LA Splash Christmas Car Gift Guide 2006

All Items are Sorted by Price - Most Expensive to Least Expensive


For the executive:  Beats sitting in a corner office all day.

Jaguar XK Convertible

"An already classic car whose only forebears basically are the E-Type and the XJS.  As  its most recent incarnation, the XK8, was just a reskinned XJS, this the first start-from-scratch roadgoing Jaguar sportscar developed since 1975.  Special or what?"

"Though now made by Ford, everything still seems made to Royal appointment from the hand-stitched hide that lines the burled walnut  trim to the ashtray with the gorgeous opening action from the same company that supplied switchgear for the  XJ6s back in the day."

2007 Lexus GS Hybrid

"The hybrid conversion makes this a leader in the luxury mid-size field, taking it a few steps ahead of traditional competitors Audi and BMW in delivering to the market what the market wants. Which nowadays is low gas consumption on concerns about the environment and the family budget."

"Options over and above its already laden, first-rate MSRP of $54,900 include Mark Levinson CD system, pre-collision system and power-active vehicle stablization system, should you run into trouble.  Standard safety ratings even without these additions are outstanding."

For the gearhead:  When your foot weighs as heavily as your post-Christmas belly.

Dodge Charger Daytona R/T

"When I then brought up the 5.7 liter engine that releases more than 350 horses when fully prodded, many just looked at me with awe, then invariably questioned how many speeding tickets I'd be paying off by the end of the week."

"Flat-out performance is blistering for a car of this dimensions -  a four-door sedan with a curbweight of 4031 pounds it will gun to a mile a minute in about five seconds and in the wake of a mildly irrelevant top speed of 135 mph the Dayton's real use is acceleration from 40mph-plus up to the limit, where it excels courtesy of its horsepower and 390 pounds-per-foot of torque."

Corvette Convertible

"You can top out at 30 mph after a blistering 1.8 seconds with the foot flat on the floor and your head pushed back in the headrest as the tachometer redlines at 7,000rpm. White knuckles still gripping, you hit 40mph just over a half second later, and you've pretty much just changed from 1st to 2nd. You can stay in 2nd up to 60mph  - hit in under 4.4 seconds  - and on to the speed limit, but the less maverick will have shifted down to 3rd by now, easing off the gas while peeling their eyelids from their foreheads."

"It's one of the purest speed monsters out there, and will likely beat most everything you encounter on the roads save for its sister Z06, a fraction quicker, or a Viper. And it will do it in a refined, smooth manner that belies its looks and reputation."

For the outdoorsman:  If you can see the wood for the trees, then yule be glad you looked at these.

Land Rover LR3

"On road the LR3 is pretty near as good as SUVs of this high-rider shape get. Up there with the Escalade and the Navigator, the Land Rover is adept and enjoyable to drive at high speeds with little body roll or jerk and exceptionally good visibility, which can be rare in the sector.  It's a snip to park, with little effort for arms short or long to spin the wheel from full lock left to full lock right.  So basically it accomplishes everything you could want, or expect, of a luxury SUV."

"Improvements   include its Jaguar-derived 4.4 liter V8 that spits out an impressive more than 300 horsepower, every one of them necessary for a beast of these dimensions, or nearly two tons  and more than 190 inches long (a five-inch improvement on the last one, for more leg-room, essentially).  Its super-stiff structure gives a solid on-road driving experience, and its steering has also been tightened from the barge-like qualities of its predecessor.  And can anyone say low-down torque? Helpful for low-down maneuvers and on-road acceleration alike."

Lincoln LT

"In the Lincoln, you get the prestige of the marque emblazoned across a massive front grille, alongside more subtle design hints that tell anyone whose looking that, yes, you paid a little bit more for your truck than the man who comes to fix the drains."

"Perched on 18-inch  aluminum eight-spoke wheels with chrome running boards alongside its metallic silver paintjob, the test LT drew as many stares as the funky Chevy SSR I drove a couple of months back, only more tended to come, I noticed, from female drivers and onlookers.  Riddle me that one."

