#used cars under 2000
Check out the contenders, choose your winner, and check back for the official winner at the end of the week.
With a U.S. record of some 17 million vehicles sold in 1999, coming on top of 75.8 million sales in the previous five years, the car industry is red-hot. And in the hope of keeping these sales churning, the industry keeps turning out new models. Which doesn’t make our job of picking the 10Best any easier at all.
In this 2000 10Best derby, our 18th iteration of this most important and arduous comparison test, the rules remain the same as last year’s. That means our selection process welcomes every kind of vehicle–car, van, sport-utility, pickup truck, sports car–available for sale in the U.S. subject to a few basic stipulations.
First, we only look at production vehicles. Much as we fantasize about black-market McLaren F1s and Lingenfelter-enhanced Corvettes, our 10Best competition only considers machines that are regular production models, fully certified for street use. We also insist that the vehicles be available for sale by the end of January 2000, so they might offer immediate gratification for those readers we have aroused to a purchase frenzy.
Finally, a vehicle must have a base price that squeezes under our price cap. We obtain the average new-vehicle transaction price from the National Automobile Dealers Association and multiply it by 2.5. Last summer, when we picked our nominees, that average price was $24,063, which, after the multiplication and rounding off, produced a cap limit for 10Best of $61,000. This is up two grand from last year’s, reflecting not so much any serious inflation in new-car prices, but rather the eagerness of customers, encouraged by their swollen 401k plans, to select ever more lavish machinery.
If you are disturbed by a list of great vehicles that excludes the premium stratum, you’ll get no apology from us. We are drawn to Ferraris and high-end Mercedes, too, but cars that cost as much as a private college education should offer greatness as standard equipment. They need no special recognition from us.
Nearly 200 vehicles met our criteria, but even our large jury could never properly evaluate that many cars in the time available to us. So we winnowed out those vehicles that we had examined in previous 10Best competitions, vehicles that were also largely unchanged for 2000. That left those cars that were all-new or substantially upgraded this year, as well as last year’s winners. The nominees numbered 68 (twins and no-shows cut it to 63).
During a lovely week last fall, we assembled these machines at our remote test site just outside world headquarters in Ann Arbor. We also mustered our complete staff, bolstering the home office regulars with C/D correspondents from our outlying U.S. and European bureaus. This staff reunion produced 15 judges, with a total of 319 years of getting paid to scribble about cars.
After a week of driving the nominees over a wide variety of roads, gauging their back seats, studying their mechanical makeups, and waxing eloquent about our favorites, we sat down and voted, amid much complaining about the incredibly high quality of the field.
After tallying the ballots, we found that four new machines had made their way onto our 10Best list this year. With the market awash in automotive excellence, we were not surprised.