Buyer's Guide: New Cars for 2000

These millennial models will wow you with advances in performance, safety, and comfort.

October 1, 1999

There’s a revolution on the road--and we’re not talking about road rage or mobile offices. As the new millennium approaches, automakers are rolling out the first of the 2000 models.

Although they may not look radically different from last year’s cars and light trucks, they’ve gone through dozens of major changes yielding significant improvements in performance, emissions, and crashworthiness, as well as creature comforts.

Light trucks continue to capture an increasing share of the American automobile market. According to the 1999 Simmons survey of REALTOR® households, 59.4 percent own or lease a pick-up truck, minivan, full-size van, or sport-utility vehicle. And for good reason: They’re rugged, versatile, and attractive. Better yet, they’re becoming more carlike. Take the completely redesigned 2000 GMC Yukon. Thanks to its all-new chassis, this full-size sport-utility vehicle delivers the ride and handling you might expect from a conventional luxury sedan. But its rugged four-wheel-drive power train will get you and your clients through even the worst winter weather.

Passenger cars certainly haven’t gone out of style. More than 83 percent of REALTOR® households own or lease a sedan, coupe, or convertible. And the class of 2000 will give you good reason to consider an upgrade. You’ll see some stunning new designs, like the sexy Jaguar S-Type, the automaker’s first “mid-luxury sedan” in three decades. There’s plenty of breakthrough technology, such as the active cruise control system debuting on the redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class. And the 2000 Taurus breaks new ground on the safety front, with the world’s “smartest” air bag system.

Today’s U.S. market is more crowded than ever, with hundreds of models to choose from, so our comparison charts focus on vehicles either making their debut or introducing significant changes for the 2000 model year.

MODERATELY PRICED SEDANS

Here’s the heart of the market. It’s also the industry’s most competitive segment, which isn’t surprising, considering all the great models to choose from. NAR’s studies show that the Toyota Camry (www.toyota.com) and Honda Accord (www.honda.com) are two of the most popular models among REALTOR® households, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for the next generation of these midsize mainstays. (See “REALTOR® favorites” sidebar.) In the meantime, here are seven new or completely redesigned moderately priced sedans to consider for 2000.

Manufacturer/
Model
MSRP + Destination Charge
Power Train Comfort Features Safety Features Description
Buick LeSabre
www.buick.com
$22,890 + $615
3.8-liter, 205-hp V-6;
4-speed automatic
Power windows, mirrors, and doors; 10-way adjustable front seats; keyless entry Antilock brakes; front and side air bags; theft-deterrent system Traditionally the most conservative of Buick’s sedans, the LeSabre has been completely redesigned to appeal to a younger, more affluent
market. Roominess is the car’s big appeal, and its plush interior is matched by a smooth ride.
Chevrolet Monte Carlo
www.chevrolet.com
$19,850 + $560
3.4-liter, 180-hp V-6
in the base car;
4-speed automatic
A/C; power locks;
AM/FM cassette audio;
optional keyless entry
Antilock brakes; traction control; daytime running lights; dual air bags The Monte Carlo gets an all-new look for 2000, or perhaps it’s a new
old look, for the styling is distinctly retro. But under the skin, it’s distinctly modern, with engineering designed to yield a larger interior than the midsize body suggests.Performance drivers, check out the Monte Carlo SS.
Ford Taurus
www.ford.com
$18,245 + $550
3.0-liter, 153-hp Vulcan
V-6 or 3.0-liter,
200-hp Duratec V-6;
4-speed automatic
Pedals can be electrically adjusted according to driver’s height Smart, dual-stage front and side air bags designed to minimize chance of injury; emergency trunk release Once the nation’s top-selling passenger car, the 2000 Taurus has undergone a makeover that Ford hopes will give it new life. The styling is a little more conservative, but the major focus is on safety, with the world’s first dual-stage air bags and other “smart” air bag technology.
Infiniti I30
www.infinitimotors.com
$29,465 + $525
3.0-liter, 227-hp V-6;
4-speed automatic only
Standard leather seats;
standard Bose stereo
Side and dual front air bags; antilock brakes; optional traction control; active head restraint The redesigned I30 is made to deliver luxury performance and comfort on a surprisingly affordable budget. The Infiniti sedan shares many
of its underlying components with the Nissan Maxima but has more horsepower and upgraded features, such as standard leather seats.
Nissan Maxima
www.nissanmotors.com
$21,049 + $520
3.0-liter, 222-hp V-6;
4-speed automatic or
5-speed stick
Standard A/C; cruise control; remote keyless entry; power windows, doors, and mirrors; Bose stereo available Side and dual front air bags; antilock brakes; optional traction control Nissan hopes to maximize the appeal of its reborn Maxima sedan by targeting increasingly affluent baby boomers with a vehicle that should no longer get lost in the crowd. The new Maxima is notably more stylish and boasts a number of new creature comforts as well as an extra 32 hp.
Saturn LS Sedan
www.saturncars.com
$15,010 + $440
2.2-liter, 137-hp I-4 or
3.0-liter, 182-hp V-6;
5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic
Power locks and windows; AM/FM cassette; optional keyless entry Dual front air bags;
optional child trunk release; daytime running lights; antilock brakes
Long overdue and long awaited, the new LS is Saturn’s first midsize
sedan. As with the smaller Saturn, the LS features ding-resistant plastic body panels--except for the rear quarter panels.
Volvo S40
www.volvocars.com
$22,900 + $575
1.9-liter, 160-hp
turbocharged I-4;4-speed automatic
Power windows,
door locks, mirrors;
standard AM/FM cassette; optional in-dash CD
Dual-threshold air bags designed not to trigger in low-speed accidents; antilock brakes; traction control You might need to take a second look before you believe this is a Volvo. This all-new compact sedan and the $23,900 V40 wagon have been on sale in Europe for several years but are only now making it over to the States.

