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What's the right high-end car for a corporate vice president?

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I am an older woman who has just taken a vice presidential position with a company that is virtually all male and, thus, I do not want to display my profound ignorance about cars. The company has said that it will provide me with a car to use, BUT it must be one that reflects the company's success and status. Translated, that means I have to choose something fancier than the 2000 Lexus I currently drive. I am, frankly, looking for comfort. I like leather seats, and I want roadside assistance if possible. One of the fellows suggested a Bentley, but I don't know if they make something smaller than the Queen Mary (I like my car's size). Another fellow who collects cars says that if I were a car, I would be a classic Crown Vic. But a new one isn't good enough for my company. So, here is the question: What car can I buy? I live in sunny California. I am told that Cadillacs and Lincolns are out. Something called an S-Class is OK on the low end (but I don't know what that is). Does Bentley make something of moderate size? I am an old lady, and don't want to climb in and out of a sports car. Find me a car, please. Thanks. -- Andrea

TOM: I feel awful for you, Andrea. This clearly is a terrible burden for you. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to loan you my 1977 Fiat Spider. And I'll bear the burden of driving whatever $150,000 junker the company foists on you. How's that for a deal?

RAY: You know, you might have a chance at persuading her if you didn't have an inch of mold growing on each of the Fiat's seats.

TOM: Well, this is a wonderful problem to have, Andrea, and we have two suggestions for you.

RAY: The first suggestion is a Bentley GT. It's a luxurious, but not huge, two-door, sporty coupe that sells for a cool $175 large. It's neither a luxury barge nor is it so low to the ground that you'll have to fall into it and climb out of it every day.

TOM: Nor is it so hard-riding that you'll lose a filling to vibration every day on the way into the office.

RAY: It's fairly comfortable, extremely powerful, very pretty and ridiculously expensive.

TOM: Bentley is owned by Audi these days, and the GT uses quite a bit of Audi technology, including Audi's 12-cylinder engine. So, the Bentley GT is one possibility.

RAY: The other car that comes to mind for you is the Lexus LS 600h, which is a relative bargain at just over $100,000. While your old Lexus might not pass muster with the company snobs, the LS 600h is the most luxurious hybrid you can buy today. It might be a little bit big for you, but it's far more cushy and comfortable than the Bentley.

TOM: It has loads of high-tech features, including a system that claims to park the car for you. We've actually tried that feature and can't say it's quite ready for prime time yet.

RAY: Yeah. After my brother got his second ticket for parking in the middle of an intersection, we gave up on that one.

TOM: But in all kinds of other ways, the Lexus is absolutely wonderful. It's pin-drop quiet, supremely comfortable, wonderfully reliable, easy to drive and, as a bonus, it's a hybrid. That means instead of getting 13 miles to the gallon like you'd get in the Bentley, you'll get 20 miles per gallon.

RAY: And that makes a certain statement. It says, "I may have more money than I know what to do with, but I'm not a complete jerk!"

TOM: I know if it were me, I'd take the Bentley GT, because I AM a complete jerk. But I have a feeling the Lexus is going to be a better fit for you, Andrea. Enjoy.
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