Fun-to-drive cars under $25,000 and over 30 mpgby Ron Perry
Back in the late 70’s, when the first major fuel crisis hit the United States, cars like the 1971 Dodge Charger – with its 440 cubic-inch 4-barrel V8 – were being traded in droves for more fuel-efficient vehicles like the Volkswagen Rabbit. Manufacturers raced to replace the gas-guzzling, high-horsepower engines in existing cars with smaller, more fuel-efficient motors, resulting in emasculated Corvettes, Trans-Ams, and Z28s. Heavy car + small engine = no fun!
Today, fuel prices are again high. But thanks to technology advancements such as lightweight alloys, fuel injection and computerized engine management systems, plenty of 2005 model-year vehicles are capable of providing plenty of bang for the buck. In compiling this list, we made “fun-to-drive” the top priority. Next, the entrants had to get reasonable fuel economy, so we set the bar at an EPA rating of 30 mpg or better on the highway. Each selection also needed to have a base price under $25,000, including delivery. Once we had our list of possibilities whittled down, our editors selected the 10 vehicles they would park in their own driveways, ranked in order from one to ten.