This list isn’t comprehensive; NAR doesn’t evaluate or endorse these products and isn’t responsible for changes in company information.

LUXURY SEDANS

Not surprisingly, REALTORS® own or lease luxury cars at a rate far higher than Americans in general. But early in the decade, the U.S. luxury market went into an unexpected slump, a reaction, perhaps, to the extravagance of the 1980s. In recent months, luxury car sales have taken off again. What’s the appeal? Even in the upper reaches of the new-car market, manufacturers are facing unprecedented competition. They’ve held and even cut prices on products such as the long-popular BMW 7 Series. At the same time, they’re adding more features to some of the segment’s sales leaders, such as the Lexus LS400 and the Lincoln Town Car. And they’re introducing new models, such as the DeVille from Cadillac, the most popular luxury automaker among REALTORS®.

Manufacturer/Model
MSRP + Destination Charge
Power Train Comfort Features Safety Features Description
Audi A6 4.2
www.audi.com
$34,250 + $500*
4.2-liter, 300-hp V-8;
5-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual override; all-wheel drive
Standard leather seats; power windows, mirrors, and door locks; remote key fob; AM/FM cassette and in-dash CD Front and side air bags, including new Sideguard Curtain; seat belt pretensioners; antilock brakes; traction control Nearly ready to abandon the U.S. market in the early 1990s, Audi
has become the luxury market’s comeback story, and the sleekly stylish A6 is a prime factor. For 2000, Audi debuts the 4.2, the first in the A6 lineup to offer a V-8.
Cadillac DeVille
www.cadillac.com
$39,300 + $670*
4.6-liter, 275-hp V-8 or
4.6-liter, 300-hp V-8;
4-speed automatic
Keyless entry; tri-zone A/C system; massaging lumbar seats available;
glove box–mounted CD changer; heated front and rear seats
Infrared night vision camera; ultra-sonic backup parking assist; antilock brakes; traction control; StabiliTrak; dual front and side air bags The last of Cadillac’s “land yachts,” the DeVille remains the largest vehicle in the Caddy fleet, but the look is more contemporary and features new technology, including the world’s first infrared “night vision” system, which uses heat sensors to extend “sight” range.
Jaguar S-Type
www.jaguarcars.com
$42,500 for the 3.0
$48,000 for the 4.0 + $580
3.0-liter, 240-hp V-6 or
4.0-liter 280-hp V-8;
5-speed automatic
AM/FM CD changer; dual climate controls; optional navigation system; optional voice-control system for audio and climate control Dual front and side air bags; antilock brakes; traction control; stability control The eagerly awaited S-Type is the first step in an effort to transform
the Jag from a small niche player into a luxury mainstay. It’s nimble and roomy, with the traditional luxury cues one would expect from a Jag—as well as some breakthrough technology.
Lincoln LS
www.ford.com
$30,915 + $535
3.0-liter, 220-hp V-6 or
3.9-liter, 270-hp V-8;
stick (V-6 only) or
5-speed automatic
Dual-zone climate control; leather seats; optional Alpine CD system; smart remote lock system All-speed traction and skid control; antilock brakes; front and side air bags
The distinctly American Lincoln division makes its first foray into the
compact luxury segment dominated by such European nameplates
as the BMW 5-Series. The LS has an
import-influenced design. It’s more nimble and sporty than anything else in the Lincoln lineup.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class
www.mercedes-benz.
com
$69,700 for the S430
$77,850 for the S500 + $595
S430: 4.3-liter, 275-hp V-8; S500: 5.0-liter, 302-hp V-8; 5-speed with “adaptive” manual override Bose audio system; TeleAid emergency assist; steering wheel controls for audio, A/C, navigation; adaptive cruise control Automatic slip control; electronic stability program; antilock brakes; emergency braking assist; SmartKey; Baby Smart air bags, side air bags The flagship of Mercedes-Benz, the S-Class, is now smaller (on the outside, but just as roomy inside) and more nimble and has a range of sophisticated features, including “active” cruise control, which
automatically adjusts to the flow of traffic.
Pontiac Bonneville
www.pontiac.com
$24,295 + $615
3.8-liter, 205-hp V-6 or
3.8-liter, 240-hp
supercharged V-6; 4-speed automatic
Power windows, doors, mirrors; remote key fob opens doors and presets radio and seats; audio and climate controls on steering wheel 1Antilock brakes; traction control; integrated chassis control; dual front air bags The redesigned Bonneville might be considered a technological tour de force, with such features as a key fob that automatically
presets seats, mirrors, and radio to a specific preference.
Saab 9-5 Wagon
www.saabusa.com
$32,425 + $575*
2.3-liter, 170-hp turbocharged I-4 or 3.0-liter, 200-hp V-6 Remote key fob with alarm, 8-way power seats, dual climate control, heated rearview mirrors, refrigerated glove box, headlight washer/wipers Antilock brakes; traction control; two-stage side air bag; head re-straint; force-reducing front seat belt; CargoTracks load securing system Who says station wagons are passé? Domestic designs have died out, but “Euro-wagons” such as this one are climbing up the sales charts. And for good reason. It maintains the sporty look and performance of the 9-5 sedan but adds significant cargo space.

