Thanks for all your input on these cars. I have finished writing this article on the Toyota Solara and Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute. I was wondering if you would please edit/critisize it. Thanks!
Top Ten Cars Under $20,000 by Jack Miller
#8- Toyota Camry Solara
#7- Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute
This month we will continue our look at my top ten cars under $20,000 with #8, Toyota Camry Solara, and #7, Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute.
Toyota Camry Solara- America’s most popular car is not only a hot item for consumers, but also for thieves. The Camry Solara is basically a Camry with distinguishing looks and only two doors. The Camry has been America’s best selling car for three years in a row. In fact, since 1983, when the Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota introduced the Camry in the United States, it has been a top seller. Being a popular car also means that parts for it are in demand, so thieves can make a lot of money selling stolen Camry parts.
The cars on the top ten list were chosen with comfort and styling in mind, not value. The Camry Solara is really not a good value. With its least expensive model, the Camry Solara SE, you get a 2.2L, 4-cylinder engine that produces 135 horsepower, power locks and windows, wood trim, and a 6-speaker cassette and CD player. This will cost you $19,420. If you want to add options, there are few and they are pricey. An automatic transmission is $800, anti-lock brakes are a $600 option, a spoiler (which looks really good on the Solara) is $435, and a moonroof will run you $900. So you’re not getting the world’s best deal. Camrys, however, are known to be highly dependable and quality cars. After all, most owners go back to the Camry every time they buy a new car. The main problem is, that at $20,000 the Camry Solara is pretty basic. It is a better car to buy when you have a bigger budget, say $30,000 for the loaded Solara convertible.
The Camry Solara has good fuel economy, the manual 4-cylinder engine getting 23mpg in the city and 32mpg on the highway and the automatic 4-cylinder getting 23mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway.
Insurance rates may be a little higher for the Camry because of its top spots on the most stolen car list, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names the Camry “best pick” in its class in a frontal collision.
The verdict: This car has awesome styling, but when you can buy a nicely equipped Mustang for the same money, why would you want it?
Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute- In an effort to solve all of the Escape’s problems before it reached dealerships, Ford ‘precalled’ this car. The Ford employees who drove this car before it was made public discovered that there were many problems. These included serious problems such as steering wheels coming loose, fuel lines leaking, malfunctioning cruise controls, as well as not-so-serious problems such as shakes and rattles. Ford decided to get it right the first time around. After all, they couldn’t afford to receive any additional bad publicity after the Firestone tire recall. We are just starting to see Escapes and Tributes popping up on Detroit roads, only about a week or two late.
Ford is majority owner in the Japanese car manufacturer Mazda. This brand new midsize sport utility vehicle was the first joint project between the two automobile manufacturers ever since Ford’s takeover a few years back. The two cars are basically identical except for the nameplates and a few other minor details.
So far, the Escape looks like a success. Already, Ford has received 90,000 orders for it. It will be a popular alternative to the Explorer, its bigger and older brother. Ford expects 150,000 additional orders in the 2002 model year.
The fuel economy of the Escape and Tribute is one of the best in its class. The 4-cylinder engine achieves 23mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. The automatic V6 version is a little lower with 18mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway.
Which car is better? The Escape or Tribute? In my opinion, it would be the Tribute. Here’s why: The Tribute is a nicer car. Its color options are less “radical”, it has more options, it has a lower base price, and it is a better value overall.
The Ford Escape XLS starts at $18,185. This base model is underpowered with a 4-cylinder 2.0L engine that only produces 130hp. With the XLS, you also get an AM/FM/CD radio; power windows, mirrors, and locks; a roof rack; and keyless entry. To get leather seating surfaces, you must first buy the Escape XLT, which starts at $19,735. On top of that, you have to add an $875 package that comes with the leather seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a ‘deluxe’ overhead counsel, and a power driver seat. An automatic transmission comes with the 3.0L, 200hp, V6 engine for $1400. 4-wheel drive is a $625 option. To ease getting in and out, side step boards are available for $275.
The Mazda Tribute DX starts at $17,005. With that you get power windows, locks, and mirrors, and an AM/FM/CD radio. It comes equipped with the same 4-cylinder engine the Escape does. The automatic transmission is $1400 extra and comes with the V6 engine, just like the Escape. For $21,845 you can get the Tribute ES that comes with the automatic, V6, leather seating surfaces, moonroof, and a roof rack. 16-inch wheels, tinted glass, and keyless entry come together in an $845 package.
Ford might be creating competition for itself with the Escape and Tribute. Buyers of the lower end Explorers might move over and start buying the Escape and Tribute, which are a better value than some of the cheaper Explorers. The top of the line Escape and Tribute are just as nicely equipped as some of the top of the line Explorers, but with a much lower price. A loaded Escape only runs about $25,000, while a loaded Explorer can cost as much as $40,000. All in all, Ford and Mazda have done a very nice job creating this new type of SUV together.