For the career woman: Driven to succeed.

Pontiac G6 Convertible

"Not everybody can afford a new 911, while chances are that the average family budget may just stretch to a G6 convertible -- and we all know who usually handles the family budget. It's a fact that parent company GM has clearly taken into consideration with its budgeting the convertible at under $30,000 MSRP."

"Driving-wise, the car does everything it should. It corners well for a cruiser and the joy of having a drop-top will make up for anything you will find wrong with it, which will be little."

Toyota Prius

"Toyota's Prius gives you that luxury of not only skipping into the carpool lane when the rush-hour 405 or 101 mash turns into an almighty stramash, but also a little extra time when you check out the live traffic reports and know that, chances are, you'll be able to slip around the worst, even without another passenger on board."

"So throw away that inflatable dummy in the front seat, get some of those funky yellow bumper stickers from the DMV, and then step into what was once the future of hybrids, and which remains the most recognisable on the road today."

For the girl racer: When that mirror's for more than make-up.

Scion TC

"The Scion's looks, I believe, can hold their own with any in its class.  It's got a classy, sculpted front grille, which looks just muscular enough for a compact car, while  its rearmost column, which defines its side profile, apes the Acura RSX's and could also, at a stretch, be said to resemble a BMW's. Moral is:  If you want to look better, forget dieting or surgery drive a TC."

"The Scion attracts drivers young and old, mostly female but with the occasional young or youngish male driver thrown into the mix, as it can be easily customized both by Scion and in the after-market sector, which may or may not appeal to both sexes.  Both will buy it primarily for its looks and price.  Both will be wise buyers."

Saturn Sky

"Saturn's drop-top   gave a little bit of rock-star glamour alongside some pretty good punch, drop-dead looks and a sound that burbles like some finger-slapped bass amplified through your lower sternum via the floor.  Glorious, in other words."

"The Sky's ride is good, and it handles well, and it's strong, too: Word on the grapevine is that one journo wrote off one of these babies at high speed and walked out unscathed, which is as good a demonstration as any bleep-bolstered NCAAP safety rating any day, in my reckoning."

For the family:  On the road with the near and dear.

The Jeep Commander

"The dog fit easily even with the wife in front, three relatives in the back and three weeks' worth of luggage."

"Heated and powered in oodles of ways, the seats extend far into the back too,  these ones with split-fold technology.  Check out the 'theater seating', a new innovation this year apparently giving those in the back seat an elevated, better view of the road and their surroundings."

Toyota Camry

"Accomplished through the gears from start-up to the speed limit, the Camry is an untroubled shifter that delivers acceleration every bit as smooth as cars twice the price. The ride is comfortable, purposefully built with enough give in the chassis and suspension to handle the worst of LA's freeway ravages."

"Positioned nicely below more expensive imports, the sixth-generation Camry gives most of what the more pricey cars offer at about two-thirds of the cost of an entry-level mid-size BMW, and about half that of a Mercedes."

Under the tree: They might fit, so why not?

Lexus 430SC Convertible

"Best thing about the Lexus 430SC convertible?  You can cruise 500 miles up cool coastal climbs to San Francisco with the top down, then, a few days later, cruise through the baking desert heat to Las Vegas in relaxed, quiet comfort with the hard-top up."

"Other luxurious options you'll get for your hard-earned are nine-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, 18-inch rims with cool definition, HiD headlights, sat-nav and maple or walnut trim.  The seating leather is gorgeous."

Pontiac Solstice

"I lost count of the number of comments and stares the shapely front cone and the flared back-end of the Solstice attracted throughout the shortest day, which I spent safely ragging about coastal roads en route to Santa Monica, usually with a big smile on my face."

"Power rack-and-pinion steering delivered good feel through the wheel (even with Bilstein monotube shock absorbers working overtime below), as any decent sportscar should, while the stainless-steel exhaust emitted a rolling burble which sounded as good as any sportster in its class.   Pontiac engineers undoubtedly took great care to ensure this car not only looked the part, but sounded it, too."


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