WAJ Media Days

I attended the Western Automotive Journalists' Media Days this past Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday was the real world drive of a wide variety of vehicles. Wednesday was at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; unfortunately I was unable to attend. So Tuesday was my one and only day to drive some great cars. I'll give you a rundown of the vehicles I drove on Tuesday.
1. Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V - Cool ass boy racer based on a nicely sized 4-door sedan. 2.5-liter, 200-hp, 6-speed manual. Talk about fun and it's only $20,080.
2. Honda Insight EX - I've driven an Insight before; same nice, compact hybrid. Starts at $19,800.
3. Infiniti G37 Sport Convertible - Really nice hardtop convertible. One touch up or down for the roof. Six-speed manual transmission. Like most hardtop convertibles there is very little trunk room once the top is down. Starts at $46,950.
4. Kia Sorrento EX - Brand new SUV from Kia. Extremely high marks for a very nice package. And no new car chemical smells! The EX with AWD starts at $23,495; the base LX with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and manual transmission is only $16,695.
5. Ford Taurus SHO - OMG! 3.5-L V6, 365-hp EcoBoost, AWD - It goes, it steers, and it stops like nothing from Ford before. (Look out for the cop version coming soon.) $37,770 to start.
6. Mini Cooper S Convertible Mayfair - Outside of the noisy exhaust nice but tiny -convertible. 118-hp, 6-speed manual transmission, starts at $27,850.
7. Dodge Challenger SRT8 - What can you say about V8 power except "yee-haw!"
8. Kia Forte Koup EX - The Koup is available with two four-cylinders, a 2-liter for the EX and a 2.4-liter in the SX. I drove a manual transmission EX and what a really nice little Koup. I'd opt for the Sedan but then I'm old. A base EX is only $16,595 and a top SX is $18,695.
9. Audi A3 TDI - 140-hp, 236 lb-ft of torque and S Tronic automatic transmission. Nicely sized, good performance, excellent fuel economy. Traditional Audi "sporty" handling. Starting at $29,950.
10. Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback - Mitsubish continues to build nice, fun cars that no one buys. Take the Lancer Sportback - visually attractive, powerful turbo-charged 2.0-liter engine (237-hp), twin clutch 6-speed automatic shift transmission. A little pricey at $28,335.
11. Hyundai Sonata SE - What a gorgeous car! Hyundai sure has learned how to design and build cars. The only engine available in the Sonata is 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder. It pumps out 200 hp, which is more than adequate. 6-speed automatic. The SE starts at $22,595.
12. Chevrolet Camaro SS - 6.2-L, 426-hp, V8, 6-speed manual transmission. Starting at $30,945. I may be the only car guy over 50 who is not in love with the Camaro. I love the power (I'm not nuts) but the car feels cramped, and the styling is not my cup of tea.
13. Mazda 3 5-Door - I've driven a few Mazdas this year and found them all really fun cars. This was the same - adequate horsepower (167) and a 6-speed manual transmission. $20,290 to $22,750.

I have to give the WAJ Board a big hand for their hard work in getting this down. Media Days don't just happen and they all worked extremely hard. Ron Harrison got the town of San Juan Bautista to shut down part of 3rd Street for us, and we ate a great lunch at the Cutting Horse Restaurant. Thank you everyone.


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