I had gone to cars.com and set up some appointments for the weekend. I wanted to look at and test drive the following vehicles:
Chrysler Crossfire: My guilty pleasure choice. I love the way they look. This is a two-seater that's pretty fast and is known for its razor-sharp handling and unlike some small two-seaters, it has a real trunk that actually holds stuff. It's essentially, a Mercedes-Benz SLK underneath with a Chrysler body. They are the coolest vehicles that hardly anybody has ever heard of. It costs $20,000 less than the comparable Mercedes model. I've seen some used ones reasonably priced around $20,000.
Jeep Liberty: My favorite of the smaller SUV's in terms of looks. I drove its big brother, a Jeep Grand Cherokee this past December for a week and I really liked it. The Grand Cherokee is too big for my needs but the Liberty may suit me.
Mazda Tribute: This is a highly rated semi-luxury vehicle that may suit me. I rode in one that a co-worker of mine drove and was pretty impressed with it.
Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner: These vehicles are essentially the same as the Tribute. The Ford lacks much of the luxury touches that are in the Mazda but it costs quite a bit less because of rebates that Ford is offering. I am strongly considering either of these models. It may depend on my impressions of the dealers as to whether I go Ford or Mercury.
Toyota Rav4: Toyota's reputation for durability may push me into going Japanese (Note: the Tribute is more a Ford than a Mazda). What allures me about this model is the V6 version has 269 horsepower and is rated at 24 mpg. That's pretty impressive. The Rav4 is more of a tall car than a true SUV. This appeals to me as well as I prefer the driving dynamics of cars and I'm not out to tow anything or go off-roading so this may be my winner.
Of the SUV's, I am going to look at and test the V6 models with 2-wheel drive. Again, I'm not an off-roader nor do I live in snow country. 4-wheel drive robs the vehicle of power and fuel economy. I believe in V6's however, therefore I have already ruled out several candidates such as the Honda CRV, which does not offer a V6.