New Car Review: 2012 Ford Explorer

Brown 2012 Ford Explorer front three-quarters view against rocky hills
The 2012 Ford Explorer.

One of the maddening things about car buying these days is the wide price range for the same vehicle. It's caused by multiple trim levels. Case in point: The Ford Explorer. You can get it in four different levels...Explorer, Explorer XLT, Explorer Limited and Explorer Sport. And from the Explorer to the Explorer Sport, there's an $11,585 price spread.

That's a chunk considering the base price of the base model is $29,135 (we're comparing 2-wheel drive models here. 4X4 costs extra).

13 months ago, we reviewed the Explorer and said "The price is right."

For that one, it was. It was a four-wheel drive XLT, which started at $33,190 and with options rang in at $37,505...a fortuitous price point for Ford, since it was $580 below the Jeep Grand Cherokee that charmed its way into the TireKicker Top Ten Cars (So Far) the month before and still is on the list.


New Car Review: 2012 Toyota Prius C

Habanero (Orange) 2012 Toyota Prius C with trees in background
The 2012 (and 2013) Toyota Prius C.

There's a school of thought that says hybrid owners like to call attention to their eco-friendly ways. If true, some say it explains why radically-styled hybrids like the Toyota Prius (well, it was radical until it became a best-seller) outsell "stealth" hybrids like the Honda Civic Hybrid, which looks...exactly like every other Honda Civic.

So what do you do when the Prius styling is beginning to become mainstream, and you're introducing a smaller, lighter, even more economical Prius...one that's less expensive, to boot? How do those people call attention to themselves?

Well, you could paint a huge number of them (including the ones sent to automotive journalists) bright orange. Toyota calls the color "Habanero". I call it "Orange Sherbet With Artificial Coloring".