2011 Honda Accord SedanEnlarge Photo
But we love strippers.
Strippers have such a bad name, we feel the need to rise to their defense.
They aren't just out there waiting for your pity, you know. Strippers deserve your respect. We think they need a union.
Wait...you thought we meant.....? No, no, no. Strippers, as in base cars. The ones without GPS, without ventilated seats, without music hard drives and exotic voice-activated controls.
If you're bent on buying a luxury car, that's your prerogative. Among our crew, finding the best car that does the most chores, creates the most joy and does it all for the least amount of money is a winner. Pretty often, that's accomplished with a standard-issue car, with few frills and even fewer options.
My own personal standing rule is even a little more inflexible. I never pay more than $20,000, give or take 10 percent, for a brand-new car. Inflation's testing that rule sorely, but you might have read on AllCarsElectric that my next car will be a 2011 Nissan Leaf--which, with federal and state tax rebates, will tip the scale just to under $22,000.
At other desks in the High Gear Media virtual cube farm, you'll find other fairly frugal shoppers, too. We like a Jaguar XKR Convertible as much as the next red-blooded, British-afflicted American, but we consistently rank some of these base cars very highly. For example, the 2010 Ford Fusion, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the 2010 Kia Soul, some of the best-rated cars in their respective classes here at our reviews flagship, TheCarConnection.
If you don't cling to the notion of value, car buying can go horribly wrong. I can name two examples among family and friends where they got the fun-to-dollar equation exactly backwards. I have seen the window sticker on a nearly $50,000 BMW 3-Series Coupe, and I have lived vicariously through a friend's $42,000 MINI Cooper S. That's an astonishing sticker shock to my senses--and you should know, both times they were decisions admitted to only after the fact.
No one's asking you to go back to roll-up windows and carburetors, but for the love of money, don't stay trapped in the notion that you need every latest gadget in a new car. Don't skip the basics that affect resale, like air conditioning and cruise control--but think twice about going back for seconds at the options-list buffet.
This week's test car arrived this morning, and reminded me how good a more Spartan-flavored car can be more satisfying. Not strictly a base vehicle, the Honda Accord sedan I'm driving now has a smattering of equipment that came with its SE trim, like leather seating and a five-speed automatic. But that's about it. No satellite radio, no exotic laser-cruise control--just straightforward mechanical goodness from a sweet four-cylinder, some of the best front seats in the business, and a nicely low seating position to take in the Accord's refined cockpit.
The Accord reminds me that sometimes--a lot of the time--all we really need is a basic four-door, four-cylinder car that gets the job done.
In other words, sometimes a stripper is exactly what you need.
Need more proof? We've chosen five strippers that can do almost anything you ask, for the right price.