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I am driving a Ford Escort It's a nice car...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I am driving a 1991 Ford Escort. It's a nice car, but I find it is too fast for me. Can you recommend a smaller car with the lowest possible horsepower and good brakes?--Jeanne

RAY: Wow, Jeanne. This is the first complaint we've had about an Escort being too fast! But you're the best judge. If it feels too fast for you, then it IS too fast for you.

TOM: But you may be making a mistake by going to an even smaller car. I find that driving a very small car is much scarier than driving a large car at the same speed. For example, last year we participated in a go-cart Gran Prix for the Arthritis Foundation. The toy cars we drove had little lawnmower engines in them. But since the cars were two inches off the ground, it felt like you were going a bazillion miles an hour! I had to change my shorts at every pit stop!

RAY: Similarly, the smallest production car that I can think of is the Geo Metro. There's a three-cylinder version of that car which produces a measly 55 horsepower. But you talk about scary! Try taking that little skateboard out on the highway and pulling up next to a semi!

TOM: So I'd actually recommend a modestly powered mid-sized car, Jeanne.If you're going to buy used, certainly the older four-cylinder Volvo 240s meet your criteria (Volvo's going to love this recommendation, aren't they? "If a Ford Escort's too fast, try Volvo!").

RAY: Let's see, other reasonably safe, mid-sized "slowpokes" I remember from the past are the early four-cylinder Ford Taurus, and, of course, who could forget the Mercedes 240 Diesel? I think that took the entire Carter Administration get from 0-60.

TOM: But if you're looking new, I'm afraid we can't be much help. We've never tested cars with an eye toward their sluggishness. So you're going to have to test-drive a few yourself and see what makes you feel most comfortable. But I'd look a little bigger rather than smaller, Jeanne. I think the issue is how safe you FEEL in the car, not how fast it accelerates. Write back and let us know what you end up with.

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