Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fantasy Shopper

According to my Pisces birth sign, I am prone to fantasy and dreaming. I fit that to a "T", frankly. I spend hours on the internet in my fantasy world. I plan trips to exotic locales, first class or chartered jet of course, buy Park Lane apartments in London (the one I want is a cool $5million, right at Speaker's Corner), rack up thousands of dollars at Louis Vuitton and order a Maserati or two.

A more down to earth fantasy involves using the ubiquitous "Build Your Own" features in auto web sites to create the best car I can find for $20,000. My dream 20K chariot would have most options, automatic (I can drive a stick, but in the day of efficient automatics, who needs to?) and a sunroof. A coupe or sporty hatch is best, a nicely tuned sedan is ok.

But in doing so I have found that, true to form, the US automakers are behind again. Only one is competitive at all, that being Ford with the new Fiesta and the revamped Focus. Chrysler is not even in the game.

Chevrolet has the feisty new Cruze, but it is priced too high and does not have a coupe or hatch yet. To get one well optioned and with a spare tire (yes, spare optional) is a shade over $20K. Cruze, the largest of my fantasy buy, also relies on a small turbocharged 4 which worries me about reliability and complexity.

Ford's sweet looking Focus coupe is just over $20 with what I want on it, but is also bigger than the others, except for the Cruze. The Fiesta, an European design built in Mexico, is more my price and style. No coupe, but a sleek hatch is snarky and certainly practical.

Although I am not one who automatically thinks Asian cars are better built than any US, in this case I have to defer to a choice to which I keep going back, the Kia Forte Koup. Hate the silly name, but for less than $19K a nice size, sleek coupe in red with leather and sunroof, or the bigger engined slightly better equipped Koup SX with a powerful 2.4 liter 4 for $90 over 20K.

Sorry GM, my fantasy leans to Kia for now with the Fiesta running a close 2nd. However, I think Dunbar the Buick, however sedanish and old tech he may be, is safe for now.

Unless someone wants to give me a nice Christmas present.

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