*1999 price; 2000 price not available at press time.
This list isn’t comprehensive; NAR doesn’t evaluate or endorse these products and isn’t responsible for changes in company information.

SUVs and MINIVANS

Twenty years ago, light trucks accounted for barely one out of five vehicles sold in the United States. You’d find a pickup truck at a construction site and an SUV deep in the backwoods. But today you’re as likely to see a Jeep as a Jaguar on Rodeo Drive. No wonder that more than half of all REALTOR® households own some form of light truck. Chrysler remains the king of the minivan hill to car buyers in general but is facing increased competition from the likes of the popular Toyota Sienna, the Ford Windstar, and the second-generation Honda Odyssey. The “sport-ute” is the market’s real success story, and the 2000 model year brings the following hot new crop, including Ford’s Excursion, the largest passenger vehicle ever built.

Manufacturer/
Model
MSRP + Destination Charge
Power Train Comfort Features Safety Features Cargo Capacity Description
Chevrolet Suburban
www.chevrolet.com
$26,360 + $685*
4.8-liter, 275-hp V-8; 4-speed automatic;
2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive
Sunroof, dual-zone climate control, upgraded audio system, and a “real-time damping”
suspension
Antilock brakes;
larger brake pads;
dual front and side
air bags
45.7 cubic feet
(all seats up)
138.4 cubic feet
(all seats down or out)
This revamped, full-size SUV takes on a tougher, bolder look, but the 2000 Suburban actually offers a more comfortable ride, better handling, and plenty of upscale options and standard features. (Previously, Suburban nameplate
was also sold by GMC. For 2000, that model will be dubbed the Yukon XL.)
Ford Excursion
www.ford.com
$33,460 + $675
5.4-liter, 240-hp V-8; 6.8-liter,
260-hp V-10; or 7.3-liter, 300-hp
V-8 diesel; 4-speed automatic;
2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive
Keyless entry; 10 cup holders;
AM/FM cassette/CD with optional 6-disc changer; dual headphone jacks
Front air bags; antitheft system; antilock brakes; beam blocker designed to reduce injuries when striking another vehicle 48.6 cubic feet
(all seats up)
165.0 cubic feet
(all seats down or out)
If bigger means better, your only other choice would be a Greyhound bus. The fuller-than-full-size Excursion is the biggest SUV on the road, period—
nearly a foot longer than the Suburban. It’s a handful for daily commuting
but great for hauling lots of clients and your mobile office.
GMC Yukon
www.gm.com
$30,689 + $650*
4.8-liter, 275-hp V-8 or optional 5.3-liter, 285-hp V-8; 4-speed automatic; 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive AM/FM CD; optional Bose CD
with changer; remote key fob; power windows, door locks, and mirrors
Antilock brakes; traction control (on 2WD); dual front- and side-impact air bags; seat-mounted seat belts 16.3 cubic feet
(all seats up)
104.6 cubic feet
(all seats down or out)
The redesigned 2000 Yukon is moving the GMC truck division upmarket, both on the road and off. It has a range of luxury options, yet Yukon is still a capable
off-roader with plenty of towing power. The 2000 model’s new
chassis results in a smoother ride and improved handling.
Honda Odyssey
www.honda.com
$23,200 + $425
3.5-liter, 210-hp V-6; 4-speed automatic transmission A/C; AM/FM cassette stereo;
power locks, front windows, and
mirrors; enclosed bin to safely store groceries and other cargo
Dual front air bags;
seat belt pretensioners;
ABS brakes
25.1 cubic feet
(all seats up) 163.3 cubic feet (all seats down or out)
The 2000 Odyssey offers everything minivan buyers thought they wanted, along with some creative new touches, such as “tumble home” rear seats that fold into the cargo floor.
Mazda MPV
www.mazdausa.
com
$19,995 + $480
2.5-liter, 170-hp V-6; 4-speed automatic Perhaps the most flexible seating of any minivan; power doors, windows, and mirrors; remote keyfob; 6-CD changer Dual air bags,
optional side air bags; antilock brakes
17.2 cubic feet
(seats up) 127 cubic feet (all seats down or out)
