Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

After 20 years, we should all be so over the Mazda MX-5 (Miata).

But we're not. At least, I'm not.

Equipped with a new, larger, smiling grille, the slick little two-seater hugs you until you love it. It's quick, handles better than most any other car you could name, and makes a strong value argument. Base price for the top of the line Grand Touring model is $26,350. The base model? $21,305.

Even optioned to the max, the Grand Touring I drove managed to slide in under $30,000(at $29,170).

It's the modern-day equivalent of the Austin-Healy I wanted as a kid. Only better. Way better.

EPA says 21 city/28 highway. I say go drive one.

Dodge Caliber SXT Review

Now this is more like it.

You can argue the styling, but the Dodge Caliber is a contender in the increasingly popular field of small, relatively economical cars with versatility and a low price.

Way better than the Neon it replaced, the Caliber packs enough standard features that you could order one without options for $17,600 and have a perfectly fine little machine.

The one I tested added quite a bit more...the Security Group, Driver Convenience Group, Premium Sound Group, and a continuously variable transmission...and still wound up with a bottom line (including delivery charges) of $21,465. At that price, the plasticky interior is still forgiveable (more so at $17,600, of course)

Five-star frontal crash ratings (four stars for rollover) and an EPA 23 city/27 highway mile per gallon average don't hurt, either.

If Chrysler's looking for the future...they should consider taking this starting point and constantly refining it. They're not far off to begin with.

Chrysler Sebring Convertible Review

For 11 and a half years, I've told people that the great thing about being an automotive journalist is that no one makes a truly bad car anymore.


Yes, the Yugo is dead and gone...but words cannot express the huge wave of depression that came over me every time I got behind the wheel of the Chrysler Sebring convertible.

Regular TireKicker readers know I have no problem with American cars in general or Chrysler products in particular. I have, prior to TireKicker, enjoyed and given favorable reviews to previous-generation Sebrings and their forerunner LeBarons.

The 1999 Chrysler Sebring convertible was actually attractive and appealing. I mulled over what it might be like to own one.

The regression over a decade here is staggering.

The 2009 model makes a bad impression with flat-out ugly styling, compounds it with a cheap interior, multiplies that with an unrefined powertrain and tops it off with numb handling that still manages to telegraph the feeling that something could happen at any time and it's likely to be bad.

I haven't driven a car that felt so out of touch with what could be built since....I don't know....maybe 1982?

EPA says 18 city/26 highway. Base price $29,370. As tested (with electronics convenience group, electronic stability program, uconnect phone and destination charges) $31,620.

Not that it matters. I wouldn't take one as a rental.

Chrysler makes several fine vehicles. This one they need to get off the lots and off the streets before someone on President Obama's automotive team drives one and thinks that this is where the loans will go.