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THE TEN BEST OF 1990 PART 1

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TOM: You may have noticed that around this time of year, all of the automotive publications (Road and Flack, Car and Drivel) come out with their lists of "ten best cars."

RAY: Well, we've noticed that we often disagree with a lot of their selections, and we think we've figured out why.

TOM: These magazines place too much emphasis on acceleration. And because of that, they tend to pick a lot of cars that can't be enjoyed unless you're willing to break the law.

RAY: So we decided to come up with our own top ten. These are, of the cars we've driven, the ones we've been most impressed with over the last year. We should mention that there are some prominent new cars we haven't driven yet (like the 1991 Acura Legend, the 1991 Buick Park Avenue, and the 1991 Toyota Tercel). But that's their tough luck.

TOM: In picking our ten best, we factored in driving pleasure, practicality, serviceability, price, quality of design and manufacture, and, most importantly, how full the gas tank was when the test car arrived.

RAY: So here, this week, are the first three of Click and Clack's 1990 Ten Best Cars.

BEST MINIVAN: 1991 DODGE CARAVAN/PLYMOUTH VOYAGER.

RAY: Having been out-cupped in the cup holder race by the Chevy Lumina APV, out-stylized in the "Lost-In-Space" competition by the Toyota Previa, and out-maneuvered in the "van that drives like a car" category by the Mazda MPV, Chrysler came back to blow them all away with its 1991 Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager.

TOM: The new Chrysler minivans are better than the old ones in every way. They're better looking, more powerful, and better handling. The ergonomics are better, and interior parts aren't falling off any more. They can't beat Chevy's 2.4 cupholders per passenger, but their use of interior space is still the best in the business, particularly in the Grand Caravan and Grand Voyager, which are about a foot longer than the standard versions.

BEST ALL-AROUND SEDAN: FORD TAURUS.

TOM: When anyone asks us to recommend a four-door sedan, we start off by suggesting a Taurus. If they say they'd never drive a Taurus because they hate the way it looks, we try to bamboozle them into trying a Mercury Sable.

RAY: The Taurus and Sable are roomy, comfortable, safe, reliable, good-looking, and with the three-liter six-cylinder engine, plenty powerful. You can also get them with an air bag. We couldn't find another car that beat this combination.

THE OTHER BEST ALL-AROUND SEDAN: TOYOTA CAMRY V-6.

TOM: When someone absolutely refuses to drive a Taurus OR a Sable because of styling, we recommend a Toyota Camry. It's practical, well engineered, and although kind of small, it's quite comfortable. It handles well, it's easy to drive, and the V-6 gives it plenty of power. It also has the Toyota reputation for reliability, second only to Maytag's.

RAY: This is a car that won't make anyone at the performance magazines drool (and you won't find teenage boys putting posters of Camrys up next to their Corvettes), but it's one of our ten best because it has almost everything most people want in a car. The only thing it doesn't come with is an air bag, and that's why, in our opinion, it's second to the Taurus.

NEXT WEEK: THE MOST FUN FOR THE MONEY, THE MOST FOR A LOT OF MONEY, AND THE BEST NOT-TOO-SMALL SPORT COUPE.
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