A family hauler with panache. The updated MPV boasts sport-ute-like styling and excellent interior functionality. The seats can be configured in a variety of arrangements, and to make extra space, the rear seats fold into the floor. There are, of course, dual rear sliding doors.
Mitsubishi Montero Sport
www.mitsucars.com
$22,527 + $455
3.0-liter, 173-hp V-6 or 3.5-liter, 200-hp V-6; 4-speed automatic; 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive Improved seats; new audio system; multiple power outlets Dual front air bags;
antilock brakes;
off-road skid plates
Maximum
79.3 cubic feet
(rear seat folded)
The Montero Sport has been significantly updated and restyled, both inside and out. The look is more aggressive and muscular, in keeping with Montero’s solid off-road capabilities. But there are plenty of creature comforts for those who’ll never see anything rougher than a gravel road to a new development.
Nissan Xterra
www.nissanmotors.com
$17,349 + $520
2.4-liter, 145-hp I-4 or 3.3-liter, 170-hp V-6; standard 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic;
2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive
Rear “stadium” seating; numerous storage bins, including one in roof rack; 10 tie-down
hooks in cargo area
Antilock brakes; dual
front air bags
44.5 cubic feet
(rear seat up)
65.6 cubic feet
(rear seat folded)
Call this a back-to-the-basics sport-utility vehicle. Nissan’s new Xterra is one of the most affordable vehicles in its class. It’s also one of the most versatile, designed for aggressive off-roading, yet surprisingly adept on pavement as well. Skid plates and low-range gears are standard.
Subaru Legacy Outback
www.subaru.com
$22,695 + $495
2.5 liter, 165-hp “Boxer”
4-cylinder; 5-speed manual
or 4-speed automatic;
all-wheel drive only
Power windows, doors, and
mirrors; six-way power driver’s
seat; onboard air-filtration
system
Standard dual front and optional side air bags; standard antilock brakes 34.3 cubic feet
(rear seat up)
68.6 cubic feet
(rear seat folded)
Blending the best of a sport-ute and a station wagon, the original Outback proved an unexpected hit, turning around the fortunes of struggling Subaru.
The 2000 model increases comfort and sophistication without sacrificing performance. It features improved lighting and an all-new rear suspension.

*1999 price; 2000 price not available at press time.
This list isn’t comprehensive; NAR doesn’t evaluate or endorse these products and isn’t responsible for changes in company information.

REALTOR® favorites: Camry and Accord

This report takes a close look at some of the hottest new or extensively redesigned vehicles debuting for the 2000 model year. But special mention is clearly due two other vehicles that routinely rank at the top of the shopping list for REALTORS®: the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. These two top-selling vehicles begin the new millennium as hold-over models, which means they’re introducing few changes.

But some minor improvements are sure to please. All versions of Honda’s midsize mainstay now meet California’s low-emission vehicle standard, and some qualify for the tough ultra-low-emission vehicle mark.

On a smoggy day in Los Angeles, what comes out the tailpipe will be virtually as clean as the air that went in. The 2000 Accord will also come with standard side-impact air bags on all V-8 and EX 4-cylinder models. As for the 2000 Camry, there’ll be some modest design changes, including a new front grille and bumper, as well as rear light and bumper changes. This may not be a big year for change for the Camry and Accord, but you can expect to see them remain at the top of the sales charts, especially among REALTORS®.


This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of the products in this category. NAR doesn’t evaluate or endorse these products and isn’t responsible for changes in product info. Prices are the vendors’ suggested retail prices and are subject to change.

Paul A. Eisenstein is publisher of The Detroit Bureau. He has more than 30 years of experience covering the auto industry for a broad range of print, broadcast, and electronic media.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.

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