan. Can I really compare the two? Which one will I be safer in? Thanks a bunch! And if you respond, I'll bring you a bottle of my wine the next time I'm in the country! -- Batu

RAY: I'd go for the truck, Batu. It's not THAT uncomfortable. Plus, the diesel, being more primitive technology, will be more reliable for you over there. Not to mention the savings in fuel costs and the ability to separate the passenger compartment from the cargo area (those readers who work in the agricultural sector will understand immediately why that is desirable).

TOM: As for safety, yes, the Golf has better crash protection, under most circumstances. Although the Frontier doesn't rate badly in the U.S. crash tests, either. But let's say you buy the Golf and you do survive a head-on crash on a nondivided highway ... you'll probably die from the staph infection you get at the rural Turkish hospital anyway. So, it might be better to go quickly. Given the choices, I'd say the pickup truck is just the ticket, Batu.

RAY: My brother's not being serious, Batu. But you should know that cars sold in different countries are not always sold with the same equipment. The United States forces manufacturers to meet a lot of safety and emissions standards that other countries don't. So, if you're looking up crash-test results for vehicles in the United States, they might not apply to the Golf or Frontier you buy in Turkey. You'll have to find out whether the Turkish versions of those cars are exactly the same as the cars sold in other European countries. And if so, check the European safety data for guidance.

TOM: But we would advise you to "do as the Ankarans do." Buy a vehicle that's common over there, so it'll be easy to get serviced and easy to sell when the time comes. And get a diesel.

RAY: And by the way, Batu, I think this wonderful advice is worth more than just one bottle of wine, don't you?

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