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For The Holidays & Beyond

By Corey Conley

I have taken it upon myself to officially announce that today (no matter what day you’re reading this) is officially prime holiday time. This means, as I know you all well know, anxious shopping trips, ballooning calorie counts, and obnoxious Lexus commercials featuring various female family members led outside to receive their gift-wrapped luxury cars, exhibiting pangs of telegenic joy.

Usually these displays of soft-focus automotive bliss prompt so much eye-rolling I lose a contact lens! However, the emotional display did also prompt me to ask myself the following question. If I were a man of means (and, perhaps, limited imagination), what car would I get for each and every person on my list? With that in mind, here’s my list of some nice and naughty rides for the special people in my life.

2014 Prius CFor Dad: 2014 Prius C
My “Dear Old Dad” is a carbon-crusading, lean, mean, greenster with little use for big engines, long feature lists, and sharp handling. Heck, his nine-year-old Civic has hand-crank windows, and that’s just fine by him.

The perfect car for him, should, uh, “Santa” win the lottery, would be a 2014 Prius C. The smallest Prius is hyper efficient, but as a hybrid, still has the range to go visit far-flung relatives, whereas a pure electric car would not. Sure, it’s slow and doesn’t handle well compared to other small runabouts, but it starts reasonably equipped at $19,080 and boasts an EPA mileage rating of 53 city and 46 highway.

2014 Honda RidgelineFor Mom: 2014 Honda Ridgeline
Though now a happy suburbanite, “Mother Dearest”’s childhood on a farm may be the reason she’s often wished for a small truck to replace her sensible sedan. Of course, the years of driving sensible sedans have been poor preparation for driving conventional pickups, with their lumbering steering and harsh suspensions. The Honda Ridgeline on the other hand is known for nimble steering, smooth ride and refined power train. The bed is shorter than a conventional truck’s, but it boasts a cabin spacious enough for five adults and a healthy list of standard options.

It’s no El Camino, but it’s still a good choice for someone who likes a little truck with their car. Starts well equipped at $29,575.

Subaru Crosstrek XV

For Little Sister: Subaru Crosstrek XV
“Little Sis” is a fan of the great outdoors, more at home on a horse than behind the wheel, but still needs a gas-powered steed for most of her travels. That said, she’s not afraid of creature comforts.

That’s why I’d park a Subaru XV Crosstrek beneath the tree for her. The wagon shape gives her plenty of storage for muddy boots and animals, while that all-wheel drive and high ground clearance gives just enough off-road capability for that ranch I know she’ll buy some day. Subaru’s legendary reliability means the XV will likely survive until then. The XV starts nicely equipped at $21,995.

2014 Mazda3

For the Girlfriend: 2014 Mazda3
Like me, my “Special Lady Friend” is a fan of small hatchbacks, so why not get her the best small hatchback on the market today? The 2014 Mazda3 sedan starts at $16,945, but the hatchback is only offered at higher levels and starts at $18,945 with a standard array of niceties such as Bluetooth connectivity. However, features alone don’t make the Mazda3 best in class. It’s the combination of styling, handling, and an up to 41 miles per gallon highway mileage rating that make this my choice for that special someone.

Of course, I don’t want to fall into the classic boyfriend trap of getting something for her that I really want for myself, so I’ll take one, too. I’ll probably grab the the Mazda3 with the bigger, more powerful 2.5 liter engine. The best part? While the bigger engine adds a healthy 30 horsepower to the base 155, with a 39 mpg highway rating it’s almost as efficient as the smaller engine.

2014 Nissan Leaf

For the Friends: 2014 Nissan Leaf
My friends, a couple, currently satisfy their transportation needs with a single car and a hefty amount of carpooling, and they are doing just fine without a second vehicle. That said, the all-electric Nissan Leaf is the perfect choice for a second car. With long recharge times it might take a fortnight to reach Manitoba, but their local daily commute is well within the Leaf’s roughly 80 mile range. With its cheap electric power, the Leaf is easy on the green, both for the planet and the wallet - two qualities my good friends place a premium on.

Thanks to this year’s price drop of around $5,000, the Leaf starts well equipped at $21,300 after tax rebates and Federal incentives. It could be even less depending on any additional incentives offered by your state.

2014 TSX Sport Wagon

For the Boss: 2014 TSX Sport Wagon
Have you ever tried to stuff several thousand $$$ of professional movie and photography equipment into an early 2000’s Toyota Corolla? I have, plenty of times, working as an impromptu photo roadie for Dish Magazine’s Editor, Raeanne Rubenstein. Each time I tried to wedge yet another tripod into the subcompact, it occurred to me she would be a prime candidate for station wagon ownership.

Many automakers offer “crossovers” that are essentially station wagons on stilts but few still sell the glorious, family road-trip staple of the 70s. Luckily, Acura still does, but banish all thoughts of those garish, wood-paneled wagons of yore, as the TSX Sport Wagon offers nothing but clean European styling. That Euro-influence extends to the handling and interior styling as well, while a 200 horsepower engine provides plenty of pep. The TSX Sport Wagon starts well equipped at $31,985. / Issue 154 - September 2146
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