The lost reviews

David Yochum

Test drives that never were

Original plans had students reviewing an additional car model and two entirely different vehicles. However, availability issues, driving experience and time management prevented these cars from competing in The $16,000 Challenge:

Dodge Caliber – Starting at $13,985, the Caliber replaces Dodge’s aging, entry-level Neon car model.

Boasting five-door versatility, huge headlamps, illuminated cup holders, an optional beverage cooler inside the glove compartment and available all-wheel drive, Caliber is full of features that make it one of the best new cars on the road today.

However, Klaben Ford/Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep did not have a Caliber in stock. Klaben sales representatives said the car has been flying off dealer lots since Dodge released the vehicle in March.

Hyundai Tiburon – Ron Marhofer Hyundai provided an obsidian black, four-cylinder Tiburon for student testing.

Tiburon, a sporty, 138-hp, two-door coupe, featured dual chrome exhaust tips, projector headlights and a sunroof for $16,095. The only major option the car didn’t have was an automatic transmission.

Our testers, who had limited or no experience using a manual transmission, did not feel they could safely operate the Tiburon’s standard 5-speed.

Honda Fit – Had our tests been pushed back a week, Mike Pruitt Honda may have chosen the new Fit for student review.

Propelled by a 105-hp, 1.5-liter VTEC engine, Honda advertises Fit as a safe, agile compact vehicle – perfect for “zigging and zagging through traffic.”

Starting at $13,850, the Fit would stay within a first-time car buyer’s budget, but the vehicle had not been officially released at the time of testing.