When you are shopping for a new car and are working with a budget of $25,000 there is an overabundance of choice that can make it a truly daunting experience. Most people looking at cars in this price range need a vehicle that gets good fuel economy, has plenty of room for the family and all of the junk modern life requires.
But there is more to life than just cargo space. Your new set of wheels should be fun to drive, solidly built, fast enough to keep up with freeway traffic yet comfortable enough for your long commute. And when you factor in all of these “feel good equations” the number of choices becomes much more limited.
So if you have this much money to spend on a new car you shouldn’t have to settle for anything but the best. These five astoundingly well rounded automobiles are the best in their perspective classes and the capability of keeping you happy for all the years you spend together.
Having spent significant amounts of time behind the wheel testing all five of these vehicles, I can personally vouch for the fact that they are more than mere transportation appliances. They are the quickest route to four wheeled automotive joy and are all vehicles I would recommend to my closest friends and family.
2010 Honda CR-V
(Starting at $21,545)
Although the current generation Honda CR-V has been on the market for a while now, it was recently updated with a more powerful 180 horsepower 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine that returns 21 city/28 highway on regular unleaded. Add in the huge 35.7 cubic foot cargo area and the usual Honda build quality and you have a peerless mid-size SUV.
2010 VW Golf TDI
(Starting at $22,354)
With fuel economy ratings of 30 city/42 highway and interior quality that could shame a premium brand model, the 2010 VW Golf TDI is a terrific all around package. It is fun to drive and the 2.0 liter 140 horsepower/236 lb. feet of torque turbodiesel is surprisingly powerful. Equip it with the standard six-speed manual and you have yourself the equivalent of a really frugal GTI.
One last bonus is the fact that TDI equipped VW models are notorious for not depreciating. There is a huge cult of TDI fans in this country who keep residual values high. Some have even sold their old TDI Golf models with astronomical mileages for near the original MSRP. That is because diesel engines are proven to be able to handle more miles than you may ever drive in a lifetime.
2010 Honda Accord EX
(Starting at $23,830)
While there really is no “bad” Accord sedan, the EX variant with its more powerful 2.4 liter 190 horsepower engine is the best combination of performance and features in the lineup. You get alloy wheels, a moonroof, climate control, a great stereo, power everything, steering wheel mounted audio controls and a gigantic 14 cubic foot trunk.
But what is most impressive about the Accord EX is the way it steers, handles, rides and feels. This really is the sports car of the front drive family sedan class yet the ride is supple and smooth even over the harshest pavement. The steering is firm and precise like a BMW’s and the interior quality is first rate. If you need a family sedan, I can’t recommend this any more highly.
2010 Mazda3s Five Door
(Starting at $19,685)
With a 167 horsepower 2.5 liter engine and a 29 miles per gallon highway rating, the 2010 Mazda3s five door makes for a sporty yet economical family commuter. Thanks to a cleverly packaged interior the Mazda3 also has plenty of room for five and a cavernous 17 cubic foot cargo area, this is one multi-talented hatchback.
2011 Honda CR-Z
(Starting at $19,200)
This hybrid sport coupe is set to hit Honda dealers in August with a ridiculously low asking price and fuel economy is the 30’s. Having driven one around the twisting roads around Sonoma County I can vouch for the fact that this is an infectiously fun to drive car especially when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.
The 2011 CR-Z also has a huge cargo area that makes it the perfect weekend getaway car. And thanks to its great economy and surprisingly compliant ride it also makes for a great commuter car. It may only seat two but when a car is this much fun who really cares?